49ers

49ers' DeForest Buckner snubbed from Pro Bowl, and that's ridiculous

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AP

49ers' DeForest Buckner snubbed from Pro Bowl, and that's ridiculous

The 2019 Pro Bowl rosters were announced on Tuesday, and two 49ers made the NFC team. That's probably a fair number for a team that has won its last two games to double its win total on the season, with two weeks left to play.

The problem is: DeForest Buckner wasn't one of them.

Don't get it twisted, George Kittle and Kyle Juszcyzk are very deserving in their own right. Kittle burst on the scene this year and firmly established himself as a top-five tight end in the league moving forward. Juszczyk caught 29 balls for 309 receiving yards, and his impact on the 49ers' 10th-ranked rushing attack cannot be overlooked. That said, how many other fullbacks can you name off the top of your head?

This isn't about Kittle or Juszcyzk. This is about Buckner, the 49ers best player, who just happens to be having a phenomenal season of his own. You don't have to look further than San Francisco's win over the Seahawks on Sunday to see how drastically he can affect a game.

[RELATED: Buckner had a career day in 49ers' overtime win vs. Seahawks]

Only 13 players have sacked the quarterback more often than the 11 times Buckner has this season, which is a career-high. Only one of those 13 plays the same position (in terms of Pro Bowl rosters), and that's the Rams' Aaron Donald (16.5), who will almost certainly be named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in a matter of months.

There were three interior defensive linemen named to the NFC Pro Bowl roster. Donald was one of them. The other two -- Philadelphia's Fletcher Cox and Chicago's Akiem Hicks – have combined for 12.5 sacks between them.

Sacks aren't everything for interior defensive linemen, you say? Damn right.

Through 14 games, Buckner has recorded 60 tackles; only Minnesota's Danielle Hunter (66), Jacksonville's Calais Campbell (62) and Indianapolis' Darius Leonard (NFL-leading 146) have recorded more tackles among players with at least 6.5 sacks this season.

Of Buckner's 60 tackles, 16 have been for a loss. Again, that's nearly as many as Cox (nine) and Hicks (11) combined.

So, to summarize: Buckner has more sacks, tackles and tackles for a loss than two of the three players named to the Pro Bowl roster ahead of him. When it comes to interior defensive linemen, shouldn't those be the stats that matter?

Then again, the stats clearly don't matter, and Buckner isn't alone in being snubbed. NFL stars such as Saints running back Alvin Kamara, Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck were all left off their respective conference rosters, as were Leonard and fellow standout rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch of Dallas.

In most, if not all, of those cases, it's simply a matter of too many deserving candidates for too few spots. But the process is clearly flawed if the most deserving of the candidates -- on a statistically objective basis -- are passed over for others. It's the 2019 Pro Bowl, not the 2016-2020 Pro Bowl, after all.

As for the "team performance should matter" argument -- it's a flawed one. If that were the case, the Chargers wouldn't be the only NFL team with more Pro Bowlers than the 8-7-1 Steelers, who will be sending six players to Orlando.

With that being said, Buckner's exclusion is likely temporary. He's the first alternate at his position, a league source told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco.

Should any of the Rams, Eagles or Bears make a deep run in the playoffs, it's likely that Buckner would assume the place of Donald, Cox or Hicks. Given that Los Angeles and Chicago have already locked up postseason berths and Philadelphia is knocking on the door, the chances are decent that Buckner will not only make his first Pro Bowl, but could perhaps even start in it.

Buckner's Pro Bowl recognition is far less important to the 49ers than his evolution into one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL is. It's a shame he wasn't rewarded for putting together one of the top defensive seasons in the NFC, but there's time for that mistake to be fixed, even if it will be slightly tainted.

And, really, the All-Pro teams are always a better indicator of who the best players were in any given season than the Pro Bowl rosters are. Here's venturing a guess Buckner won't be passed over a second time when those are announced.

Eric Reid, Torrey Smith react very differently to 49ers' $1M donation

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USATSI

Eric Reid, Torrey Smith react very differently to 49ers' $1M donation

With protests taking place in numerous cities nationwide, 49ers CEO Jed York announced Saturday night that the team would be making a $1 million donation to local and national organizations seeking social change.

Two former 49ers teammates had different responses to York on Twitter shortly after the announcement was made.

Wide receiver Torrey Smith, who played for the 49ers in 2015 and 2016, praised York for his commitment to fighting injustices.

York even responded to Smith.

But safety Eric Reid, who was drafted by the 49ers in 2013 and played with the team through the 2017 season, was not a fan of York's donation.

Smith and Reid were teammates on the Carolina Panthers during the 2018 season.

Reid and former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick led the charge in 2016 to take a knee during the national anthem to protest social injustices plaguing the United States.

Kaepernick opted out of his contract after being told he would be released, and the 49ers didn't re-sign Reid, who would join the Panthers early in the 2018 season.

Smith defended York's handling of Kaepernick's protest, but Reid wasn't having it.

Smith could only agree with what Reid said.

The protests across the nation are in response to recent deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota and Breonna Taylor in Louisville at the hands of police.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers' Jed York donates $1M to local, national organizations for change

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USATSI

49ers' Jed York donates $1M to local, national organizations for change

CEO Jed York announced Saturday night the 49ers will be donating $1 million to local and national organizations committed to social change.

In September 2016, the 49ers made a $1 million donation, matching the commitment of the-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, to two Bay Area charities that address social issues in collaboration with law enforcement.

Along with the organization's latest donation, York also committed support for the Players Coalition, which was co-founded in 2017 by Anquan Boldin and Malcolm Jenkins. The coalition’s goal is to make an impact on social justice and racial equality at the federal, state and local levels through advocacy, awareness, education and allocation of resources.

York’s announcement comes as protests take place across the nation. George Floyd, 46, died after being arrested by Minneapolis police on Monday. Video later surfaced that showed an officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he told officers he was struggling to breathe.

“People throughout our country are hurting,” York wrote in a statement. “Emotions are raw, and rightfully so. Heinous acts have been committed in recent weeks. Before we are able to realize impactful change, we just first have the courage and compassion as human beings to come together and acknowledge the problem: black men, women, children and other oppressed minorities continue to be systemically discriminated against.

“The 49ers organization is committing to support the legislative priorities of the Players Coalition and to donating $1 million dollars to local and national organizations who are creating change.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]