49ers

49ers' Reid explains decision to join Kaepernick

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49ers' Reid explains decision to join Kaepernick

SAN DIEGO -– Eric Reid agreed with what his teammate Colin Kaepernick was saying. He just did not agree with how he was protesting.

“He is taking advantage of the platform that he’s given to bring awareness to a worthy cause,” Reid said after the 49ers’ exhibition game Thursday against the San Diego Chargers. “What’s more American than that?”

So a few hours before Thursday’s exhibition game, they agreed on a silent protest that might not be viewed as divisive as retreating to the bench and sitting during the playing of the national anthem. Reid took a knee alongside Kaepernick on the 49ers' sideline, surrounded by teammates and staff members.

“It’s something that’s been on my mind all week and after talking to Colin many times, I talked to him today before the game,” Reid said. “People thought it was disrespectful for him to sit down. He was able to decide, ‘What if we took a knee instead of sitting?’

[MAIOCCO: 49ers' Eric Reid joins Colin Kaepernick's protest]

“And that came off as more respectful to the country, to the anthem, to the military. And I agree with that. It shows that he hears that people were hurt by him sitting, but he still believes in the cause that he wants to bring awareness to. So he changed his physical position from sitting down to take a knee to still show respect ”

Kaepernick and Reid were flanked by Nate Boyer, a Bay Area native and former Green Beret. Boyer wrote an open letter this week in support of Kaepernick’s stance to get people talking about the issues. Kaepernick, Reid and Boyer met for approximately 90 minutes at the team hotel Thursday afternoon.

“It was great,” Reid said. “Nate showed text messages his buddies. They were pissed about what he did, but they still understood why he was doing it, which led to the decision to not sit, but take a knee, and show respect to the people that felt hurt by that action. It was very big of him (Kaepernick) to change his physical position, to take a knee to show respect to those people, but still stand up for the message he was trying to portray.”

Reid said the idea is to spark more dialogue about issues that plague the country, such as police brutality and oppression of minorities.

“I don’t personally feel oppressed, but there are things that have happened in this country that have touched very close to home for me -- the situation in Louisiana,” Reid said. “I grew up around that. But this is a responsibility that he feels and a responsibility that I feel as well. It’s bigger than football.”

In July, Alton Sterling was shot outside a Baton Rouge convenience store after an encounter with two police officers. Two weeks later, a former Marine from Missouri shot and killed three law officers in the city. Reid grew up in Louisiana and attended LSU, which is located in Baton Rouge.

“The goal is to keep the dialogue open,” Reid said. “There are issues in this country that a lot of people feel strongly about. And the goal is just to fix those issues, to make progress on those issues.”

Quinnen Williams, Josh Allen reflect on visits to meet with 49ers

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USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES

Quinnen Williams, Josh Allen reflect on visits to meet with 49ers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – General manager John Lynch spent a portion of his pre-draft session with the media on Monday raving about Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.

On Wednesday, Williams returned the favor.

“They left a great impression on me, just to meet those guys out there,” said Williams, whom the 49ers hosted on a top-30 visit this month. “I met John Lynch. He’s a great guy.”

Williams is a legitimate option for the 49ers to consider with the No. 2 overall pick. Williams’ name has also come up in speculation over the past week that the Arizona Cardinals could select him with the top pick. Assuming the Arizona Cardinals take Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the top selection, the 49ers' pick would likely come down to Williams or Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa.

Williams was a first-year starter at nose tackle for Alabama, and he quickly shot up draft boards with a season in which he registered 19.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

“The season he had may have been as good of a college football season that I’ve ever seen,” Lynch said. “He was just dominant.”

As Williams began to talk about Lynch, he laughed about a highlight he saw of him during a TV show about Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders. Lynch was a nine-time Pro Bowl player during his 15-year career with Tampa Bay and Denver.

“I saw him juke John Lynch,” Williams said of Sanders. “It was so funny because I know John Lynch now.”

If Williams were to end up with the 49ers, he would likely team up on the interior defensive line with DeForest Buckner. Williams said he met Buckner during his visit to Santa Clara. His takeaway: “He’s huge.”

Williams said he would relish the opportunity to play alongside one of the best defensive tackles in the game. Buckner was named to his first NFC Pro Bowl team after totaling a career-high 12 sacks.

“I’m not going to any franchise thinking I’m the man, thinking this or that,” Williams said. “I’m thinking that I’m coming to any franchise and I’m bringing a weapon that can help the team and push the pocket. This game has turned to a real passing game and me, as a defensive lineman, I’m a pass-rusher. I go get it. But I can also stop the run at an elite level.”

[RELATED: Quinnen Williams leans on family, football after great loss]

Another player the 49ers could consider with the No. 2 pick in the draft is Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen, who led the nation with 17 sacks last season as a senior. Allen mentioned the weather and the food as some of the highlights of his visit to meet with the 49ers in Santa Clara.

Allen came away feeling good about the possibility of playing for defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek. Allen said the 49ers told him he would play defensive end in their defensive scheme.

“My hand would be in the dirt, rushing the passer and setting the edge,” he said.

NFL draft: 49ers GM John Lynch on how he's learned from past mistakes

NFL draft: 49ers GM John Lynch on how he's learned from past mistakes

As 49ers GM John Lynch and his staff head into their third draft, Lynch admits that they are using lessons learned from Reuben Foster and Joe Williams to help prevent the same draft mishaps from happening again. 

Lynch has spoken about needing to be aggressive in taking players that will improve the franchise while taking into account a solid locker room environment. A few of Lynch's picks have backfired, but he says the team has learned from their mistakes. He spoke about how his past two seasons have been a learning process, while also admitting that sometimes you still have to take risks. 

“I think a combination of both,” Lynch said. “If you aren’t always learning, shame on you, shame on us. I think with Reuben, I think we somewhat accounted for it by where we drafted him. I think we had him at a certain value. We didn’t draft him there. That doesn’t excuse us. It’s a shame. 

“We’re very happy to have Kwon Alexander, but that came at a heavy price. We would’ve much preferred to have Reuben still playing here. So, of course, you learn a lesson.” 

The heavy price for the 49ers was Alexander’s five-year $54 million contract. Foster would have cost much less under his four-year rookie contract that was worth just over $9 million. 

Foster had a few red flags prior to the draft, including being sent home from the NFL Scouting Combine after a confrontation with a hospital worker and a diluted urine test. His troubles continued with assault allegations and other off-the-field issues. 

Lynch detailed the slight variations to their pre-draft vetting process that was made, in part, because of what they learned from Foster. 

“There are certain tweaks we’ve made,” Lynch said. “Our 30 visits this year, we brought people more in a group setting. We want to see how they interact with other people. So, those are subtle things that we do.”

Meanwhile, Williams spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve and then was released prior to the 2018 season. He was a player who had great game film, especially just before the draft when he ran for a record-setting 332 yards in the Foster Farms Bowl at Levi’s Stadium. 

As with Foster, Williams had his share of red flags as well. He quit football after being at Utah for a season to deal with issues regarding family matters. He rejoined the team when they were in desperate need at running back. 

Since drafting Williams, Lynch has been very vocal about acquiring players who love the game of football, almost reminding himself to not forget the miss in his first draft. The positive side is that the team released Williams after his second offseason instead of holding out hope that he would develop and pan out.   

“As to Joe, I think that was a pick, it didn’t work out,” Lynch said. “But, in every scenario, whether something worked or didn’t work, you take note. We try to do that in each individual case.”
 
“There’s so much that just goes into the research of these players. You learn something every year. I think the most important thing, you impart upon your scouts, upon your staff is, ‘We have to be as thorough as humanly possible.’”

[RELATED: Final first-round NFL mock draft]

For a GM without front office experience, Lynch surrounded himself with experienced people. The past two 49ers draft classes have been far from perfect -- but that can be said about every draft class. Lynch just hopes to improve each season by learning from his past. 

“Anything we can learn about these guys is valuable information,” Lynch said. “I’m real proud of the work we’ve done with our staff to get as much information to be equipped to make as good a decision as possible.”
 
“You work hard to try to identify what is the lesson that you learned. We know in-house what those lessons are.”