49ers

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa reveals why he doesn't like 49ers

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USATSI

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa reveals why he doesn't like 49ers

SAN JOSE -- Tua Tagovailoa will have his first taste of the Alabama-Clemson rivalry Monday night in the College Football Playoff National Championship at Levi's Stadium. At media day, though, the Crimson Tide quarterback might have lit the spark needed for an old NFL rivalry that hasn't had any fire in years. 

Growing up in Ewa Beach, Oahu, Hawaii, Tagovailoa didn't have a pro football team to root for in his home state. Since he had plenty of family in California and lived just a five-hour flight from Honolulu to San Francisco, one could think Tagovailoa grew up rooting for the 49ers with aspirations of following in fellow left-hander Steve Young's footsteps. 

Think again. 

“Nah, I grew up as a Cowboys fan," Tagovailoa said Saturday at SAP Center. "Yeah, I’m a Dallas fan.”

Really? That was a pretty big rivalry back in the day. 

“Exactly. I don’t like the Niners as much." 

The calm and collected signal-caller, who didn't play against Clemson in last season's Sugar Bowl, speaks with as much poise as he shows on the field. When the team he rooted against as a child was brought up, however, he didn't hold back. 

Since 1998, the year Tagovailoa was born, the 49ers have beaten the Cowboys in just three of the nine games they've played against each other. In their last matchup, the Cowboys came away with a deciding 40-10 win in Santa Clara in 2017. 

Fast forward a little over 14 months later, and Tagovailoa now is trying to take home gold for the second consecutive year, this time in Alabama-Clemson IV, at the home of the 49ers.

49ers practice report: George Kittle expected to play vs. Washington

49ers practice report: George Kittle expected to play vs. Washington

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers tight end George Kittle showed up on the injury report with a groin strain last Friday. Two days later, he looked completely healthy going up against the Los Angeles Rams.

Kittle was held out of practice on Wednesday, but he returned to limited work during the 49ers’ padded work on Thursday at their team facility. Kittle downplayed the team’s report of his physical condition and is expected to play Sunday against Washington.

Kittle caught eight passes for 103 yards in the 49ers’ 20-7 victory over the Rams on Sunday.

However, the 49ers had seven players who did not participate in Thursday's practice. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk, tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon remain out of action.

[RELATED: McGlinchey had tough time watching 49ers' win from home]

Running back Raheem Mostert (knee), wide receiver Deebo Samuel (groin) and nose tackle D.J. Jones (hamstring) sustained injuries in the 49ers’ win over the Rams that have kept them from practicing thus far this week.

49ers practice report

Did not practice
DT D.J. Jones (hamstring)
FB Kyle Juszczyk (knee)
T Mike McGlinchey (knee)
RB Raheem Mostert (knee)
WR Deebo Samuel (groin)
T Joe Staley (fibula)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (foot)

Limited
DE Dee Ford (quadricep)
TE George Kittle (groin)
CB K'Waun Williams (hand)

Washington practice report

Did not practice
S Deshazor Everett (ankle)
LB Josh Harvey-Clemons (hamstring)
G Wes Martin (chest)  
CB Josh Norman (thigh, hand)
RB Chris Thompson (toe)

Limited
TE Vernon Davis (concussion)

Full participation
QB Case Keenum (right shoulder, foot)
RB Adrian Peterson (quadricep)

Arik Armstead not thinking about contract amid breakout year for 49ers

Arik Armstead not thinking about contract amid breakout year for 49ers

SANTA CLARA — Not too long ago, 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead had trouble staying on the field and was labeled as someone who was not living up to first-round expectations. 

Armstead only was able to suit up for 14 games from 2016-2017, landing on injured reserve both seasons. But fast-forward to Week 7 of 2019, and Armstead is making a case for huge contract after he closes out his fifth season with San Francisco.

Armstead is set to have a career-best season, as he's already racked up 2.5 sacks, four quarterback hits, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and 20 total tackles, four of which were for a loss. The 49ers defense has been bolstered by several offseason additions, including edge rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, and Armstead has been reaping the rewards. 

“It’s been great,” Armstead told NBC Sports Bay Area. “As a whole defense, they’ve had a big impact. It’s fun playing with great players. Those guys are extremely talented and they bring a whole different element to the defense.” 

With the edges sealed up, Armstead has been able to enjoy putting his hand in the dirt next to long-time teammate DeForest Buckner. The two have been playing together since their time at the University of Oregon. Both former Ducks stand 6-foot-7, and limit a quarterback's downfield vision tremendously. 

“Super fun, like it’s always been going out there with a great friend,” Armstead said. “We’ve been going to battle together for a long time. Just trying to go out there and dominate and have an impact on our team like we have had over the years.” 

Armstead won’t admit thinking about if his NFL future includes playing with the 49ers beyond this year. He has been focused on each opponent as they come, while enjoying the team’s victories -- at least just a little bit. 

“I’m just taking it week by week,” Armstead said. “Contract stuff, it’s out of my control. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen with that. All I can focus on is preparing for the game and try to go out there and dominate and win my matchups and show what I can do.”

[RELATED: How 49ers will attack trade deadline at every position]

Armstead has used his production on the field not only to increase his own future contract value, but also to fund equal opportunities in education for underserved youth in his home town of Sacramento. He is donating $1,000 dollars for every sack and $250 for every tackle he makes this season to his foundation. He previously raised $100,000 at his charity gala to fund programs. 

One of the events that Armstead created with his foundation was a trip for 30 students to spend the entire day at 49ers headquarters. They participated in a career panel with 49ers employees as well as getting a tour of the facility.

For more information on donating to Armstead’s foundation, visit www.arikarmstead91.com.