Best, Hayne among five NFL players pursuing Olympic dreams


Best, Hayne among five NFL players pursuing Olympic dreams

Former San Francisco 49ers running back and punt returner Jarryd Hayne saw his NFL career last all but one season. 

Hayne retired from the NFL Sunday to pursue his dream of competing in the Olympics for the Fiji Sevens rugby team this summer in Rio de Janeiro. While Hayne looks to complete the highly rare feat, he isn't alone in former or current NFL players with their eyes on OIympic gold this summer. 

And he isn't the only one with Bay Area ties as well. 

Jahvid Best, former Cal Bears standout and first-round NFL Draft pick out of Vallejo, Calif., is looking to compete in the Summer Games for the Caribbean nation of Saint Lucia where his father grew up, in the 100-meter dash.

"I just want to bring pride to Saint Lucia, to the Olympic team, to the sport of athletics," Best said to the St. Lucia News. "I want to carry the flag around the track and make my family and country proud."

Best, now 27, faces complications in being able to compete for the country with so little time until the Olympics begin. To qualify for Rio, Best must confirm his citizenship and obtain a passport, and has to compete at a local event where he has to run at least the qualifying time of 10.16. 

[MAIOCCO: Former 49ers RB Hayne back where he can be a star]

In 2008, Best won the California high school 100-meters title with a time of 10.35. His fastest time his senior year was a 10.31. Best didn't run track at Cal, but was known for his speed on the field. He finished his three-year career at Cal with 2,668 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns on the ground. 

Best was the No. 30 overall pick by the Detroit Lions in the 2010 NFL Draft. He ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, the sixth-fastest among running backs in his draft class. 

Jeff Demps, who spent time with the New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts as a running back and return man, is looking to make a return to the Summer Games on the track. Demps was on the American 4X100-meter relay team at 2012 Games in London. 

Bills receiver and return man Marquise Goodwin is now the world-leading long jumper with his leap of 27 feet, eight and one-half inches at the Meeting Region Guadeloupe on Saturday. Goodwin came home with a 10th place finish at the London Games in 2012. 

Patriots safety Nate Ebner has also taken a leave from his team, looking to make the U.S. Olympic rugby team. 

Running back Herschel Walker is the only player ever to first play in the NFL and then compete in the Olympics. Walker was on the U.S. bobsled team in the 1992 Winter Olympics. 

Colin Kaepernick 'Icon' jersey offers NBA stars another way to show solidarity

Colin Kaepernick 'Icon' jersey offers NBA stars another way to show solidarity

Recently, some prominent NBA stars have come out in support of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, displaying their solidarity in different manners.

The Warriors' Kevin Durant, for instance, donned a black No. 7 jersey to and from a recent game at Oracle Arena, bearing the phrase "#IMWITHKAP" on the chest.

Steph Curry, wearing the same attire, recently posed for a photo with his son Canon.

The Lakers' LeBron James wore a nearly identical jersey getting off the plane when he and Los Angeles made the trip to Oracle to face Golden State earlier this month.

James took his support of Kaepernick a step further when he was asked about Kaepernick's reported settlement with the NFL at All-Star Weekend in Charlotte.

[RELATED: NFL compensating Colin Kaepernick for not playing football]

If Durant, Curry and James -- or anyone else for that matter -- like the black-and-white look, and want to show further solidarity for Kaepernick, well, they're in luck.

On Wednesday, Nike announced the release of a limited-edition Colin Kaepernick 'Icon' jersey -- the same one James wore as a tease getting off the plane in Oakland. As Kaepernick explained in a tweet, the jersey is dedicated to "those true to themselves on and off the field. Proudly, unapologetically and against all odds."

"We believe Colin Kaepernick is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” a Nike spokesperson told The Undefeated. “The jersey marks Nike’s continued product collaboration with Colin."

The NFL logo is notably absent from the jersey, which should not come as a surprise given Kaepernick's recent litigation with the league. 20 percent of all proceeds from the sale of the jerseys will go to the Know Your Rights Camp he founded, which raises awareness for youth "on higher education, self-empowerment and instruction on how to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios."

So, if you're in the market for a new black-and-white look, or simply want to show more support for Kaepernick, there are certainly worse ways you could spend your money.

49ers receiver Trent Taylor excited to learn from new coach Wes Welker


49ers receiver Trent Taylor excited to learn from new coach Wes Welker

As a short, slot receiver, Trent Taylor has been compared to All-Pro wideout Wes Welker for his entire life.

Now, Taylor will have the chance to learn from Welker directly, after the 37-year-old reportedly will become one of the newest members of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan's staff.

Taylor didn’t hold back when asked what his thoughts were when he first heard about Welker heading to the Bay Area.

“I thought it was freakin’ sick,” Taylor told NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’s been a baller in the NFL for 10 plus years and it’s always just cool having a guy like that coaching you. A guy with that type of experience and the guy people have compared me to my whole life.”

With only an inch difference in height between the two -- Taylor is 5'8", Welker is 5'9" -- Taylor is more than ready to learn from Welker. Tips from the receiver who led the league in receptions in three different seasons and racked up over 1,000 yards five times will be very valuable.

Even more than Welker’s physicality, Taylor believes his mental approach to the game is even more powerful.

“It’s going to be a cool opportunity to be able to work with him and hear what he has to say to me, what kind of advice he has, and I just know he has that ‘dog mentality’ that you want in a football player," Taylor said. 

“It’s cool to have that in the coaching position, and it will be cool to see the way that he coaches us and the fire that he brings into work every day. I think it’s going to be great.”

While Taylor knows what his new coach is capable of, he can’t wait be in the same room with the five-time Pro Bowler to watch Welker’s own game film.

“I haven’t been able to just sit down and break down his film,” Taylor said. “But I feel like we will have the opportunity to do that. I’ll probably press that subject pretty hard. I feel like he’s going to try to be humble about it but we need to see his film. That’s for sure.”

Welker’s level of productivity is the gold standard for a slot receiver, and that’s the goal for Taylor and the rest of the receivers room. Taylor understands its immense value.

“I think it will be good to be able to ‘learn’ somebody who played the same type of position with the same body type,” Taylor said. “You don’t run into to many guys like that in the NFL. So it will be an interesting perspective to hear from.”

Welker reportedly will be joined by former Cowboys wideout Miles Austin in the receivers room, who was hired as an offensive quality control coach. Taylor appreciates that both coaches are not that far removed from the game, which helps them be even more relatable.

“Two guys who played a long time in the NFL, and haven’t been out of the league for that many years,” Taylor said. “They’re still pretty fresh in it. It’ll be great. I think it’s going to work out great."

[RELATED: Why 49ers can't miss out on Brown or Beckham Jr. this year]

Taylor, however remains inspired by Welker's mental toughness and looks to get everything possible out of his new coach.

"I think he always wanted it more than the guy across from him," Taylor said. "And that’s what made him so great. that’s what makes anybody great. Just having that 'want to' and that fire that you’re never going to stop. That you’re not going to give up."