49ers

Colin Kaepernick opens fund to pay George Floyd protesters' lawyers

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AP

Colin Kaepernick opens fund to pay George Floyd protesters' lawyers

Ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is raising money for defense lawyers to represent people arrested while protesting in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Kaepernick announced the formation of the Know Your Rights Camp Legal Defense Initiative on his Instagram page Friday. The initiative "has identified and teamed up with top defense lawyers" in Minneapolis to offer legal assistance for protestors, according to the organization's website. Kaepernick's Know Your Rights Camp will fund the initiative, and is accepting donations at the same link that users can request legal support.

"When there is an injustice within our community, it is our legal right to address it, by any means necessary," the group's website said.

Formed soon after he began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality against African Americans, Kaepernick's Know Your Rights Camp has a self-stated mission of advancing "the liberation and well-being of black and brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization" and creating "new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders." Kaepernick previously donated $1 million to social-justice organizations as part of a pledge made during the 2016 season.

Kaepernick's protest earned renewed attention following Floyd's death. Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died Monday while in police custody, and bystanders recorded video of now-former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin putting his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes while Floyd pleaded that he couldn't breathe. Chauvin, who is white, and three other police officers were fired Tuesday.

Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman announced Chauvin was arrested Friday on charges of manslaughter and third-degree murder, and state charging documents allege Chauvin's knee was pressed on Floyd's neck for nearly three minutes after he became non-responsive. Freeman said the other officers also could face charges.

Protesters demonstrated in the Twin Cities for each of the last three days, with some turning violent Thursday night as demonstrators set fire to the fired officers' former precinct. Floyd's death sparked outrage and criticism nationwide, and Kaepernick tweeted Thursday that "[we] have the right to fight back!" Others, including Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, highlighted the visual similarity between Kaepernick kneeling before games and Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck to recall why Kaepernick protested in the first place.

[RELATED: Stephen Jackson calls for justice for 'twin' Floyd in press conference]

The 2016 season was Kaepernick's last with the 49ers and, as of this writing, his last in the NFL. Kaepernick has not been signed since opting out of his contract ahead of the 2017 offseason. He alleged that the league's owners conspired to keep him out of the league because of his protest, but Kaepernick ultimately settled a collusion lawsuit with the league last year.

The NFL organized a workout for Kaepernick, who has insisted he still wants to play football amid whispers to the contrary, at the Atlanta Falcons' facility last fall. Kaepernick moved it to a high school just outside of Atlanta after the league barred media access and his lawyers deemed a waiver "unusual," but he didn't receive any offers from teams. Ex-49ers QB Alex Smith and former coach Jim Harbaugh, two of Kaepernick's colleagues during his six seasons with the 49ers, intimated in separate interviews earlier this month that Kaepernick is good enough to have an NFL job.

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

NFL rumors: 49ers, Seahawks have discussed Jamal Adams trade with Jets

NFL rumors: 49ers, Seahawks have discussed Jamal Adams trade with Jets

Back in May, I suggested the 49ers should pursue a trade for New York Jets star safety Jamal Adams. Then, last month, he formally requested a trade from his incumbent team and included San Francisco on the shortlist of teams he would welcome a trade to.

Acquiring a player of Adams' ilk would be challenging to say the least. Prohibitive, perhaps. It likely would cost more than a pretty penny in assets, and then there's the matter of paying him what he wants. The entire impetus for his trade demand is that he deservedly wants to be the highest-paid safety in the NFL, and he is dissatisfied with the Jets for dragging their feet.

I get it. The 49ers already are limited in cap space, and George Kittle has yet to sign a contract extension. Then there's the financial impact of the coronavirus, which could significantly lower the salary cap for next season and possibly beyond. Adding Adams to the fold likely would mean at least one noteworthy contributor on the team would soon be playing elsewhere. And, draft picks are particularly valuable for cap-strapped teams.

However ...

Adams won't turn 25 until October. Any team acquiring him could count on many more seasons of outstanding production. He also carries modest cap hits of $7.2 million and $9.9 million for the next two seasons, and reportedly would be willing to go to one of his preferred destinations without a pre-arranged extension. He's not much older than the prospects in next year's draft, and sorry, but he's better than all of them -- especially those at the end of the first round, where the 49ers are likely to be picking.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

'But the cap is going to go way down,' you say. In the immediate, that's correct, it's basically a certainty. But clearly, the Kansas City Chiefs expect the cap to rise significantly in the coming years. They just signed Patrick Mahomes -- who turns 25 in September -- to a gargantuan 10-year contract that could be worth up to $503 million. Sure, they could come to regret it, big time. But Mahomes is worth the risk.

As for Kittle, yes, he still needs to -- and will be -- paid. However, it seems likely he'll end up signing an extension for an annual salary well below the massive numbers that were being thrown around at the beginning of the offseason. It's not that he doesn't deserve it. It's just the way the NFL works.

Perhaps those factors explain why Sports Illustrated's Corbin Smith reported Thursday, citing multiple sources, that the 49ers have had preliminary discussions with the Jets about Adams' availability.

And, within Smith's report, he laid out yet another reason why San Francisco might be willing to do what it takes to get Adams: the Seattle Seahawks.

Just like the 49ers, the Seahawks -- who also were on Adams' shortlist -- reportedly recently engaged New York in preliminary discussions for the standout safety. Smith suggested that Seattle likely would have to part with its 2021 first-round draft pick, as well as additional draft assets and/or players to acquire him. That gives you an idea of what the 49ers would have to give up.

That's a steep price, to be sure. But I'd argue it'd be a lot more palatable than having him play not just in San Francisco's division, but for the 49ers' most bitter rival for many years to come.

[RELATED: Lott believes 49ers trading for Adams would be 'huge win']

The 49ers were at least one tier above the Seahawks last season, but let's not forget, they literally beat out Seattle for the NFC West title by a matter of inches.

Adams already is a game-changer. San Francisco cannot afford to let him become a division-changer. If that means paying a hefty price and taking on more risk, so be it. 

49ers' George Kittle 'really proud' of team's offseason work, effort

49ers' George Kittle 'really proud' of team's offseason work, effort

George Kittle was ahead of the game in preparing for what has been the most unusual offseason in NFL history. He built up his home gym before supplies ran out, permitting him to maintain his physical shape.

But, as we know, there's a difference between working out at home and playing football. Players can independently lift and train all they want, but on-field reps in a team setting are essential to success.

That's why several of the 49ers' offensive skill players have met up at various points over the last couple of months to get those reps in while team facilities remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. They've had local workouts at San Jose State, and a large contingent got together in Nashville last month.

Kittle was present for that session, which was the most-attended one yet. On the latest episode of the 49ers Insider Podcast, he told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco that he came away very impressed with the work his teammates have been putting in.

"Really, everyone looked good," Kittle said of the Nashville session. "It was just fun to see. You could tell guys have been working. That's the effort you want to see. My last two OTAs, guys have come back and everyone might be a little stiff because maybe they weren't training the absolute hardest because there's phase one and phase two of OTAs for you to get fully back in shape. But when everyone showed up, everyone looked good. Everyone was moving fast, catching the ball, communicating well. 

"I think one of my favorite parts is trying to teach guys the motions of our offense, because I think we motion like twice as much as any other team, and trying to coach that was really fun and interesting to watch with the rookies. But I think it was very important for us to get that time together, just so we could install a little bit. Because in the Zoom meetings, you can only do so much, and I think most guys are on-the-field learners. They need to feel it, they need to see it, and we tried our best to replicate a practice."

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

It might not have been the equivalent of a traditional practice despite their efforts, but Kittle still views those sessions as a significant benefit.

"To some extent, you can do that," Kittle continued, "but you don't have coach [Kyle] Shanahan there, you don't have coach [tight ends/assistant head coach Jon] Embree, you don't have [wide receivers coach] Wes Welker there yelling at you, you don't have the defense yelling at you. So, I think it was a good start, but we have a long way to go, and I think the foundation we have put in and that everyone has put in this offseason will definitely give us a step ahead on some teams."

[RELATED: Kittle cites 49ers captaincy, leadership as holdout deterrents]

Whenever the offseason ends, San Francisco's still will have been shorter than all but one other NFL team. That's the price of advancing to the Super Bowl, one every team surely would pay, but only two actually do each year. Given the additional wear and tear the 49ers endured on their path to Super Bowl LIV, it would have been understandable if they took more time before delving into offseason work.

But as Kittle explained, the ending of that game remains fresh in the team's mind and has served as motivation to get back to the grind.

"I'm just really proud of the team," Kittle said. "I've been talking to guys the entire offseason, even guys that don't put up videos and stuff, to just check in. I think everybody feels that. Everyone was disappointed with how the season ended, and everyone's hungry, and I think that's the best thing for a team. If you don't lose that hunger, you come back stronger than ever. So, it's just fun to watch the guys work out and really train. 

"Like I said, OTAs are a big deal, especially for rookies. Like, I can't imagine going into my rookie year without an OTA, just going straight into training camp. But I think we have a mature team, even though we're still really young, and being able just to communicate with my rookies, between Chase [Harrell] and Charlie [Woerner], they're both preparing in the right ways. I think we're all just kind of itching and we're just waiting to play football again."

Throughout league history, teams that lose in the Super Bowl often have gone on to struggle the following season. Despite it being an unprecedented offseason, the 49ers clearly are determined to buck that trend.