49ers

With a collusion grievance looming, NFL wants you to believe all is good with Kaepernick

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AP

With a collusion grievance looming, NFL wants you to believe all is good with Kaepernick

All of a sudden Colin Kaepernick is Football’s Most Desirable Prom Date again, and if I had to wager a guess it would be to forestall that potentially sloppy collusion grievance he and lawyer Mark Geragos have aimed at the NFL.

According to ESPN’s Jim Trotter, Kaepernick was texted by Troy Vincent, one of Roger Goodell’s chief lieutenants, with an eye toward a meeting with the shrapnel-riddled commissioner. The text was dated Hallowe’en, so make of that what you will, but according to NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart, the league has not yet heard from Kaepernick, Geragos or anyone else empowered to speak on his behalf.

Lockhart also said in a conference call that Kaepernick would be invited to a larger meeting about social issues and the league’s responses to them between owners, league officials and players.

In other words, The Invisible Man is suddenly wearing a DayGlo suit that can be seen from space, and the league that has almost gymnastically shunned him has suddenly decided that he is a member in good standing -- except of course for the players contract part.

It is unclear what a meeting with Goodell would gain him, since Goodell is not actually empowered to give him a place on a team and in any event already has his own political problems with some of the Billionaire Boys Club. The larger meeting would, in fact, be almost like a job fair for Kaepernick if both he and the owners in the room were inclined to treat it as such.

But those are a steeplechase race full of hurdles to clear, which brings us back to the principal motive for the meetings -- feeling out the collusion issue.

The NFL may not have been as dim as Major League Baseball’s owners were in the 1990s when they lost three separate collusion cases by leaving their paperwork about for all to see, but billionaires are not always careful about the forensics when they want something as badly as they seem to want Kaepernick to be an ex-player. This reach-out to Kaepernick by Goodell, if it is true, puts Goodell in an increasingly risky position viz. Jerry Jones, Danny Snyder, Bob McNair and the other ownership hardliners.

In other words, let us do the prudent thing and cool our jets on all this. There are other, invisible, shoes yet to drop, or not, and the best way to be wrong on a Colin Kaepernick story is to imagine that there is thawing in his relationship with the league that spurned him.

49ers sign OL Laken Tomlinson to three-year extension

49ers sign OL Laken Tomlinson to three-year extension

Guard Laken Tomlinson appears to have wrapped up a starting position on the 49ers’ offensive line, as the club signed him to a three-year extension on Thursday.

Tomlinson, who started the final 15 games of last season at left guard, is now signed through the 2021 season, the 49ers announced.

“Laken is a very talented player who has improved consistently since joining the team one week before last year’s season opener,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement. “This offseason, his hard work and dedication paid off as he continued to progress and performed at a high level. We were confident we could work out a contract extension with Laken and we are fired up to get that done before training camp.”

The 49ers acquired Tomlinson in a trade from the Detroit Lions for a 2019 fifth-round draft pick shortly before the start of last season. The Lions selected Tomlinson with the No. 28 overall pick from Duke in 2015.

The 49ers did not pick up the fifth-year option on Tomlinson for the 2019 season, which would have cost $9.625 million. Instead, the 49ers and Tomlinson agreed to a three-year extension worth up to $18 million with $10 million guaranteed, reports the NFL Network.

Tomlinson, 26, started 24 of 30 games in his first two seasons with Detroit. He entered the 49ers’ starting lineup in Week 2 and every game for the remainder of the season.

The 49ers appear to have four starting positions set along the offensive line, with Tomlinson and tackle Joe Staley on the left side. Veteran center Weston Richburg is slated to start at center, while rookie Mike McGlinchey is settling in at right tackle.

Joshua Garnett, Jonathan Cooper and Mike Person will compete at right guard during training camp, which opens on July 25.

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud

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AP

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud

When the 49ers selected inside linebacker Fred Warner of BYU in the third round of the draft, it was easy to see how he fit into the team's plan with the degree of uncertainty surrounding Reuben Foster.

While Foster remained away from the team’s offseason program for five weeks, Warner felt a need to get up to speed quickly if he was needed to be a starter for Week 1 of the regular season. Warner said he was determined to learn as quickly as possible at whatever position he lined up.

“They want consistency over a guy who can make a play here and there,” Warner said on The 49ers insider Podcast. “Because if you’re a liability and you’re out there missing assignments, stuff like that, that’s going to get you cut. You have to be able to retain this information very quickly and be able to produce on the field and put a good product out there. That’s the biggest thing.”

The 49ers consider the middle linebacker (mike) and weakside linebacker (will) positions as nearly interchangeable. The major difference is the mike position is the player who communicates in the huddle. Malcolm Smith is lining up with the first team at mike, while Foster is at will. Warner is leading the second team at mike.

Foster joined the 49ers’ offseason for the final four weeks after a judge dismissed two felony charges of domestic violence. Warner knew all about Foster, the player, before meeting him as a teammate.

“He’s a very physical player, and something I didn’t know about him that I know now, he’s probably the smartest guy in the room,” Warner said. “This dude has the memory of an elephant. He doesn’t have to write notes down. He just retains things very quickly. And I think that’s what allowed him to play at such a high level as a rookie last year, aside from his physical talent.”

Warner has also learned a lot from Smith, who played six NFL seasons before sitting out last year with a torn pectoral.

“We’ve worked after practice on man coverage on tight ends and running backs.,” Warner said. “Even though that might not be something we touch on in practice or a meeting, he just wants to touch on that with me because he said, ‘If you can do this, you can play on any team in the NFL.’ “

One of the few critiques of the rookie during the offseason program is that Warner, who said he was a quiet kid as a youngster, has been a little too loud.

“He’s very smart and he plays like it on the field,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said during the first week of OTAs. “He doesn’t hesitate. He’s a rookie out there, but he’s calling the plays maybe even too loud because I can hear him from the offensive side. But, he doesn’t mind speaking up. He’s confident in what he’s doing.”

Warner said he wanted to win the confidence of his teammates, so that might have contributed to his increased decibel level.

“I want to make sure that when I get in that huddle and I’m talking to these guys, that they know that I know what I’m doing and I’m ready to go,” Warner said. “I’m the one who’s going to set the tone in the huddle before the play even happens.”