Ex-49ers safety Eric Reid signs with Panthers

Ex-49ers safety Eric Reid signs with Panthers

Eric Reid finally has found a new home. 

The former 49ers safety signed a one-year deal with the Panthers, the team announced Thursday morning

“Eric has been a starting safety in the NFL and has played at a high level throughout his career,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. “After we put (safety) Da’Norris Searcy on injured reserve, Ron (Rivera) and I discussed our options, and Eric was at the top of our list. He is a physical safety with good ball skills and play-making ability.”

Reid played his first five seasons for the 49ers after the team drafted him No. 18 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft. He was named to the 2013 NFL All-Rookie Team and made the Pro Bowl that same rookie season. 

At the start of the 2016 season, Reid joined Colin Kaepernick as the first two NFL players to kneel during the national anthem as a protest against racial and social injustices. In March, Reid told Matt Maiocco he would consider different forms of protests aside from taking a knee. 

“From the beginning, Colin has been flexible,” Reid said. “He started by sitting. He changed it up. We decided to kneel. And we understand that you got to change with the times. So I’m not saying I’m going to stop being active, because I won’t. I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country to improve on.

“I don’t think it’ll be in the form of protesting during the anthem. And I said ‘during’ because it’s crazy to me that the narrative got changed to we were protesting the anthem, because that wasn’t the case. But I think we’re going to take a different approach to how to be active.”

Reid also said he didn't regret his decision to kneel. 

“I stand by what I’ve done,” Reid said. “I know why I’ve done it. My faith in God is the reason. I can go to sleep at night confident I did what I was called to do. I’m just gong to stay positive and keep trying to stay in shape and wait and see what happens.

“I said at the end of last season I’m OK no matter what happens.”

Signing with the Panthers reportedly hasn't changed Reid's standing with his collusion lawsuit against the NFL, according to Ian Rapoport.

Reid has 319 tackles and 10 interceptions in his five-year NFL career. 

49ers' George Kittle doesn't want to miss 'massive' game vs. Packers

49ers' George Kittle doesn't want to miss 'massive' game vs. Packers

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end George Kittle said he knew at the time he sustained injuries to his left knee and ankle in Week 9 that he would be out for a couple of weeks.

On Thursday, he returned to limited practice after sitting out two weeks of 49ers' practices and games.

“It went really well,” Kittle said after practice. “It was definitely a great step in the right direction. It was really fun being back out there with all the guys. I definitely don’t miss sitting in the training room all day. My goal definitely is still Green Bay.”

Kittle and wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and Deebo Samuel (shoulder) returned to limited practice on Thursday, suggesting there is a strong likelihood each player will be available to play Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium.

“Unfortunately, that falls on the doctors and coach [Kyle] Shanahan, so whatever they decide, I’ll do,” Kittle said.

Kittle was forced to watch the past two games from a suite on the 800 level of Levi’s Stadium, rather than being on the sideline. Kittle described that experience as “absolutely brutal, absolutely awful.” At worst, he hoped to be allowed on the sideline with his teammates.

“I want to be down there, but they said I’d hurt myself if I put myself down there,” Kittle said. “I disagreed, but I understand.

“It’s a lower body injury, so it doesn’t make any sense to stand on it for three or four hours, and fatigue it. I agree with them, and I disagree with them.”

Kittle, as Shanahan has done in the past two weeks, declined to disclose the nature of his injuries. When asked if his ankle or knee is giving him the most difficulty, he quipped, “Yes.”

Kittle was injured on the 49ers’ first play of their Oct. 31 game against the Arizona Cardinals. He said he did not believe his decision to remain in the game caused the injuries to worsen.

“They said, ‘You want to play?’ And I said, ‘I’ll do everything I can to finish the game,’ and I got an extra three quarters out of it,” Kittle said. “I don’t think it affected my injury any further.”

Kittle leads the 49ers with 46 receptions for 541 yards and two touchdowns. The 49ers are atop the NFC West, as well as the conference, with a 9-1 record. The Packers are 8-2.

[RELATED: Why beating the 49ers at Levi's means so much to Rodgers]

“Every game is a big game, but definitely an 8-2 Packers team coming, it’s definitely a battle for the NFC, definitely a massive game,” Kittle said. “It’s one I don’t want to miss.”

How 49ers' Jeff Wilson is able to stay ready for number to be called

How 49ers' Jeff Wilson is able to stay ready for number to be called

SANTA CLARA  — Running back Jeff Wilson might have only played one offensive snap in the 49ers' victory over the Cardinals in Week 11 but it was an important one. 

The play had the potential for disaster. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo admitted he couldn’t see his running back and Wilson couldn’t see the pass coming out of the pocket. The ball arrived slightly behind Wilson, but the undrafted free agent was able to secure the ball and make his way 25 yards down the field to the end zone. 

The 49ers and Cardinals changed leads three times last Sunday at Levi's Stadium, but Wilson's touchdown with 31 seconds left put Kyle Shanahan's crew on top for good, winning 36-26.

Wilson’s first receiving touchdown comes after entering the year with no assurances he would ever see the field during the regular season. With a stacked running backs room to begin the offseason, Wilson was expected to have a spot on the scout team with Jerick McKinnon, Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert all ahead of him on the depth chart, not to mention fullback Kyle Juszczyk. 

Injuries hit the running backs room hard and Wilson's number was called. In seven appearances, Wilson has racked up four rushing touchdowns, filling in as needed. No matter how often his number is called, he stays ready to make an impact. 

“That’s just how the game goes,” Wilson told NBC Sports Bay Area. “That’s kind of what you get yourself into, That’s something you go into already expecting and knowing. Obviously, I knew that from the beginning of the season. Never know when I’m going to get called up.” 

The support of his position mates has made the process easier for the second-year running back. The group is very close. During pregame warmups they spend several minutes, arm-in-arm, huddled together in the end zone. Players who are inactive for the game or injured always are included.  
"To have Matt there, Tevin, Juice, the guys I’m in the locker room with, makes it easier,” Wilson said. “They are very supportive. It’s like if one of us is doing something, it’s like all of us are doing it. 

“At the same time if one person scores it feels like all of us scored. That’s kind of how we work. We want to make everyone to feel a part of it. We always call Jet, you know what I mean? He’s the leader of the group still. We always keep Jet involved. That’s kind of how we are.” 

[RELATED: 49ers' Kittle back at practice but off-limits for contact]

That support helped fuel Wilson’s dash to the end zone. His bouncing up and down in the huddle before the play might have made coach Shanahan a little nervous, but Wilson said he was ready thanks to playing 13 special teams snaps to stay warmed up. But he might not have expected the feelings that took over his body once he got into the end zone. 

“I don’t know, that was just a lot of emotion,” Wilson said. “A lot of stuff just built up on the inside that kind of came out all at once. I couldn’t control myself. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t in control of my body at that point. It was crazy, but it’s a blessing. It was a moment that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”