Hard to believe Roger Goodell, NFL truly want Colin Kaepernick back in league

Hard to believe Roger Goodell, NFL truly want Colin Kaepernick back in league

Programming note: Tune in to "Race in America: A Candid Conversation" on Friday night at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

The NFL is shouting from its ivory basement that it is in the midst of an awakening, that it now realizes its banishment of Colin Kaepernick was overtly punitive and, moreover, that it would like to make amends.

Can you imagine?

Hello, Colin. This is the NFL. Happy Juneteenth! What’s good, bruh? Hey, look, we’re trying to put together a 2020 season. We don’t know what it’s gonna look like, but we wondered if you’d be willing to join us. We have 32 teams, and some of them could use a quarterback. Did you hear Anthony Lynn, the Chargers’ coach – who is, by the way, one of our Black head coaches – talking you up the other day?

According to the words of commissioner Roger Goodell on two occasions this month, presumably speaking for team owners, the road back to the NFL has been cleared for the former 49ers quarterback.

Dr. Ameer Hasan Loggins is among the millions not buying it. The longtime confidant of Kaepernick, a panelist on “Race In America: A Candid Conversation,” on NBC Sports Bay Area Friday night at 8 p.m. is unsparing in his scrutiny.

“First of all, as a writer and as a scholar, you pay attention to words,” Loggins says. “And initially (Goodell’s comments on June 5), he didn’t even mention Colin’s name, right? It was something like he was bouncing back and forth with the players until they got to a point where they were like, ‘Apologize to all the players that protested.’ And it was like ‘Hey, I can’t touch that because it’s also inclusive of Colin.’

“Then he came back (in a June 15 ESPN interview), and it was a thing where it was like ‘I would encourage.’ It was a certain ... encouraging is not demanding. I’m also aware of the fact that maybe two, three weeks ago the NFL retired Colin mysteriously.”

The NFL on May 22, on its redesigned web site, listed Kaepernick as “retired.” Never mind that Kaepernick had not announced any such decision. Or that he set up a workout last November hoping to impress NFL teams enough to get an invitation.

Loggins’ skepticism is warranted. Though it has become fashionable in recent weeks for American institutions to craft statements condemning racist behavior while vowing to be more diverse and less offensive, history is rife with instances of words and gestures not put into practice.

To be blunt, such promises have been used as social opiates to mollify the restless. Has America ever been more broadly restless than now?

“Understanding that I’m not a prisoner of the moment and I’m recognizing that what Goodell is doing is trying to put forth a certain kind of image onto the necessity of seeming as if they’re willing to accept Colin,” Loggins says.

“But you’re not calling him. You’re talking all this talk on your whatever Zoom chats, in whatever little dungeon you’re in, doing that talk. But have you reached out to Colin Kaepernick and his agent or his lawyer? Because that’s when I know it’s real.”

[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]

It has been almost 42 months since Kaepernick appeared in an NFL game. In a short span of time, he went from being the NFL’s most sensational quarterback, leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl, to its most visible pariah. From being the league’s new wave to being not good enough to make rosters with three quarterbacks whose combined gifts might equal half of his.

All because he kneeled during the pregame national anthem to express his honest and fair concern about racial injustice and police brutality inflicted upon black people in America.

“In order for Colin Kaepernick to not receive a single call in the last four years – and I’m telling you as someone who knows him – that he has not received that call,” Loggins says. “That was coordinated, because that means everyone came together collectively at the same time and decided that this one person was not worthy of being included into this space anymore. And that’s not happenstance that something that has to be colluded or done behind the scenes.

"So, I take it as a PR, just like everybody else. I take it the same way that those police that are taking knees in the daytime and beating the hell out of people at night, I take it that way.”

[RELATED: Why Kap not having an NFL job makes Rapinoe 'so pissed']

It doesn’t matter that Goodell is wearing the face of the advocate for Kaepernick. Or that President Donald Trump this week – three years after urging NFL owners to fire “those sons of bitches” daring to kneel – is now saying he’d support Kaepernick getting another chance.

It’s hard for anyone who has followed this saga since 2017 to take either man at his word. Each is aware of the multicultural energy toward justice and is formulating a new agenda. Trump is what he’s always been. And Goodell, his credibility near zero, knows he has nothing to lose.

How Jalen Hurd's physicality has stood out to 49ers' Raheem Mostert

How Jalen Hurd's physicality has stood out to 49ers' Raheem Mostert

Jalen Hurd only played in the preseason last year before a back injury ultimately cut short his rookie season, but the 49ers wide receiver nonetheless flashed intriguing potential with a two-touchdown performance against the Dallas Cowboys.

But Hurd's potential as a blocker is what most excites 49ers running back Raheem Mostert.

"[He's] gonna go out there and he's gonna put his all, especially with what I've seen these past couple years when he's been healthy," Mostert said of Hurd on Wednesday when he was asked about the 49ers' big receivers and their blocking ability. "Going out there, and trying to de-cleat somebody. That's inspiring in itself as a running back because you know that he's gonna do his job to the best of his ability, and he's gonna put his body out there on the line. Why not do the same as a runner?"

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

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Hurd certainly has the measurables to be an effective run blocker. He also played running back at Tennessee before transitioning to wide receiver when he transferred to Baylor, checking the important "positional versatility" box for coach Kyle Shanahan.

The 49ers spoke openly of how much they value blocking contributions from skill-position players all along the way to Super Bowl LIV, and the role their wide receivers and tight ends played in San Francisco rushing for more yards (2,305) than any team but the Baltimore Ravens in the regular season. Shanahan said George Kittle set the tone in that regard.

“I mean, he had more yards in the pass game as a tight end in the history of the NFL [in 2018],” Shanahan said of the tight end in January. “So, any time you have a guy like that who's one of the best players on your team who's always just talking about running the ball and playing the physicality in the game and giving everything you can, it helps you hold everyone else a lot more accountable, and rarely do you have to."

[RELATED: Mostert knew he would remain with 49ers 'no matter what']

Can Hurd provide similar value during his first full NFL season in 2020? He has the size, and Mostert believes Hurd definitely has the skills.

"It's nice to see those guys out there coming back, especially Jalen, because he is a bigger receiver and he's more physical," Mostert continued. "He's one of -- probably the most physical receiver I've seen, tape-wise and even going out there practicing. It's nice to see him back."

Raheem Mostert knew he would remain with 49ers despite trade request

Raheem Mostert knew he would remain with 49ers despite trade request

After bursting onto the scene with a tremendous stretch during the latter portion of the 49ers' 2019 season, Raheem Mostert didn't have the offseason he expected coming off the field after San Francisco's loss in Super Bowl LIV.

The coronavirus pandemic put a wrench into everyone's plans, and Mostert had to think long and hard about whether he would play this coming season -- which, he will. But beyond that, he sought a salary increase commensurate with his level of production as compared to the other running backs on the roster. Mostert lacked leverage in contract negotiations with the team, though, and ultimately requested a trade.

That request wasn't received kindly by general manager John Lynch, but eventually was rescinded after the 49ers re-worked his contract with incentives that could significantly increase his 2020 salary. Mostert spoke with reporters Wednesday, and in addition to expressing his desire to prove last season was not a flash in the pan, he provided some additional context behind the contract negotiations (H/T 49ers Web Zone).

"It was long, and (there were) difficulties," Mostert explained. "But in the end, we were able to sit down and have communication, and it's a blessing to be here. It's one of those things where I knew it was going to be right regardless of how it played out. I knew that, in the end, it was going to be all right, and I was still going to be a Niner no matter what."

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

From that, it would appear Mostert knew the reality of the situation. He never actually believed it would amount to him being moved, despite issuing a formal trade request. In relating the disagreement, Mostert compared the back-and-forth to brotherly love.

"This is a family, and we all understand that," he continued. "As you can see, what we've been through these past three, four years with the organization, going 6-10, then the following year, 4-12, and then the Super Bowl run last year, it just tells you that this is a family-based organization.

"We all really pride ourselves on being family. What family doesn't have those problems? I argue with my little brother. It's one of those things where I argue with him, but I also love him at the same time. That's what's going on here.

"We eventually got it fixed, and like I said, it's a blessing, and I'm glad to be here."

[RELATED: McKinnon gives Jimmy G another option in 49ers' offense]

Though the odds were always in favor of Mostert remaining with San Francisco, there's no question both he and the 49ers are better off having worked things out.

If all goes as they hope, both sides will be more than happy with the result.