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Jay-Z dedicates song to Colin Kaepernick at NYC concert

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AP

Jay-Z dedicates song to Colin Kaepernick at NYC concert

NEW YORK — Jay-Z performed his first headlining concert in three years in his hometown of New York City on Friday, a show that featured his popular hits and a dedication to outspoken NFL player Colin Kaepernick.

The Brooklyn rapper kicked off the first of three days of the Meadows Music and Arts Festival at Citi Field in Queens, performing a 90-minute set that included his well-known songs as well as political moments.

“I want to dedicate this song to Colin Kaepernick tonight,” Jay-Z said of “The Story of O.J.,” a song about blackness and managing money that also references O.J. Simpson.

“I want to dedicate this to Dick Gregory. I want to dedicate this song to anyone that was held back and you overcame,” he added about the song from his personal and revealing album, “4:44.”

Kaepernick became a polarizing figure among NFL fans for his decision to sit, and then kneel, during the national anthem last season to protest police brutality. Gregory, who died last month, was a comedian and activist who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used his humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health.

Jay-Z’s performance, though full of energy and excitement, had some other serious tones.

When the beat for the Kanye West-produced 2003 song “Lucifer” came on — which samples Max Romeo’s “Chase the Devil” and includes the lyrics “Lucifer son of the morning, I’m gonna chase you out of Earth” — Jay-Z told the mostly young audience: “I promise we won’t take people out of this country.”

Jay-Z also said to the crowd, several times, that “love always trumps hate.”

At the show, the 47-year-old icon wore a white T-shirt featuring the artwork of the 1965 Beatles film and album, “Help!” Jay-Z said he wanted to transform the show into rock ‘n’ roll territory when he played his collaborations with Linkin Park, even paying tribute to the band’s lead singer Chester Bennington, who hanged himself in July.

“If you know this song, I want you to sing it so loud he can hear you in heaven,” Jay-Z said before performing the Grammy-winning mashup “Numb/Encore,” standing still and holding the microphone close with both of his hands.

Jay-Z’s set also included big hits from his 21-year-old career, from “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” to “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” to “Empire State of Mind.” His last main show in New York was part of his 2014 On the Run Tour with Beyonce, though he’s had some performances for his Tidal streaming service and surprise appearances.

Reggae artist Damian Marley joined in for “Bam” from “4:44,” which was released in June and features songs about Jay-Z’s personal life and work as an entrepreneur.

The Meadows festival, in its second year, will also play Saturday and Sunday, featuring performers like Gorillaz, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nas, Weezer, Future and LL Cool J across four stages. Migos, Run the Jewels, Two Door Cinema Club and 21 Savage also performed Friday.

Throughout his set, Jay-Z offered concertgoers encouraging words.

“If anybody got a dream, you chase that (dream) with everything you got,” he said at one point.

When one fan was eager for Jay-Z to sign something, the rapper asked if the fan had a pen.

The fan did not.

“How am I going to sign your (stuff) without a pen?” Jay-Z asked.

“Got to be prepared,” he told the fan.

How adjusting Fred Warner's workload has unleashed his speed for 49ers

How adjusting Fred Warner's workload has unleashed his speed for 49ers

BRADENTON, Fla. — For the second time in as many months, a member of the 49ers has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Month.

Linebacker Fred Warner took home the title for November after Nick Bosa had the honor for October. During the month, Warner tallied 44 total tackles, three sacks, four tackles for loss, three quarterback hits and two forced fumbles. 

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh believes altering the linebacker’s responsibilities has given Warner an opportunity to play with more speed. 

“We’ve taken a lot off his plate so he can just go line up and play,” Saleh said Thursday. “Putting more of the onus on making sure that guys lineup and go play. We were playing some of those read-option teams, the Arizona teams, we’re asking him to make a lot of checks and see if he can get us in the perfect defense. 

“While he’s busy trying to do that, he’s not able to focus on his job. Even though he was getting everyone lined up and everything was perfect, it’s just not fair for him. So, to take a little bit off his plate so he can go ahead and go play, I think that’s really been the difference.”

Saleh is not alone in praising Warner. Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman also has been impressed with the young linebacker's work ethic and growth in his second season. The fact that Warner didn’t play inside until he was with the 49ers makes his accomplishments even more significant. 

“The inside linebacker already has so much on his plate,” Sherman said. “Being able to take some of that off—there was one game I think he had six calls in one play. Where if this guy moves here, he has to readjust the line. He has to tell the DBs this, he has to tell this guy this and sometimes that just doesn’t allow him to play fast.

“He’s getting everybody else lined up to play fast but he can’t play fast. He has to think about all these calls, all these adjustments. Maybe you put a little more strain on the rest of the guys. You spread out the strain and it allows him to play fast and for us to be a better defense.”

[RELATED: 49ers now have logjam at running back with Breida's return]

Now in his second year, Warner sees things developing on the field more quickly. No matter the workload given to him by Saleh, the BYU product has been able to adjust.  

“I think as the year has gone on, he has kind of started to realize what’s too much, what’s too little,” Warner said. “I agree completely. Ever since kind of the midway point of the season, I think he has lined it up for me to just go out and play fast.”  

49ers' Richard Sherman, Dee Ford speak out on Tim Ryan's comments

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AP

49ers' Richard Sherman, Dee Ford speak out on Tim Ryan's comments

BRADENTON , Fla. -- Following radio broadcaster Tim Ryan's one-game suspension for his comments regarding Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, several 49ers players spoke out, believing there was no malicious intent behind what the analyst said. 

Known as being outspoken on most topics, Richard Sherman did not mince words about what Ryan said. He even mentioned that the commentator had personally apologized to several players while at the team hotel after the announcement of his suspension. 

“I know Tim personally, and I listened to the dialogue and saw it, read it,” Sherman said. “Honestly, I wasn’t as outraged as everybody else. I understand how it can be taken in a certain context and be offensive to some. 

“But if you’re saying, ‘Hey, this is a brown ball, they are wearing dark colors, and he has a brown arm,’ honestly sometimes we were having trouble seeing it on film. He’s making a play fake and sometimes he’s swinging his arm really fast and you’re like, does he have the ball? And you look up and [Mark] Ingram is running it.

“So it was technically a valid point but the way he said it, you can always phrase things better. I’ve had a relationship with him since I’ve gotten here and he’s never been anything other than a great guy and a professional and a guy who takes his job seriously.” 

Edge rusher Dee Ford expressed similar sentiments about Ryan’s comments, and confirmed that the two had spoken since the incident. 

“He walked up to me earlier and before he even said anything I told him. ‘I got your back.’” Ford said. “I already knew the story. The words kind of got taken out of context, and of course, now he knows he could have used better judgment with his words. But we got his back. I knew what he was trying to say. 

“This era we live in, it is just what it is, but I know him personally. I speak to him a lot. He loves to watch the D-line and there’s not one -- type of bone -- you know what bone I’m talking about, in his body. So I got his back, so put that to bed really fast.”  

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh also spoke about Ryan’s nature, not believing that there was negative intent behind his comments. 

[RELATED: How Payton, Saints are preparing for imposing 49ers defense]

“I’ve always, as a human being, tried to judge people on how I interact with them,” Saleh said. “And I love the man. He’s a very genuine human being and he knows he made a mistake and he’s just trying to move this on as quickly as possible.” 

Dennis Brown will be on the call with Greg Papa during Ryan’s absence for Sunday’s matchup against the Saints in the Superdome.