49ers

Jed York says 49ers abstained from NFL anthem vote

Jed York says 49ers abstained from NFL anthem vote

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday the vote was unanimous among all 32 teams in the league.

But San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York told reporters at the NFL owners meetings that the policy to prohibit players from any form of protest during the national anthem did not include his support.

The new NFL policy regarding the national anthem states::

--All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag the Anthem.

--Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the Anthem has been performed.

--A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

--Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

--The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

“All 32 clubs want to make sure that during the moment of the anthem and the flag that that is a very important moment to all of us, as a league, as clubs, personally to our country,” Goodell said at a press conference in Atlanta. “And that’s a moment we want to make sure is done in a very respectful fashion.”

But York told a group of reporters the 49ers abstained from the vote. Terez Paylor of Yahoo! Sports was first to report York’s revelation. York has publicly supported the rights of 49ers players to exercise their First Amendment rights to protest peacefully.

“I think there are a lot of reasons, and I’m not going to get into all of those reasons. But I think the gist of it is really that we want to make sure that everything that we’re doing is to promote progress. And I think we’ve done a good piece of that so far,” York said, as reported by Kevin Seifert of ESPN.

The 49ers have been at the center of the movement to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid began kneeling at the start of the 2016 season. Kaepernick did not play in the league last year, but Reid continued kneeling, along with teammates Eli Harold, Marquise Goodwin and others. Reid has remained unsigned as an unrestricted free agent.

The NFL Players Association fired back at the NFL policy, stating the players have demonstrated their patriotism, in part, "through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about."

49ers' need perfectly timed with loaded 2020 NFL Draft receiver class

49ers' need perfectly timed with loaded 2020 NFL Draft receiver class

Timing is everything.

The 49ers were arguably the most well-rounded team in the NFL last season on their way to finishing runner-up to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. San Francisco had the best defense in the conference, and the second-most productive rushing offense in the league. Jimmy Garoppolo finished 22 passing yards short of 4,000, and only five other teams finished the regular season with more takeaways than the reigning NFC champions.

When looking up and down the 49ers' 2019 roster, they were strong across the board. There weren't any holes, and certain areas were tremendous strengths. However, it goes without saying that some of San Francisco's position groups are stronger than others. While the defensive line is arguably the best of its kind, the wide receiver group, for instance, isn't nearly as dominant or impressive.

Deebo Samuel had an exceptional rookie season, and Kendrick Bourne emerged as a consistent contributor. But if the position group was strong enough entering the season, the 49ers wouldn't have had reason to make a midseason trade for Emmanuel Sanders. The 10-year veteran hit the ground running as soon as he joined San Francisco and immediately became one of Garoppolo's go-to targets. However, Sanders, 31, is an unrestricted free agent, and while Samuel would like for his mentor to return, there is no guarantee that he will.

Whether or not the 49ers re-sign Sanders, they couldn't have asked for a better draft to beef up their receiving corps than the one upcoming in April. The 2020 NFL Draft is absolutely loaded at wide receiver, with NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah going so far as to call the draft class the "deepest" he has ever seen.

In addition to giving 27 receiver prospects a top-three-round grade, Jeremiah also has nine receivers ranked among his top 50 prospects overall. The cream of the crop includes Alabama's Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb, LSU's Justin Jefferson, Clemson's Tee Higgins and Colorado's Laviska Shenault, among others. Depending on what happens with Sanders, it's certainly possible one of those top prospects gets selected by San Francisco.

As things currently stand, after picking No. 31 overall in the first round, the 49ers won't be on the clock again until the fifth round, partly the result of sending their own third- and fourth-round draft picks to the Denver Broncos in the trade for Sanders. While San Francisco's receiving corps could use a boost, the team has additional needs that would make it difficult to rationalize using a first-round draft pick on a pass-catcher, especially if Sanders is re-signed. 

[RELATED: Why 49ers could look to add Gabriel to wide receiver mix]

As such, a more plausible scenario is the 49ers trading back out of the first round to acquire more draft picks. With those additional selections, they would still stand a great chance of having a great receiver prospect fall to them, as there inevitably will be a greater supply of standouts than the demand. While every team in the league would love to get their hands on a big-time playmaker, almost all of them have far more pressing and numerous needs than San Francisco does, and each team only has so many picks.

If Sanders is re-signed, the 49ers' need for improvement in the receiving corps will be severely diminished. But, given his age, one could argue San Francisco needs to draft at least one more receiver this coming April -- and if Sanders isn't re-signed -- probably more than one.

Lucky for the 49ers, the timing should work out quite well.

Why 49ers could be interested in adding Taylor Gabriel to receiver mix

Why 49ers could be interested in adding Taylor Gabriel to receiver mix

When the 49ers signed wide receiver Marquise Goodwin on the first day of free agency in 2017, coach Kyle Shanahan envisioned using him in a role similar to what he designed previously for Taylor Gabriel.

Now, Goodwin’s time with the 49ers appears to be coming to an end at the same time that Gabriel is set to become available. The Bears on Friday released Gabriel.

Gabriel was scheduled to make $5.5 million this season with the Chicago Bears for the 2020 season. Goodwin is on the books to cost the 49ers $4.5 million this year and is expected to be released in a cost-cutting move.

The 49ers could look to replace Goodwin with Gabriel, who has a valuation of $1.864 million, according to OverTheCap.com. But the move would have to be a low-risk deal, as Gabriel missed the final five games of last season after sustaining his second concussion of the season.

[RELATEDMore receiver depth needed around Deebo Samuel]

Gabriel, 29, played in nine games for the Bears last season. He caught 29 passes for 353 yards and four touchdowns. If the 49ers have interest in Gabriel, it would be to add him to the roster to compete for a spot as a part-time player to stretch the field.

Gabriel had the two highest yards-per-reception averages of his career with Shanahan calling the plays. In 2014 with the Cleveland Browns, Gabriel caught 36 passes for 621 yards (17.3-yard average). And in 2016, he caught 35 passes for 579 yards (16.5 average).