49ers

Jerick McKinnon throws support behind Jimmy Garoppolo as both rehab torn ACLs

Jerick McKinnon throws support behind Jimmy Garoppolo as both rehab torn ACLs

Jerick McKinnon definitely feels Jimmy Garoppolo’s pain, having torn his ACL during the preseason and watched the 49ers quarterback do the same Sunday.

McKinnon was quick to tweet his support for Garoppolo the next day.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan used the prospect of rehabbing with the running back as a positive with Garoppolo.

“That’s the only good news that Jimmy and I could talk about on the plane. At least he’s got a buddy to go through it with,” Shanahan said Monday. “Unfortunately, both of them are going through it. But they’re both in the same boat.

“I know Jerick, I think, texted him and sent him a picture of his knee right after the game. Just said, ‘Looking forward to having a wingman,’ or something. They can talk a lot about it with each other. They can keep each other up, help each other when each other are down, but those are two very important players, they were for us to start out this year.”

That last point is what surely stings the 49ers, who entered training camp with high hopes and now must play without their two top offensive weapons.

49ers' Kendrick Bourne, NFL stars not fans of league's escrow proposal

49ers' Kendrick Bourne, NFL stars not fans of league's escrow proposal

With each passing day, the concerns over the coronavirus grow.

For the sports world, that means uncertainty. Will the games be played as scheduled? Will there be fans in the stands? What will revenue look like?

On Tuesday, the NFL reportedly made a financial proposal to the Players Association, and it didn't sit well with the latter group.

NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported, citing sources, that the NFLPA told its board of representatives that the league is proposing to put 35 percent of players' 2020 salary into an escrow account.

Pelissero relayed a response from an NFLPA executive Don Davis.

As you can imagine, the idea of not getting their full salaries didn't sit well with the players, including 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne.

Raiders right tackle Trent Brown weighed in.

Several other NFL stars, including newly minted $503 million-man Patrick Mahomes, shared the same reaction.

The NFL reportedly wants to cut the preseason from four games to two games, and the NFLPA later voted that no preseason games be played.

It's clear the two sides have a lot to work out before training camps open later this month.

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

49ers' George Kittle voted top NFL tight end over Chiefs' Travis Kelce

49ers' George Kittle voted top NFL tight end over Chiefs' Travis Kelce

Who's the best tight end in the NFL?

While many feel strongly on the subject, there really are only two acceptable answers. You can bicker back and forth as to who is superior between 49ers tight end George Kittle and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, but they're clearly in a tier unto themselves.

If you're partial to the intricacies of route-running, Kelce might be your choice. If you like a bruiser who contributes in all aspects of the offense, Kittle surely is your guy.

If there is a separation between the two, it's by hairs. Don't take my word for it. More than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players recently voted on the top 10 players at 11 different positions for the upcoming 2020 season, and the top two tight ends were separated by the slimmest margin of any position group.

To the delight of 49ers fans, and the ire of those of the Chiefs, Kittle came out on top. Just barely.

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

After the first round of votes, ESPN's Jeremey Fowler reported Kittle and Kelce sat at a dead-even split. Additional voting and follow-up calls were required, which ultimately tilted the result in Kittle's favor.

Just like Kelce, Kittle was ranked as high as No. 1 at the position, but no lower than No. 3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski was the only other player to receive a first-place vote, but last I checked it's 2020 and not 2015.

"Consecutive 1,000-yard seasons make Kittle a top contender, but his blocking and intensity helped earn him nearly half the first-place votes," Fowler wrote. "Where Kittle beats everyone is at the line of scrimmage and with the ball in his hands, as he forced a league-high 20 missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus."

The voters were full of compliments for Kelce, but Kittle's mentality, leadership and scheme flexibility proved to be the tie-breakers.

"Be on the field, and see how he elevates the play of everyone in the offense. It's tangible," one NFC coordinator said. "He lifts everyone up."

"The passion on tape is unmatched," an AFC executive explained. "He's got that dog in him. More competitive than Kelce."

"Unreal passion, energy, toughness, blocking," said another executive.

[RELATED: Mahomes contract could put pressure on 49ers signing Kittle]

Kittle might have won the vote, but last time he and Kelce were on the same field, the Chiefs tight end got the better of him, both in the box score and in the Lombardi Trophy department. Of course, if Kittle isn't called for that questionable-at-best offensive pass interference penalty, it might be a completely different story.

In any case, there's no shame in Kelce being ranked below Kittle, nor would there be if it was the other way around. They're both extremely special players, and it's not a coincidence that their teams arguably are the two best in the NFL.