49ers

Jimmie Ward warns 49ers against replacing him with top draft prospects

Jimmie Ward warns 49ers against replacing him with top draft prospects

Jimmie Ward would prefer to remain with the 49ers, assuming they offer him the kind of contract he is looking for in free agency. But if that isn't in the cards, the free safety has thoughts on how San Francisco should go about replacing him.

There have been a number of safeties -- both free agents and draft prospects -- whose names have been associated with the 49ers. Ward has heard the rumors, but he doesn't view them as realistic, and recently took to Instagram to explain why.

"[Anthony] Harris is going to be more expensive than me in free agency FYI," Ward began. Considering Spotrac projects the Vikings' free agent to command an average annual salary of $13.8 million on his next contract, it's difficult to argue with that first point.

Next, Ward moved his attention to the draft prospects.

"If you draft a safety in the first round, the two names y'all keep throwing up every other day ... just know you can't use them how our DC used me this past season. ... Best bet is to draft a coverage safety in the later rounds to get a steal."

The two safety prospects being connected to San Francisco's first-round draft pick (No. 31 overall) are Alabama's Xavier McKinney and LSU's Grant Delpit. Both prospects are larger than Ward, which could be a benefit when playing closer to the line of scrimmage. 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh frequently used Ward as a single-high safety this past season, however, in which range and coverage skills are paramount for the last line of defense.

Clearly, Ward doesn't think McKinney and Delpit are capable of providing that skill set.

[RELATED: If Ward leaves, 49ers have safety options in 2020 draft]

Finally, Ward closed with an endorsement of his understudy.

"Stick with [Tarvarius Moore] at safety if they don't sign me back!"

Moore transitioned back to his natural position of free safety last season after being tried at cornerback as a rookie and showed some promise, even intercepting a pass in the Super Bowl. Selected with the No. 95 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Moore has two more seasons remaining on his rookie contract at a very affordable price. In theory, San Francisco could elevate Moore to the starting job and save money at that position that the team could use elsewhere, such as in contract extensions for standouts George Kittle and DeForest Buckner.

You don't often see a pending free agent give his incumbent team advice on how to replace him. Given Ward's reputation in the 49ers' locker room, though, it's no surprise that he would advocate for a teammate.

Aaron Rodgers shades Drew Brees, says NFL protests 'NEVER' about flag

Aaron Rodgers shades Drew Brees, says NFL protests 'NEVER' about flag

Hours after New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said he considered players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African Americans "disrespecting the flag," a superstar peer not-so-subtly pushed back.

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers shared a picture of him and his teammates locking arms before a 2017 game, writing in an Instagram post on Wednesday that such demonstrations have "NEVER been about an anthem or a flag."

"Not then. Not now," Rodgers wrote. "Listen with an open heart, let’s educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action."

Yahoo Finance asked Brees earlier Wednesday if he would support players kneeling in protest during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" this season, as demonstrators around the world protest police brutality in the aftermath of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who was unarmed, dying in Minneapolis police custody last Monday. Brees, echoing comments he made four years ago when former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first sat then kneeled during the national anthem before games, said he "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America, or our country."

Rodgers did not directly mention Brees, but the Saints signal-caller faced widespread rebuke Wednesday.

Star 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman called Brees "beyond lost." Michael Thomas, the Saints' best receiver and Brees' top target, didn't mention Brees by name on Twitter, but it was clear who he was referring to in a pair of tweets.

Malcolm Jenkins, who previously raised a fist during the national anthem, co-founded the Players Coalition in 2017 and signed with the Saints this offseason, said Brees is "part of the problem" with his "hurtful" and "insensitive" comments.

Just eight of the NFL's 32 starting quarterbacks are African American. After Carson Wentz, Ryan Tannehill and 2020 No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow spoke up following Floyd's death, Sherman said it was important for white QBs to speak out against police brutality and institutional racism because their voices "carry different weight than the black voices for some people." Just before Brees spoke, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said he would stop "sticking to sports."

[RELATED: Poole writes Brees revealed he's part of problem, not solution]

A day before his comments about the flag, Brees posted a black square on his Instagram page as part of #BlackoutTuesday. The social-media campaign was initially intended for members of the music industry to "disconnect from work and reconnect with our community" but later spread to celebrities, influencers and everyday users intending to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Scores of users initially posted with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, obscuring posts that #BlackoutTuesday participants hoped to elevate.

Brees used the proper hashtag Tuesday, but his understanding of his protesting peers' goals is now in question.

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

49ers' Richard Sherman speaks from experience in revealing police problem

49ers' Richard Sherman speaks from experience in revealing police problem

George Floyd's tragic death in Minneapolis police custody has rocked the nation, and while the human spectrum present at the countless protests across the country and world at large does point to some progress in racial equality, the catalyst that sparked them is a reminder that there still is so far to go.

That's why Colin Kaepernick kneeled. And the fact that people still don't understand why he did and still don't understand the message behind "Black Lives Matter" are reasons why more progress hasn't been made.

"I think that's the frustrating part," 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said Wednesday on "NFL Total Access." "The people that the message is trying to get through to are unwilling to accept the message. And when you're combative and defensive about something you don't even fully understand, there can't be progress. So, whenever somebody says, 'Hey, this black man got killed on national TV in front of the world,' there should be a sense of anger from everybody, regardless of race, because it was just wrong."

Sherman's remarks came as part of a discussion in which he and former NFL defensive end Chris Long offered their thoughts on how players can use their platforms to fight racism in their communities. He spoke from his own personal experience in explaining the enormity of the issue at hand, and pointed to the disparity in how Floyd was treated by the police as compared to white mass murderers, such as Dylann Roof.

"As somebody who was born in Watts, California and raised in Compton and seen some terrible things, you understand that it's not always on camera," Sherman said. "It's not always on camera; It's just these few incidents you guys have caught on camera. There are hundreds of thousands of incidents you don't catch on camera, thousands of innocent men sitting in jail cells because it's word of mouth that has put them there. 'Hey, this person said they did this. There's not a lot of evidence, but hey, they're black. We assume they did it.' And so that's where people are getting frustrated and this has become the tipping point ... 

" ... for three officers to be on top of [Floyd], one officer on the side watching, and there's also video evidence of them kind of roughing him up in the car, like, that's not okay. And it wouldn't have been okay for them to do it to mass murderers who were white who came in and shot up innocent people. It wouldn't have been okay for them to stop them and not let them see their day in court. But the way those situations were approached is what a lot of people see problems with. Because [Floyd] wasn't a threat. 

"So if the man isn't a threat and he can't see his day in court, and two men who were actually full threats -- killed, murdered, they were real threats. They were threatening, they had guns -- and you didn't feel the fear or angst or anxiety to, 'Hey, pull a trigger. Let me shoot this guy before he shoots me,' that you do when a guy is unarmed, then that's part of the problem."

[RELATED: Sherman says Brees is 'beyond lost' with kneeling comments]

The problem Sherman describes is a complex one with many parts. But if we all do our part individually -- listening, learning, striving for change -- it can only benefit the whole.

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