49ers

Joe Staley, 49ers give virtual graduation ceremony to class of 2020

Joe Staley, 49ers give virtual graduation ceremony to class of 2020

Joe Staley retired this offseason after 13 years with the 49ers, but on Saturday, he gave The Faithful of all ages a special parting gift. 

The 49ers held a 38-minute virtual graduation ceremony for those of all ages in the class of 2020. Whether you're a young fan moving up to junior high, you graduated high school or even college, the Niners had a message for you. 

No message was greater than Staley's. Decked in a cap and gown, the former Pro Bowl left tackle gave the official commencement speech

“Good evening students, faculty, friends, family, and 49ers Faithful," Staley started his speech. "I’m Joe Staley, proud student of Rockford High School and Central Michigan University. Oh, and former offensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers.

"I am here tonight to extend my congratulations to the class of 2020. You did it!"

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The 35-year-old went on to send a great message regarding his retirement and how it relates to graduates. 

"Just a few weeks ago, after playing in 192 NFL games, I decided to hang up my cleats. So, I know first-hand how hard it is to close a chapter and open a new one during this chaotic and uncertain time," Staley said. "But I also know we will get through this and come out stronger. Being able to move forward and graduate despite the hurdles that this pandemic has thrown your way, speaks to your resilience.

"Whether you’re leaving elementary, middle, high school, college, or vocational school -- hold your head high, be proud, and know that you are ready for this. You’ve prepared hard and now it’s time to get out there and make your dreams come true." 

In addition to Staley, coach Kyle Shanahan, general manager John Lynch and many others gave inspiring messages. Jerry Rice and Steve Young even stopped by to celebrate. 

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This year's graduating class, no matter what age or school, dealt with extremely tough circumstances. Watching Staley address so many with such a positive outlook is just another glimpse of what he meant to the 49ers' locker room. 

Staley made strong, lifelong impressions on countless teammates. The same can be said for what he did for 49ers fans as well.

Ex-49ers teammate explains why Colin Kaepernick fits in today's NFL

Ex-49ers teammate explains why Colin Kaepernick fits in today's NFL

Around the NFL, every team is looking for the next Patrick Mahomes. The next Lamar Jackson, the next Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson. 

The 49ers had exactly that in Colin Kaepernick, a game-changing dual-threat quarterback.

Seven-year pro Michael Thomas saw that firsthand back in 2012, the first year Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith as the 49ers' starting QB and led them to the Super Bowl. Thomas was a safety on the San Francisco's practice squad that year before carving out a role with the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants. He even made the Pro Bowl in 2018. 

And Thomas finds it unexplainable how NFL teams aren't fighting to get Kaepernick's skill set on the field. 

"He’s the type of quarterback that today’s NFL is built for," Thomas wrote as the guest writer for NBC Sports' Peter King's "Football Morning in America" column. "It’s built for the mobile quarterback, it’s built for the quarterback who can run but also throw. He’s that dual-threat option. He’s mobile, and he has a big arm that can hit the deep threat. He causes confusion for defenses if he gets into any kind of zone-read option. And obviously the RPO game is bigger than ever.

"Set aside for a second what the league would gain in terms of credibility by bringing him back. From a pure football standpoint, his style fits the league perfectly."

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Over his six-year career, five as a starter, Kaepernick has totaled 12,271 passing yards and 72 touchdowns through the air. He also has 2,300 career rushing yards and another 13 TDs. 

But Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL since 2016, the same year he began first sitting then kneeling during the national anthem as a peaceful protest against racial and social injustices. Thomas, as a member of the Dolphins, played against Kaepernick that season and the QB was dominant. 

The less talented 49ers lost 31-24 in Miami, but Kaepernick's ability as a passer and runner were on full display. He completed 29 of 46 pass attempts for 296 yards, three touchdowns and was intercepted once. He also rushed 10 times for 113 yards, his last game with at least 100 yards rushing. 

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The 49ers were just 1-9 going into the game against the 6-4 Dolphins. Kaepernick was tackled at the 2-yard line to end the game, just falling short of completely putting the team on his back in a rough road environment.

That also was nearly four years ago. There are no guarantees Kaepernick plays another game of football in his life. To Thomas, that's baffling, and understandably so.

Why Warriors could be new Washington NFL team nickname after change

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Why Warriors could be new Washington NFL team nickname after change

After starting a thorough review of its nickname July 3, Washington's NFL franchise announced it has decided on a nickname change Monday.

While the new nickname won't be revealed Monday, it might end up being one that is quite familiar to Bay Area sports fans: the Warriors.

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Washington owner Dan Snyder previously has filed to trademark both "Washington Warriors" and "Warriors" multiple times, and The 980's Kevin Sheehan reported on his podcast that the name is the leader in the clubhouse to be the new nickname.

However, Snyder could run into some issues. Snyder owned the rights to any Arena Football League expansion in the Washington area, and was expected to name them the Warriors, but he ultimately abandoned his quest for the trademark.

In April 2019, the trademark office sent Snyder a letter saying he had six months to respond if he still was interested in the Warriors. He did not respond, and by October the trademark office issued a "partial abandonment" ruling, meaning Snyder could only use the trademark for football and not for memorabilia.

Another thing stands in the way of Snyder rebranding the team the Washington Warriors. A 61-year-old man named Martin McCaulay is a trademark squatter, a person who filed for trademarks so that larger corporations eventually will have to pay him for them. McCaulay's trademarks include the Washington Redtailed Hawks, Washington Americans, Washington Federals and Washington Monuments, per The Washington Times. McCaulay filed to trademark "Washington Warriors" in 2015. It now is suspended and under review. McCaulay said Snyder will have to "get in line" if he wants to use it.

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"Warriors" also seem to be a popular choice among fans, with several logo and uniform mockups hitting Twitter in recent weeks.

Washington opened a review of its nickname after Snyder began to face pressure after protests for social justice and racial equality began in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody in May. Snyder previously has said he would sell the team before changing the offensive nickname.

But after FedEx said it would pull all signage from the stadium unless it was changed by 2021, and Nike pulled all gear from the website, it was clear a change was imminent. By the time the franchise announced the nickname was under thorough review, Snyder reportedly already had been in talks with the NFL about a name change, per ESPN.