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In naming Kaepernick 'Citizen of the Year,' GQ recalibrates what we have taken for granted

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In naming Kaepernick 'Citizen of the Year,' GQ recalibrates what we have taken for granted

Gentlemen’s Quarterly is not typically the defining mechanism of a man’s work. At least it shouldn’t be, not by my narrow concept of what is still a predominantly style-based magazine.

But when it named Colin Kaepernick its Citizen Of The Year, as told in the words of other admiring celebrity mavens, it recalibrated a lot of things we have taken for granted.

Like conscience. He had one. He exercised it at considerable personal cost and became a national touchstone on the real beginning of the new century. He put a cleaver to our national pretense of “one country” and made it plain that football isn’t meant to be the be-all and end-all of a football player’s life. A man must have a code, after all, and human decency for all under an umbrella of America-as-it-ought-to-be is his.

But his code was revealed in rejecting football (or actually, having it reject him), and while the national tide has swirled around him, he also helped reveal the slowly but discernibly rotting underpinnings of the National Football League which is responding to all this external struggle by eating itself. The NFL's power and resources are vast, so the cannibalism will take a decade and likely more, but it is happening right where everyone can see.

The owners are eating their hand-selected commissioner, who is using shape-shifting and often extra-legal standards to eat some of the game’s biggest names, who are eating each other with every helmet-to-helmet collision and disregard for their mutual power.

The next generation of sports fans is eating its remotes by finding other things to do in record numbers, the past and present generations of sports fans are using football as a meal for its own political positions, and the next generation of media executives are eating their own preconceptions about a football-based programming economy at a time when their own long-range projections are being undercut by technological advancements.

Plus, and let’s not forget this, the current president is wreaking his harpie’s revenge on the men and women who rejected him decades ago as a potential NFL owner because he was too malignant even for them.

Now what business should survive based on that? Well, there is that too-big-to-fail thing, but I wouldn't bank on that being true forever. Having ignored the slowly building health and safety considerations and the changing demographic tastes, it was shown all of it in its festering glory when Kaepernick decided one man’s voice wasn’t too small, and one man’s platform wasn’t too rickety.

And he wasn’t even going after football. He was going after social inequity and cruelties, the way a good citizen should.

So maybe GQ isn’t the Nobel Prize, or Time’s Person Of The Year. But credit to them for getting the sentiment right by seeing Kaepernick as a citizen in the most meaningful way a citizen can be viewed, and woe betide the National Football League for being collateral damage in a rapidly changing nation that is trying in its far too clumsy and often hateful way to relocate its essential reason for being.

49ers hopeful receiver Jalen Hurd will be cleared for offseason program

49ers hopeful receiver Jalen Hurd will be cleared for offseason program

INDIANAPOLIS -- Even before the 49ers have the opportunity to select a wide receiver in the draft, the club expects to add the services of a young pass-catcher.

Jalen Hurd, a third-round draft pick from a year ago, appears to be on schedule to receive clearance to rejoin the 49ers when the offseason program begins in April. Hurd spent his rookie season on injured reserve due to a stress fracture in his lower back.

“For it to completely heal, it happens on different timelines,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “We found that his has been stubborn. We think he’s been nearing towards a much better place where he’ll be cleared for all activities.

“(We) don’t want to officially give that word, but there have been some recent scans and things that give us a lot of hope that that’ll be the case, come April 1, he’ll be a full-go.”

Hurd was not around the team too much during his rookie season. He did not travel to Miami for Super Bowl LIV due to concerns about aggravating his back condition.

“I think there’s a little anxiety on his part that the long plane rides had set him off before and he worked so hard to try to get right, and kind of didn’t want that to enter the equation,” Lynch said.

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In order for Hurd's back to heal, the 49ers and Hurd felt it was best to keep him off his feet.  

“With his back stuff, he didn’t want to travel, didn’t want to be in the meetings and everything," head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "There wasn’t much to do. He had a stress fracture and it’s taking a long time to heal, so we wanted him to be as immobile as possible.”

Hurd (6-foot-4, 227 pounds) caught 69 passes for 946 yards and four touchdowns in his senior season at Baylor in 2018. He played his first three college seasons at Tennessee, where he rushed for 2,635 yards and 20 touchdowns as a running back.

Hurd appeared in the 49ers’ preseason opener last summer and caught two touchdown passes against the Dallas Cowboys before experiencing the back condition that sidelined him for the rest of the season.

George Kittle's secret to Kyle Shanahan's wife gets back to 49ers coach

George Kittle's secret to Kyle Shanahan's wife gets back to 49ers coach

INDIANAPOLIS -- Coach Kyle Shanahan escaped to Cabo San Lucas shortly after the 49ers’ Super Bowl loss to get away from it all.

Shanahan ended up “randomly” spending time with 49ers players George Kittle, Nick Mullens, Trent Taylor and Levine Toilolo, who also went to Mexico for a vacation and some golf.

"I think we broke a record," Shanahan said Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We played like nine holes in five hours."

Kittle, an All-Pro tight end, is in line for a massive contract extension this offseason. This is the first time he can renegotiate a new contract after coming to the 49ers as a fifth-round draft pick in 2017.

The next time Kittle steps on the field with the 49ers, he is expected to have a new deal that will make him the highest-paid tight end in the league.

He might have given away some of his negotiating power while confiding in Mandy Shanahan, Kyle’s wife.

“He told my wife how much he liked it here (with the 49ers),” Shanahan said. “He even told my wife to promise not to tell me until after he signs. She told me. She’s my wife.”

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Kittle made base salaries of $465,000, $555,000 and $645,000 in his first three NFL seasons. His salary is scheduled to increase to $2.144 million in 2020 with a performance bonus. His next contract is expected to worth more than $12 million per season.

Kittle was selected to the Pro Bowl for the second time last season. He caught 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns. In 2018, Kittle set the NFL single-season record for a tight end with 1,377 receiving yards.