NFL owners may finally get something right when it comes to politics

NFL owners may finally get something right when it comes to politics

At the risk of failing to point out that the San Francisco 49ers managed to create four turnovers Sunday in Arizona and still only score two touchdowns and (need we add) lose their eighth game in a row, we’re going to do something you all enjoy -- mix politics and sports.
And yes, I hear you sniveling hyenas out there yelling, “Stick to politics. Nobody comes to you for sports.”
But a report from Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network indicates that some owners and miscellaneous big shots are interested in revisiting the marijuana issue in light of Tuesday’s election results.
And with CTE pun fully intended, ain’t that a kick in the head?
NFL owners have been adamant that players (a) should be tougher, (b) shouldn’t be whining about things like medical treatment, (c) should trust the owners on things like pain management because of the owners’ historical interest in their employees’ well-being, and (d) can’t use things like marijuana because they still think Reefer Madness was jobbed out of the Oscar for best Picture in favor of Mutiny on the Bounty . . . which they also enjoyed because it served as a useful primer for labor-management relations.
But now, according to that noted rouser of rabble Rapaport, some of the suits are seeing finally that they are on the wrong side of pharmacology, medicine and history, and are tired of the NFL serving as the model for popular scorn.
From the Rapoport story:
“Based on conversations with 10 NFL team owners and executives over the past few months, marijuana usage could emerge as a key issue when the collective bargaining agreement is renegotiated over the next few years. Each of the owners support additional study and discussion regarding what the league's stance should be on medical and recreational pot use for players. The majority of the sample size supports a decriminalization of marijuana that would make it more difficult for players to be suspended. Two of the principals involved in the issue said they are open to getting rid of marijuana-related suspensions and only issuing fines. Two others said they are worried about sending the message that drug use is tolerated and believe suspensions must remain.”
Voters in Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, California and Nevada have legalized the recreational use of pot in some form or fashion. Florida, North Dakota, Montana and Arkansas have also passed medical cannabis referendums recently. Seven NFL teams are in states that allow recreational marijuana use and 16 teams are in states with approved medical use. As a result, according to Rapoport, “Several league executives said the NFL should ‘follow the country’ in the changing attitudes about marijuana use. In addition, the high-profile suspensions of Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon and Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory also has raised more awareness about the issue."
In addition, one of Rapoport’s sources said that potential competitive imbalance issues exist stemming from conflicts between state laws and the league drug policy. For example, if a Tennessee Titan was arrested for marijuana possession, he faces the possibility of an NFL suspension for the arrest, while a Seattle Seahawk or Denver Bronco could legally possess the same amount of marijuana and never be cited.
Rapoport also wrote that one executive questioned the fairness of a four-game suspension for testing positive because of second-hand smoke, and another wondered why the NFL is so stringent about marijuana testing compared to other sports leagues.
Of course, getting the NFL’s 32 billionaires to agree to something that might serve the players, meet their medical needs better than the harder narcotics prescribed by team physicians or even something that would give players more discretion in general has been a traditionally difficult sell. Moreover, any change in policy would surely be tied to a giveback to management in any CBA negotiation, because nobody gets anything for free in the NFL. Ask any network.
Still, the idea that a few rogues are considering it, and that they are considering it enough to mention it to a journalist working for the league’s prime media organ, and that said journalist could post it, indicates that a few owners are considering something that would make them less like district attorneys who need conviction numbers and more like . . . okay, let’s just stop at “less like district attorneys who need conviction numbers.”
Wonder how this will play in Washing . . . oops, but there I go, mixing sports and politics again. Evidently I’m too ignorant to be taught. Then again, my parents knew that way before any of you, so shove off. You came too late.

John Lynch explains how Dee Ford can make 49ers defense dominant force

John Lynch explains how Dee Ford can make 49ers defense dominant force

PHOENIX — General manager John Lynch wants to make the 49ers' defense a dominant force in the NFL and he thinks the signing of Dee Ford can help him achieve that vision.

There are currently four first-round picks on the 49ers' defensive line; Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and now Ford.

Buckner had his best season in 2018, registering 12 sacks, 67 tackles, 44 of which were solo and 17 for a loss. He also recorded 20 quarterback hits. Lynch detailed how adding Ford will increase Buckner's productivity.  

“We felt we were just missing that edge piece,” Lynch said. “If we just had one guy there. It’s not like brain surgery. I think DeFo is a guy who has played at a high level but he’s had so many rushes that he hasn’t been able to finish because they aren’t getting it from the edge. 

“Now we have that. Dee is known, I think, for having the best first step in football coming off the edge. All of a sudden you have a tackle who doesn’t feel so good about hanging in here to help on DeForest because ‘If I do that Dee’s gone.’” 

Lynch doesn’t believe that the defensive line will be too crowded. The 49ers are very open to the idea of adding another first-round selection to the defensive line on April 25th. The defensive line room could potentially have Nick Bosa, Josh Allen or Quinnen Williams added to it on Day 1 of the NFL Draft. 

“I think there’s enough to go around,” Lynch said. “I think you want to be great at something. I think some people want to think that’s one guy. Well, for us, that’s always been collective.” 

There were games in 2018 when it seemed like a challenge to get every defensive lineman playing time.

Lynch explained the thought process behind the rotations. 

“We walked into a situation where there were some guys that had been drafted very high,” Lynch said. “I think two years in, we’re figuring out what everyone does best. What I would say is there is enough snaps to go around, but collectively we want to become a dominant force there, because we think that’s very important. It can really change the course of a game.”

[RELATED: 49ers considering all options with No. 2 overall pick]

Lynch has recently mentioned needing "closers" and "game changers" on the defense. He may not only have one of those in Ford, but he also may have just given the team their personality.

“You start to get excited about all those things,” Lynch said. “Those still have to come to fruition but I think we put the pieces in place. That’s the vision we have for that group.” 

NFL draft: 49ers considering all options, including trade of No. 2 pick

NFL draft: 49ers considering all options, including trade of No. 2 pick

PHOENIX – The 49ers have not necessarily narrowed down their list of potential targets for the No. 2 overall pick.

Although there is reason to believe former Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa tops the team’s list, the 49ers are still formulating a plan to consider all options, including potential trades, that could become available prior to next month’s draft.

The 49ers have six draft picks, including the No. 2 overall selection.

“We’re looking at a ton of people right there and kind of figuring out, ‘OK, if we’re here, this is what we’re doing,’ ” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “If not, we got to be prepared to understand who are the guys we like that we think can make us a better football team.”

The NFL owners meeting is a time when coaches and general managers can get together over a cold, icy or neat beverage to discuss different trade scenarios.

On the surface, the 49ers’ decision at No. 2 looks simple: Come up with two names, in order. If the Arizona Cardinals take the first player on the list at No. 1 overall, select the second guy on the list.

Boom! There you go.

But 49ers CEO Jed York said it’s imperative for Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and executive vice president of football operations Paraag Marathe to have a more detailed plan in place.

“We’re very, very happy with players who will be there at two,” York said. “And we need to be prepared, if somebody offers a trade that is too good to pass up, we need to know what we’ll do if we move back and what would we not take.

“You have to have that planned out beforehand because if you’re trying to figure all that stuff out, it’s OK in the second or third round, but when you’re the second pick in the draft, you can’t do that on the fly. It’s way, way too hard, so you need to get a sense of it.”

Bosa, Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen are scheduled to visit the 49ers next month. Each is worthy of serious consideration for a high draft pick.

“You really want to come out of it with a player who is really going to be able to change the fortunes of your franchise,” Lynch said. “This year is a draft that’s very deep and there are also very good players at the top, so I think we’re in good position.”

The 49ers finished last season with a 4-12 record to be assigned the No. 2 overall pick. They need at least one difference-making player to make an immediate impact.

“I don’t expect to be drafting in the top two again, and if that’s the case, you have to add really, really talented players,” York said. “Or you have to get a ton of capital in order to move back, so you can make up for maybe not getting that No. 2 guy in the draft, but you’re getting a lot in return if you’re going to give up that opportunity.”

[RELATED: Lynch says McKinnon fits 49ers' plan for upcoming season]

The first wave of free agency has ended, and the attention shifts toward the three-day draft, which kicks off on April 25. The conversations at the owners meeting are an important part of the draft process.

“Things aren’t fully in focus, yet, in terms of what everybody is going to do,” York said. “But this week helps you at least get a better sense of that and just keep working toward your plan so you’re ready when the whistle blows come draft day.”