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.

NFL draft: Five players 49ers can target as Day 2 options on offense, defense


NFL draft: Five players 49ers can target as Day 2 options on offense, defense

The national TV audience will begin to evaporate and the names called will not be as familiar, but Friday will be every bit as important as Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft.

“Everybody talks about the first round, but this draft is all about the second, third and fourth rounds,” an NFL West Coast scout told NBC Sports Bay Area.

The depth of this year’s draft makes every team’s selections on Day 2 potentially just as important and impactful as those chosen in the first round.

The 49ers own four picks within the top 104 selections. General manager John Lynch is set to pick at No. 2. After that, the 49ers have scheduled selections at Nos. 36 (second round), 67 (third round) and 104 (fourth round).

Here are some options for the 49ers on Day 2 of the NFL draft:

WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina

There is something about Samuel’s movements, patience and ability to separate quickly versus man coverage that would seem to be attractive for coach Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers struggled mightily in the red zone the past two seasons, and Samuel would give the team a boost in that area.

After the 49ers spent a week with him at the Senior Bowl, Samuel was provided a plane ticket to also meet with the 49ers in Santa Clara. New receivers coach Wes Welker had not joined the staff when the club was in Mobile, so Welker was able to spend some quality time with Samuel in the Bay Area.

The 49ers’ pick at No. 36 would be a logical spot at which to target Samuel.

WR Hakeem Butler, Iowa State

Butler is massive. He is 6-5, 227 pounds. He is a wide receiver. And the first reaction is that he looks like a formidable red zone target. But Shanahan has never liked the randomness and low-percentage nature of the fade route or jump ball near the end zone.

The question with Butler is much the same as the question with N’Keal Harry of Arizona State. Can he regularly and routinely find separation against bigger, faster, stronger, more-skilled NFL cornerbacks?

Butler should be among a group of wide receivers that fly off the board in rapid-fire succession on the second day of the draft.

S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida

Different teams might view him in different ways. And for the 49ers, that kind of versatility is certainly not a bad thing.

He is 5-11, 210 pounds and ran a 4.48 at the NFL Scouting Combine. He had three sacks and nine tackles for loss last season, which points to his ability to play close to the line of scrimmage. He also led the Gators with four interceptions, so he could also be viewed as a single-high safety.

When the 49ers choose in the second round, there should be plenty of starter-caliber safeties from which to choose.

S Juan Thornhill, Virginia

Thornhill (6-0, 205) is another in the cluster of safeties who should be available at No. 36 but not when the 49ers select in the third round. It’s a group that includes Gardner-Johnson, Darnell Savage (Maryland), Nasir Adderley (Delaware) and Taylor Rapp (Washington).

The 49ers are coming off a season in which they set the NFL record for fewest interceptions in a season with two. Thornhill has experience at cornerback and showed those coverage skills when he moved to safety. He recorded 13 interceptions in his final three college seasons.

The 49ers might even be tempted to move him to cornerback, like they did a year ago with third-round draft pick Tarvarius Moore.

CB Lonnie Johnson, Kentucky

He might not be able to win a starting job immediately, but he should be a big special-teams performer from Day 1 and work into a significant role on defense. At 6-2, 213, Johnson is a good fit for the 49ers’ defensive scheme.

[RELATED: 49ers should find starters at edge rusher, wide receiver]

He is at his best re-routing receivers off the line of scrimmage. He should be able to handle the requirements of the 49ers’ preferred cover-three defense. In addition, he is an aggressive hitter who will be good in run support.

Is 36 too high for him? Perhaps, but he could be a target in Round 3.

Longtime 49ers scout Reggie Cobb dies from apparent heart attack at 50


Longtime 49ers scout Reggie Cobb dies from apparent heart attack at 50

Longtime 49ers area scout Reggie Cobb died Saturday morning in the Bay Area from an apparent heart attack, the club announced. He was 50.

“We are devastated by the sudden loss of a tremendous teammate and loyal friend, Reggie Cobb,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement.

“Reggie was an enthusiastic and passionate person who had a special ability to brighten up a room with his personality and infectious smile. For 10 years, the 49ers were better because of Reggie and these unique qualities that he possessed.

“He was a top-notch scout and an exemplary man whose years of service to this organization and the National Football League will not be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this time of mourning.”

Cobb played seven NFL seasons after entering the league as the No. 30 overall pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1990 from Tennessee.

In his career as a running back, he gained 3,743 yards and scored 25 touchdowns while playing four seasons with Tampa Bay and one apiece with Green Bay, Jacksonville and the New York Jets.

He transitioned into scouting, serving two years with Washington and six with Tampa Bay before coming to the 49ers. Cobb was entering his 11th year as an area scout with the 49ers. In 2011, he was named NFC Scout of the Year by the Fritz Pollard Alliance.

Cobb finished his college career ranked third on the University of Tennessee’s career rushing chart with 2,360 yards and 26 touchdowns. He was also a member of the school’s 100th anniversary team. He lettered in track and graduated with a degree in urban studies in 1990.

Cobb lived in Sugarland, Texas, with his son, DeMarcus, according to his 49ers bio.