NFL returning to Youngstown in November for Helmet Challenge symposium


NFL returning to Youngstown in November for Helmet Challenge symposium

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The 49ers packed up Friday afternoon and made the short flight to Cincinnati after concluding their week of practices at Youngstown State University.

The 49ers might be gone, but the NFL announced this week that it will be returning to Youngstown this fall.

The NFL Helmet Challenge symposium will be held in Youngstown from Nov. 13-15, in hopes that it will lead to a new helmet for NFL players that outperforms current models.

The league will team up with Youngstown-based America Makes, a manufacturing innovation institute that specializes in additive manufacturing and 3D printing, to host the symposium.

San Francisco 49ers co-chair John York and his wife, Denise, reside in the Youngstown area and are active in the community. John York is the chair of the NFL’s Health and Safety Committee. He said holding the symposium in Youngstown is a natural fit.

“I’ve been interested in additive manufacturing for some time, hoping this could be a way to improve helmet safety and equipment in the NFL,” York told NBC Sports Bay Area. “With Youngstown having American Makes and being the hub of additive manufacturing, it is appropriate to hold the Helmet Challenge in Youngstown.”

[RELATED: Jed York optimistic about 49ers, improvements he sees in Youngstown]

The goal of the challenge is to stimulate the development by experts, innovators and helmet manufacturers of a new, more-effective helmet for NFL players, according to the NFL.

Up to $3 million will be available in the challenge, including $2 million in grant funding to support the development of a helmet prototype and up to a $1 million award for the winner.

"Helmet technology is advancing at an impressive rate,” said Jeff Miller, the NFL's Executive Vice President for Health and Safety Innovation. “Yet, we believe that even more is possible. The NFL Helmet Challenge represents an unprecedented combination of financing, research, data and engineering expertise in an effort to create a more protective helmet.”

The symposium agenda will include background on the current state of the science around helmets and concussions in the NFL.

The challenge will conclude in May 2021 with the applicants submitting helmet prototypes for testing in laboratory conditions that represent potentially concussive impacts in the NFL.

Jimmy Garoppolo 'really good' but not elite, analyst Chris Simms says

Jimmy Garoppolo 'really good' but not elite, analyst Chris Simms says

Is your quarterback elite? Well, if you're a fan of the 49ers then no -- at least according to Chris Simms.

The NBC Sports football analyst couldn't confidently put Jimmy Garoppolo in the elite category, but still had plenty of praise toward him, especially knowing he plans on leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

"I think there's some quarterbacks in football right now: Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, DeShaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes -- they kind of stand alone," Simms said.

After that handful of quarterbacks, Simms highlights a group of "good," a squad that he considers Jimmy G to be a part of. Plus, Garoppolo has a lot of "good" surrounding him.

The elite talents of tight end George Kittle are something that shouldn't be argued -- unless you're not sure if he's a decent blocker or not. Ahem, Doug Gottlieb.

"That's all you need to win a Super Bowl," Simms added.

The consensus around Jimmy G's eliteness is that he's not elite, but he's not bad, but he's good enough.

[RELATED: NFC offensive consultant on Jimmy G's eliteness

Got all of that?

His throwing abilities have been talked about, but once again the word "elite" was not mentioned.

49ers tackle Joe Staley doesn't have looming retirement on his mind


49ers tackle Joe Staley doesn't have looming retirement on his mind

A lot of times for athletes, it's not up to them whether or not they want to retire -- it's up to their body. For 49ers tackle Joe Staley, it's really no different.

"I like to think that I can continue to play football for as long as they'll have me," Staley said in an interview with 95.7 The Game on Thursday. "And that's my mindset. I've never thought about when an end is going to be."

The 35-year-old signed a two-year contract extension with San Francisco in June which ultimately means he could spend the entirety of his NFL career as a member of the 49ers. And while that seems like a long time, he's still soaking up the everyday grind of his job even with the setbacks he's faced this season.

"The challenges of this season have been different than seasons past," he said. "I love the adverse situations and you kind of learn a lot about yourself -- how you respond and challenge yourself daily with different goals ... "

Staley sustained a fractured left fibula earlier in the season during the Week 2 matchup against the Bengals and with a smile tried to remain positive but admitted: "it sucks." He was emotional after the injury but said that had a lot to do with how special the team was and the guys he was surrounded by.

Still, you can't fake the passion the six-time Pro Bowler brings to the 49ers and it appears you would have to pry the game away from his hands if you anticipate him hanging up his cleats any time soon.

[RELATED: How Jimmy G can enter record books in 49ers-Falcons]

"That love for the game is still there, burning," Staley said.

He finished the statement saying he doesn't have an honest answer as to just how much football is left in his body, but it's not something he's concentrating on at the moment.