NFL rumors: 49ers expect Jimmy Garoppolo to be ready for start of OTAs


NFL rumors: 49ers expect Jimmy Garoppolo to be ready for start of OTAs

The 49ers' 2018 season went south when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo sustained a torn ACL in Week 3. Just over four months have passed since that fateful day and, fully intent on a bounceback 2019 campaign, San Francisco is increasingly optimistic that Garoppolo will be ready for the start of it.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that John Lynch and the 49ers expect Garoppolo to be on the field at the start of organized team activities (OTAs) in the spring.

"Obviously, a huge lift for his team, having their star quarterback out there for all the spring drills," Rapaport said. "Just allows [Garoppolo] to kind of ease into the offseason to make sure he's ready for the start of training camp."

After winning his first five games with San Francisco, the 49ers went 1-2 in Garoppolo's three starts this past season. As such, he's had a grand total of eight (regular season) games played and one offseason with the red and gold, so it's not as if he's had a ton of time to develop chemistry with his offensive weapons. The sooner he can get back on the field this offseason, the better for him and those weapons.

[RELATED: Kittle to spend time with six-time All-Pro TE Gonzalez]

And speaking of the talents Garopppolo hopes to have at his disposal in 2019, he's not the only one recovering from a torn ACL. Running  back Jerick McKinnon -- who was arguably San Francisco's biggest free agent signing -- tore his right ACL on the final practice of training camp, causing him to miss the entire season.

Garoppolo and McKinnon have been keeping each other company while they rehab, according to Rapoport. "They're competing against each other, as far as who is more ready."

Whether or not they trot out on the field when the 49ers convene for OTAs remains to be seen, but the very fact that it's even being mentioned as a possibility is a good sign for their respective recoveries.

Why Aldon Smith not labeling self as 'victim' is great sign of growth


Why Aldon Smith not labeling self as 'victim' is great sign of growth

My amateur opinion was that Aldon Smith never took responsibility for his actions.

Maybe I was wrong. But that’s the impression I got from him, including a time we spoke at length during the 2014 offseason when he came by our studios on Third Street in San Francisco. He visited some tech companies in the South Bay and our studios to get out and gain a greater perspective in life.

On the outside, it looked as if his life was spiraling out of control. But when you spoke with him, he portrayed himself as if he had everything under control. And he could be convincing, too.

That’s why I never really thought Smith had a chance to succeed in a comeback attempt.

Then, I read something Wednesday night that changed my mind. Or, at least, it gave me hope that Smith has turned an important corner. Smith posted a statement on his Instagram account after signing a one-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys.

It read:

There is beauty in the struggle.

Life will always present us w/tests. I’ve learned how to take a different perspective on the adversities of life. Instead of looking at life as a victim, I have embraced the journey as God has planned it, making exponential strides towards becoming a better man.

Take this time that we have away from our normal day to day activities and think about changing your perspectives. Focus not on how bad this situation is but instead on how we can all come out of this better people. Let’s work on the things we have been putting off and grow towards our ultimate potential.

I never thought Smith was a bad guy. Never. His was a sad story, for sure.

But I always felt he never took responsibilities for his actions -- the actions that derailed his Hall-of-Fame start with the 49ers and ended his tenure with the Raiders before it really even began.

There might have been plenty of underlying reasons Smith had run-ins with the law and issues with substances of abuse. But there are also a lot of people who went through worse and did not repeatedly make the same mistakes, the same poor decisions.

I was not sure how to feel about the latest, unexpected Smith news after Jay Glazer of Fox Sports and The Athletic broke the story that Smith signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys.

Glazer described Smith as “clean and sober now.” He added, it is “incredible how much he’s turned his life around.” Glazer revealed he has been around Smith for more than a year with the Merging Vets & Players program. Smith has been “amazing in helping veterans dealing with sobriety issues while getting help himself.”

While I did not doubt any of what Glazer described, what provided the most reason for hope came from Smith -- “instead of looking at life as a victim.” I can’t tell you how happy I was to read those words.

Smith is 30. He has not played in the NFL since 2015. I can only imagine what he faces daily. It is not just a matter of mental toughness or will power. If only it were that easy for him and the many others who deal with similar issues.

It means little to me how well Smith performs on the field this season and, possibly, in the next few years. The important part is that he sets himself up for the many, many years after his playing days are over.

This is a great step on that journey.

NFL rumors: Aldon Smith, Cowboys agree to terms as ex-49er, Raider returns


NFL rumors: Aldon Smith, Cowboys agree to terms as ex-49er, Raider returns

He's back.

Former 49ers and Raiders defensive lineman Aldon Smith reportedly is returning to the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys, FOX's Jay Glazer reported Wednesday night.

NFL Media's Ian Rapaport later reported that Smith has agreed to one-year, $4 million contract.

Smith, the No. 7 overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, spent the first four seasons of his career with San Francisco, totaling 44.0 sacks over his first 50 games. A series of personal conduct violations and run-ins with the law ultimately ended his tenure with the 49ers. He then played nine games with the Oakland Raiders in 2015, but has not played in the NFL since.

The deal is contingent on reinstatement from an indefinite ban levied after multiple violations of the substance abuse policy. A contract signifies confidence that he will be reinstated.

Reinstatement to the NFL requires proof of prolonged avoidance of substance of abuse (supported by clean drug tests), and a strong case made to the league.

[RELATED: 49ers, Raiders go offense/defense in latest mock draft]

In Dallas, Smith would reunite with defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, who was his position coach throughout his time with San Francisco.

The 49ers are scheduled to play the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in 2020.