49ers

NFL: Standing for national anthem 'not required'

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NFL: Standing for national anthem 'not required'

The NFL on Saturday reacted to Colin Kaepernick’s decision to make a Civil Rights statement by sitting during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

“Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote in a statement to CSNBayArea.com.

Kaepernick took a seat on the 49ers' bench near midfield on Friday night as the national anthem was played prior to the team's exhibition game against the Green Bay Packers. A source said Kaepernick also did not stand during the anthem prior to the 49ers’ game at Denver last Saturday. Kaepernick was in street clothes for the 49ers’ first two exhibition games.

Kaepernick explained his stance in an interview with Steve Wyche of NFL Media.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color," Kaepernick said. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

[MAIOCCO: Kaepernick takes stand on Civil Rights, sits during national anthem]

Kaepernick added: "This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. ... If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right."

Late Friday night, the 49ers released a statement about Kaeepernick’s protest:

“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

All indications are that Kaepernick’s protest will have no bearing on his roster spot. He has been in competition with Blaine Gabbert for the starting job. The 49ers’ final exhibition game is set for Thursday at San Diego.

Gabbert is the overwhelming favorite to be chosen by coach Chip Kelly as the 49ers’ starting quarterback to open the regular season. Kaepernick’s scheduled salary of $11.9 million for the upcoming season is fully guaranteed.

NFL rumors: 49ers' George Kittle expected to reset right-end market

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AP

NFL rumors: 49ers' George Kittle expected to reset right-end market

George Kittle, entering the final season of his four-year rookie contract, is in line for a big payday when he eventually signs a contract extension with the 49ers. But the tight end reportedly is one of a handful of players expected to reset the market at the positon this offseason. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning that "[multiple] sources around the [NFL]" think Kittle, Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper (a pending free agent) and Philadelphia Eagles star Zach Ertz (one year, $6.4 million left on his contract) are set to "redefine the value" of tight ends with big paydays this summer. 

Kittle set the NFL single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end last year, and he leads the 49ers with 60 receptions for 754 yards. He is in the top five among tight ends in both categories, despite missing two games with -- and subsequently playing through -- a serious ankle injury. 

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph ($9.35 million) was the highest-paid player at the position not on a rookie deal this season, and Kittle's reported likelihood to set precedent for tight ends drives home the 49ers' financial realities this offseason. DeForest Buckner is also eligible for an extension, while breakout defensive tackle Arik Armstead is eligible for free agency. 

[RELATED: NFL coach still not sold on 49ers' Jimmy G in long term]

Over The Cap projects the 49ers having just over $24 million in salary-cap space next season, which would make it difficult to extend all three players, especially if the final year  Kittle's -- and/or Buckner's -- deal is restructured. The 49ers can free up space by cutting players such as running back Jerick McKinnon and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, and NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco wrote Saturday that he can't see McKinnon playing on his 49ers deal as is in 2020 or Goodwin playing for San Francisco at all. 

The 49ers likely will prioritize re-signing Kittle and Buckner. Based on Kittle's career and Schefter's reporting, they know the tight end won't come cheap. 

NFL offensive coach still not sold on 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo long term

NFL offensive coach still not sold on 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo long term

Jimmy Garoppolo balled out in the 49ers' thrilling 48-46 win over the Saints last Sunday.

For the third time this season, Garoppolo threw four touchdown passes in a game.

In guiding the 49ers to an NFC-best 11-2 record, Garoppolo has completed 69.5 percent of his passes for 3,245 yards. He's thrown 25 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions this season.

While Garoppolo's not in the MVP conversation, he's putting up solid numbers as the 49ers continue to rack up wins. But there is one anonymous NFC offensive coach that still hasn't quite bought into Garoppolo.

"I don’t think he can do it consistently, but he did it today," the coach told The Athletic's Mike Sando after the 49ers beat the Saints. "[Drew] Brees moved down the field and scored. That is what you expect. I didn’t know that Garoppolo would be able to do it, but he did it."

Sando noted that in his annual Quarterback Tiers survey, the coach in question had Garoppolo on the second tier in 2017. Last season, after Garoppolo suffered a torn ACL in Week 3, the coach moved Garoppolo down to the third tier of NFL quarterbacks.

Whether or not Garoppolo is an elite quarterback is up for debate. NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms feels the 49ers quarterback is "really good," but doesn't consider him elite. But what is for certain is that Garoppolo is not a "third tier" quarterback. He doesn't have the gaudy numbers like Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson or Lamar Jackson, but Garoppolo has a 19-4 career record as a starter in the NFL. That can't be ignored.

[RELATED: Five 49ers to watch vs. Falcons]

Garoppolo will have another chance to impress the offensive coach Sunday when the 49ers host the Falcons at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.