49ers

NFL unveils new Oakley mouth shield recommended for coronavirus safety

NFL unveils new Oakley mouth shield recommended for coronavirus safety

Sports around the world are going to great lengths to try and keep athletes safe as they return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic. For professional football, teams like the 49ers face a litany of difficulties when it comes to trying to operate a standard NFL game while adhering to California's social distancing guidelines.

The NFL unveiled one idea on Monday, the Oakley Mouth Shield, which hypothetically would be worn on the field and help reduce the spread of the virus.

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The NFL's chief medical officer hasn't formally mandated the use of face masks for players just yet, but he is encouraging the concept.

"That's certainly what we're going to encourage," Dr. Allen Sills told ESPN. "And we hope that we're going to land on a product design that's something that everyone would want to wear, because they'll see the value and want that additional protection without any detriment to performance."

The masks already are being put into practice with the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, two teams who train nearby Oakley's international headquarters.

49ers tight end George Kittle recently questioned how players will be able to stay safe between the lines this fall during a conversation with NBC Sports Bay Area.

"Whether your lockers are six feet apart or not, you still have to get in a huddle and I still have to block Nick Bosa and I still have block Arik Armstead in camp," Kittle told Matt Maiocco on the "49ers Insider Podcast." "It's hard to social distance when you're on the line of scrimmage. That's the one thing I'm most interested in seeing how it plays out."

[RELATED: Ex-49er sees Jamal Adams as next Richard Sherman-type face of NFL]

Some players around the league already have expressed their doubts about the proposed face masks.

"My second year in the league I thought it'd be cool, I put a visor on my helmet," Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt told ProFootballTalk. "I was like, 'It looks so cool, I wanna put a visor on.' I had it on for about three periods of practice and I said, 'Take this sucker off -- I'm gonna die out here.' ... So now you're gonna put something around my mouth? You can keep that. If that comes into play, I don't think you're gonna see me on the field."

Just like the countrywide pushback we've seen to mask mandates in the U.S., an NFL directive for players to apply these masks to their helmets likely would be met with mixed feelings. We've seen numerous players from the NBA and MLB withdraw from their season restarts over safety concerns, there could begin to be NFL players entertaining the same idea if they don't feel protected from potential contamination

NFL rumors: Seahawks 'talking to both' Everson Griffen, Clay Matthews

NFL rumors: Seahawks 'talking to both' Everson Griffen, Clay Matthews

Jadeveon Clowney no longer fits into the Seattle Seahawks' plans -- nor is he a consideration for the 49ers -- due to the free agent's salary demands. It's difficult to see a path in which he would return for a second season with the Seahawks -- that is, unless he significantly lowered those demands.

Nobody, including the Seahawks, is counting on that. Consequently, they reportedly have turned their attention to two other free agent pass-rushers: Everson Griffen and Clay Matthews.

NFL Media's Mike Silver reported Thursday that Seattle could soon come to an agreement with one or both of the veteran free agents.

"The Seahawks' price has come way down," Silver said. "Clowney's price, if anything, is above their original $15 million-plus offer. So, maybe the (Tennessee) Titans, but we'll see on Clowney. But yeah, Everson Griffen -- long career with the (Minnesota) Vikings -- and then Clay Matthews, who had I thought a pretty good year with the (Los Angeles) Rams after he was healthy after his long run in Green Bay. Two former (USC) Trojans who can get after the passer. They are talking to both and I think a move could come pretty quickly, at least with one of them."

Griffen was drafted by the Vikings in the fourth round in 2010 and has spent his entire career with the franchise up to this point, amassing 74.5 career sacks over that span. Matthews, meanwhile, spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Packers before joining the Rams for this past season. He has totaled 91.5 sacks over 11 seasons, including 8.0 in 2019.

[RELATED: Bosa believes Kinlaw will 'kill it' in his 49ers rookie season]

Both Griffen and Matthews would present a significant upgrade for Seattle's pass rush, particularly considering Clowney is unlikely to be a part of it. The Seahawks' 28 sacks last season tied for the second-fewest in the NFL. Their adjusted sack rate also ranked 30th in the league, and that was with Clowney.

While Griffen and Matthews have both been productive, neither is the potential game-wrecker that Clowney is. Nonetheless, should Seattle add one or both of them, it should only make the Seahawks more competitive within the NFC West.

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49ers' Nick Bosa expects Javon Kinlaw to 'kill it' in rookie season

49ers' Nick Bosa expects Javon Kinlaw to 'kill it' in rookie season

Nick Bosa already had no doubts 49ers rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw would be able to immediately compete in the NFL due to his strength.

And after taking part in an offseason of video meetings and seeing him for a short period of time on the 49ers’ practice field, Bosa is confident Kinlaw will not be overwhelmed mentally, either.

“Javon is a really good kid,” said Bosa, 22, who also happens to be 20 days younger than Kinlaw.

The 49ers selected Kinlaw with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to, in effect, take the spot of DeForest Buckner, whom San Francisco traded to the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason for a first-round pick.

“He’s really hard-working in the meeting room,” Bosa said of Kinlaw. “He knows all his stuff really well. He doesn’t seem like a rookie out there. We’ve only been out to a couple of walk-throughs so far and he knows his stuff. He doesn’t look like a rookie.”

[RELATED: Bosa Bros have talked about possibility of playing together]

When Bosa said Kinlaw doesn't look like a rookie, he also means that his body type is impressive. Kinlaw is listed at 6-foot-5, 319 pounds.

“He’s one of the biggest humans I’ve ever seen in person," Bosa added. "That says a lot when you’ve had Arik (Armstead) and Buck on your team. I’m just excited for him to have this opportunity, and I think he’s going to kill it.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]