49ers

Now on same team, Sherman, York unblock each other on Twitter

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AP

Now on same team, Sherman, York unblock each other on Twitter

ORLANDO, Fla. – After four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman negotiated and signed his three-year contract with the 49ers, there was another matter with the organization that had to be settled.

“We had to unblock each other on Twitter,” 49ers CEO Jed York said Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings.

York declined to identify the specific interactions on social media that led to the mutual blockings, but he certainly was not alone among the 49ers and their fans who have been annoyed with Sherman’s antics in the past.

“There’s just a level of competition and that competitive spirit,” York said. “I’m happy to be fighting alongside him. But there was definitely a rivalry.

“At the end of the day, football is a business, but you have to figure out can you work with people who have different perspectives and difference histories. And with Richard, he’s going to come in and be the consummate pro.”

49ERS ON SAME PAGE – FOR A CHANGE
For much of the past decade, the 49ers have been unable to come up with a compatible tandem at the two most-important positions on the football side of the organization. At least through one year, it appears they got it right with coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.

“I think everybody’s on the same page,” York said.

“It makes it easier when you start 0-9 and nobody’s pointing fingers at each other.”

The 49ers finally seem to have a well-defined plan in which the coaching staff and front office are working together. York referenced the team’s approach to free agency. In the past, the 49ers would list their positions of need with players ranked in order of priority -- with little regard to how the individuals actually fit the 49ers' style of either side of the ball. This year, Shanahan and Lynch came up with a small pool of players in which they were genuinely interested.

The 49ers signed Sherman before the start of free agency. He is considered the prototype cornerback for the system defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has installed. The scheme is based on Seattle’s defense.

Center Weston Richburg and running back Jerick McKinnon were the only two players the 49ers pursued at the start of free agency. Both players signed lucrative contracts with the 49ers.

“It started with the foundation of John and Kyle being on the same page on how we want to build our team and this is ultimately where we want to get to, and we want to get to sustainable success,” York said.

“The biggest thing for me – and it’s very, very hard to get this – but it’s a combination of talent and culture. When you see teams that have talented people and cultural fits, they are the ones that are competing for and winning championships.”

SHANAHAN’S BRUTAL HONESTY
York said he knew within the first five minutes of interviewing Shanahan more than a year ago for the head-coaching job last year that he would always get an honest answer. York asked Shanahan what he thought of the 49ers.

His answer: “It wasn’t very complimentary,” York said.

York added, “You can see how some people would take that the wrong way. For me, I just want direct feedback from the coach. You’re probably the most-important person in the organization. We have to be on the same page. I have to know exactly where you stand. I never doubt where Kyle stands.”

LIMIT ON EARLY STARTS VOTED DOWN
The 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Chargers jointly submitted a proposed bylaw that would have limited the number of games West Coast teams could play at 10 a.m. on the West Coast to three per season.

The bylaw was voted down with little support from teams outside the Pacific time zone. TV officials did not support the move because of its expected limits on broadcasting options.

“It’s not going to be an excuse for us, but it’s a clear competitive disadvantage,” York said. “And we want to make sure people understand that.”

There were 23 such games last season in which West Coast teams played in the early Sunday time slot. The proposal would have limited it to a maximum of 18 times.

Shanahan had never coached a West Coast team before last season. He recognized the difficulty with the early starts last season. The 49ers played five away games that began at 10 a.m. in the Pacific time zone. The club changed its travel plans late in the season from Saturdays to Fridays for games at Houston and Chicago in hopes of benefitting from an extra day to get acclimated to the change of time zones.

The 49ers also proposed a resolution that would require all NFL stadiums to have three separate locker rooms for females of the home and visiting staffs, as well as game officials. York said there was unanimous support for the proposal but the voted was tabled to allow some teams that do not own their stadiums to iron out the details of the necessary construction costs.

The 49ers have two full-time female employees on the football side on game days: offensive assistant Katie Sowers and assistant athletic trainer Laura Schnettgoecke.

WORKING TOGETHER TO AVOID NEED TO PROTEST
The 49ers have been the epicenter of the protests of social inequality that began in 2016 on NFL sidelines during the national anthem. York said he expected more discussion of the topic at the owners meetings, which concluded Wednesday.

“It really wasn’t discussed and touched on in great detail,” York said. “I thought there would probably be more discussion. But there wasn’t much discussion in the last three days on that issue, where there’s been more discussion in the past.”

York said he believes there has been great progress with the NFL working with the Players Coalition with the possibility of more good things to emerge from the sides working closely together.

“You want to work proactively with the players and figure out how to do something together where there’s not a reason to protest,” York said. “We want progress.”

York said the NFL can use its money, influence and platform to team up with players who wish to affect positive change on social matters.

The biggest discussion point might have been the desire to increase player safety. The NFL passed a rule on Tuesday to penalize players who initiate contact by leading with their helmets.

"When you talk about taking the head out of the game, we definitely have to make sure the game is safer," York said. "It's easy for non-experts to say, 'You should do this; uou should do that.' But when coaches actually sit down and talk about it, it’s great to hear experts in any field get up there and speak eloquently about how to do it in the right way."

'Extra credit' work helped Raheem Mostert meet Kyle Shanahan's challenge

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AP

'Extra credit' work helped Raheem Mostert meet Kyle Shanahan's challenge

SANTA CLARA - One of the bright spots in the 49ers loss to the Green Bay Packers was the performance of running back Raheem Mostert. 

Mostert had a tough go the week before when he fumbled the ball on his first carry facing the Arizona Cardinals. Coach Kyle Shanahan challenged the running back after the mishap and Mostert said he took it to heart. 

“I need you to step up,” Mostert said Shanahan told him. “I need you to focus more on ball control. I know you don’t get many reps in practice but when you do, you have to make them count.” 

Mostert understood that as a physical challenge as well as a mental one. He took more reps in practice with the absence of Matt Breida, who was out due to an ankle injury. He asked defenders to go after the ball more aggressively while he was carrying the ball in practice.

He even stayed after practice for “extra credit” to work on ball security drills. Guess what? No one forced a fumble when he was carrying the ball in practice or in the game, even though they tried. 

Mostert closed out the night at Lambeau Field as the game’s top rusher with 12 carries for 87 yards, giving him an average of 7.3 yards per carry. He still isn’t satisfied. He is his own toughest critic, he said.

“I left a lot of yards out on the field especially with my speed,” Mostert said. ”I felt like I could have gotten to the edge a little bit faster. I watched the film and I was really hard on myself even though I had some good runs. I also had mental busts in the game too, which I’m not proud of. That’s something I have to continue to work on, being mentally sharp and for that transition to be more effective in the pass game.” 

Mostert has been known as a special-teams star for most of his NFL career and has just been waiting for his number to get called as a running back. He said he believes he and Breida complement each other well with their similar styles of play.

When asked who of the two would be lightning and who would be thunder, Mostert replied, “Matt is always lightning.”

49ers cornerback Greg Mabin reflects on tough ending in loss to Packers

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AP

49ers cornerback Greg Mabin reflects on tough ending in loss to Packers

SANTA CLARA — In the 49ers' heart-breaking loss to the Green Bay Packers on Monday night, Aaron Rodgers did what he is known for -- putting together an 81-yard, game-winning drive with 1:07 left on the clock and no timeouts left.

At that point in the game, 49ers cornerback Jimmie Ward had been playing well, but he was out of the action with a hamstring injury. Greg Mabin took his place, and Rodgers exploited the young defensive back instead of trying to target Richard Sherman’s side of the field.

In the end, the 49ers racked up their fifth loss of the season.

Mabin was in coverage against Davante Adams, who made a leaping 16-yard touchdown catch to tie the score. Then, Mabin surrendered three consecutive pass plays on the Packers’ game-winning drive. Each time, the man Mabin was covering got out of bounds to stop the clock.

“It was a tough position for Mabin,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday. “He’s done a lot of good things for us. I know he was disappointed in that last drive, obviously, but I’ve seen Aaron and Davante do that to a number of people, too.”

Sitting in 30-degree weather for the entire game except for special-team snaps could have been an excuse, but Mabin took 100 percent responsibility.

“I guess it could, but at the end of the day, if I’m out there I have a job that I have to do, and I wasn’t able to get the job done,” Mabin said. “You just have to go out there and do what you’ve been practicing all week. There’s not much thought to it.” 

Mabin, a second-year undrafted free agent, is taking the loss and his play very hard, and he even explained that one play didn't stand out more than another. 

“All of them,” he said. “... They all hurt pretty bad. I wish I could go back in time and change some things, but obviously I can’t. I have to live with how I played. We have to live with how we played and from now on just move forward and focus on L.A. this week.” 

Shanahan said the 49ers knew throughout the week that Mabin would be Ward’s backup and Ahkello Witherspoon would take a back seat. Mabin said he approached practice just like every other week, knowing his role. He watched film and felt like he had a good week of practice but added, “Ultimately things just didn’t go my way.” 

When Shanahan was asked if the issue of letting Packers players stop the clock by getting out of bounds was situational football or a lack of awareness on Mabin’s part, the coach responded: “I think it’s a little of both. He gets put in a tough situation.”

Sherman, who has been an advocate and on-the-field coach for the young 49ers secondary, did have a conversation with Mabin about moving forward especially when the focus of the public eye is on you. 

“He talked with me a little bit, and it definitely helped my mindset at the time, and right now, it still hurts,” Mabin said. “But I’m just happy that I have a chance to go out there and practice today, and have a chance to improve.”