An open letter to NFL owners: It's not too late to do the right thing


An open letter to NFL owners: It's not too late to do the right thing

In your search for someone who might take your team to a Super Bowl you have, for crying out loud, signed the likes of David Olson, Ryan Nassib and Aaron Murray.

After enduring 28 games -- including six shutouts -- in which your teams couldn’t muster as many as 10 points, you’re still settling for rejects as Brandon Weeden and Matt McGloin.

The message is clear that you, the members of the NFL’s power structure, are more content to lose with humdrum-to-wretched quarterbacks you are comfortable with than to join hands with your fabricated “enemy.”

That would be Colin Kaepernick.

You, the billionaires who own NFL teams, have remained committed to avoiding Kaepernick and whining about the revenue you’re losing while ignoring a diplomatic option that would represent a giant step toward a peace for all.

How about standing with Kaepernick? Not necessarily the man, but his principles.

Understand, Kaepernick has no quarrel with the military or the police or the flag. Rather, he is out of work because he is fighting the disease that is social inequality and has inspired dozens of NFL players to take up the cause.

Are you, as owners, so immersed in your anger and fixated on your power that you cannot see you are welcome to join the movement?

That’s not the same as signing Kaepernick, of course, but it’s a much easier move to make. And, in the end, it’s a good bet he’d appreciate it even more.

You could, as a group, create social programs, as Kaepernick has. You could, as a group, donate to worthwhile causes, as Kaepernick does. You could, as a group, take a sober look at racial injustice, as Kaepernick has, and commit to fighting it.

It is never wrong for good citizens to confront such abominations as racism, sexism and ethnic parochialism and it can’t be wrong for you, as NFL owners, to put your dollars were your hearts are.

Is it too much to ask that your hearts be in favor of what is fair?

If Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long can, in the wake of the national shame that was Charlottesville, start donating paychecks to “promote equality through education,” so can you.

If Houston Texans star J.J. Watt can raise $37 million for the regional disaster that was Hurricane Harvey, imagine how the walls of injustice might crack, at least a bit, under the weight of support from the NFL’s owner/management level.

Had you folks signed on and offered political and financial support months ago, when it was clear Kaepernick was standing on principle, it would have served as proof that you are listening to those who want something better for America.

It likely would have been enough to avoid those bothersome but benign actions such as kneeling in peaceful protest and, therefore, spare you the PR headache this season has been.

Neither you folks nor the players are satisfied, and the segment of your fan base uninterested in equality is downright indignant.

It’s not too late. It’s never too late to do the right thing. If you sign on now, even the most militant players would recognize the kind of progress they hope to achieve whenever they meet with a few members of your group.

Some of you, like Jed York of the 49ers, are standing with Kaepernick and pledging financial support. That’s a start. But most of you continue to moan about the anthem and the flag and the players you don’t believe show proper respect.

Your transparent avoidance of Kaepernick and his cause is a choice. It’s the pursuit of profits over principle. It’s collective power within an industry over the long-term health of the game and, to a degree, the general welfare of the country.

Meanwhile, it gets sillier by the week as your floundering teams sprint past a talented Super Bowl quarterback to rummage through the football junkyard in search of a remnant of a QB.

Will it stay this way? Probably. All signs indicate you will not budge in regards to Kaepernick.

That would be OK, perhaps even to Kaepernick, as long as your support is genuine, your intentions honest and your actions lead to positive purposes that serve us all.

If any of your fans are against that, well, you should feel obligated to decline their dollars out of principle.

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud


Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud

When the 49ers selected inside linebacker Fred Warner of BYU in the third round of the draft, it was easy to see how he fit into the team's plan with the degree of uncertainty surrounding Reuben Foster.

While Foster remained away from the team’s offseason program for five weeks, Warner felt a need to get up to speed quickly if he was needed to be a starter for Week 1 of the regular season. Warner said he was determined to learn as quickly as possible at whatever position he lined up.

“They want consistency over a guy who can make a play here and there,” Warner said on The 49ers insider Podcast. “Because if you’re a liability and you’re out there missing assignments, stuff like that, that’s going to get you cut. You have to be able to retain this information very quickly and be able to produce on the field and put a good product out there. That’s the biggest thing.”

The 49ers consider the middle linebacker (mike) and weakside linebacker (will) positions as nearly interchangeable. The major difference is the mike position is the player who communicates in the huddle. Malcolm Smith is lining up with the first team at mike, while Foster is at will. Warner is leading the second team at mike.

Foster joined the 49ers’ offseason for the final four weeks after a judge dismissed two felony charges of domestic violence. Warner knew all about Foster, the player, before meeting him as a teammate.

“He’s a very physical player, and something I didn’t know about him that I know now, he’s probably the smartest guy in the room,” Warner said. “This dude has the memory of an elephant. He doesn’t have to write notes down. He just retains things very quickly. And I think that’s what allowed him to play at such a high level as a rookie last year, aside from his physical talent.”

Warner has also learned a lot from Smith, who played six NFL seasons before sitting out last year with a torn pectoral.

“We’ve worked after practice on man coverage on tight ends and running backs.,” Warner said. “Even though that might not be something we touch on in practice or a meeting, he just wants to touch on that with me because he said, ‘If you can do this, you can play on any team in the NFL.’ “

One of the few critiques of the rookie during the offseason program is that Warner, who said he was a quiet kid as a youngster, has been a little too loud.

“He’s very smart and he plays like it on the field,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said during the first week of OTAs. “He doesn’t hesitate. He’s a rookie out there, but he’s calling the plays maybe even too loud because I can hear him from the offensive side. But, he doesn’t mind speaking up. He’s confident in what he’s doing.”

Warner said he wanted to win the confidence of his teammates, so that might have contributed to his increased decibel level.

“I want to make sure that when I get in that huddle and I’m talking to these guys, that they know that I know what I’m doing and I’m ready to go,” Warner said. “I’m the one who’s going to set the tone in the huddle before the play even happens.”

Former 49ers lineman Keith Fahnhorst, 66, passes away


Former 49ers lineman Keith Fahnhorst, 66, passes away

Keith Fahnhorst, who played 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and started on two Super Bowl-winning teams, died on Tuesday. He was 66.

Fahnhorst was among a large group of players from the 49ers’ first Super Bowl championship team that gathered at Levi’s Stadium in October in a celebration of Dwight Clark. Fahnhorst and Clark were teammates for the 49ers’ Super Bowl-titlle teams of 1981 and 1984. Clark passed away on June 6 from ALS.

Fahnhorst, who was in a wheelchair during his trip to the Bay Area last season, battled many physical ailments since his career ended in 1987. He was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and underwent a kidney transplant in 2002. Fahnhorst was also later diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

A second-round draft pick of the 49ers in 1974 from the University of Minnesota, Fahnhorst was a mainstay at right tackle as the organization struggled in the mid-to-late 1970s, then found success in the 1980s under coach Bill Walsh.

“Everybody knew they could count on Keith,” Walsh said in the 2005 book, “San Francisco 49ers: Where Have Gone?”

Fahnhorst appeared in 193 regular-season games, ranking behind only Len Rohde among offensive linemen in 49ers history. He started 170 games, including all 10 postseason games in which he appeared. He was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team and was selected as a first-team All-Pro after the 1984 season. He was a two-time winner of the Bobb McKittrick Award for best representing the courage, intensity and sacrifice displayed by the longtime 49ers offensive line coach.

Keith Fahnhorst and his younger brother, Jim, were 49ers teammates for the final four years of Keith’s career. Jim Fahnhorst, a linebacker, played for the 49ers from 1984 to 1990. Neither Keith nor Jim Fahnhorst played for any NFL team other than the 49ers.