49ers

Quinnen Williams, Josh Allen impressed with 49ers before 2019 NFL Draft

Quinnen Williams, Josh Allen impressed with 49ers before 2019 NFL Draft

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- General manager John Lynch spent a portion of his pre-draft session with the media on Monday raving about Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.

On Wednesday, Williams returned the favor.

“They left a great impression on me, just to meet those guys out there,” said Williams, whom the 49ers hosted on a top-30 visit this month. “I met John Lynch. He’s a great guy.”

Williams is a legitimate option for the 49ers to consider with the No. 2 overall pick. Williams’ name has also come up in speculation over the past week that the Arizona Cardinals could select him with the top pick. Assuming the Arizona Cardinals take Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the top selection, the 49ers' pick would likely come down to Williams or Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa.

Williams was a first-year starter at nose tackle for Alabama, and he quickly shot up draft boards with a season in which he registered 19.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

“The season he had may have been as good of a college football season that I’ve ever seen,” Lynch said. “He was just dominant.”

As Williams began to talk about Lynch, he laughed about a highlight he saw of him during a TV show about Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders. Lynch was a nine-time Pro Bowl player during his 15-year career with Tampa Bay and Denver.

“I saw him juke John Lynch,” Williams said of Sanders. “It was so funny because I know John Lynch now.”

If Williams were to end up with the 49ers, he would likely team up on the interior defensive line with DeForest Buckner. Williams said he met Buckner during his visit to Santa Clara. His takeaway: “He’s huge.”

Williams said he would relish the opportunity to play alongside one of the best defensive tackles in the game. Buckner was named to his first NFC Pro Bowl team after totaling a career-high 12 sacks.

“I’m not going to any franchise thinking I’m the man, thinking this or that,” Williams said. “I’m thinking that I’m coming to any franchise and I’m bringing a weapon that can help the team and push the pocket. This game has turned to a real passing game and me, as a defensive lineman, I’m a pass-rusher. I go get it. But I can also stop the run at an elite level.”

[RELATED: Quinnen Williams leans on family, football after great loss]

Another player the 49ers could consider with the No. 2 pick in the draft is Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen, who led the nation with 17 sacks last season as a senior. Allen mentioned the weather and the food as some of the highlights of his visit to meet with the 49ers in Santa Clara.

Allen came away feeling good about the possibility of playing for defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek. Allen said the 49ers told him he would play defensive end in their defensive scheme.

“My hand would be in the dirt, rushing the passer and setting the edge,” he said.

Roger Goodell says NFL didn't listen, doesn't mention Colin Kaepernick

Roger Goodell says NFL didn't listen, doesn't mention Colin Kaepernick

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted Friday that the league was wrong for "not listening to NFL players earlier" and that they "encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest," but his 81-second video didn't mention former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick first sat, then kneeled during the playing of the national anthem before games in the 2016 season to protest police brutality and institutional racism. The QB's protest has recently received renewed attention, as demonstrations against the same issues spring up around the globe following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, in Minneapolis police custody last Monday.

"We, the [NFL], believe black lives matter," Goodell said Friday. "I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no [NFL] and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff.

"We are listening. I am listening. And I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and move forward for a better, more united NFL family."

The commissioner's comments came shortly after the league shared a video of players asking for the NFL to "listen" and admit they were "wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting." Multiple players, including star New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, first shared the video Thursday.

"We will not be silenced," the players said. "We assert our right to peacefully protest."

Protests have taken place nationwide in each of the 10 nights following Floyd's death prior to this story's publication. Floyd pleaded that he couldn't breathe as Derek Chauvin, a since-fired officer who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. The 46-year-old's death occurred within months of Breonna Taylor, 26, and Ahmaud Arbery, 25, dying, all as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disproportionately affect African Americans. Louisville police fatally shot Taylor in her home while reportedly performing a "no-knock" warrant, and two white men allegedly shot and murdered Arbery as he jogged around his Georgia neighborhood.

Demonstrators have taken the streets to protest the same issues Kaepernick highlighted, nearly four years after he first began protesting. Kaepernick, who agreed to kneel during "The Star-Spangled Banner" after consulting with former Seattle Seahawks long-snapper and Green Beret Nate Boyer, faced criticism for disrespecting the American flag and the country's veterans. Goodell said he didn't "necessarily agree with what [Kaepernick was] doing" in his first public comments after Kaepernick's protest.

“We have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great,” Goodell told The Associated Press on Sept. 7, 2016. “I think it’s important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement; and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals.”

Goodell said in 2017 players had a "responsibility" of demonstrating "at the right time and in the right way." The NFL owners approved a national-anthem policy in May 2018 that would've required players to stand on the sideline as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played, but the league and the NFL Players Association announced in July there would be no new policy.

[RELATED: 49ers' Shanahan wants NFL to fix coaching diversity issue]

Kaepernick argued his protest cost him his career in a collusion lawsuit he settled with the league last February. The quarterback opted out of his contract ahead of the 2017 season, when the 49ers told him he'd otherwise be released, and has not been signed since. The NFL organized a workout for Kaepernick at the Atlanta Falcons' facility last November, but Kaepernick pulled out of the workout after the league barred media access and his lawyers deemed a liability waiver "unusual."

"I've been ready for three years, and I've been denied for three years," Kaepernick told reporters after moving the workout to a high school outside of Atlanta. "We all know why I came out here and showed it today in front of everybody -- we have nothing to hide. So we're waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people."

Goodell said in December that the NFL had "moved on" from Kaepernick after he "chose not to take" the opportunity the NFL gave him by moving the workout.

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

49ers' George Kittle reveals which NFL players are toughest to block

49ers' George Kittle reveals which NFL players are toughest to block

George Kittle has never kept his love for run-blocking a secret. Any opportunity to drive a defender into the turf is embraced by the 49ers tight end the same way kids greet the arrival of Christmas morning.

During a recent appearance on the “Bussin’ With The Boys” podcast with fellow NFL players Will Compton and Taylor Lewan, Kittle revealed two blocking assignments he doesn’t exactly live for.

“Khalil Mack’s tough,” Kittle said. “He’s pretty good. (Jadeveon) Clowney is pretty good too.”

Kittle and Mack faced off late in the 2018 season, during a low-scoring dogfight at Levi’s Stadium between the 49ers and Chicago Bears. Mack got three hits in on quarterback Nick Mullens, but didn’t end up with a sack among his five tackles.

[RELATED: Ranking top 49ers plays in franchise's storied history: No. 5-1]

Clowney was a difficult assignment for the Niners in both matchups last season, although Kittle was inactive for the Seattle Seahawks’ win on "Monday Night Football" in Week 10.

The current free agent had six tackles and five QB hits over those two games against San Francisco, not to mention scoring one of his two touchdowns on the season after scooping up a fumble.

Mack and Kittle could face off when the 49ers and Bears meet during the 2020 preseason on Aug. 29, but it remains to be seen where Clowney will wind up signing in free agency. 

Some have even postulated he could be a fit for the 49ers, if no team is willing to meet a reportedly exorbitant asking price.

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