49ers

Richard Sherman's Seattle homecoming showed friendships with ex-teammates

Richard Sherman's Seattle homecoming showed friendships with ex-teammates

SEATTLE — Richard Sherman received a warm reception from his former team and their fans, but for the 49ers' veteran cornerback, it was just another game.

“It was just a regular game,” Sherman said Sunday after the 49ers' 43-16 loss to the Seahawks. “It’s just unfortunate that we didn’t play as well as we could have. Had too many turnovers, gave up too many plays. That’s football, and that’s kind of the way things have gone this season.”

Sherman ultimately treated his homecoming as a professional. He explained his preparation after the 49ers' loss.

[RELATED: Seahawks pay tribute to Sherman with TD celebration]

“I’m a ballplayer,” Sherman said. “At the end of the day, the field is the same length and everything else’s the same. You just go out there and play your game. Try to give your team the best chance to win and unfortunately we din’t get the win today.” 

In the 49ers' defeat, opposing quarterback Russell Wilson only completed 11 of his 17 passes for 185 yards. Four of those completions went for touchdowns.

The Seahawks were evenly productive on the ground, rushing 29 times for 168 yards.

Sherman sees the 49ers' injury woes as one of the bigger challenges this season. 

“We’re just beat up,” Sherman said. “You think about the guys we have out there, you know. We lose our No. 1 receiver, No. 2 receiver, No. 1 quarterback, No. 2 quarterback, No. 1 running back, you know, it just ends up adding up. 

Sherman also pointed out the personnel losses on the defensive side, but he mentioned a few positives, including quarterback Nick Mullens' play. 

[RELATED: Staley describes pain of losing eighth straight in Seattle]

“Guys are playing hard, giving us the best chance. Kyle’s [Shanahan] coming up with great game plans, and obviously Nick threw for 400 today, so guys are getting yards," Sherman said. "We just have to execute in the red zone, and on defense, we have to find a way to get the ball.”

The Seahawks did find a way to get the ball, managing three takeaways. Linebacker Bobby Wagner capitalized on one of Mullens' errant throws and returned the ball 98 yards for a touchdown.

Wagner and Sherman spoke about the play after the game was over. Their friendship obviously has continued after Sherman's departure from the team.  

“He was just telling me I was slow,” Wagner said. “I was telling him if I’m slow, what does that say about your team? We were just talking trash. He’s my brother. ... To see him on the opposite side in the other jersey he looks ugly in was cool.”

Settlement amounts, NFL compensating Colin Kaepernick for not playing football

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AP

Settlement amounts, NFL compensating Colin Kaepernick for not playing football

The 49ers paid Colin Kaepernick more than $43 million during his six-year career.

Presumably, the NFL is giving him one final large sum of money to not play football.

The NFL’s settlement with Kaepernick and former 49ers safety Eric Reid prevents the collusion grievances and the gathered evidence from ever being heard. How much was that worth to the NFL? Terms of the resolution announced Friday contain a confidentiality agreement, so we’ll likely never know.

Kaepernick originally sat on the team bench during the playing of the national anthem during the summer of 2016 as a protest against racial inequality and oppression against minorities, he said. After consulting with former Green Beret Nate Boyer, he and Reid decided to kneel. The protest immediately became one of the nation's biggest storylines -- and not just in sports, either. Many players on other teams joined the movement, which gained more momentum and attention a full year later when President Donald Trump addressed the issue during a political rally in Alabama.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’ ” Trump said.

Although Reid was just as outspoken every step of the way, his football career resumed. He played in 2017, the final year of his contract, with the 49ers. And after a slow free-agent market last year, Reid signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers in late September.

Reid’s play in the final 13 games of the season prompted the Panthers to sign him last week to a three-year contract extension worth more than $21 million.

Kaepernick’s football days came to a halt in what should have been the prime of his career.

Kaepernick, now 31, has not found employment since completing 17 of 22 passes for 215 yards and a 122.3 rating in a 25-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium on Jan. 1, 2017.

He opted out of his contract, which was scheduled to pay him $14.9 million in salary and bonuses, in March 2017. General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan, who had been hired just a month earlier, already had met with Kaepernick and told him that if he did not opt out, he would be released.

The 49ers never seriously considered having Kaepernick on the team in 2017 because he was not considered a fit for the team’s offensive system, Shanahan said.

Instead, the 49ers signed quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley on the first day of free agency. They also drafted C.J. Beathard and signed undrafted rookie Nick Mullens. The 49ers later added Jimmy Garoppolo in a trade with the New England Patriots in the middle of that first season without Kaepernick.

Based on his production alone, Kaepernick should have signed with some team. He ranks tied for No. 2 all-time with Tom Brady and behind Aaron Rodgers in interception percentage at 1.8.

Kaepernick’s career consisted of 58 starts in the 71 games since he took over for Alex Smith during the 2012 season. In Kaepernick’s first season as the starter, the 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl, as he posted a 98.3 passer rating in seven starts. He rushed for an NFL quarterback-record 181 yards against the Green Bay Packers in his first playoff start.

Kaepernick’s best full season as a starter was 2013 when he threw a career-best 21 touchdown passes with eight interceptions for a 91.6 passer rating.

The 49ers went 21-8 in Kaepernick’s first two seasons as the starter, including a playoff record of 4-2. In his final season with the 49ers, they went 1-10 in games he started.

Surely, Kaepernick’s style of play wasn’t a fit for some coaches. Also, it is fair to surmise, his form of peaceful protest did not fit the styles of many other owners.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addressed Kaepernick’s seemingly permanent free agent status two weeks before the settlement during his press conference in Atlanta for Super Bowl 53.

“I think if a team decides that Colin Kaepernick or any other player can help their team win, that’s what they’ll do,” Goodell said. “They want to win and they make those decisions individually in the best interest of their club.”

The NFL made the decision to settle the grievance because it was in the best interest of its clubs. After Kaepernick filed his collusion grievance in October 2017, some notable NFL names were deposed, including, reportedly, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Patriots owner Bob Kraft, Texans owner Bob McNair, Broncos general manager John Elway, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

It also is safe to assume members of the 49ers organization were included in the evidence gathering, as individuals associated with the NFL and linked to Kaepernick were required to turn over emails and text messages.

What those interviews and electronic messages disclosed likely factored into the NFL's willingness to negotiate a settlement. Was there anything that pointed to outright collusion? There's no telling. But the NFL had its reasons for keeping private communication private.

And around the time, Kaepernick filed his grievance, the New York Post reported he had signed a $1 million book deal with Random House.

[RELATED: Settlement doesn't mean Kap will play again]

Kaepernick came through with his promise of $1 million to community charities to advance his goal of empowering individuals in under-served communities in 2016 and '17. He continues to work toward his originally stated goal of helping those whose voices are not heard.

Nothing has changed there.

But the settlement announced Friday appears to block the possibility of Kaepernick publishing a tell-all book. And, clearly, the NFL concluded that was worth the cost of one final paycheck.

Why Colin Kaepernick's NFL settlement doesn't mean he'll rejoin league

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AP

Why Colin Kaepernick's NFL settlement doesn't mean he'll rejoin league

Just a few short years ago, the NFL was more than willing to go the legal distance with a recognizable quarterback.

New England Patriots star Tom Brady's appeal of a four-game suspension made its way up the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, or one stop shy of the U.S. Supreme Court, for those of you who fell asleep during civics class in high school. Brady was suspended for allegedly deflating footballs, and the league fought him tooth and nail one stop shy of the nation's highest court.

It's telling that the NFL didn't do the same to former 49ers signal-caller Colin Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid.

The former San Francisco teammates were the first two NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality, and they settled their collusion grievances with the league Friday. An NFL team has not signed Kaepernick since he opted out of his contract with the 49ers following the 2016 season, and Reid did not sign with the Panthers until October. 

NFL officials speculated to Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman that Kaepernick's settlement ranged from $60 million to $80 million. The settlement avoided the hearing the parties were scheduled for later this month.

Considering Brady's legal challenge only ended after he decided not to continue an appeals process nearly 18 months after his initial suspension, that's quite the turnaround. 

Although Kaepernick would have had to clear a high legal bar to prove collusion, NFL might have settled in order to save its own skin. In August, a mediator first ruled that Kaepernick had raised enough evidence to move forward in his claim. 

The San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler reported Friday that he previously heard from sources some of that evidence was "very embarassing" to the league that would have been made public if the case went to trial, while Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio noted that "the disclosure of a likely treasure trove of" various documents "could have been devastating to the NFL."

We might never know what that evidence could have looked like, or if the NFL truly colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the league. Both sides agreed to confidentiality, after all. 

But the existence of that agreement discloses plenty on its own, and begs another question: What does it all mean for Kaepernick's future on the field? 

[RELATED: Colorado sports store closes after Nike, Kaepernick boycott]

Unlike Brady, Kaepernick still might not play again. He reportedly has continued to work out and prepare should the opportunity arise, but some teams implied or straight-up said it had been too long since he played back in 2017. What will they say now that his suit is settled, two full seasons after he last played?

They'll probably say the same things, paraphrase NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's thoughts and offer up the usual excuses about Kaepernick "not fitting their system." There also is the possibility, as Florio noted, that Kaepernick's settlement "includes a provision that he won’t seek, and won’t be offered, NFL employment."

With the NFL rumor mill ramping up in advance of the start of the league year, we could know whether or not that's the case as soon as next month. Nick Foles, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Tannehill and Tyrod Taylor headline a largely uninspiring crop of potential free-agent QBs, and Kaepernick is (at worst) a comparable passer to all four.

Of course, that didn't stop all 32 teams from choosing not to sign him before. With his legal challenge officially settled, what's stopping them now?