49ers

Roger Goodell, NFLPA angrily denounce Trump's 'divisive comments'

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AP

Roger Goodell, NFLPA angrily denounce Trump's 'divisive comments'

SOMERSET, N.J. -- The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national anthem and that fans consider walking out in protest "when somebody disrespects our flag."

"Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players," the league commissioner, Roger Goodell, said in a statement.

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, tweeted: "We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports."

Trump, during a political rally in Alabama on Friday night, also blamed a drop in NFL ratings on the nation's interest in "yours truly" as well as what he contended was a decline in violence in the game.

Smith said the union won't shy away from "protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks."

Trump kept up his foray into the sports world on Saturday, when he responded to comments by Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who has made it clear that he's not interested in a traditional White House trip for the NBA champions

"Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!" Trump tweeted while spending the weekend at his golf club in New Jersey.

It was not immediately clear whether Trump was rescinding the invitation for Curry or the entire team.

Several athletes, including a handful of NFL players, have refused to stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner" to protest of the treatment of blacks by police. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend last year when he played for the San Francisco 49ers, hasn't been signed by an NFL team for this season.

Trump, who once owned the New Jersey Generals of the U.S. Football League, said those players are disrespecting the American flag and deserve to lose their jobs.

"That's a total disrespect of our heritage. That's a total disrespect of everything that we stand for," Trump said, encouraging owners to act.

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

Trump also predicted that any owner who followed the presidential encouragement would become "the most popular person in this country" - at least for a week.

The players' union said in a statement that "no man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights. No worker nor any athlete, professional or not, should be forced to become less than human when it comes to protecting their basic health and safety."

The NFLPA said "the line that marks the balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just 'shut up and play.'"

On the issue of violence on the field, Trump said players are being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and it's "not the same game."

Over the past several seasons, the NFL and college football have increased penalties and enforcement for illegal hits to the head and for hitting defenseless players. A July report on 202 former football players found evidence of a debilitating brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them. The league has agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the concussion dangers of playing football.

During his campaign, Trump often expressed nostalgia for the "old days" - claiming, for example, that protesters at his rallies would have been carried out on stretchers back then. He recently suggested police officers should be rougher with criminals and shouldn't protect their heads when pushing them into squad cars.

It's also not the first time he's raised the kneeling issue. Earlier this year he took credit for the fact that Kaepernick hadn't been signed.

Television ratings for the NFL have been slipping since the beginning of the 2016 season. The league and observers have blamed a combination of factors, including competing coverage of last year's presidential election, more viewers dropping cable television, fans' discomfort with the reports of head trauma and the anthem protests.

Ratings have been down even more in the early 2017 season, though broadcasters and the league have blamed the hurricanes that hit Florida and Texas. Still, the NFL remains by far the most popular televised sport in the United States.

Trump said the anthem protest was the top reason NFL viewership had waned.

"You know what's hurting the game?" he asked. "When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they're playing our great national anthem," he said.

Trump encouraged his supporters to pick up and leave the stadium next time they spot a player failing to stand.

"I guarantee things will stop," he said.

NFL rumors: Terrell Suggs, waived by Cardinals, wants to rejoin Ravens

NFL rumors: Terrell Suggs, waived by Cardinals, wants to rejoin Ravens

When the Arizona Cardinals waived veteran linebacker Terrell Suggs on Friday, 49ers fans instantly wondered if the top team in the NFC would try to claim T-Sizzle.

NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco believes Suggs would be a fit for the 49ers due to injuries to Ronald Blair, Damontre Moore and Dee Ford.

But you can lower your expectations, 49ers fans.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Saturday, citing league sources, that Suggs would "strongly consider not reporting if a team other than the Baltimore Ravens claims him."

Suggs spent the first 16 years of his NFL career in Baltimore, so it's understandable that the Ravens are the only team he wants to play for.

While it appears Suggs won't be donning a 49ers' uniform, it would still make sense for the 49ers to put in a waiver claim on the 37-year-old.

Why?

Assuming Suggs gets through the 30 teams ahead of the 49ers in the waiver order, the 49ers would be wise to try to block the linebacker from going to the Ravens.

After all, the 49ers and Ravens could meet up in Super Bowl LIV, and the last thing San Francisco wants to see is T-Sizzle coming after Jimmy Garoppolo.

[RELATED: Five 49ers to watch vs. Falcons]

And you never know. Maybe coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch can convince Suggs to play for the 49ers.

Suggs' fate will be decided Monday when teams can put in a waiver claim on him. No matter what happens, the 49ers should absolutely claim him.

49ers-Falcons odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 15 game

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USATSI

49ers-Falcons odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 15 game

The 49ers (11-2) say they aren't taking the Atlanta Falcons (4-9) lightly this week, but Las Vegas might be. 

San Francisco is a massive favorite ahead of Sunday's game at Levi's Stadium, favored by as many as 11 points. It marks the fourth time the 49ers have been double-digit favorites in a game this season, but the NFC West leaders have not covered the spread in any of those prior contests. 

The fourth time could be the charm Sunday as Kyle Shanahan coaches against the Falcons for the first time. Shanahan was Atlanta's offensive coordinator from 2015 through 2016, including during the Falcons' 34-28 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. In other words, prepare yourself for plenty of "28-3" references during the game. 

[RELATED: Why Shanahan isn't worried about Falcons being trap game]

Here's how Las Vegas and experts around the country see Sunday's game playing out.

Line

Caesars: SF -11
Consensus: SF -11
Westgate: SF -10
Wynn: SF -11

Predictions

Nick Wagoner, ESPN: 49ers 28, Falcons 21
Vaughn McClure: 49ers 30, Falcons 20
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: 49ers 28, Falcons 3
Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: 49ers 23, Falcons 10
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL Media: 49ers 40, Falcons 21