Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'


Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'

NEW YORK — The NFL is not changing its national anthem policy to require players to stand during the national anthem.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners said Wednesday at the league’s fall meetings that altering the language from “should stand” to “must stand” was not discussed.

New York Giants owner John Mara noted that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones “spoke at length” to the other owners about the anthem issue. Jones has said any Dallas player who doesn’t stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” would not be playing.

Goodell reiterated that the league and its 32 clubs “believe everyone should stand for the national anthem. It’s an important part of our policy and the game. It’s important to honor our flag and our country and I think our fans expect that.”

Asked about any owners who threatened discipline for players who didn’t stand, Goodell said the owners didn’t discuss it.

“There was a fair amount of conversation and I think our clubs see it the same way. I can’t deal with hypotheticals,” Goodell said.

Reminded that President Donald Trump tweeted again Wednesday about the demonstrations during the anthem, Goodell said there was nothing unpatriotic about his league.

“Everyone feels strongly about our country and have pride,” he said, adding the NFL is “not afraid of tough conversations.

“What we are trying to stay out of is politics.”

Goodell noted that only six or seven players are still kneeling or are involved in protests.

“We hope we will continue to work to put that at zero,” he said.

On Tuesday, in an unprecedented move for a league meeting, a group of 11 owners and more than a dozen players met for more than two hours at NFL headquarters. Among the topics discussed was enhancing the players’ platforms for speaking out on social issues.

“I understand the way they feel about these issues,” Goodell said Wednesday. “We feel the same about patriotism and the flag and I believe our players feel that way. We have a great deal of support for the efforts of our players.”

Arik Armstead's run defense as good as it gets, says Kyle Shanahan


Arik Armstead's run defense as good as it gets, says Kyle Shanahan

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers in April picked up the fifth-year option on defensive end Arik Armstead for the 2019 season.

But his one-year, $9.046 million salary does not become guaranteed until March.

Armstead, a first-round draft pick in 2015, has three sacks while starting all 13 games at defensive end. But he appears to be earning his money in the run game, where coach Kyle Shanahan places him among the NFL’s elite.

“I’m extremely happy,” Shanahan said on "49ers Game Plan," which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

“He’s as hard as anyone there is to go against. I’ve seen him practice every day. He’s a pain for us to go against every day in training camp. I see it on Sunday, also.”

Armstead rates as the NFL’s No. 3 edge defender against the run, according to Pro Football Focus’ grading system. Only Jacksonville’s Calais Campbell and Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney rank ahead of Armstead.

At 6-foot-7, 292 pounds, Armstead has 40 tackles and six tackles for loss, ranking second on the 49ers among defensive linemen behind DeForest Buckner. Linebacker Fred Warner was asked if Armstead can manhandle offensive linemen.

“He can and he does,” Warner said. “He’s a big dude, and he uses his size and his strength to his advantage. He makes some plays, like, ‘Oooh.’ He makes plays that jump off the tape. That’s been big for us up front.”

The 49ers rank 12th in the NFL in run defense, allowing 107.8 yards per game. The opposition is averaging 4.1 yards per rushing attempt, which ranks 10th-best in the league.

Still, the 49ers have a decision to make in the offseason with Armstead, even if it appears obvious the coaching staff will lobby for Armstead's return.

[RELATED: 49ers snap count: Looking to the future, going younger on defense]

Rookie defensive linemen Kentavius Street, who was cleared this week to practice after sustaining a torn ACL before the draft, and Jullian Taylor also play the “big end” position.

But while the $9.046 million devoted to Armstead is large, the 49ers are expected to have more than $65 million in cap space next season even with Armstead’s salary on the books.

“We’d love sacks, of course. I know he would; I would; fans would. But that doesn’t always happen,” Shanahan said. “We need four guys rushing great together. I know Arik can get better in that area, but he also has done some good things in the pass rush.

"Just collectively, I think we can get better. But you ask me about the run game, Arik is as good as anyone I’ve seen right now.”

Richard Sherman says Frank Clark's comments didn't bother him at all


Richard Sherman says Frank Clark's comments didn't bother him at all

SANTA CLARA — As expected, Richard Sherman was ready to respond to Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark’s testy comments from a few days ago.

“It’s like a mouse in a room, you know?” Sherman quipped. “It’s like, kids say the darndest things. It didn’t bother me at all. It just seemed like a guy who’s probably tired of hearing the same questions.”

“At the end of the day, this is my team now,” Clark said previously. “This is my defense. Richard Sherman, his era is over here. If he's got anything to say about our defense, he can say it on the field.”

Clark’s comments were made after the Seahawks beat the Vikings 21-7 on Monday night. Sherman found it a bit odd that his name came up after a game that he wasn’t playing in.

“I wasn’t even part of that game,” Sherman said. “And they are still asking him questions after the game about me.”

“I’d probably be pretty annoyed too,” he continued. “We won a game and somebody comes up and asks about a player who wasn’t either involved in this game, or on my team.”

Realistically, while many pleasantries were exchanged when Sherman returned to Seattle, he knows where he plays.

“It’s kind of weird,” Sherman said, “but it doesn’t bother me. The era was over in my mind, obviously, I’m here.”

Sherman is still connected to the city of Seattle and admits there were some emotions about his first game there as a member of the visiting team.

“Just the nostalgia of seeing your friends and seeing the personnel and all the guys that you’ve played with.”

Sherman added more context about it in his blog as well.

“There was a lot of emotion the last time going back to Seattle but it’s just another game against another opponent this time.”

Just another opponent? Really? 

When pressed about that statement, the 49ers DB added a few more details. 

“This time we will be at home,” Sherman said. “We will be grinding it out. We know how it went last time and got a sour taste in our mouths, so we’ll look forward to the challenge.”