49ers

Trent Williams explains why 49ers were his ideal trade destination

Trent Williams explains why 49ers were his ideal trade destination

Seven-time Pro Bowl selection Trent Williams had a lengthy feud with his former team in Washington for how they handled treatment of what ended up being a cancerous growth on Williams’ head. He refused to report to the team in training camp and demanded a trade in March before eventually finding his way to the 49ers in a deal made on the final day of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Williams now says the 49ers always were high on his list of potential trade destinations, as he was made aware during the season that longtime Niners left tackle Joe Staley might be hanging up his cleats after the 2019 season.

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“I knew there was a possibility, but it was just kinda on the back burner until that situation kind of played out,” Williams told NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport. “I kinda just kept close tabs on it, because obviously that was my No. 1 destination.

“That’s where I wanted to be, so once it started to play out and the rumblings started to grow that he might not return, that’s when all the focus started to shift back to the 49ers."

Staley announced his retirement on Day 3 of the draft, with the Niners acquiring Williams for a pair of draft picks from Washington just hours later.

[RELATED: How Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne enhanced 49ers' offense last season]

Williams easily can slide in and take Staley’s spot at left tackle, with young right tackle Mike McGlinchey now entering his third season in the NFL on the other side.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo likely had some concern about losing Staley’s leadership and expertise at the tackle spot, but the Niners might have gotten him an even better left tackle if Williams can return to his previous form.

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49ers' George Kittle falls short of 99 Madden 21 rating according to leak

49ers' George Kittle falls short of 99 Madden 21 rating according to leak

George Kittle is the best tight end in football, and arguably the best receiver regardless of position. Full stop.

But while the 49ers tight end has become a household name during his three-year NFL career, it appears his exploits haven't been enough to get him into a very select group: The "Madden 99 Club."

Details from Madden 21 slowly have been trickling out, and a potential leak by Twitter user "LeadingNFL" showed which players have been given a 99 overall rating in the latest iteration of the popular video game. While Patrick Mahomes, Christian McCaffrey, Aaron Donald and Stephon Gilmore all got the nod, Kittle came up just short in his quest for video-game greatness.

For 49ers fans who care about such things, this should be seen as disrespectful to the league's premier tight end. While Kittle is grouped with star receivers Michael Thomas and De'Andre Hopkins with a 98 rating, a case can be made that he deserves to be a member of the "Madden 99 Club," because of his ability to break tackles and his dominant ability as a run-blocker.

You'll find no arguments from me on any of the four members of the "Madden 99 Club."

Mahomes cemented himself as the best quarterback in the NFL when he erased a 10-point deficit against Kittle and the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. He's an unquestioned 99. As is Donald.

Gilmore was the best cornerback in football last season, and has been as dominant as they come since joining the New England Patriots. McCaffrey put up a tremendous season in 2019 despite being saddled with below-average quarterback play for the entire season. He's as elite a weapon as the NFL has to offer.

[RELATED: Kittle questions social distancing in 2020 NFL]

But Kittle belongs in that conversation. He caught 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns last season, and his catch-and-run against the New Orleans Saints was the type of memorable play that soon won't be forgotten.

Kittle, who is trying to work out a contract extension with the 49ers, is in good company with Thomas and Hopkins. Those two, along with Julio Jones, are the three best receivers in the NFL, and Kittle certainly belongs on their level.

It's hard to break into the "Madden 99 Club." Perhaps one more season of dominance will get Kittle the point he needs to join video game immortality.

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Ex-49ers teammate explains why Colin Kaepernick fits in today's NFL

Ex-49ers teammate explains why Colin Kaepernick fits in today's NFL

Around the NFL, every team is looking for the next Patrick Mahomes. The next Lamar Jackson, the next Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson. 

The 49ers had exactly that in Colin Kaepernick, a game-changing dual-threat quarterback.

Seven-year pro Michael Thomas saw that firsthand back in 2012, the first year Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith as the 49ers' starting QB and led them to the Super Bowl. Thomas was a safety on the San Francisco's practice squad that year before carving out a role with the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants. He even made the Pro Bowl in 2018. 

And Thomas finds it unexplainable how NFL teams aren't fighting to get Kaepernick's skill set on the field. 

"He’s the type of quarterback that today’s NFL is built for," Thomas wrote as the guest writer for NBC Sports' Peter King's "Football Morning in America" column. "It’s built for the mobile quarterback, it’s built for the quarterback who can run but also throw. He’s that dual-threat option. He’s mobile, and he has a big arm that can hit the deep threat. He causes confusion for defenses if he gets into any kind of zone-read option. And obviously the RPO game is bigger than ever.

"Set aside for a second what the league would gain in terms of credibility by bringing him back. From a pure football standpoint, his style fits the league perfectly."

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Over his six-year career, five as a starter, Kaepernick has totaled 12,271 passing yards and 72 touchdowns through the air. He also has 2,300 career rushing yards and another 13 TDs. 

But Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL since 2016, the same year he began first sitting then kneeling during the national anthem as a peaceful protest against racial and social injustices. Thomas, as a member of the Dolphins, played against Kaepernick that season and the QB was dominant. 

The less talented 49ers lost 31-24 in Miami, but Kaepernick's ability as a passer and runner were on full display. He completed 29 of 46 pass attempts for 296 yards, three touchdowns and was intercepted once. He also rushed 10 times for 113 yards, his last game with at least 100 yards rushing. 

[RELATED: These Montana highlights show 1989 playoff dominance]

The 49ers were just 1-9 going into the game against the 6-4 Dolphins. Kaepernick was tackled at the 2-yard line to end the game, just falling short of completely putting the team on his back in a rough road environment.

That also was nearly four years ago. There are no guarantees Kaepernick plays another game of football in his life. To Thomas, that's baffling, and understandably so.