49ers

Trump: 'It's about time' Goodell demands NFL players stand for national anthem

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AP

Trump: 'It's about time' Goodell demands NFL players stand for national anthem

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says "it is about time" that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell demands "that all players STAND for our great National Anthem-RESPECT OUR COUNTRY."

Trump made a reference Wednesday on Twitter to Goodell's meetings next week with NFL owners, where they will consider changes to a game manual that says players "should" stand during the national anthem. That's a guideline that the league has left to the discretion of players who have kneeled in larger numbers after Trump's criticism.

Goodell told club executives Tuesday in a memo obtained by The Associated Press that the anthem issue is dividing the league from its fans. He said the NFL needs to move past the controversy.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Wednesday that Goodell met a day earlier with Miami Dolphins players, law enforcement and community leaders. He said players from around the league would be in New York for the previously scheduled owners' meetings next Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The NFL is doing the hard work of trying to move from protest to progress, working to bring people together," McCarthy said in a statement.

Trump told supporters last month that owners should fire players who kneel during the anthem, reigniting the movement started by ex-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick over his view of police mistreatment of black males.

Tyrann Mathieu explains how Chiefs stopped 49ers at end of Super Bowl

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AP

Tyrann Mathieu explains how Chiefs stopped 49ers at end of Super Bowl

The 49ers entered the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV with a 10-point lead over the Kansas City Chiefs, before eventually falling, 31-20. Even as they began squandering their lead, San Francisco had its chances to become champions. 

Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers found themselves in a 24-20 deficit with 2:44 remaining. The eight-play driving ended in four straight incomplete passes and Jimmy G being sacked on fourth down. 

After the Chiefs scored on a two-play drive to increase their lead to 11 points, Kansas City cornerback Kendall Fuller intercepted a Garoppolo pass intended for rookie Deebo Samuel down the field with only 57 seconds remaining. The rest is history. 

"We knew that obviously they were gonna try to get the ball to [George] Kittle," Chiefs defensive back Tyrann Mathieu said Thursday on Fs1's "First Things First." "But most importantly I felt that Deebo Samuel was their guy." 

[RELATED: Five defensive backs 49ers should watch during combine]

Mathieu said he and Fuller actually went over the route where Garoppolo was picked off ... one series prior to their prediction coming true. 

"On the interception that Kendall Fuller caught, we had actually communicated the series before about that same route concept," Mathieu explained. "We just thought that they were gonna put Kittle at No. 3 and try to force him the ball down the middle."

General manager John Lynch reiterated his confidence in Garoppolo on Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine, and coach Kyle Shanahan certainly has gone over every situation from his latest Super Bowl loss this offseason. The two know they can't dwell on the past, though. 

It's time to look ahead and focus on making another run at the Lombardi Trophy. 

NFL Draft 2020: Clemson's Isaiah Simmons designed to stop George Kittle

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USATSI

NFL Draft 2020: Clemson's Isaiah Simmons designed to stop George Kittle

INDIANAPOLIS -- George Kittle: Pass-catchers want to be like him, defenders want to contain him.

Kittle, three years removed from taking part in the NFL Scouting Combine, is now a transcendent player with the 49ers. He has become a standard for players who aspire for pro football stardom on either side of the ball.

In the case of do-everything Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, he sees his value in the NFL as a player who can be an antidote for the way Kittle can control a game. After all, Kittle is a force in the passing game or as a run-blocker.

Why do NFL defenses need players like Simmons?

“If you know who George Kittle and Travis Kelce are, then that explains it all,” Simmons said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Stopping tight ends, and linebackers playing man (coverage) on running backs.

“The game is no longer a 250-pound linebacker. It’s more guys that are able to run side to side and are able to cover. It’s just a necessity now with the tight ends and running backs.”

Simmons is a safety in a linebacker’s body. Or is he a linebacker in a defensive end’s body? Or is he something entirely different. When asked what position he plays, Simmons' standard answer is "defense."

“I would do everything I did in college,” Simmons said. “Just kind of like a Swiss Army knife. Move me around because then I’m able to show what I can really do. I wouldn’t say I’m really tied down to one position.”

Simmons measured in at 6-foot-3 5/8, 238 pounds with a wingspan of 81 7/8 inches. He could be a top-five pick in the draft. What's certain is this: When Simmons and Kittle are playing in the same game for the first time, it will be as competitors. The 49ers' first pick is at No. 31 overall.

As a junior, before declaring for the NFL Draft, Simmons registered 104 tackles in 15 games with eight sacks, three interceptions, eight passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

He compares his game to that of Kansas City defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, who is more than 6 inches shorter and nearly 50 pounds lighter than Simmons.

“I know years ago it wasn’t good to be a positionless guy,” Simmons said. “But, now, it’s become a benefit for me just because of all the versatility. I’ll be able to do, play linebacker, play safety, whatever it is, I feel like it just helps me out.

“Mentally, I feel like there isn’t anything I can’t do. I played every position except for a nose or 3-technique. When it comes down to it, I’m going to try with my best ability to do everything I can.”

[RELATED: Five defensive players 49ers should watch at combine]

And that includes matching up with the top tight ends in the NFL -- the guys who are difficult for any other player at a standard position to defend. Kittle, for instance, is too fast for linebackers and too strong and aggressive for defensive backs. Even Randy Moss' son, Thaddeus, is identifying Kittle as the player he tries to emulate

“The game is evolving so, the name of the game now is stopping tight ends,” Simmons said. “So something has to be done to stop these Travis Kelces and George Kittles out there.”

Kittle was voted the All-Pro tight end after his second consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season. He set the single-season NFL record for tight ends with 1,377 yards in 2018. Kelce registered his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019.