49ers

Vikings should sign Colin Kaepernick to contract, ex-NFL exec believes

Vikings should sign Colin Kaepernick to contract, ex-NFL exec believes

With the recent events in Minnesota, Louisville and other parts of the United States, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is back in the news.

It has become clear that Kaepernick's message from his protests during the national anthem in the 2017 NFL season didn't take hold.

The deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis this week, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville in March have led to protests all over the country.

In a column posted Saturday, former NFL executive and current CNN political analyst, Joe Lockhart, said the league attempted to convince teams to sign Kaepernick in 2017 and 2018, and he felt they had "done a righteous job."

Based on the events in Minnesota this week, Lockhart now realizes how wrong he was.

In an attempt to right a wrong, Lockhart believes the Minnesota Vikings should sign Kaepernick to a contract and give him a legitimate chance to compete for the backup quarterback spot in training camp.

"The situation in Minnesota right now offers a unique opportunity to deal with the symbols of racial injustice," Lockhart wrote. "As a small, but important step, the owners of the Minnesota Vikings, Zygi and Mark Wilf, can send a strong message by offering Colin Kaepernick a contract to play with the Vikings. Bring him into camp, treat him like any of the other players given a chance to play the game they love.

"It will not solve the problem of blacks and police violence. But it will recognize the problem that Kaepernick powerfully raised, and perhaps show that, with courage, real progress can be made."

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL since 2016 and opted out of his contract in March of 2017 after the 49ers told him they planned to release him.

Last year, Kaepernick worked out in Atlanta, but no NFL team signed him.

While Kaepernick arguably is more talented than most backup quarterbacks and even a few starters, he has remained unsigned since leaving the 49ers. Lockhart claims NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spent a lot of time "prodding and pushing" teams to sign the former second-round pick. No one followed through, and Lockhart explained why.

"But for many owners it always came back to the same thing," Lockhart wrote. "Signing Kaepernick, they thought, was bad for business. An executive from one team that considered signing Kaepernick told me the team projected losing 20 [percent] of their season ticket holders if they did. That was a business risk no team was willing to take, whether the owner was a Trump supporter or a bleeding-heart liberal (yes, those do exist).

"As bad of an image problem it presented for the league and the game, no owner was willing to put the business at risk over this issue."

[RELATED: NFL briefly lists Kap as 'retired']

The only way Lockhart's suggestion can work is if the Vikings give Kaepernick a real shot to compete to be Kirk Cousins' backup. Even though he hasn't played the last three NFL seasons, Kaepernick has more natural talent than Jake Browning, Sean Mannion and Nate Stanley, the three other quarterbacks on the Vikings' roster.

Kaepernick deserves another shot to play in the NFL. If the Vikings want to make that happen, great. But it cannot be a PR move.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers' Richard Sherman blasts new NFL jersey swap policy for 2020 season

49ers' Richard Sherman blasts new NFL jersey swap policy for 2020 season

The NFL continued to do what it does best Thursday: Cast a meaningless mirage that the league actually cares about the players' safety. 

There's hypocrisy, and then there's this. NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported Thursday morning that NFL players will be forbidden from interacting with each other after games from fewer than six feet, and jersey swaps will not be allowed. Richard Sherman blasted the NFL for "thinking in a nutshell," and couldn't help but get a laugh out of the situation. 

He's exactly right. How is the 49ers' star cornerback supposed to be tackling players and putting his body on the line for four quarters, and then the league all of the sudden cares about his health? That's not how this works. 

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

ESPN's Mina Kimes had the perfect comparison for the worthless policy if you need a good laugh right now. Who am I kidding, we all need that and plenty more to cheer us up right now. 

The NFL has tried its best to act like everything is business as usual this offseason, despite the coronavirus running more rampant than Raheem Mostert in the NFC Championship Game. Free agency and the draft still were blown into giant events with hours of coverage. The same goes for schedules being released, as if everything will be smooth sailing. 

[RELATED: Whitner believes Washington needs NFL team name change]

Training camp is right around the corner, and there's no doubt the NFL wants to do everything in their power to ensure there aren't any delays. This league cares more about reminding players that drug testing resumes when they show up to camp than the actual health risks of its players, with an invisible evil lurking through the air and into our bodies. 

Sherman and any other player has every right to call out the league right now. Until the NFL puts words into action in protecting players, silence isn't the answer.

How Jerick McKinnon impacts 49ers' negotiations with Raheem Mostert

How Jerick McKinnon impacts 49ers' negotiations with Raheem Mostert

49ers running back Raheem Mostert wants a raise or to be traded. The problem for him is, he doesn't really have any leverage. Regardless of what he deserves, that's just the reality of the situation.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan favors a running back-by-committee approach. He will be able to employ that, regardless of whether or not Mostert wants to be a part of it. The 49ers have ample depth at the position, even after trading Matt Breida earlier in the offseason.

Tevin Coleman isn't going anywhere. Cutting him would result in a $2 million dead cap hit, and San Francisco can't afford to waste cap space at the moment.

Jeff Wilson scored five touchdowns on 30 total touches last season. He seemed to make a play whenever given an opportunity, and the coaching staff has plenty of faith in him.

The 49ers also signed undrafted free agents JaMycal Hasty and Salvon Ahmed, who originally might have been ticketed for the practice squad, but there's a reason why San Francisco pursued them. Shanahan has a long track record of creating productive rushers out of thin air, and Mostert's performance last season only backs that up.

But there's one major wild card in San Francisco's backfield: Jerick McKinnon.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Having signed a four-year, $30 million contract with the 49ers on the opening day of free agency in 2018, McKinnon was hand-picked by Shanahan to transform San Francisco's offense. Though never a bell cow, he offered the speed and matchup versatility that Shanahan covets. McKinnon rushed for 570 yards and hauled in 51 receptions for another 421 yards in his final season before joining the 49ers, and in Shanahan's system, the possibilities were endless.

And then, all dreams were dashed.

McKinnon tore his ACL one week before the start of the 2018 season, and then sat out the entirety of the 2019 campaign after requiring additional surgery. After not stepping foot on the field in a single game over his first two seasons with the franchise, McKinnon agreed to a pay reduction for the 2020 season that will see him make $910,000 in base salary, a sign of his commitment to the team. He was scheduled to make $6.8 million in 2020 prior to the restructuring.

Given his injury history, the 49ers would be wise to be cautious with their dependence on him. That said, he has had nearly a full year to recover from the most recent surgery, and last month his trainer said McKinnon is "in the best shape of his life."

He had been working with Rischad "Footwork King" Whitfield, and on Wednesday, McKinnon posted more workout videos to his Instagram Story.

The 49ers are optimistic they'll finally be able to unleash McKinnon this coming season, with Mostert recently going so far as to predict that McKinnon will "surprise people." If he's healthy, there's no doubt Shanahan will be itching to involve him in the offense, creating yet another potential matchup nightmare for the opposing defense. Plenty can happen between now and then, but San Francisco has to be feeling good about the progress "Jet" has put on tape.

[RELATED: How Mostert's 49ers trade demand shows price of success]

If the 49ers go into the season feeling like they can count on McKinnon, Mostert inevitably will get fewer touches. There are only so many to go around, especially with receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd liable to take a few of their own. Mostert rightfully feels like he deserves a significant raise, but that's under the assumption he is going to be the lead back in Shanahan's system.

That might still be the case, regardless of McKinnon's status. But the 49ers haven't forgotten about McKinnon, and until they do, the odds are against Mostert getting what he wants.