49ers

Why Aaron Rodgers found humor in Richard Sherman's contract victory lap

Why Aaron Rodgers found humor in Richard Sherman's contract victory lap

Despite the fact that it's the year 2020, Richard Sherman still feels disrespected.

The 49ers cornerback and likely future Hall of Famer has been taking victory lap after victory lap this season, slamming those who continue to doubt him, whoever they might be. 

Sherman's biggest gloat fest came after he was named second-team All-Pro, triggering the final escalator in his contract. He took to Twitter to troll those who previously had criticized him for negotiating his own contract. That move was something Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who will face Sherman and the 49ers Sunday in the NFC Championship Game, got a chuckle out of. 

"He bet on himself with his contract," Rodgers said of Sherman on Wednesday. "I saw that he hit some of his escalators and stuff. I just think it's kind of funny when it all comes back around with some of those tweets that he was rehashing. He's a talented player. In my opinion, he never lost it [after the Achilles injury]. There was never a time where you were thinking, 'Oh, I'm going to go after this guy.'

"I always think you have to be smart about what routes you want to throw on him, understand that he's one of the headiest players to ever play that position. You've got to be smart about the types of routes you like on that side of the field."

Sherman had a brilliant season for the 49ers. Fully recovered from rupturing his Achilles, Sherman allowed just one touchdown in coverage and allowed quarterbacks to complete just one pass per every 19 coverage snaps.

His personality has been just as vital to the 49ers' success as his play, with a number of young players following the lead set by "Uncle Sherm."

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Rodgers knows all too well how Dangerous Sherman is. In his career, Rodgers has completed 11 of 17 passes for only 107 yards and an interception when throwing at Sherman. He has a passer rating of 57.7 on those throws. 

The Packers star will have to pick his spots or just look to attack the other side of the field Sunday in the NFC Championship Game at Levi's Stadium, as throwing at Sherman sometimes has dire consequences.

Just ask Kirk Cousins.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday)

Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 5:30 p.m.

Watch 49ers' Robbie Gould use kids as goal posts in kicking session

Watch 49ers' Robbie Gould use kids as goal posts in kicking session

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

With the global coronavirus pandemic forcing athletes to stay home, they are finding unique ways to train and stay in shape.

For 49ers kicker Robbie Gould, that means he can't practice his craft at the team's facility or any other football complex.

So, on Sunday, Gould got creative.

Yep. Gould lined his kids up as makeshift goalposts and picked footballs over them.

As Gould noted in his tweet, he did make sure his kids were wearing protective gear.

It's definitely an interesting way for Gould to bond with his kids, but again, the choices are limited while everyone is staying home in an effort to flatten the coronavirus curve.

Last year, Gould asked the 49ers to trade him, a request they did not fulfill. Instead, the two sides agreed to a new four-year contract.

By Gould's standards, he's coming off the worst season of his 15-year career. He made 23 of his 31 field goal attempts, a 74.2 percentage. The 37-year-old did make 41 of his 42 extra-point attempts in 2019.

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If Gould bounces back in 2020, you can give some of the credit to his kids.

Merton Hanks hypes Conference USA prospects to 49ers, other NFL clubs

Merton Hanks hypes Conference USA prospects to 49ers, other NFL clubs

Merton Hanks is not shy about reaching out to his former NFL team to provide tips on college prospects he knows well.

Hanks, who played eight seasons with the 49ers (1991-98) and won a Super Bowl, is the Senior Associate Commissioner of Conference USA, which consists of 14 football-playing universities.

“We want to make sure and give our young men every opportunity to be viewed by NFL clubs,” Hanks said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “So I tend to call my peer group around the NFL to make sure they’re paying attention to our players.

“Oh, I bug everybody, (including) the 49ers with John Lynch and Martin Mayhew, that whole staff. They do a great job of sourcing talent from Division III all the way up to the (power five). They go to where the good players are, and we have some good players in the conference.”

The 49ers have six players from Conference USA on their roster, including such draft picks as safety Tarvarius Moore (Southern Mississippi), and receivers Trent Taylor (Louisiana Tech) and Richie James (Middle Tennessee State).

The 49ers signed quarterback Nick Mullens (Southern Mississippi) as an undrafted rookie in 2017, and he started eight games for the club in 2018.

One of the top prospects from Conference USA this year is Florida Atlantic tight end Harrison Bryant, who undoubtedly is on the 49ers’ radar.

The 49ers will be looking to add a tight end in the draft to pair with George Kittle. Bryant was the 2019 Mackey Award winner as the top tight end in college football.

“He reminds me of Brent Jones,” Hanks said, “a good pass-catching tight end and a willing blocker.”

Hanks also mentioned defensive back Amik Robertson of Louisiana Tech. Hanks envisions Robertson overcoming his less-than-ideal size (5-foot-8, 187 pounds) to carve out a 10-year NFL career with a playing style that reminds some of Tyrann Mathieu.

With the restrictions on private workouts and pro days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hanks said he believes the college athletes from Conference USA or from any college program who were not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine are at an inherent disadvantage this year.

“Those players are in a bit of a tough spot, in the sense that teams won’t be able to circle back and get on campus and really take a look at them,” Hanks said.

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One Conference USA prospect who might not suffer from not being invited to the combine is Middle Tennessee defensive end Tyshun Render.

New England coach Bill Belichick went to campus in late-February to pace Render through a workout while most of his NFL peers were in Indianapolis for the combine.

“Conference USA has been fortunate,” Hanks said. “We’re a football-playing conference in every sense. We put a lot of resources toward football and NFL clubs understand that they can come get good players.”

49ERS FROM CONFERENCE USA
LB Azeez Al-Shaair, Florida Atlantic
WR Richie James, Middle Tennessee State
S Tarvarius Moore, Southern Mississippi
QB Nick Mullens, Southern Mississippi
WR Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
RB Jeff Wilson Jr., North Texas