49ers

Why Cardinals don't regret Kyler Murray over Nick Bosa, but will soon

Why Cardinals don't regret Kyler Murray over Nick Bosa, but will soon

Kyler Murray is off to a solid start to his NFL career, but so far, he has been no Nick Bosa.

Now, obviously, the Nos. 1 and 2 overall picks from the 2019 NFL Draft play very different positions. One is a quarterback; the other's job is to make a QB's life as tough as possible. We'll get our first chance to see the two go head-to-head when the 49ers face the Cardinals on Thursday night.

Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury made the decision to select Murray first overall, but he has been keeping tabs on the player selected immediately after him.

"(Bosa is) one of those guys you want on your team and in your locker room," Kingsbury told reporters Monday. “He plays his tail off. He’s as relentless as they come.

"And a real guy’s guy. You can tell his teammates like him. We had him graded very highly and San Francisco made a great pick."

Kingsbury went on to admit that he "loved" Bosa during the pre-draft process, but doesn't regret the decision to pick Murray, who is on pace to throw for nearly 4,000 yards as a rookie.

"With Kyler, every week is a learning experience. He’s got that God-given ability to get out and make plays, and you just walk that fine line on when to do that."

Murray has led the Cardinals to three wins in their last four games, and remains confident they can beat the 49ers and their vaunted defense.

"They’re obviously a great defense,” Murray told Arizona reporters Monday, “but we feel if we execute, we’ll be fine."

[RELATED: Kyler calls Bosa 'a freak' before Cardinals-49ers game]

Bosa, on the other hand, played it closer to the vest.

"It's a division game," Bosa said following San Francisco's Week 8 win over Carolina, "so we're going to play as hard as we can."

Bosa is the sixth NFL player since 1982 with seven sacks in his first seven career games. The Cardinals might not regret their decision right now, but if Bosa plays as hard as he can against Arizona, that's bound to change by the end of Thursday night.

How ex-49er Merton Hanks channeled 'Sesame Street' in iconic dance

How ex-49er Merton Hanks channeled 'Sesame Street' in iconic dance

Merton Hanks owes his iconic celebration to a place where the air is sweet.

The former 49ers safety revealed to NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco in the latest "49ers Insider Podcast" that Hanks' legendary "chicken dance" was not the inspiration for the Bluth family, but an ode to a famous felt figure (not Franklin).

Hanks sat down with his daughter to watch "Sesame Street" during the 1995 season when he saw Bert "Doin' The Pigeon."

"I thought, 'OK, well, let me play around with that," Hanks told Maiocco. "[After messing] around with it in practice, it popped up ... in the Dallas Cowboys game when Elvis Grbac [made] his first start and Jerry Rice had, like, an [81-yard touchdown] to kick things off. It kind of came out in that game."

Hanks picked up a fumble and returned it 38 yards to score within the first two minutes of the 49ers' 38-20 road win over the rival Cowboys on Nov. 12, 1995. San Francisco, then 11 weeks into its Super Bowl title defense after lifting the monkey off Steve Young's back the previous season, needed some swagger.

The "pigeon dance" provided it."Deion Sanders had left (for the Cowboys)," Hanks recalled. "Ricky Watters had left (for the Philadelphia Eagles). My contract was coming up, and we felt like our on-the-field product was pretty solid as far as play, but we needed something to differentiate ourselves."

Hanks spent eight seasons with the 49ers, becoming synonymous with the dance over his final four.

His 31 interceptions are the fourth most in 49ers history, but the dance is what most fans remember. Hanks' jig even transcended football, when eventual Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal incorporated the celebration into his repertoire early in his eight-season stint with the Los Angeles Lakers.

[RELATED: 49ers go offense/defense in latest NFL mock draft]

The 49ers embraced Hanks' era last season by wearing 1994-inspired throwback jerseys. Someone in San Francisco's secondary surely could do Hanks' dance this year, but we'll be left wondering one thing.

Can they also tell us how to get to "Sesame Street?"

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Why Aldon Smith not labeling self as 'victim' is great sign of growth

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Why Aldon Smith not labeling self as 'victim' is great sign of growth

My amateur opinion was that Aldon Smith never took responsibility for his actions.

Maybe I was wrong. But that’s the impression I got from him, including a time we spoke at length during the 2014 offseason when he came by our studios on Third Street in San Francisco. He visited some tech companies in the South Bay and our studios to get out and gain a greater perspective in life.

On the outside, it looked as if his life was spiraling out of control. But when you spoke with him, he portrayed himself as if he had everything under control. And he could be convincing, too.

That’s why I never really thought Smith had a chance to succeed in a comeback attempt.

Then, I read something Wednesday night that changed my mind. Or, at least, it gave me hope that Smith has turned an important corner. Smith posted a statement on his Instagram account after signing a one-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys.

It read:

There is beauty in the struggle.

Life will always present us w/tests. I’ve learned how to take a different perspective on the adversities of life. Instead of looking at life as a victim, I have embraced the journey as God has planned it, making exponential strides towards becoming a better man.

Take this time that we have away from our normal day to day activities and think about changing your perspectives. Focus not on how bad this situation is but instead on how we can all come out of this better people. Let’s work on the things we have been putting off and grow towards our ultimate potential.

I never thought Smith was a bad guy. Never. His was a sad story, for sure, on many different levels. And he was certainly lacking in maturity.

I always felt he never took responsibilities for his actions -- the actions that derailed his Hall-of-Fame start with the 49ers and ended his tenure with the Raiders before it really even began.

There might have been plenty of underlying reasons Smith had run-ins with the law and issues with substances of abuse. But there are also a lot of people who went through worse and did not repeatedly make the same mistakes, the same poor decisions.

I was not sure how to feel about the latest, unexpected Smith news after Jay Glazer of Fox Sports and The Athletic broke the story that Smith signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys.

Glazer described Smith as “clean and sober now.” He added, it is “incredible how much he’s turned his life around.” Glazer revealed he has been around Smith for more than a year with the Merging Vets & Players program. Smith has been “amazing in helping veterans dealing with sobriety issues while getting help himself.”

While I did not doubt any of what Glazer described, what provided the most reason for hope came from Smith -- “instead of looking at life as a victim.” I can’t tell you how happy I was to read those words.

Smith is 30. He has not played in the NFL since 2015. I can only imagine what he faces daily. It is not just a matter of mental toughness or will power. If only it were that easy for him and the many others who deal with similar issues.

It means little to me how well Smith performs on the field this season and, possibly, in the next few years. The important part is that he sets himself up for the many, many years after his playing days are over.

This is a great step on that journey.