49ers

Why Kyle Shanahan's 49ers are primed to become NFL's next great dynasty

Why Kyle Shanahan's 49ers are primed to become NFL's next great dynasty

It often takes multiple championships before a team can be considered a dynasty in pro sports. It's one thing to climb to the top of the mountain once, but staying there year after year is what separates the good teams from the great.

While the 49ers did come up short in Super Bowl LIV this past February, plenty of factors would point to the 49ers currently having one of the most wide-open championship windows in the NFL.

NFL teams that advance all the way through the playoff gauntlet often must deal with several salary-cap casualties in the following offseason. A player's stock often is never higher than after a run to the Super Bowl, and opposing teams will prioritize and sometimes overpay those players that shined amid the bright lights in free agency.

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Both Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner entered this offseason seeking big-time extensions with the 49ers after dominant seasons. Buckner might have been more productive, but the Niners elected to pay Armstead and turn Buckner into the No. 13 overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, which eventually became Javon Kinlaw after a trade back.

Emmanuel Sanders was acquired midseason and many fans knew the wideout likely would be a rental before testing the free-agent market. Sure enough, a great year in San Francisco allowed Sanders to parlay that into a two-year contract with the New Orleans Saints.

General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan made sure to plug every hole in the roster through the draft and free agency. Lose Sanders, draft speedster Brandon Aiyuk in the first round. Lose franchise icon Joe Staley to retirement, acquire Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams in a trade that same day. 

We likely also haven't seen the best from Jimmy Garoppolo, given that he still only has 26 starts under his belt. The signal-caller opposite him in Super Bowl LIV who is more than three years younger than Garoppolo -- Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes -- already has 31. Rumors have floated about San Francisco bringing in a more proven quarterback this offseason, but Garoppolo had a career year and deserves at least another shot to see if he can help the 49ers get over the hump.

Even if he can't, Shanahan has proven he can make an offense work with a guy like Nick Mullens at quarterback. He builds his scheme around the personnel he's given, the mark of a truly great coach.

Tight end George Kittle and star defensive end Nick Bosa will be in line for contract extensions in the near future, likely complicating how long the 49ers can afford to keep the whole band together in Santa Clara.

[RELATED: D.J. Jones expects Javon Kinlaw, veterans to step up on 49ers' D-line]

Shanahan and Lynch both have multiple years remaining on their contracts, and likely will get extensions either this offseason or next if their wave of success continues. Organizational continuity is critical in creating and maintaining a dynasty. It took less than three years for these two to take the 49ers from the laughingstock of the NFL to arguably the league's most dangerous team.

Plenty of young talent on team-friendly contracts gives San Francisco at least the next two to three seasons to continue making pushes for the Super Bowl. Now that Tom Brady has taken his talents to Tampa, who will topple the Patriots as the NFL's next dynasty?

It very well could be the 49ers.

Roger Goodell says NFL didn't listen, doesn't mention Colin Kaepernick

Roger Goodell says NFL didn't listen, doesn't mention Colin Kaepernick

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted Friday that the league was wrong for "not listening to NFL players earlier" and that they "encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest," but his 81-second video didn't mention former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick first sat, then kneeled during the playing of the national anthem before games in the 2016 season to protest police brutality and institutional racism. The QB's protest has recently received renewed attention, as demonstrations against the same issues spring up around the globe following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, in Minneapolis police custody last Monday.

"We, the [NFL], believe black lives matter," Goodell said Friday. "I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no [NFL] and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff.

"We are listening. I am listening. And I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and move forward for a better, more united NFL family."

The commissioner's comments came shortly after the league shared a video of players asking for the NFL to "listen" and admit they were "wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting." Multiple players, including star New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, first shared the video Thursday.

"We will not be silenced," the players said. "We assert our right to peacefully protest."

Protests have taken place nationwide in each of the 10 nights following Floyd's death prior to this story's publication. Floyd pleaded that he couldn't breathe as Derek Chauvin, a since-fired officer who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. The 46-year-old's death occurred within months of Breonna Taylor, 26, and Ahmaud Arbery, 25, dying, all as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disproportionately affect African Americans. Louisville police fatally shot Taylor in her home while reportedly performing a "no-knock" warrant, and two white men allegedly shot and murdered Arbery as he jogged around his Georgia neighborhood.

Demonstrators have taken the streets to protest the same issues Kaepernick highlighted, nearly four years after he first began protesting. Kaepernick, who agreed to kneel during "The Star-Spangled Banner" after consulting with former Seattle Seahawks long-snapper and Green Beret Nate Boyer, faced criticism for disrespecting the American flag and the country's veterans. Goodell said he didn't "necessarily agree with what [Kaepernick was] doing" in his first public comments after Kaepernick's protest.

“We have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great,” Goodell told The Associated Press on Sept. 7, 2016. “I think it’s important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement; and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals.”

Goodell said in 2017 players had a "responsibility" of demonstrating "at the right time and in the right way." The NFL owners approved a national-anthem policy in May 2018 that would've required players to stand on the sideline as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played, but the league and the NFL Players Association announced in July there would be no new policy.

[RELATED: 49ers' Shanahan wants NFL to fix coaching diversity issue]

Kaepernick argued his protest cost him his career in a collusion lawsuit he settled with the league last February. The quarterback opted out of his contract ahead of the 2017 season, when the 49ers told him he'd otherwise be released, and has not been signed since. The NFL organized a workout for Kaepernick at the Atlanta Falcons' facility last November, but Kaepernick pulled out of the workout after the league barred media access and his lawyers deemed a liability waiver "unusual."

"I've been ready for three years, and I've been denied for three years," Kaepernick told reporters after moving the workout to a high school outside of Atlanta. "We all know why I came out here and showed it today in front of everybody -- we have nothing to hide. So we're waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people."

Goodell said in December that the NFL had "moved on" from Kaepernick after he "chose not to take" the opportunity the NFL gave him by moving the workout.

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49ers' George Kittle reveals which NFL players are toughest to block

49ers' George Kittle reveals which NFL players are toughest to block

George Kittle has never kept his love for run-blocking a secret. Any opportunity to drive a defender into the turf is embraced by the 49ers tight end the same way kids greet the arrival of Christmas morning.

During a recent appearance on the “Bussin’ With The Boys” podcast with fellow NFL players Will Compton and Taylor Lewan, Kittle revealed two blocking assignments he doesn’t exactly live for.

“Khalil Mack’s tough,” Kittle said. “He’s pretty good. (Jadeveon) Clowney is pretty good too.”

Kittle and Mack faced off late in the 2018 season, during a low-scoring dogfight at Levi’s Stadium between the 49ers and Chicago Bears. Mack got three hits in on quarterback Nick Mullens, but didn’t end up with a sack among his five tackles.

[RELATED: Ranking top 49ers plays in franchise's storied history: No. 5-1]

Clowney was a difficult assignment for the Niners in both matchups last season, although Kittle was inactive for the Seattle Seahawks’ win on "Monday Night Football" in Week 10.

The current free agent had six tackles and five QB hits over those two games against San Francisco, not to mention scoring one of his two touchdowns on the season after scooping up a fumble.

Mack and Kittle could face off when the 49ers and Bears meet during the 2020 preseason on Aug. 29, but it remains to be seen where Clowney will wind up signing in free agency. 

Some have even postulated he could be a fit for the 49ers, if no team is willing to meet a reportedly exorbitant asking price.

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