Emmanuel Sanders

49ers sign Brandon Aiyuk to rookie contract; only one draft pick to go

49ers sign Brandon Aiyuk to rookie contract; only one draft pick to go

Signed, sealed and delivered.

The 49ers marked off two important boxes on their offseason checklist when they signed both of their first-round picks from the 2020 NFL Draft on Friday. In addition to reaching an agreement with defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, San Francisco also signed receiver Brandon Aiyuk to a four-year contract.

Aiyuk's rookie contract, which was announced in a team statement, reportedly contains a fifth-year option, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

The 49ers traded up in the first round to snag Aiyuk, a standout receiver at Arizona State, with the No. 25 overall pick. He appeared in 25 games across two seasons for the Sun Devils and registered 98 receptions for 1,666 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also returned 28 kickoff returns for 760 yards (27.1 average) and 25 punt returns for 293 yards (11.7 average) and one touchdown on special teams. 

With Emmanuel Sanders now a member of the New Orleans Saints after departing in free agency, Aiyuk is expected to immediately compete for a starting spot with San Francisco. And with No. 1 receiver Deebo Samuel possibly sidelined into the season due to a Jones fracture, Aiyuk might be counted on even earlier than anticipated.

[RELATED: Deebo reveals how he broke foot, says he's 'doing well']

Aiyuk became the fifth of the NFL's 32 first-round picks to sign his rookie contract. The 49ers have now reached contract agreements with five of their six 2020 draft selections, with tight end Charlie Woerner being the only one currently unsigned.

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

Why John Lynch thinks 49ers have chance to be better team next season

Why John Lynch thinks 49ers have chance to be better team next season

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan says the team's goal for next season is obvious, and that San Francisco will need to be even better than last season in order to achieve it. General manager John Lynch is of a similar mindset, and believes the 49ers have the pieces to get back to the Super Bowl.

"I think it's a state of a team that I think is very well-equipped to compete for championships," Lynch said during the 49ers State of the Franchise event. "Now, it's incumbent upon us to find a way to be better than we were last year, which was pretty darn good. 

"We talk about it a lot, Kyle and I. It's a philosophy that we kind of bonded on when we first started having conversations. It's something Jon Gruden used to talk about. You never stay the same. You're either getting better or you're getting worse."

As for which of those directions San Francisco is heading likely depends on how effectively the team was able to replace some outgoing standouts. Gone are DeForest Buckner, Emmanuel Sanders and Joe Staley. Enter Javon Kinlaw, Brandon Aiyuk and Trent Williams. 

[RELATED: 49ers legend Lott sees greatness in future of rookie Kinlaw]

"I'm very encouraged with where our franchise is," Lynch continued. "Our goal was to give ourselves a chance to be a better football team this year. I think we've done that. I think we have a chance to be a better football team, and that's tough when you talk about some of the losses that we've had.

"I'm very encouraged, and now we've just got to go do it. That's the great thing about this game. You can talk about it all you want, but you've got to walk the walk, and we're looking forward to having the opportunity to do that."

It will be awfully tough for the 49ers to be better than they were last season, but from the sounds of it, they're ready to take on the challenge.

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

Drew Brees apologizes for 'insensitive' comments on NFL players kneeling

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Drew Brees apologizes for 'insensitive' comments on NFL players kneeling

Drew Brees issued an apology Thursday morning on Instagram for the comments he made Wednesday in regard to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism.

View this post on Instagram

I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused. In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country. They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character. This is where I stand: I stand with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference. I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today. I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community. I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement. I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right. I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy. I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening...and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.

A post shared by Drew Brees (@drewbrees) on

Here is Brees' apology in its entirety:

I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused.

in an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country. They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character.

This is where I stand:

I stand with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference.
I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today.
I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community.
I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement.
I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right.
I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy.
I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening...and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen.
For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.

On Wednesday, the New Orleans Saints quarterback was asked if he now would support players who choose to kneel in protest during the national anthem. Brees told Yahoo! Finance that he still believes kneeling is "disrespecting the flag," citing his father and grandfather, both of whom served in the military, as reasons he believes players should stand for the anthem.

Brees' comments drew widespread criticism from his teammates and players across the league, including Saints receiver Michael Thomas, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, former 49er and current Saint Emmanuel Sanders and Raiders running back Josh Jacobs.

[RELATED: Poole: Brees shows he's part of America's problem, not solution]

That line of thinking showed that Brees still didn't understand why former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel during the national anthem during the 2016 season. Kaepernick first took a seat during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice, but after talking with Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret and long snapper for the Seattle Seahawks, he decided taking a knee would be the most respectful way to protest the injustices in this country.

Kaepernick opted out of his contract at the end of the 2016 season and has not played a snap in the NFL since. He has alleged the NFL owners conspired to keep him out of the league due to his protest. He settled a collusion lawsuit with the NFL last year.

The conversation around police brutality and systemic racism has been reignited after widespread protests broke out across the country in the wake of George Floyd's death in police custody.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black male died after Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for over eight minutes. Video footage shows Floyd telling Chauvin and the three other officers watching that he couldn't breathe. It was later announced Floyd died in police custody. Chauvin was arrested Friday and will be charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, were arrested Wednesday and are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

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