Seattle Seahawks

Pete Carroll lauds Colin Kaepernick protest, which Seahawks nixed visit for

Pete Carroll lauds Colin Kaepernick protest, which Seahawks nixed visit for

Pete Carroll praised former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's 2016 protest of police brutality against African Americans and institutional racism earlier this week, nearly three years after Carroll's Seattle Seahawks opted not to sign Kaepernick as a free agent and over two after they reportedly postponed a workout because Kaepernick wouldn't commit to no longer kneeling during the playing of the national anthem.

"I think that there was a moment in time that a young man captured," Carroll told Warriors coach Steve Kerr and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on Tuesday on The Ringer's "Flying Coach" podcast (via ESPN's Nick Friedell). "He took a stand on something, figuratively took a knee, but he stood up for something he believed in -- and what an extraordinary moment it was that he was willing to take. ... But what happened from the process is it elevated awareness from people that just took everything away from what the statement was all about, and it just got tugged and pulled and ripped apart.

"And the whole mission of what the statement was, such a beautiful ... it's still the statement that we're making right today. We're not protecting our people. We're not looking after one another. We're not making the right choices. We're not following the right process to bring people to justice when actions are taken. So I think it was a big sacrifice in the sense that a young man makes, but those are the courageous moments that some guys take. And we owe a tremendous amount to him for sure."

Kaepernick was a free agent in 2017 following a season in which he kneeled during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before games as part of his protest. He opted out of his contract with the 49ers after the team's new regime, led by general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan, told Kaepernick he would be released if he didn't. Kaepernick visited the Seahawks in May, but Seattle opted not to sign him.

“He’s a starter in this league,” Carroll said on June 2 (H/T Andre Vergara). “We have a starter (Russell Wilson), but he is a starter in this league and I can’t imagine somebody won’t give him a chance to play.”

Neither the Seahawks, nor any other team, did that season or in the two that followed. Kaepernick was set to visit with the Seahawks in April 2018, but Seattle didn't bring the QB in for a workout after he didn't reveal whether he would continue to kneel during the national anthem, according to multiple reports that Carroll later said were "blown up." The 32-year-old quarterback sued the NFL for collusion later that year as he remained unsigned, settling it last February.

Carroll said the Seahawks planned to attend Kaepernick's NFL-arranged workout at the Atlanta Falcons' last November, but they were unable to send a scout after Kaepernick moved the location to a high school outside of Atlanta when the NFL barred media access and asked him to sign a waiver Kaepernick's lawyers deemed unusual.

“I’m disappointed. We had planned to be at that workout,” Carroll said on Nov. 19 (H/T Tacoma News Tribune's Gregg Bell). “It got changed around and we couldn’t work with it. Unfortunately, we sent somebody but couldn’t stay with the changes that happened. We missed it."

Kaepernick's protest has received renewed attention following the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, an African American man, in Minneapolis police custody last Monday. Fired police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as he pleaded that he couldn't breathe, and now faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers at the scene face charges of aiding and abetting murder.

Floyd's death, occurring within months of two white men shooting and killing 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery during a jog in his Georgia neighborhood and Louisville police's fatal shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor in her home, set off worldwide protests and demonstrations of the same issues Kaepernick highlighted nearly four years ago.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media on Aug. 29, 2016 after sitting during the national anthem before a preseason game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street, and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Kaepernick, after consulting with Green Beret and former Seahawk Nate Boyer, would ultimately kneel during the anthem.

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

Seahawks starting quarterback Russell Wilson told reporters Wednesday on a video conference that it was a question for Carroll if the Seahawks missed an opportunity to advance Kaepernick's message by signing him, but said Kaepernick "could definitely be on our roster for sure."

Carroll, meanwhile, said Tuesday on "Flying Coach" that he thinks he can do more to advance causes of racial equality after seeing protests unfold around the world in the last week.

"We have to go beyond and act and take the action, and it's going to be a challenge for people," Carroll said. "I feel frustrated I'm not doing enough. I'm not on it enough. I can't get active enough to create the change. I think we need to make progress, not just change."

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

Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown rumors show Seahawks desperate to catch 49ers

Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown rumors show Seahawks desperate to catch 49ers

One yard. One yard is all that kept Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch -- fresh off bartending duty at the Coliseum -- and Pete Carroll from winning the NFC West and sending the 49ers to the wild-card round.

The Seahawks, despite their flawed roster, still appear to be a big threat to the 49ers in the division. As long as Seattle has Wilson under center that will remain true. But the Seahawks know they need more to keep up with the 49ers' loaded roster, which is why there continues to be rumors of their interest in signing Antonio Brown and bringing back Josh Gordon.

Longtime reporter John Clayton told 710 ESPN in Seattle that there is an 85 percent chance the Seahawks bring back Gordon, while it's very unlikely Brown takes his circus to the Pacific Northwest.

Gordon, 28, was suspended in December after playing five games with the Seahawks for violating the NFL's drug and performance-enhancing drug policies. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported in March that Gordon plans to apply for reinstatement, but it's unclear if he would face further discipline if he's allowed back into the league or if the NFL's more relaxed marijuana policies will allow him back without further punishment.

As for Brown, Clayton reported May 20 that Wilson would love to add the former Pro Bowler. That, however, is unlikely as Brown's current legal troubles make it impossible to determine if the NFL will allow him to play once he signs with a team.

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

The Seahawks' rumored interest in two talented but troubled wide receivers underscores a few things. The first, which we knew, is that coach Pete Carroll never has met a gamble he didn't like. The second is that, as close as they were to the NFC West title last year, Seattle knows Wilson needs help in order to be a true threat to the 49ers.

The Seahawks have D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, but after those two there's a stark drop off when it comes to offensive weapons. Running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny both have trouble staying healthy as does tight end Will Dissly who has had a season-ending injury two years in a row.

Seattle signed running back Carlos Hyde to add another ball carrier to their backfield, but they need to give Wilson another explosive playmaker to maximize one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

Despite the loss of DeForest Buckner, the 49ers' defense still figures to be among the top units in the NFL. Of the four games the 49ers lost last season, one came in overtime to Wilson, one to Lamar Jackson in a rain-soaked affair, one came to Matt Ryan and Julio Jones and the other was to Patrick Mahomes and the "Legion of Zoom" in the Super Bowl.

As shown, the best way to combat the 49ers' ferocious defense is by having a top-flight quarterback and multiple explosive offensive weapons.

The Seahawks' record last year was indicative of Wilson's greatness and not of a complete roster. The Seahawks ranked 14th in scoring differential at (plus-0.6). They won a number of close games but still have many warts on their roster which they trust Wilson to cover up. Their offensive line will have three new starters in 2020, and it will be difficult for them to build chemistry with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic altering the offseason.

[RELATED: 49ers new rival Hopkins vows he's best WR in NFL]

Wilson, 31, is in his prime and remains the best player in the division. He has the ability to will the Seahawks to a win on any given Sunday. But even the greats need help.

The Seahawks know their roster doesn't stack up to the 49ers, and so visions of Gordon or Brown catching passes from Wilson will dance through the head of Carroll and general manager John Schneider.

But Gordon isn't the player he was five years ago and Brown, given all of his legal troubles, appears quite unlikely to appear in a Seahawks uniform come fall.

The 49ers have the upper hand on their rivals and the Seahawks' constant infatuation with troubled receivers shows their desperation.

49ers could benefit from Seahawks' lack of offensive line continuity

49ers could benefit from Seahawks' lack of offensive line continuity

As we learned in 2019, as good as the 49ers are the margin for error in the NFC West is razor-thin.

Despite having the more talented roster, the 49ers were pushed to the limit by Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, needing a Dre Greenlaw tackle on the 1-yard line in Week 17 to secure the division crown and No. 1 seed in the NFC. The two rivals should be close again in 2020, but the Seahawks will be starting the season at a disadvantage due to the lack of offseason OTAs and perhaps a shortened training camp.

While some position groups can make do with Zoom meetings and individual workouts, the offensive line is a group that needs to work together to establish cohesion. The Seahawks underwent massive turnover on the offensive line in the offseason. Seattle cut center Justin Britt and guard D.J. Fluker while tackles Germain Ifedi and George Fant left in free agency. That's 60 percent of their starting offensive line and a key reserve that now are gone.

The lack of in-person time to work on chemistry due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic worries tackle Duane Brown.

“A major factor is just chemistry. And continuity,” Brown said during a videoconference with reporters, via Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune. “And we just lost a big chunk of our starting pieces this offseason. So we’ve got some new faces, some guys who have been in the system, some guys that haven’t been there. Just have to learn each other, learning the the terminology, communication, just learning how we do things here. All of that stuff is important.

“We’re doing what we can now virtually, by texts, calls, just to try to build as much chemistry as possible until we’re able to meet and physically get on the field. Once that happens we have a small window to build each other up as much as possible until the season starts.”

The Seahawks needed to upgrade or change their offensive line in free agency. Seattle had the 27th ranked offensive line last, per Pro Football Focus. Their pressure rate allowed in 2.5 seconds or less was 26.7 percent, which ranked last in the NFL.

Seattle brought in four free agents, including center B.J. Finney and tackle Brandon Shell. The unit very well could be better than last year's disaster but it will take time for them to come together.

[RELATED: Seahawks-Browns Russ trade would've left 49ers with no NFC West equal]

With the 49ers returning the majority of a loaded roster, some early stumbles by the Seahawks due to offensive line play could be all San Francisco needs to wrap up the division before their Week 17 showdown at Levi's Stadium.

In the battle for the NFC West title, any little advantage over Wilson and Pete Carroll helps, especially given Seattle's easy December schedule. Lack of offensive line continuity early on in the Pacific Northwest could be a gift to the 49ers.