Connect with us


Niners didn’t want to get ‘left at altar’ by staying at No. 12, believe Jimmy Garoppolo gives them best chance now



SANTA CLARA, Calif. — San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan came out of their offseason bunker Monday and shed light on their plans for the newly acquired third pick in next month’s NFL draft, what is to become of Jimmy Garoppolo and how they arrived at their decisions on all of it.

Speaking to the media for the first time since Jan. 4, Lynch and Shanahan spent 40 minutes detailing the how and why of the bold move they made Friday to acquire the No. 3 pick from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the No. 12 pick this year, first and third-round choices in 2022 and a first-round selection in ’23.

Throughout, Lynch and Shanahan didn’t shy away from two widely held ideas: The Niners plan to draft a quarterback at No. 3 and they intend to hang on to Garoppolo, barring a significant trade offer for him.

“We’re in a situation where when you bring in a rookie quarterback, to me it’s always better, especially on the team that you have, if you’ve got a veteran starter there already who you like and you’re comfortable winning with, that’s usually the direction you want to go,” Shanahan said. “And not throw someone else out into the fire until they’re fully ready and that’s the situation we’re at … I think Jimmy, it’s going to be hard to find a quarterback who gives us a better chance to win than Jimmy right now, especially even a rookie in the draft… Now, if someone wanted (to give) something for (Garoppolo) and it could make our team better in a lot of other ways, you listen to that but it also depends on how good you feel about that rookie.

“And we’re not there yet right now. Odds are, we probably won’t be. That’s why we’re happy that we don’t have to be that way. We’ve got a guy in here who we know we can win with, a guy our players love, that we love and we’re excited to have him this year and we’re excited to have a hell of a quarterback right behind him learning for when the time is his.”

After San Francisco’s disappointing 6-10 season, Shanahan and Lynch and their respective staffs set a course in January to begin exploring all possible options at quarterback. While they believed in Garoppolo’s ability to win when healthy, they also knew they could no longer risk having entire seasons lost because he couldn’t stay on the field.

“It’s been tough the two years he’s missed, it’s been hard to compete the same way,” Shanahan said. “So, we knew we had to look into that this year.”

Among the options considered, Shanahan mentioned that the Niners looked at Matthew Stafford, who ultimately was traded to the Los Angeles Rams, and monitored Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson‘s potential availability.

The idea of trading up from No. 12 to take one of the draft’s top rookies and keep Garoppolo on board lingered but was largely dependent on a flurry of other things happening first. When free agency opened, their ability to keep many of their own key players such as left tackle Trent Williams and fullback Kyle Juszczyk offered the Niners two things they coveted: a roster that could compete immediately in 2021 and the unique position of having no glaring needs for the draft that would steer them away from a big move at quarterback.

Lynch said the Niners began talking to other teams near the top of the draft weeks ago in the belief that there were up to five quarterbacks who could become the future face of the franchise. Those quarterbacks — Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, BYU’s Zach Wilson, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Alabama’s Mac Jones — all had at least some appeal to Shanahan and Lynch, who surveyed the quarterback landscape around the league and believed they would have no shot at any of them if they didn’t make a move quickly.

“We felt pretty strongly we were gonna get left at the altar sitting there at 12,” Shanahan said. “There are five guys that are kind of at this party a little bit and people are talking about them going everywhere. They’re all over in the first round. Our feeling is these guys were going to go a lot higher than people realize.”

Just before the deal became official, Lynch went to Niners ownership and laid out the plan to move all the way up to No. 3 and keep Garoppolo and his $26.4 million cap hit in 2021.

“We went to ownership and said, ‘Hey, things are looking good. We’d like to make this move but we also don’t want to say goodbye to Jimmy,'” Lynch said. “It was a stated goal that we needed to come out with the quarterback position being stronger this year and I think we’ve put ourselves in an opportunity to make that happen with this move.”

In the hours before the trade was announced, Shanahan spoke with Garoppolo, explaining to him what the Niners were about to do. According to Shanahan, Garoppolo wasn’t thrilled with the idea of the team drafting his future replacement, but Shanahan said he seemed to understand the plan to bring him back and to give it one more go and possibly rehabilitate his value in the process.

“I’m sure Jimmy was a little pissed off from it, just like I would be, too,” Shanahan said. “The more mad Jimmy gets, usually the better he gets. Jimmy just gets madder and stays healthy, this is going to be a good thing for Jimmy too, which could be a great problem for the 49ers.”

The next step for the 49ers is actually drafting their quarterback. Lynch and Shanahan said they have no intel on what’s going to happen in front of them aside from what’s viewed as the common knowledge — that Jacksonville will take Lawrence and the Jets will choose Wilson.

Shanahan acknowledged that the Niners are already comfortable with three quarterbacks on the list becoming the franchise’s future, though he obviously declined to say which ones, and that he could get there with four and five.

The Niners will spend the next few weeks doing their diligence on the top quarterbacks. Shanahan and Lynch are headed to Alabama’s second pro day to see Jones on Tuesday, while assistant general manager Adam Peters will be in Ohio to see Fields.

Shanahan said he plans to see Fields in person later after speaking with his agent, and there are plans for an up-close look at Lance, as well.

All of that, of course, will be happening in an odd offseason in which teams can no longer do private workouts, visits or dinners because of continued COVID-19 restrictions. If nothing else, the Niners at least no longer have to do any of it in secret.

“You get to three, you don’t have to mess with that stuff,” Shanahan said. “And I think that gives us a better chance now to do our due diligence because we don’t have to really play any games in that way.”

Source link


Linebacker Vince Williams, 31, informs Pittsburgh Steelers of his retirement after eight seasons



PITTSBURGH — On the eve of the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ first training camp practice, veteran inside linebacker Vince Williams informed the team of his retirement Wednesday.

Williams, 31, played eight seasons with the organization after being selected in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft.

Williams was initially released by the team in March because of cap constraints, but he was re-signed in April on a one-year veteran minimum deal.

Some of Williams’ teammates on defense, including T.J. Watt and Joe Haden, posted their reactions on social media later Wednesday.

The former Florida State player emerged as a team leader in Pittsburgh and started 69 of 121 career games, racking up 20.5 sacks, 479 combined tackles and 50 tackles for loss.

His role in 2021 was likely to be reduced with the emergence of Robert Spillane, who stepped up last season when former top-10 pick Devin Bush tore his ACL.

Beyond Spillane and Bush, the Steelers will likely look to rookie Buddy Johnson and safety-turned-inside linebacker Marcus Allen for depth at the position — but with a strong camp, a fully healthy Ulysees Gilbert III could also land a roster spot to round out the group.

Source link

Continue Reading


Jerry Jones confident Dallas Cowboys’ vaccination percentage ‘will not limit us in any way’



OXNARD, California — The Dallas Cowboys will open training camp under stricter COVID-19 protocols because they did not reach the 85% vaccination threshold, but owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he does not believe it will impact the players’ preparedness for the regular season.

“My opinion is it will absolutely will not limit us in any way, the issue of vaccination, will [not] limit us in any way as to being competitive as early as when we play Pittsburgh in the first preseason game,” Jones said Wednesday at the opening news conference of training camp. “When people say, ‘Where do you think you stand right now with vaccine relative to your team and as it pertains — this comes to my mind — the competition,’ and I think we’re one of the leaders.”

Jones indicated as few as five players have not made a pledge to get vaccinated at present, and a portion of players are “in the pipeline” toward becoming fully vaccinated, a number that would help the Cowboys reach the mark.

Executive vice president Stephen Jones noted the four weeks between the first shot and full vaccination for not being able to pinpoint an exact date. With 90 players on the roster, 77 need to be vaccinated to reach the current threshold that would ease COVID-19 restrictions at training camp.

“I don’t know that the 85% has been totally negotiated yet,” Stephen Jones said. “I think it’s a work in progress, but, yes, I do think we’ll hit that threshold and more.”

Stephen Jones credited the players for listening to the information the team made available regarding the vaccine.

“They understand that everybody was recommending the vaccine, in and around the country, but they really did their homework,” he said. “They had a lot of great questions. We provided them with lot of education, a lot about the science, and I think they were able to get their hands around it.”

The Cowboys’ coaching staff is fully vaccinated, according to Jerry Jones, but Mike McCarthy said he told his players he needed some convincing early on before getting the shot.

“Frankly, I shared my own personal experience where the facts that I was not particularly 100 percent on board with the vaccination, but through the relationships that we’re fortunate to have in the medical community, you watch, you listen. I think that same approach was given to our players,” McCarthy said. “We just wanted to make sure they had all the facts … Really, the position of where we were numbers-wise in my opinion was more about timing.”

Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin was critical of the Cowboys for not reaching the threshold, questioning their commitment to winning.

“Yeah, and it should upset them,” Irvin said. “It should upset them. Dude, you’re not thinking right. You’re not thinking right. Whatever you got, I don’t give a damn. Nothing else can be more important. You’re not going to get this (winning a Super Bowl) easily. Nothing else could be more important. Jimmy [Johnson] made that abundantly clear (during Irvin’s playing career). Nothing else is more important. And not being one of the [teams] says there’s other things to a great number of people on this team that are more important than winning championships, and that makes me worried.”

Jerry Jones said he understood Irvin’s comments.

“Michael Irvin is the best example that I know of how much will and how much body language and how much of heart and sacrifice mean to winning championships. He is that. So when he talks, I listen. I know that,” Jerry Jones said. “And I think he has a good reputation with the current group of players because of his visibility and his activity with the network where he is as an individual. So he comes with all the credibility in the world. He’s a Hall of Famer and then not only part of — because he’s a talented football player — but a big part of why he got there was that total commitment going above and beyond.

“That’s what he was trying to say. That it isn’t normal things we want from each other as players. We want everything to go above and beyond. And so I thought it was an outstanding message.”

Source link

Continue Reading


Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones says he’d ‘do anything’ to make Super Bowl LVI



OXNARD, Calif. — Over the years, Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has not been afraid to talk about Super Bowl dreams before the start of a season. But as the franchise’s championship drought pushes past 25 years, Jones stayed away from making headlines Wednesday.

Still, making it to Super Bowl LVI is at the top of Jones’ mind.

“I’d do anything known to man to get to a Super Bowl,” Jones said. “That’s a fact.”

Jones became emotional at several points of a nearly hour-long news conference, starting with when he was asked how he intends to get the Cowboys back to a time when they won three Super Bowls in a four-year span in the 1990s.

“I’ve always had to be pragmatic at the end of the day because if not, you’ll end up on the outside looking in. You have to be real,” Jones said. “But on the other hand, I’ve never thought that we couldn’t be better or never thought that we couldn’t make it happen, even when we were not on paper or we weren’t as technically as good or sound. But I’ve never thought that, and I’ve got too many examples of how shorthanded people have knocked them out of the park before. A lot of them. In a lot of different areas.

“I really don’t know that I have any days or have any weeks where I don’t think, ‘There’s a pony in here somewhere.’ You have a lot of days where you ask yourself, ‘What are you doing in the middle of this?’ That has served me well. This isn’t an ‘I, me,’ but I’ve had a lot of people tell me, ‘You’re naive’ or say, ‘He’s naive.’ Well, it’s a beautiful world. … It’s a better world to be naive than to be skeptical and be negative all the time.”

Jones choked up when discussing former coach Jimmy Johnson’s tenure with the Cowboys now that Johnson is headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month.

“Well, I just think of those great times, and Jimmy’s a great coach,” Jones said. “Ridiculous. My role here was, my job was to keep it together. It was my job. Should have had deference to something that was working good. Those are the things that come to my mind. We had a great run of it. He’s a great coach, and I’m proud to have him as a friend, and proud to have had the times that we had. We just had a great experience.”

The current Cowboys have missed the playoffs in three of the past four seasons, including a 6-10 finish in 2020 in Mike McCarthy’s first season as coach. Dak Prescott played in just five games because of a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle, but he will be a full participant when practice opens Thursday. A number of other key players also missed significant time due to injury.

With Prescott and offensive linemen Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and La’el Collins healthy and the addition of Dan Quinn at defensive coordinator, Jones is optimistic about 2021, if not bombastic.

“I think we got a way to make it work big for this season,” Jones said. “You put those two things together, and I think we got a chance to be a really good team.”

Source link

Continue Reading