49ers notebook: Travails and travels in labor dispute


49ers notebook: Travails and travels in labor dispute

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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com

In late-April, 49ers wide receiver Josh Morgan had just arrived in Washington to visit family when he got an urgent phone call."It was Coach," Morgan said. "He called, telling me to be back out here at 8 in the morning."The lockout was over. And with that call from 49ers receivers coach John Morton, the team arranged for Morgan to get on a one-way flight across the country, back to the Bay Area. Morgan paid for the ticket, by the way.Morgan got back to Santa Clara and picked up a copy of the 49ers' new playbook. Then, a few hours later a federal appeals court granted a temporary stay of a lower court's order that had ruled NFL owners could not lock out their players.So the lockout was back on. And that's when Morgan said he stopped worrying about the league's labor situation."I just gave up," Morgan said. "Call me when it's over. I'll stay in shape and learn the playbook."Of course, that call still has not come for players to return to work. The NFL's owners on Thursday announced that they have approved a proposal that would settle the league's labor dispute.NEWS: NFL owners approve CBA, give players until Tuesday
Now, the next move belongs to the players."Player leadership is discussing the most recent written proposal with the NFL, which includes a settlement agreement, deal terms and the right process for addressing recertification," said NFL Players Association president Kevin Mawae in a statement Friday.He added that the NFLPA would make no further statement Friday out of respect for the Kraft family. Memorial services were held Friday for Myra Kraft, the wife of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.RELATED: NFLPA goes quiet Friday in respect of Kraft family
Morgan, a regular attendee at the 49ers' get-togethers at San Jose State, said he has a good knowledge of the receivers' responsibilities -- but not much else -- from the new playbook."I know everything I'm supposed to know," Morgan said. "I'm not at the point where I know everything, but I'm getting there. . . . I used to know everything. I used to know what Frank (Gore) had to do, the linemen, and what Alex (Smith) had to do, and Vernon (Davis). Now, I just know what all the receivers do." Rookie outside linebacker Aldon Smith, chosen with the No. 7 overall pick, has moved to the Bay Area and has gotten acclimated to his new home. His first professional football requirement will be to get acclimated to playing a new position.He said the full-time conversion from defensive end to outside linebacker is tops among the many new things with which he must become comfortable."Just playing standing up and playing at a different level," Smith answered when asked what his biggest adjustment would be. "I think it's going to be a big transition for everybody because it's a new coaching staff and a new system, so everybody's starting from scratch. That's one thing that makes it a little bit easier. We're all learning together."Smith said he expects to play this season between 260 and 265 pounds. He currently weighs 266. "I'll lose weight in camp, so I'd rather go into camp heavy and lose it than go in light and lose some more," he said.
There is no doubt 49ers rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick has an NFL arm. And the receivers who catch passes from him are getting a good workout, too."It's really a test for your hand-eye coordination and reactions," Morgan said. "Not every throw is going to be perfect. There might be a 5-yard slant where the ball is behind you, and that makes you be a wide receiver -- makes you test everything. With a normal arm and normal velocity, it's easy to adjust."Morgan compares Kaepernick's arm strength to Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick's. Morgan said he last caught passes from Vick on April 24, when a bunch of former Virginia Tech players gathered for the Hokies' annual spring game.

49ers 'ecstatic' with first-day haul in the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers 'ecstatic' with first-day haul in the 2017 NFL Draft

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers began Thursday with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.

When his first day as 49ers general manager reached its conclusion, John Lynch had selected two of the three top players on his draft board and picked up additional third-round picks for this year and next year.

After Myles Garrett, the 49ers’ top-rated prospect, was the Cleveland Browns’ selection at No. 1 overall, the 49ers traded back one spot with the Chicago Bears. The 49ers still got their No. 2-rated prospect, Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

The 49ers started making calls to teams with selections in the teens, according to coach Kyle Shanahan, to inquire about trading up for Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. The 49ers finally worked a deal with the Seattle Seahawks to move up three spots to No. 31.

All they gave up was a fourth-round pick acquired from the Bears earlier in the day.

“In terms of how we rated them, we got two of our top three players,” Lynch said. “We’re thrilled. We’re ecstatic. I think these guys have traits that encompass what we want to be about as a football organization.”

Lynch said he began speaking with Bears general manager Ryan Pace more than a week ago. Because the 49ers had picks scheduled next to the Bears in every round, Pace suggested to Lynch that the two teams should be willing to work with each other throughout the draft.

The 49ers had other offers for the No. 2 pick, Lynch said. A source told NBC Sports Bay Area just prior to the start of the draft that the 49ers had fielded three solid offers.

The team’s chief strategy officer Paraag Marathe worked out the details to finalize the trade with the Bears.

The 49ers did not know which player the Bears were targeting at No. 2, but Shanahan voiced his opinion while the trade was going down.

“This guy is a pretty bright,” Lynch said of Shanahan. “He said, ‘That’s not for a defensive lineman. That’s for a quarterback.’ And he was right.”

The Bears made the trade to select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick. In order for the Bears to trade up one spot, they delivered the 49ers a third-round pick (No. 67), a fourth-round pick (No. 111) and a third-round pick next year.

Jacksonville executive Tom Coughlin, whose team held the No. 4 pick, watched and admired the 49ers' move from afar. 

"To get what you had in mind right off the bat and pick up those extra picks? Pretty nice deal," Coughlin told Jacksonville reporters. "I’ve never seen one of those. . . Oh, my gosh. Nothing like that has ever come my way.”

When asked if the 49ers would have selected Foster if the Bears selected Thomas, Lynch said, “Perhaps. It was very likely.”

Instead, the 49ers waited and waited and waited before finding a trade partner in an unlikely place. The 49ers made a deal with Seattle, giving up the 111th pick obtained from Chicago, to select Foster. The Saints had already told Foster he would be the pick one spot later.

“He’s my kind of player,” Lynch said of Foster. “He plays sideline to sideline, and he’ll hit anything that moves. I think that’s contagious for teammates.”

Foster is recovering from shoulder surgery and his stock was negatively affected by character concerns. He was sent home from the NFL scouting combine after an argument with a hospital worker during his medical check. He also had a positive drug test due to a diluted urine sample.

Lynch spent a lot of time with Foster during his visit to Santa Clara, as well as a meeting him at the combine. Both Lynch and Shanahan spoke regularly with Foster on the phone and on FaceTime in the past few weeks.

The 49ers also dispatched vice president of football affairs Keena Turner and team chaplain Earl Smith to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to meet with Foster for two days. The team will have a plan in place to help guide Foster as he transitions to professional football, Lynch said.

“I would tell you that his character is what drew us to him,” Lynch said. “When you start talking football with this young man, he lights up a room. He’s a good kid. I believe in the kid. I think he’ll be a great player for this organization for a long time.”

What we really learned from day one of the 2017 NFL Draft

What we really learned from day one of the 2017 NFL Draft

So after one day of the NFL Draft, we know the following:
1.        Roger Goodell could be booed on the surface of the sun, and if you don’t think so, let’s all agree to give that thesis a try.
2.        The Oakland Raiders have invested a lot in Gareon Conley’s word.
3.        John Lynch is either a swindler, or he was presented with a deal that only an idiot could refuse.
Let’s do Goodell first. He was booed lustily and often by the huge Philadelphia crowd, and though he would be booed anywhere (and he half-heartedly asked for more with a smile that looked more like a dog sticking his head out of a speeding car window), Philadelphia booing causes osteoporosis.
Next, we go to the Raiders, who used the 24th pick in the draft to take Conley, the secondary man from Ohio State who is being investigated for rape. Conley has maintained his innocence, putting out a statement denying all the accusations, and TMZ claims to have a video that calls into question the woman’s story. In other words, nobody can be sure of anything quite yet.
Except the Raiders seemed sure enough to take him, and general manager Reggie McKenzie said the team investigated him and the incident thoroughly. In short, given Mark Davis’ stated opposition to employing players involved in violence against women, McKenzie better be right, and close enough to right to assuage any misgivings Davis or the customer base might have.
As far as Conley the player, check back with us in at least two years.
Finally, there is Lynch, who squeezed (or was amazingly offered) three picks from Chicago Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace in exchange for one place in the draft. Pace, who was immediately described by Wikipedia as “the soon-to-be former general manager,” took North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, whom the 49ers had little interest in.
In other words, Lynch either pulled a fast one, or had a fast one handed to him. Either way, the 49ers got Solomon Thomas, the defensive lineman from Stanford they had long coveted, plus a third-round pick tomorrow, one next year and one in the fourth round that they helped spin into Reuben Foster, the Alabama linebacker who fell from much loftier draft positions apparently because of shoulder concerns.
In short, McKenzie got a much-needed secondary man who might end up being more trouble legally than he is worth athletically (though the level of doubt here is sufficient to jump to no conclusions quite yet), and Lynch won a reputation as the young Billy The Kid, smiling precociously while he robs you at gunpoint.
Time will tell whether he also gets to be called a great talent evaluator, but for the moment, don’t ask him to hold your wallet. That, kids, is the highest compliment a general manager can receive on the first night of his first NFL Draft.