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49ers notebook: Travails and travels in labor dispute

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49ers notebook: Travails and travels in labor dispute

July 22, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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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.

Day after retiring, Anquan Boldin challenges owners, execs to help protesting players

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AP

Day after retiring, Anquan Boldin challenges owners, execs to help protesting players

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Anquan Boldin didn't decide overnight he was going to quit football in order to speak out against longstanding concerns over inequality in America.

The recent deadly and racially charged conflict in Charlottesville, Virginia, did, however, become the tipping point that caused Boldin to reassess his priorities and led to the Buffalo Bills receiver's decision to retire after 14 NFL seasons.

"I think anybody with any sense can see how divided we are as a country, and Charlottesville only magnified what we were already seeing," Boldin told The Associated Press by phone Monday.

He was disturbed by the hateful messages directed at African-Americans, Jewish people and the LGBT community during a rally involving neo-Nazis and other right-wing groups in which a counter-protester was killed and two Virginia state police officers died on Aug. 13.

"That's not the America that I want to live in," he said. "And I think the only way that this America changes is that we as a people stand up and change it."

Boldin spoke a day after abruptly informing the Bills he was retiring some two weeks after signing a one-year contract with a base salary of $1.75 million.

The NFL's 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year, Boldin is no stranger to activism and humanitarian causes. He oversees the South Florida-based Q81 Foundation, which offers educational support for underprivileged children.

He has lobbied for criminal justice reform at the state and federal levels since his cousin was killed by a plain-clothes police officer along the side of a Florida highway in October 2015.

Difficult as it was to walk away from football, Boldin felt he could no longer stand silent on the sideline.

"There's not enough money in this world for me to continue to allow the things that are going on to continue to spread," the 36-year-old father of two boys said.

"I will not feel safe leaving this earth and having my kids have to live in the America that we have today."

Boldin then challenged NFL owners and executives to use their clout to demand change and back many of their players who are already doing so by protesting during the anthem.

"You have your players crying out for help. That's the reason why guys are taking knees during the anthem," he said.

"Just because we're professional athletes doesn't mean we're exempt from the things that go on in society," Boldin said, noting his position as an athlete couldn't save his cousin from being shot.

"If I'm an owner and I see one of my family members - players - hurting, I'd do whatever I can to make sure that my family is OK."

Boldin's decision to retire coincides with what he witnessed during the anthem before Buffalo's preseason game at Philadelphia on Thursday. Eagles defensive end Chris Long showed his support by putting his arm around cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, who stood in silent protest with a raised fist. Bills backup lineman Cameron Jefferson was so inspired by what he saw that he also raised his fist on Buffalo's sideline.

Boldin ranks in the top four among active receivers with 1,076 catches, 13,779 yards receiving and 82 touchdowns receiving.

He spent last season with Detroit, where he had 67 catches for 584 yards and eight touchdowns in 16 games.

The former Florida State star spent his first seven NFL seasons with Arizona, then played three years with Baltimore and three with San Francisco. He helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl in February 2013.

Lions safety Glover Quin credited his former teammate for having the courage for ending his career while knowing he can "have a bigger impact to do something else."

"I tip my hat to him," said Quin, one of several NFL players who joined Boldin in addressing Congress last year. "One day, we'll be able to look back on it and say, `That was the start of something great.'"

A day later, Boldin feels he made the right choice and pays no mind to those who suggest he simply stick to sports.

"I think it's absurd to tell a person to stick to playing football when the issues that he's talking about are affecting him," he said.

Earlier in the day in an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Boldin said his decision to retire had nothing to do with the Bills trading their top receiving threat, Sammy Watkins, in a pair of blockbuster deals on Aug. 11 , or how the team's offense struggled in a 20-16 preseason loss at Philadelphia.

He also discounted the notion he might reconsider retirement and choose to play for a contender later this season.

"Do I feel like I can still play? Of course," Boldin said. "My passion for the advocacy work that I do outweighs football at this point, so I'm not coming back to play for a contender or to do anything else. I'm done with the game of football."

49ers rookie QB Beathard turns VR into reality

49ers rookie QB Beathard turns VR into reality

The 49ers made a late-night trade in April to move back into the end of the third round to select an unheralded quarterback from Iowa.

The deal did not come without some second-guessing. After all, why trade away a seventh-round pick for C.J. Beathard, when he was likely to be available five picks later with the 49ers’ next scheduled draft pick?

Beathard has done everything right since his arrival, seemingly justifying the 49ers' decision to make sure they secured him when they did. And a solid showing during training camp has placed him in position to overtake veteran Matt Barkley as the team’s No. 2 quarterback.

“That’s for the coaches to decide on and evaluate,” Beathard said. “I’m critical of myself and I feel like there were plays that I can improve on and get better at. That’s part of football. You’re never going to play a perfect game. I’m always trying to get better.”

Brian Hoyer strengthened his grasp on the 49ers’ starting job with an impressive training camp with his arm strength, accuracy, and knowledge and execution of Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

Beathard has saved his best performances for the two exhibition games with and against backup players. Beathard has completed 14 of 23 passes (60.9 percent) for 211 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating is 130.6.

“There were a couple third downs I thought he missed, but it was hard to get anyone in a rhythm that game,” Shanahan said after the 49ers’ 33-14 loss to the Denver Broncos on Saturday. “I think under the circumstances, he did solid.”

Beathard, the grandson of long-time NFL executive Bobby Beathard, led Iowa to a 12-2 record as a junior. His production dropped as a senior, as he completed 56.5 percent of his attempts with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in the Hawkeyes' pro-style offense.

He entered training camp at No. 3 on the depth chart. He and Barkley have been assigned the same number of practice snaps since the team reported to Santa Clara in late-July.

But Beathard has taken advantage of technology to get more and more comfortable in the 49ers’ offense. The 49ers are one of six NFL teams that use STRIVR Labs as an aide in training players via virtual reality. The tool is especially useful for quarterbacks with the camera stationed approximately 10 yards behind the quarterback.

The 49ers have two stations inside Levi’s Stadium with VR headsets, and Beathard has taken full advantage of the resource to train his eyes to read defenses and route progressions. One source told NBC Sports Bay Area that Beathard recently reviewed more than 1,000 practice plays in a week with the technology on his own time.

“You only get limited reps in practice, but you’re able to watch through virtual reality, essentially every rep in practice – all of Brian’s and Matt’s and go back and watch mine, and kind of play things out in your head as you watch practice,” Beathard said.

Beathard's pedigree, football smarts and toughness are what originally drew Shanahan to him before the draft.

Beathard’s toughness was on display in the first exhibition game, when he hung in to deliver a pass down the field to Kendrick Bourne just moments before taking a hit from a Kansas City defensive lineman. Bourne turned it into a 46-yard touchdown.

On Saturday, Beathard executed a convincing play-fake to running back Kapri Bibbs before rolling to his left and tossing to tight end George Kittle, his Iowa teammate. Kittle turned upfield, ran over one would-be tackler, stiff-armed another and managed to stay in-bounds en route to a 29-yard touchdown.

Kittle, who caught two touchdowns passes from Beathard against Nebraska in their final game together at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium, is not surprised with how quickly Beathard has adapted in his first NFL training camp.

“He is the most competitive person I’ve ever met in my life,” Kittle said. “You’ve got a guy who just cares about football.”