49ers pioneer Wally Yonamine passes away

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49ers pioneer Wally Yonamine passes away

March 1, 2011
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San Francisco 49ers pioneer, Wally Yonamine, passed away Monday night of prostate cancer at the age of 85. Despite playing just one season for the 49ers, Yonamines impact in professional sports was far-reaching.One day, I was surprised by an unknown caller on the telephone, recalled 49ers Owner and Co-Chairman Dr. John York. Wally Yonamine reached out to me and asked that I present him into the Japanese American Sports Hall of Fame, in 2002. That phone call introduced me to a wonderful new friend and a man that is very important in 49ers history, the 49ers first Asian American player. Wally will be sadly missed by me and those with a love of 49ers history.Yonamine became the first Asian American athlete to play professional football when he lined up as a running back for the 49ers during the 1947 season. At that time in history, many San Francisco Bay Area residents of Japanese descent were just returning to their homes after spending time in an internment camp in Utah during World War II. Therefore, Yonamines signing with the 49ers took on special significance in the Asian American community. In 12 games (three starts), he rushed for 74 yards on 19 carries, caught three passes for 40 yards and recorded one interception for a 20-yard return.Yonamines football career was cut short after fracturing his wrist playing baseball, in 1948. He then turned his sole focus to baseball, playing one year for the San Francisco Seals Salt Lake farm team and one year for the Hawaiian Asahi team, before going abroad to play for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, where he became the first American player in Japanese pro baseball in the post-World War II era.With his aggressive style of play, Yonamine revolutionized the game of baseball in Japan. A seven-time all-star in his 11 seasons, he won three batting titles and was part of three Japan Series championship teams (Yomiuri Giants 1951-53). Yonamine went on to coach or manage various professional teams in Japan for 26 years. He was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.In 2002, the San Francisco 49ers honored Yonamines football legacy during an exhibition game on August 3 at Japans Osaka Dome. Serving as an honorary team captain, Yonamine was greeted with a standing ovation following a video tribute.The 49ers established the PerryYonamine Unity Award in 2007, to celebrate the teams 65-year history of exemplifying the power of teamwork to accomplish goals. The 49ers honor an exceptional non-profit agency, youth football coach and a current 49ers player who has demonstrated a commitment to promoting unity and giving back to the local community. The award is named after Yonamine and fellow former 49er Joe Perry two individuals who demonstrated the power of unity to make a difference on the field and in the community. The winner in each category receives a 10,000 grant award that will be donated to their represented organization.Courtesy San Francisco 49ers media services

Agent: 49ers to re-sign running back DuJuan Harris

Agent: 49ers to re-sign running back DuJuan Harris

PHOENIX – Free-agent running back DuJuan Harris will re-sign with the 49ers, his agent said.

Harris, 28, appeared in 10 games for the 49ers last season with one start. He rushed for 138 yards on 38 attempts. He also caught eight passes for 115 yards.

Harris has also seen time with Jacksonville, Green Bay and Seattle in his four-year NFL career.

The 49ers did not tender Harris as a restricted free agent, but agent Andy Simms revealed his client will re-sign with the 49ers via Twitter. Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley and defensive lineman Chris Jones are the only other free agents the 49ers have re-signed.

Bruce Allen: Kirk Cousins will play for Washington in 2017

Bruce Allen: Kirk Cousins will play for Washington in 2017

PHOENIX – Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins will continue to be Washington’s quarterback for the 2017 season, according to team president Bruce Allen.

“That’s why we franchised him, yes,” Allen said during an interview with CSN Mid-Atlantic at the NFL owners meetings.

Cousins and Washington did not reach agreement on a multi-year contract extension before the start of the free-agent signing period. Washington tagged Cousins as the organization’s exclusive franchise player, taking him off the free-agent market for any interested clubs, such as the 49ers.

Cousins is set to earn $23.94 million in 2017, unless the sides agree to a new deal before the July 15 deadline. The price for Cousins to be franchised again in 2018 would be $34.47 million.

"We’ve had a lot of dialogue," Allen said. "He signed his tender. Obviously, we have an option for the ’18 season. Our goal from the beginning has been long term. I'm still hopeful and confident we'll do it."

The 49ers with new coach Kyle Shanahan are expected to be interested in Cousins, but there have no trade talks with any teams, Allen said. Shanahan was Washington's offensive coordinator under his father, then-head coach Mike Shanahan, for Cousins' first two NFL seasons.

"I can't keep up with the rumors," Allen said. "Kirk and I have talked almost a dozen times this offseason, and we get to laugh when we hear these different rumors. We haven't talked to anyone."