49ers

49ers turn back clock with playoff run

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49ers turn back clock with playoff run

Brian Jennings, the sole survivor of a different era, smiled at the memory of 2002.

In some ways, it seems like a lifetime ago, the 49ers' long-snapper said Wednesday.

It was. George W. Bush was in the early part of his presidency. There was no war with Iraq. American Idol was in its first season. The Giants had recently lost to the Angels in the World Series and no one knew if theyd ever come that close again.

Jim Harbaugh was a young assistant coach in Oakland, recently removed from his playing career. Alex Smith was a few months out of high school. Jed York was at Notre Dame. Bill Walsh was still a special consultant to the 49ers. Jeff Garcia was defying expectations. Terrell Owens wasnt looking for a new home because he was still with his original team. Steve Mariucci wasnt on the NFL Network because it didnt exist. He was coaching the 49ers.

That was the last time the 49ers won their division. The last time they were in the playoffs. And the only holdover from that era is Jennings, the long snapper.

It was a fun year, he said. There were a lot of veteran guys. We worked hard in practice and goofed off after. There was a lot of laughing and good times.

And a sense of optimism.

Oh, yeah, we were back, Jennings said.

Dont forget that 2002 was the resurrection year. It wasnt just one more season in a string of 49ers playoff successes. The 49ers had come through ownership chaos, salary cap hell and a massive transition. The team took a turn for the worse in a 1998 playoff game in Atlanta when Garrison Hearst broke his ankle. Three games into the next season, Steve Youngs career ended with a concussion. A year later, Eddie DeBartolo had to cede control of the team. The 49ers endured a 4-12 season in 1999 and a 6-10 season the next year.

But by 2002, the 49ers had finally managed to make it into a new, post-Steve Young, post-Jerry Rice era. They were pointing in the right direction, thanks to direction from Bill Walsh (we will not be giving credit here to largely absentee general manager Terry Donahue). Hard choices had been made like letting Rice go. The 49ers won the wild card in 2001 with a 12-4 record but lost in the first round to Brett Favre and the Packers in Green Bay.

In 2002, the 49ers won the NFC West, but were locked into a first round game, because Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Green Bay at 12-4 were all superior teams. The 49ers, at 10-6, had a couple of rough losses on their record.

But they won a wild 39-38 game at home against the New York Giants. And then lost to eventual Super Bowl champions, Jon Grudens Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on the road.

A few days later, owner John York fired Mariucci, a move as puzzling now as it was then, considering the trajectory of the team. And the 49ers have been a tailspin ever since.

Until now. Until, on the fourth try and after eight years of wandering in the desert - the 49ers finally got it right and hired the right coach.

What Jim Harbaugh has done is amazing. Astonishing. Not only getting the team back to the playoffs but potentially getting in as the No. 2 seed in the conference. Harbaugh had the Coach of the Year award locked up in about Week Four. Now hes vying for Coach of the Century.

And the only man who can really gauge just how amazing it all is, is Jennings.

I survived the drought, he said.

Hes the only player with a tie to Walsh -- having been drafted under Walshs watch. Hes the only player who made it through the dark tunnel of Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary, only to emerge into the lightness.

This week, Harbaugh dropping uncanny Star Wars knowledge called Jennings a Jedi Knight, not a Padawan learner. Harbaugh didnt say what he meant by that, but perhaps he was alluding to Jennings patience and foresight that it would all work out.

The Force is finally back with the 49ers. Its been a long time.

Trump to anthem protesters: 'Get that son of a b---- off the field'

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AP

Trump to anthem protesters: 'Get that son of a b---- off the field'

On Thursday prior to the 49ers' game against the Rams, Eric Reid continued his protest during the national anthem by taking a knee.

On Friday, President Donald Trump had an idea as to what should happen to players like Reid. 

Speaking in Huntsville, AL, Trump told a group of his supporters during a campaign rally, "wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag to say, 'get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired."

The statement was welcomed by cheers from the crowd. 

Reid joined Colin Kaepernick in protest last season. Kaepernick isn't on an NFL roster. Reid sat out Thursday's game with an injury. 

Said Reid of his (non) stance earlier in the year:  “When we started last year, if you recall, we said our goal was to raise awareness and shed light on the issues that were happening in our country. I think we accomplished that goal. What I was upset about was the narrative, the false narrative, that were being told about us, people saying that we’re un-American, that we’re against police entirely and the military. That just wasn’t true. At first I thought that was a small sacrifice to pay to get the word out and raise awareness. I settled with thinking raising that awareness was victory.

“Then fast forward to Charlottesville and the country sees what an un- American protest really looks like. That’s when I had my change of heart. Because what Colin, Eli and I did was a peaceful protest fueled by faith in God to help make our country a better place. I feel I needed to regain control of that narrative and not let people say that what we’re doing is un-American, because it’s not. It’s completely American. We’re doing it because we want equality for everybody. We want our country to be a better place. So that’s why I decided to resume the protest.”

To date, at least 14 players have protested during the national anthem -- that number rises to close to 60 if you include the NFL preseason.

Trump added: “You know, some owner is gonna do that. He’s gonna say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’re friends of mine, many of them. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country.

“But do you know what’s hurting the game more than that [referees]? When people like yourselves turn on the television and you see those players taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem. The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium. I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway.”

Shanahan: Carradine could be heading to IR

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AP

Shanahan: Carradine could be heading to IR

Defensive lineman Tank Carradine will miss an extended period of time with a high ankle sprain sustained in the fourth quarter of the 49ers’ 41-39 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said on Friday the team was awaiting the results of an MRI examination. The 49ers could decide to place Carradine on injured reserve, which would make him eligible to return to action later in the season.

“We’re going to have to get that and really decide whether IR or not,” Shanahan said. “Because any time you have a high ankle sprain it’s going to be a while. We’re not exactly sure how long that’s going to be, but we’ll have to decide that probably Monday.”

The 49ers expect to be without the services of linebacker Reuben Foster and safety Eric Reid, too.

Also, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, safety Jaquiski Tartt and linebacker Brock Coyle are in the concussion protocol after sustaining head injuries on Thursday.

Although the 49ers’ medical staff no longer requires Foster to wear an orthopedic boot for his high ankle sprain, Shanahan said he would be shocked if the rookie is able to return to action Oct. 1 against the Arizona Cardinals.

“I’d be shocked if he came back this week,” Shanahan said. “I’d be surprised. We’re taking it week to week. I’m not really expecting him this week but You never know with some of these athletes. He might be there, but I’m not expecting it right now.”

Reid’s rehab is behind Foster’s, according to Shanahan. Reid sustained a left knee injury Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks and is expected to miss multiple games.

Speaking at his day-after-game press conference, Shanahan said he was disappointed that the 49ers’ pass rush did not apply more pressure to Rams quarterback Jared Goff.

“We didn’t affect the quarterback enough,” Shanahan said. “I thought we did a very good job against Seattle and we took a step back on that last night.”

When asked what he saw on the critical late-fourth-quarter play on which rookie receiver Trent Taylor was called for pass interference, Shanahan said, “I saw a very good route.“