49ers

Cleveland unions representing police protesting Browns' anthem protest

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AP

Cleveland unions representing police protesting Browns' anthem protest

CLEVELAND — Members of unions representing Cleveland police officers and paramedics have said they won't hold a large U.S. flag during pregame ceremonies prior to next Sunday's Cleveland Browns season opener after a group of Browns players knelt during the national anthem before a preseason game last month.

Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, cited his service in the U.S. Navy when he told WKYC-TV he was astounded that Browns management knew of the protests but allowed it to occur.

"I am not going to participate or work with management that allows their players to disrespect the flag and the national anthem," Loomis said.

Nearly a dozen Browns players knelt in a circle and prayed in silent protest during the anthem before a preseason home game Aug. 21 against the New York Giants. A smaller group of players placed hands on the shoulders of their kneeling teammates.

A team spokesman issued a statement at halftime that said the organization has a "profound respect" for the national anthem, the U.S. flag and those who serve in the military.

"We feel it's important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country, including the freedom of personal expression," the statement said.

Dan Nemeth, president of the Cleveland Association of Rescue Employees Local 1975, said he had a similar reaction to Loomis'. He told Cleveland.com he served in the U.S. Marine Corps and finds it "hypocritical" for Browns management to say they support the military while allowing players to kneel during the anthem.

"When I was growing up, we were taught to stand every morning, put our hands over our hearts and say the Pledge of Allegiance," Nemeth said. "And when we did that, we typically had someone holding the flag in front of the class. For them to disrespect the flag by taking a knee did not sit well with me."

About 30 Browns players stood arm-to-arm in a line behind the rest of the team during the national anthem before an Aug. 26 preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A veterans group outside Strongsville said last week that it would not show Browns games because of the player protests.

The Browns' protests are part of a social-consciousness movement started last season by then-quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who became a polarizing figure for kneeling during the anthem.

Inactives: 49ers third-round pick yet to make his debut

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USATSI

Inactives: 49ers third-round pick yet to make his debut

As the 49ers take on the Rams on Thursday Night Football, the team will be without five defenders and two from offense. 

Ahkello Witherspoon, who the team drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, will have to wait to make his debut another week. 

Below is the full list of inactives from Insider Matt Maiocco. 

49ers building defensive identity: 'We can help ourselves a lot by...'

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AP

49ers building defensive identity: 'We can help ourselves a lot by...'

SANTA CLARA – After spending the past three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, inside linebacker Brock Coyle knows how it is supposed to look.

And he believes the 49ers have gotten off to a good start under the direction of first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who has installed a scheme based on the Seahawks’ blueprint.

“What’s really cool about this defense is if you look at Seattle, Jacksonville and Atlanta, they all have their different traits, their different personalties and their characteristics,” Coyle said. “And we’re building our own identity on defense.

“You see guys flying around and growing. And this was just our second regular-season game together in this defense.”

Saleh uses such terms as “all gas no brakes” and “extreme violence” to describe the kind of style he wants to see from his defense. In the 49ers’ 12-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers seemed to compete physically with the Seahawks for the first time in a long time.

On the first possession of the game, 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt set the tone when he separated Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham from the ball with a big hit. Graham was never a factor in the game, catching just one pass for 1 yard.

“If you’re looking from a progress standpoint, I don’t look at so much production as much as what it looks like on tape and the violence, the speed, attacking the ball, that’s what I’m excited about,” Saleh said.

The 49ers will have another chance on a quick turnaround to establish that identity on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium.

Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster will miss his second game in a row with a high-ankle sprain. Ray-Ray Armstrong started against Seattle, alongside NaVorro Bowman, but Saleh said Coyle also fits into his plan.

Coyle entered the game at Seattle in the first half in place of Armstrong, and Saleh hinted he could use both players more interchangeably until Foster returns.

“He deserves it,” Saleh said of Coyle. “He works his tail off and he works hard and we wanted to make sure that we got him some more reps. And to be honest with you, I feel he should probably get a little bit more.

“He’s a great communicator and knows everybody’s job on the football field. He’s very, very strong at the point of attack and he is pretty athletic and fast.”

The 49ers' physicality is showing up on the early downs, as the defense leads the league in allowing just 2.7 yards per play on first downs. But the 49ers have to get a lot better on the down that matters most. The 49ers rank 23rd on third downs, allowing the opposition through two games to convert 46.9 percent of their opportunities.

“Third down is a major emphasis -- every week it is," Saleh said. "We faced 12 more plays than we needed to that first drive just because a lack of execution on that first third-down and 9. We were in great position to get off the field.

"We’ve got to tackle and that takes all 11 running to the ball because a lot of times that first guy does miss, but we can help ourselves a lot by being better on third down for sure.”