49ers

Cops handcuff, put gun to head of Seahawks' Michael Bennett: 'I'm going to die'

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AP

Cops handcuff, put gun to head of Seahawks' Michael Bennett: 'I'm going to die'

LAS VEGAS -- Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett accused Las Vegas police on Wednesday of racially motivated excessive force, saying he was threatened at gunpoint and handcuffed following a report of gunshots at an after-hours club at a casino-hotel.

Bennett said on a Twitter message titled "Dear World," that police "singled me out and pointed their guns at me for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Police later attributed a report of gunfire at Drai's at the Cromwell resort to the sharp sound of velvet rope stands being knocked to a tile floor. It happened a few hours after the Aug. 26 fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor.

Bennett, a 6-foot-4 (193 centimeters) defensive end who has been a leader of the national anthem protests started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, said he was among several hundred people running away.

He said he was handcuffed face-down on the ground after an officer held a gun to his head saying he would blow his head off if he moved.

"All I could think of was 'I'm going to die for no other reason than I am black and my skin color is somehow a threat,'" he wrote. He said he thought of his wife and children.

Bennett said he was taken to the back of a police car "until they apparently realized I was not a thug, common criminal or ordinary black man but Michael Bennett a famous professional football player." He was released without charges.

Las Vegas police Officer Jacinto Rivera said police were checking for casino and police body camera video and written reports. He said the department couldn't immediately verify Bennett's account or identify the officers involved.

"Without looking at video footage or reading any reports we can't say yet what happened," Rivera said.

A video posted by celebrity news site TMZ shows a view from a balcony as a police officer kneels on the back of a man who looks like Bennett. Protests are heard, including, "I wasn't doing nothing," and, "I was here with my friends. They told us to get out and everybody ran."

Bennett's attorney, John Burris in Oakland, California, confirmed the words were Bennett's. The attorney said he believed the 30-second video clip showed some of how his client was treated.

"We think there was an unlawful detention and the use of excessive force, with a gun put to his head," Burris told The Associated Press. "He was just in the crowd. He doesn't drink or do drugs. He wasn't in a fight. He wasn't resisting. He did nothing more or less than anyone in the crowd."

Burris said Bennett waited to make public his account of the incident until after Burris contacted Las Vegas police last week by letter and email, seeking police records of Bennett's detention.

Bennett's brother, Martellus Bennett, who plays for the Green Bay Packers, posted an Instagram account of a telephone call he said he got from Michael Bennett. He said he heard fear in his brother's voice.

"The emotion and the thought of almost losing you because of the way you look left me in one of the saddest places ever," Martellus Bennett said.

Michael Bennett has been one of the most outspoken pro athletes on numerous social issues. Last month, he held a benefit for the family of a pregnant black woman who was fatally shot by two white Seattle police officers in June. Police said the woman threatened the officers with at least one knife after calling 911 to report that someone had broken into her apartment and stolen video-game consoles.

"For me it's always finding a way to impact the community on every single level; locally, nationally, and globally," Bennett said following the benefit. "To be able to have something happen in your city and to be able to build a bridge between people regardless of color, regardless of gender, and regardless of economic hardships, you want to be able to bring people together and be able to do something for kids."

Advocates on Wednesday cited Bennett's treatment by police as an illustration of troubled race relations in America.

Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter advocacy group, called it "a testament to the police violence targeting black people in the United States."

Cullors endorsed an online petition calling for Las Vegas police to release information about what she called an assault on Bennett.

Jocelyn Benson, chief executive of the nonprofit Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, released a statement crediting Bennett with "courage and leadership in addressing issues of racial injustice in our country."

"The revelation of Michael Bennett's terrifying experience with Las Vegas police officers last month underscores the need to continue fighting against racial profiling and inequality," Benson said.

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.”