49ers

Demarcus Dobbs, The 49ers' Man in Black

845085.jpg

Demarcus Dobbs, The 49ers' Man in Black

Programming note: Log on today at 12:45 p.m. to our live stream page for today's 49ers press conference from Santa Clara with OC Greg Roman, WR Michael Crabtree and CB Carlos Rogers!

Its easy to understand if Demarcus Dobbs head is spinning this training camp. One minute youre in the offensive meeting room then the next minute youre in the defensive meeting room, Dobbs said. Youre trying to catch up on all the film that you had and youre trying to stay up with all the new assignments that are getting put in as training camp goes on.For Dobbs, those new assignments include learning the 49ers entire offensive and defensive playbooks. With only 47 players suited up on game days, versatility is one way for an undrafted free agent, like the Georgia alum was last season, to earn a roster spot. The 49ers coaches believe Dobbs could add depth at multiple positions.Everybody wants a piece of Dobbs right now, on both sides of the ball and special teams, head coach Jim Harbaugh said. He is a popular guy with our coaching staff. Its something thats being, to the best of our ability, thought out and planned and utilized, that hes not overused, overstrained and we dont get diminishing returns.The second-year player was in on 17 snaps on defense in the 49ers' preseason opener against the Vikings and 16 snaps on offense as a tight end, a position he last played six years ago in high school.Transitioning to tight end is brand new to me. Trying to get in that groove and switching over during practices you have to reset your mind and go for whatever position youre in, Dobbs explained. Its been a lot of work. Coaches have been working with me individually, pulling me aside sometimes during practice just to go through the different techniques. Its totally different being a defensive lineman going to a tight end going from getting off blocks to trying to block people.Dobbs number was switched from 96 to 40 so he wont have to check in as an eligible receiver with the referees when he comes in on offense, proving the exercise is not simply a training camp experiment. He also plays on special teams and now works with all three units during a single practice. To make things a bit easier, just a bit, this week the coaches gave Dobbs a black jersey to wear throughout practice. He no longer has to constantly switch back and forth between the red jersey worn by the offensive players and the white one worn by the defense. Though Dobbs isnt always exactly clear where on the field during practice he and his black jersey need to be. They actually made a schedule out for me and one of our guys goes around and he holds it, Dobbs said. But the coaches do a pretty good job of letting me know.Dobbs is not bragging when he says no one else in the 49ers camp has as much on his plate as he does. He is not complaining either. Dobbs has overcome difficult obstacles in his life to even get to the NFL, and hes not going to let any opportunity to improve his chances at a lengthy career slip by.Anything that I can do when somebody tells me Good job, thats when I enjoy it. Dobbs said. If I make a good block or I have a good catch or people are satisfied and impressed with what I do, that makes me feel good.

Large report finds CTE in 110 of 111 brains from former NFL players

brain-scope-ap.jpg
AP

Large report finds CTE in 110 of 111 brains from former NFL players

CHICAGO -- Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

It's the largest update on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a debilitating brain disease that can cause a range of symptoms including memory loss.

The report doesn't confirm that the condition is common in all football players; it reflects high occurrence in samples at a Boston brain bank that studies CTE. Many donors or their families contributed because of the players' repeated concussions and troubling symptoms before they died.

"There are many questions that remain unanswered," said lead author Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University neuroscientist. "How common is this" in the general population and all football players?

"How many years of football is too many?" and "What is the genetic risk? Some players do not have evidence of this disease despite long playing years," she noted.

It's also uncertain if some players' lifestyle habits - alcohol, drugs, steroids, diet - might somehow contribute, McKee said.

Dr. Munro Cullum, a neuropsychologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, emphasized that the report is based on a selective sample of men who were not necessarily representative of all football players. He said problems other than CTE might explain some of their most common symptoms before death - depression, impulsivity and behavior changes. He was not involved in the report.

McKee said research from the brain bank may lead to answers and an understanding of how to detect the disease in life, "while there's still a chance to do something about it." Currently, there's no known treatment.

The strongest scientific evidence says CTE can only be diagnosed by examining brains after death, although some researchers are experimenting with tests performed on the living. Many scientists believe that repeated blows to the head increase risks for developing CTE, leading to progressive loss of normal brain matter and an abnormal buildup of a protein called tau. Combat veterans and athletes in rough contact sports like football and boxing are among those thought to be most at risk.

The new report was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

CTE was diagnosed in 177 former players or nearly 90 percent of brains studied. That includes 110 of 111 brains from former NFL players; 48 of 53 college players; nine of 14 semi-professional players, seven of eight Canadian Football league players and three of 14 high school players. The disease was not found in brains from two younger players.

A panel of neuropathologists made the diagnosis by examining brain tissue, using recent criteria from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, McKee said.

The NFL issued a statement saying these reports are important for advancing science related to head trauma and said the league "will continue to work with a wide range of experts to improve the health of current and former NFL athletes."

After years of denials, the NFL acknowledged a link between head blows and brain disease and agreed in a $1 billion settlement to compensate former players who had accused the league of hiding the risks.

The journal update includes many previously reported cases, including former NFL players Bubba Smith, Ken Stabler, Dave Duerson and Ralph Wenzel.

New ones include retired tight end Frank Wainright, whose 10-year NFL career included stints with the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens. Wainright died in April 2016 at age 48 from a heart attack triggered by bleeding in the brain, said his wife, Stacie. She said he had struggled almost eight years with frightening symptoms including confusion, memory loss and behavior changes.

Wainright played before the league adopted stricter safety rules and had many concussions, she said. He feared CTE and was adamant about donating his brain, she said.

"A lot of families are really tragically affected by it - not even mentioning what these men are going through and they're really not sure what is happening to them. It's like a storm that you can't quite get out of," his wife said.

Frank Wycheck, another former NFL tight end, said he worries that concussions during his nine-year career - the last seven with the Tennessee Titans - have left him with CTE and he plans to donate his brain to research.

"Some people have heads made of concrete, and it doesn't really affect some of those guys," he said. "But CTE is real."

"I know I'm suffering through it, and it's been a struggle and I feel for all the guys out there that are going through this," said Wycheck, 45.

In the new report, McKee and colleagues found the most severe disease in former professional players; mild disease was found in all three former high school players diagnosed with the disease. Brain bank researchers previously reported that the earliest known evidence of CTE was found in a high school athlete who played football and other sports who died at age 18. He was not included in the current report.

The average age of death among all players studied was 66. There were 18 suicides among the 177 diagnosed.

Reports: Former 49ers wide receiver to visit Bills

boldin-anquan-49ers-smoke.jpg
AP

Reports: Former 49ers wide receiver to visit Bills

Aquan Boldin is looking for a new football home.

And the former 49ers wide receiver is visiting with the Bills on Monday, according to multiple reports.

Boldin started all 16 games with the Lions last season, recording 67 catches for 584 yards and eight touchdowns.

From 2013 to 2015 with the 49ers, he racked up 237 receptions, 3030 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns.

The three-time Pro Bowler will turn 37 years old in October.

Boldin entered the NFL as the 54th overall pick in the 2003 draft.