Dwight Clark recalls '80s NFL work stoppages

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Dwight Clark recalls '80s NFL work stoppages

March 28, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOMatt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comPlayers representing every position on the 49ers gathered on their own at Canada College in Redwood City. While their work had temporarily come to a halt, their preparations for the football season continued."We had organized practices, 7-on-7, with no pads, of course," said legendary 49ers receiver Dwight Clark, now 54. "We were running to stay in shape and we'd run routes vs. DBs and linebackers."
That was 1987 when the NFL players went on strike after two games. More than two decades later, there is another labor dispute at the highest level of professional football.Things are different now. The owners have imposed a lockout, but there is still plenty of time for the sides to avert the cancelation of games.RELATED: NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement Report page
In a typical offseason, the 49ers would be entering their third week of the offseason conditioning program under new coach Jim Harbaugh. Their first scheduled minicamp is a couple weeks away.VIDEO: Jim Harbaugh from the NFL Coaches Breakfast
During this work stoppage, players are not allowed at the 49ers' practice facility in Santa Clara. Coaches are prohibited from having any contact with the players until the lockout comes to an end.The 49ers players are scattered around the country. But some of them are getting together to work out on their own in the Bay Area and Atlanta. Other players are taking part in workouts at Athletes' Performance facilities in Los Angeles and Phoenix.NEWS: Takeo Spikes -- scattered 49ers remain unitedIn '87, while most of the 49ers remained in the Bay Area, the veteran-laden team was able to conduct practices on their own because everyone knew the systems that had been in place for years under coach Bill Walsh.
In contrast, with the 49ers' new coaching staff and 16 players scheduled for free agency, it's nearly impossible for the current 49ers to do much more than get together in small groups to lift, run and wait for the lockout to end.
"We stayed in good shape," Clark said. "We kept running our same plays. The intensity wasn't as great with no coaches watching, but we worked hard."During Clark's nine NFL seasons as a wide receiver, the league endured two strikes. In 1987, NFL teams recruited and signed replacement players for three games."It was a difficult and complicated time," Clark said. "It was very tough to figure out what was the right thing to do."Clark had undergone three offseason knee surgeries. Walsh, who discovered the little-known receiver out of Clemson and selected him in the 10th round of the 1979 draft, had already convinced Clark that 1987 would be his final NFL season. As much as Clark says he wanted to remain loyal to the union, there were a number of other factors he weighed during the first two weeks of the strike.Ultimately, Clark decided to be one of the nearly 150 players around the NFL to return to work. Joe Montana and Roger Craig were also among the 12 players from the 49ers to cross the picket line."The core of the team was really close to Eddie," Clark said of then-49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo. "He was more than an owner to us. He was a personal friend. He was so good and so generous to us, so to go out on strike was a tough decision for several reasons. I felt like we were striking against someone who had only done great things for us."And in the final year of his career, Clark also knew that every week he did not play was costing him 32,500 that he would never be able to regain. Clark eventually worked as an executive with the 49ers and Cleveland Browns. He now lives in San Jose, where he sells health insurance and works as a marketing consultant for the 49ers."Things may be stronger now with the players," Clark said. "But at that time, the union wasn't very strong. They couldn't deliver what they set out to do in 1982."That does not mean it was easy, though. Clark said the decision to break ranks gave him ulcers. When he joined the replacement players in the 49ers' locker room, he was warmly received and signed many autographs. But when the strike ended and all the 49ers players returned a week later, there was palpable tension."There were some hard feelings from a few of the guys," Clark said. "Ronnie (Lott) is the ultimate team guy. He always puts the team first. He was very upset we'd come in. He and I are great friends now, so eventually those feelings went by the wayside."The NFL players previously went on strike in 1982. Seven regular-season games were canceled, and the 49ers finished with a 3-6 record and missed the playoffs for the only time in a 10-year stretch.NEWS: NFL headlines
"That was pretty rough because that was the year after we won the Super Bowl and everyone wanted to get back there playing," Clark said. "We were out 57 days. So a lot of us in '87 had already been through that."In 1982, we stayed out and whole time. So we already knew in '87 what it felt like. It didn't help that whatever we were striking for in '82, we didn't get."The union decertified in 1989 after losing the 1987 strike. After the players won a court ruling years later, a new collective bargaining agreement was approved in 1993. The players were awarded unrestricted free agency, as well as improved pension and health benefits.

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Gerald Hodges is in search of a new team and he's looking at a division rival of the 49ers.

The unrestricted free agent is scheduled to visit the Seahawks on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

Acquired in October of 2015 from Minnesota for a sixth-round pick, the four-year pro played in 25 games over the past two seasons with the 49ers.

In his time with San Francisco, the former fourth-round pick recorded three sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

But he was not considered a fit for the new 49ers under general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Hodges was deactivated for a game late in the season at Atlanta for breaking team rules. He did not offer an explanation or apology

The 49ers have signed three linebackers through two weeks of free agency: Malcolm Smith, Brock Coyle and Dekoda Watson.

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

On the same day the FBI director announced members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign are under investigation for colluding with Russia to influence the election, Trump turned his thoughts to Colin Kaepernick’s status as an NFL free agent.

And Jim Harbaugh, appearing on Pro Football Talk, suggested teams that are not showing interest in Kaepernick are making a mistake.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” Harbaugh said Tuesday morning.

“He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships.”

On Monday evening, during a rally in Kentucky, Trump made remarks about Kaepernick. In the lead-up to the November election, Kaepernick called Trump “openly racist” and said he would not vote for Hillary Clinton, either.

“And you know, your San Francisco quarterback? I’m sure nobody ever heard of him,” Trump said.

“There was an article today, it was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that. I said if I remember that one I’m gonna report it to the people of Kentucky. Because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reported an AFC general manager told him there were three reasons Kaepernick has not signed. Some believe, according to the anonymous source, that Kaepernick can no longer play at a high level. Others “genuinely hate him” for kneeling during the national anthem as part of his protest of racial inequality in America.

And, “some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him,” according to the report. “They think there might be protests or Trump will tweet about the team. I'd say that number is around 10 percent. Then there's another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.”

Kaepernick’s teammates voted him the winner of the Len Eshmont Award for courage and inspiration last season. It is historically the most prestigious award among 49ers players. But the 49ers have already signed veteran quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

General manager John Lynch acknowledged last week on KNBR the odds of the 49ers bringing back Kaepernick are slim.

“I think the likelihood of that happening has gone down significantly. But we’re not going to close our mind or out options on anyone, including him,” Lynch said.

Even though there has been no reported interest in Kaepernick from any team around the league, Lynch said Kaepernick nearly signed with a team earlier during the free-agent signing period.

“I don’t know what happened to that market,” Lynch said. “He was, in everyone’s mind in this league, very close to signing a deal with a team at a really good number. And it fell through, apparently.”