49ers

Eagles owner not having it with idea Colin Kaepernick is being 'blacklisted'

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USATSI

Eagles owner not having it with idea Colin Kaepernick is being 'blacklisted'

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie refuted the notion that NFL teams are "blacklisting" free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. At the same time, Lurie was either unable or unwilling to say whether the Eagles would have any interest in signing Kaepernick should quarterback become a need.

"I have no idea," Lurie said Thursday. "We are completely happy with our quarterback situation."

It's true, the Eagles are not looking for a quarterback. Carson Wentz is the future of the franchise, and Nick Foles is one of the best backups in the league, not to mention has close ties to coach Doug Pederson and the organization. There's no reason for Kaepernick to be on the club's radar.

But hypothetically speaking, would the Eagles consider Kaepernick if the need arose? Lurie punted to the front office when pressed on the topic, comparing it to the process the club implemented before signing Michael Vick in 2009.

"Like every position situation, if that happened, we'd have to fully evaluate it," Lurie said. "With Michael Vick, there was a complete vetting of how is he as a teammate? What is his character? What is his potential? What is his football intelligence? Can he be a backup, in Michael’s situation, or third string, in that time period?

"It's a whole series of evaluations. That's how we approach any player acquisition. I don't want to talk about any specific player."

The Eagles signed Vick fresh off a 21-month stint in federal prison for his role in operating an illegal dog fighting ring. It was a wildly controversial decision that led fans to question their allegiance to the team, and animal rights activists to protest the organization.

Hard to imagine a professional athlete could be more radioactive than Vick was at that time — yet Kaepernick just might.

Since opting out of his contract with the 49ers in March, Kaepernick has been met with little interest on the free-agent market. While the 29-year-old is a flawed quarterback, the larger issue appears to be his protest of the United States national anthem, which has drawn criticism from football fans and non-sports fans alike.

While Kaepernick vowed to stand in the future, his insistence on remaining seated, then taking a knee during the national anthem in the past — to protest police brutality and racial injustice — has proven to be about as unpopular as animal cruelty. Whichever team eventually signs him can count on a public backlash, especially amid a political environment that can best be described as volatile.

There are additional explanations as to why Kaepernick is unemployed. There's also no doubt politics is chief among them. Still, Lurie insisted there is no conspiracy or concerted effort on the part of the owners to keep Kaepernick out of the league.

"I think the definition of 'blacklist' is some discussion amongst people to not hire or not approve or something like that," Lurie said. "I've never had a discussion with anybody.

"It doesn't work that way. There's no communication. We're very competitive against each other, the 32 owners. I don't reveal anything. They don't reveal anything. There's no discussion that ever takes place about any player. In my 23 years in the league, I've never heard any discussion of a player like that.

"You keep it to yourself. You have your own strategy."

READ MORE AT CSNPhilly.com

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.”