Five Super Bowl MVP QBs discuss concussions

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Five Super Bowl MVP QBs discuss concussions

SAN FRANCISCO -- Five Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks with Bay Area ties united on stage for a fund-raising event Friday morning.They also put their heads together to discuss and offer solutions on the major crisis surrounding the sport of football.Near the conclusion of the one-hour event, moderator Bob Costas shifted the round-table discussion involving Joe Montana, Steve Young, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Jim Plunkett to the topic of concussions.Rodgers, the reigning NFL most valuable player, consulted Young after sustaining a concussion in 2010. Young never played again after getting knocked unconscious by a hit from Arizona cornerback Aeneas Williams in 1999.Rodgers passed the NFL's protocol for returning to action after a concussion after missing one game and led the Packers to the Super Bowl title.RELATED: Lester Hayes says players knew the score on injuries
Rodgers complimented commissioner Roger Goodell's efforts to punish players for dangerous hits and illegal hits."It's a difficult topic to put your mind around," Rodgers said. "But I know the risks I'm taking, stepping onto the field. I've had a couple of head injuries. Actually, I talked to Steve after the second one because I know he dealt with some similar things."It does start to bring your own mortality to the forefront in your mind, thinking about what your post-career will look like. That being said, I don't think there's a whole lot more we can do. The helmet I started my career with in 2005 is no longer allowed to be worn because of the safety requirements on those helmets is so high now. I feel confident the helmet I'm wearing has kept me from a couple concussions in the last year, especially one hit in particular I took in the Giants playoff game."I think the commissioner has a difficult job, but he's done a good job of making guys who take cheap shots or shots above the neck or below the knee intentionally to injure people, he's fining those guys and suspending them for games. And that's what you have to do."Rodgers echoed a sentiment Plunkett expressed that there isn't a whole lot more Goodell can legislate into the game to make it more safe for those who play."It's just in this era, as opposed to when the three of you (Montana, Young, Plunkett) played, every injury is highlighted more," Rodgers said. "Every little ding to the head is labeled as a concussion. The protocol for concussions cannot be any more difficult to get back on the field. It is incredible the process and the tests you have to go through to get back on the field. So something is being done. It's unfortunate that we've had to go through some years of learning what those steps look like, but I don't think there's a whole lot more that can be done."Costas asked Young if it is practical for defenders to turn the clock back to the earlier days of the game when they were required to wrap up while making tackles."Yeah, I think that's what they're trying to do," Young said. "The things they're trying to legislate out of the game right now is the launching."Young said he has watched highlights of Chicago Bears Hall-of-Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, and what he saw was eye-opening."People always said, 'They're going to change football if they legislate some of these big hits,'" Young said. "Dick Butkus was a tough guy. He tackled with his arms. So it takes away those hits that are most difficult to watch and that injure the head so much. They're trying to make sure that those launching hits are out of the game."Young, the father of two young boys, said he would not object to them playing football -- if it's a sport they wish to pursue."The game is dangerous to the body. Well-coached and well-protected, I think it's a great game," Young said. "And truth is, if my boys wanted to play and I thought they were well-coached and well-protected, then I think there are things that football teaches that are not able to be learned in some places."It's one of the great team games in the history of team games. So I'd love to find a way to wiggle through this and find a way so it's safe enough for people long term to play it and be safe. With Aaron's point about how they're trying to handle the protocol on head injuries, maybe on the other side of this in 10 or 15 years, we've found a game that protects players and still keep it intact."Montana suggested the advances in the equipment have also heightened the dangers of the game."The problem is, the better the equipment gets, the more protected everybody feels and the more violent the game can become because now they feel they can do more -- the collisions can be higher," Montana said."One of the old, old guys says, 'I got the perfect thing: Take the facemasks off. See how many people stick their faces in there then.' That's a pretty good point. It takes a lot of sense in a lot of ways. It takes some of that protection away. Do you want to go that way? It's almost impossible to go backward."Said Plunkett, "I have so many friends or people I've played against just going through a hell of a time at this stage of their lives. I know something's got to be done. Exactly what it is, I'm not sure."While the awareness is greater than ever, so is the force the collisions in today's game. Brady said he is amazed at the size, speed and athleticism of the players entering the NFL."The players now are so big and so fast," Brady said. "The accountability for myself is with myself. I'm making sure I'm doing what I need to do to protect myself and, obviously, my family and I try to educate some teammates on things." Montana, Young, Plunkett, Brady and Rodgers took part Friday morning in "Salute to the Titans," a fundraising event spearheaded by former 49ers All-Pro lineman Harris Barton. The event benefited First Tee of San Francisco, Monterey County and Silicon Valley; and Champion Charities, created by Barton and Ronnie Lott, a non-profit dedicated to helping children and families in need. Champion Charities' primary recipient is UCSF. The organization raises and distributes funds for research of all brain-related diseases and traumatic brain injury. Both of Barton's parents died of brain tumors.

49ers have already spent more in 2017 free agency than a year ago

49ers have already spent more in 2017 free agency than a year ago

Under the 49ers’ new regime, the club has already invested more in the free-agent market than a year ago under then-general manager Trent Baalke.

Just a reminder: The free-agent signing period does not officially open until March 9.

The 49ers on Friday reached a contract agreement with veteran defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, who is penciled into be a starter in the team’s new 4-3 base scheme under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

"As soon as Earl hit the open market, he became a priority for us to sign,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement released Saturday morning. “A man of high character, he represents everything we want to be as a football team. Earl is a tone-setter who plays the game with a tremendous passion and the effort necessary to win in this league. We believe those qualities are contagious and will help to make our team stronger. We look forward to the impact Earl will have on the field, in the locker room and in our community.”

It was the first significant move under Lynch, who also signed a player with NFL experience earlier in the week.

The 49ers also added cornerback K’Waun Williams to a one-year contract. Williams served as the Cleveland Browns’ nickel back for two seasons. The Browns released him before the start of last season and he was unable to play due to an ankle injury.

Mitchell was available to be signed before the start of the new league year because the Miami Dolphins released him last week in a move to save the team $4 million in cap space.

Mitchell took four free-agent visits and after wrapping up his tour with the Atlanta Falcons on Friday, he and the 49ers quickly agreed on a four-year, $16 million contract that includes $5.5 million of money in the first year, according to a source.

Last year, Baalke did little to improve the roster for coach Chip Kelly. The 49ers, who finished 5-11 in Jim Tomsula's one season, dropped to 2-14. Just hours after the season concluded, the 49ers announced the firings of Baalke and Kelly.

The only veteran free-agent addition who stepped on the field for the 49ers last season was offensive lineman Zane Beadles. The 49ers signed Beadles in late-March to a three-year, $9.75 million contract with a $1.75 million signing bonus. Beadles had a good season for the 49ers, starting 13 games at left guard and the final three games at left tackle.

The 49ers have already shown more willingness to be aggressive under Lynch’s leadership.

Mitchell, 29, is a seven-year veteran who began his NFL career from 2010 to ’13 with the Houston Texans. He was a rookie in Saleh’s final season as assistant linebackers coach in Houston.

Mitchell joins DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Quinton Dial on the 49ers defensive line. The 49ers view Mitchell as a high-energy player who bring good character to the locker room. The signing of Mitchell could be an indication the 49ers are moving on from Glenn Dorsey, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

With 5.5 sacks in seven seasons, the 49ers do not figure to use Mitchell in passing situations. The club must try to bolster its pass rush in free agency or the draft. Last season, Buckner and Ahmad Brooks shared the team-lead with six sacks apiece. In 2015, Brooks and Aaron Lynch both led the way with 6.5 sacks.

 

Source: 49ers agree to four-year deal with former Dolphins DT

Source: 49ers agree to four-year deal with former Dolphins DT

The San Francisco 49ers agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal with defensive tackle Earl Mitchell on Friday, CSNBayArea.com has learned

Mitchell, 29, will earn $5.5 million in his first year with the 49ers. 

The seven-year veteran played in nine games last season for the Dolphins. He recorded 17 total tackles. 

Since entering the league in 2010 as a third-round draft pick with the Texans, Mitchell has appeared in 100 games between Houston and Miami, totaling 206 tackles. He has also recorded 5.5 sacks.