J. Smith, Lee, Willis tops in Pro Bowl fan balloting


J. Smith, Lee, Willis tops in Pro Bowl fan balloting

Three 49ers players lead their positions in fan votes in balloting for the 2012 Pro Bowl, NFL.com announced Wednesday.

Justin Smith, Patrick Willis and Andy Lee are the three 49ers that earned the most fan votes at their respective positions.

The fan voting, which counts for one third of the total to determine the Pro Bowl rosters, ended on Dec. 19 after a record 100.64 million votes were cast this year.

The players and coaches voting, each worth one third of the total, has yet to be announced. The final rosters will be released at 4:00 p.m. on Dec. 27 on NFL Network.

Justin Smith, who has 50 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles, leads all NFC defensive tackles with 525,578 fan votes. Patrick Willis, with 93 tackles, 2.0 sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception on the season, has 417,923 votes. And punter Andy Lee, who is averaging 50.4 yards per punt, received 161,812 votes.

The 49ers have 13 other players listed in the Top 5 in the fan voting as well. The complete list of 49ers is below:

Frank Gore 4th among NFC running backs with 613,821 votes
Bruce Miller 2nd among NFC fullbacks with 82,378 votes
Vernon Davis 5th among NFC tight ends with 179,423 votes
Joe Staley 4th among NFC tackles with 209,130 votes
Anthony Davis 5th among NFC tackles with 173,718 votes
Mike Iupati 4th among NFC guards with 221,766 votes
Jonathan Goodwin 2nd among NFC centers with 190,939 votes
Justin Smith 1st among NFC defensive tackles with 525,578 votes
Patrick Willis 1st among NFC inside linebackers with 417,923 votes
Carlos Rogers 2nd among NFC cornerbacks with 282,409 votes
Donte Whitner 5th among NFC strong safeties with 62,626 votes
Dashon Goldson 2nd among NFC free safeties with 95,403 votes
David Akers 2nd among NFC kickers with 160,235 votes
Andy Lee 1st among NFC punters with 161,812 votes
Ted Ginn 3rd among NFC kick returners with 103,991 votes
Blake Costanzo 2nd among NFC special teamers with 71,477 votes

Rael Enteen is a web producer for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @RaelEnteenCSN

New York City law enforcement members hold rally to support Kaepernick


New York City law enforcement members hold rally to support Kaepernick

NEW YORK — A former New York City police officer, whose claims of police corruption in the 1970s were chronicled in an Al Pacino movie, joined dozens of current and former officers Saturday at a rally in support of getting quarterback Colin Kaepernick a job in the National Football League.

The former San Francisco 49ers player became a controversial figure last year after he refused to stand for the national anthem in what he called a protest against oppression of people of color.

He opted out of his contract in March and became a free agent, but so far, no NFL teams have signed him for the upcoming season.

The gathering in Brooklyn featured about 75 mostly minority officers wearing black T-shirts reading "#imwithkap."

One exception was retired officer Frank Serpico, whose exploits were featured in the 1973 film, "Serpico."

He admitted not being a football fan, but said he felt it was important to support Kaepernick for his stance.

"He's trying to hold up this government up to our founding fathers," said the now 81-year-old Serpico.

Sgt. Edwin Raymond, who said he was heading to work after the rally, spoke of the need for racial healing in the country.

"Until racism in America is no longer taboo, we own up to it, we admit it, we understand it and then we do what we have to do to solve it, unfortunately we're going to have these issues," he said.

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL


Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

I hadn’t considered the notion of Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles bombing quite so badly Thursday night, so I hadn’t considered the notion advanced by Pro Football Talk Friday morning that Jacksonville might be a great place for Colin Kaepernick.

That’s because I long ago stopped considering the idea that Kaepernick’s exile from football was, or is, about football. It isn’t. He is the example for future player/miscreants, and trotting his name out every time a quarterback in the new NFL vomits up a practice game on national television is simply perpetuating a lie.

Until someone gets so desperate that it isn’t any more.

That’s the problem with being so definitive about Kaepernick’s perpetual ban. It only takes one owner with a willingness to stick a middle finger up to the objections and say, “I own a football team, not some branch of the USO” to end this national spitfest once and for all. And yes, I say owner because this is an owner’s decision, solely and completely. In the hypothetical of Kaepernick the Jaguar, it will be made not by Doug Marrone, who is merely a coach, or by Tom Coughlin, who is only the general manager, but Shahid Khad, one of the brightest and quietly more powerful owners in the league.

But the odds still scream No Kaep For You, because it would mean that exhibition games matter for judgmental purposes (which they don’t), that Bortles is somehow worse than half the quarterbacks in the NFL (he is part of an amorphous blob of non-producers whose numbers are growing as the differences between college and pro football offenses expand), and that owners easily break away from the herd once the herd has decided on something (Khan is not a rebel in the Jerry Jones mold by any means).

In other words, I remain unconvinced that there is a place for Colin Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL. And he’s probably better off.