49ers

James preparing for active role in 49ers offense

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James preparing for active role in 49ers offense

Rookie running back LaMichael James has yet to be active for a game. But both his head coach and general manager intimated he may work his way onto the playing field before the 49ers' regular season is over.

At his Monday press conference, Jim Harbaugh was asked if there’s a game day role for James working with quarterback Colin Kaepernick on read-option plays.

“Yeah, there’s a possibility of that,” Harbaugh said.

It wasn’t part of the plan against the Rams, Harbaugh added. “But that doesn’t mean it won’t be, going forward,” he said.

A few hours after Harbaugh spoke, general manager Trent Baalke gave another plug for James during his weekly radio segment on 95.7, The Game.

"I'd say, it's safe to say that LaMichael is going to start getting his opportunities,” Baalke said. “And (I'm) confident that he'll make the most of them when given the opportunity."

James does not prefer to talk about his playing status. But the Texas native remained polite as a group of reporters asked him about just that Tuesday in front of his locker. Following is what he said during the two-and-a-half minute interview:

Question: What have you been told by coaches, what are the expectations, about when you might play?

LaMichael James: Actually, I have none. I really don’t discuss when I’m going to play. I try to sit back and be a team player go out and practice hard each and every day and continue to get better.

Question: Do you feel like you’re game ready?

LJ: Yeah, I feel like I can go out there and help the team. I prepare for it each and every week, and hopefully I can provide a spark.

Question: You’ve done scout team, kick off and punt returns before in practice. What have you mainly been doing in practice the last two weeks?

LJ: I pretty much do everything. I play a lot of different positions on the scout team. I’m at receiver. I’m at running back. Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m always going to do. I feel like I’m athletic enough to do pretty much anything, so that’s where I’ve been at.

Question: How often were you asked to pass protect at Oregon?

LJ: I was not pass protecting that much. The first time I really just did a lot is when I got here?

Question: How difficult has that process been to learn?

LJ: It wasn’t that bad. You have to go out there and have to [use] effort, put your head in there and see what you can do. It’s not that hard. But obviously I’m outmanned because I’m not 230 pounds. But I feel like I can get the job done if I’m scrappy enough.

Question: When you are watching the games from the sidelines, what are you looking for?

LJ: I just try to look at the holes. I see a lot what Frank [Gore] does and try to imitate him in practice. Obviously, he’s been successful. Just try to read a lot better.  Obviously, I was coming from the spread and not the ‘I’ formation so a lot of things are different so I’m just trying to learn on the go.

Question: Most of the questions you get are “when are you going to play”? Has it gotten old or frustrating in any way?

LJ: Yeah, it has. It’s really frustrating too. I really don’t have time to be answering those questions or hearing about that any more. Obviously I’m here for a reason. I can play. I always feel like that. Whatever the team needs me to do, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m young, I’m still learning. Whatever it takes, wherever it takes me that’s what I’m going to do to get on the field.

Colin Kaepernick's mom responds to Trump's 'son of a b----' remark

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AP

Colin Kaepernick's mom responds to Trump's 'son of a b----' remark

In front of a raucus crowd at a rally in Alabama on Friday night, President Trump had pointed words for NFL players that are kneeling and protesting during the National Anthem.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said.

Colin Kaepernick, who kneeled before every 49ers game last season, has yet to respond to those comments. But his mom, Teresa, made her thoughts clear on Twitter Friday night.

"Guess that makes me a proud bitch!" Teresa said in response to a journalist tweeting an article with Trump's comments.

Roger Goodell, NFLPA angrily denounce Trump's 'divisive comments'

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AP

Roger Goodell, NFLPA angrily denounce Trump's 'divisive comments'

SOMERSET, N.J. -- The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national anthem and that fans consider walking out in protest "when somebody disrespects our flag."

"Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players," the league commissioner, Roger Goodell, said in a statement.

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, tweeted: "We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports."

Trump, during a political rally in Alabama on Friday night, also blamed a drop in NFL ratings on the nation's interest in "yours truly" as well as what he contended was a decline in violence in the game.

Smith said the union won't shy away from "protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks."

Trump kept up his foray into the sports world on Saturday, when he responded to comments by Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who has made it clear that he's not interested in a traditional White House trip for the NBA champions

"Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!" Trump tweeted while spending the weekend at his golf club in New Jersey.

It was not immediately clear whether Trump was rescinding the invitation for Curry or the entire team.

Several athletes, including a handful of NFL players, have refused to stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner" to protest of the treatment of blacks by police. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend last year when he played for the San Francisco 49ers, hasn't been signed by an NFL team for this season.

Trump, who once owned the New Jersey Generals of the U.S. Football League, said those players are disrespecting the American flag and deserve to lose their jobs.

"That's a total disrespect of our heritage. That's a total disrespect of everything that we stand for," Trump said, encouraging owners to act.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you'd say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He's fired," Trump said to loud applause.

Trump also predicted that any owner who followed the presidential encouragement would become "the most popular person in this country" - at least for a week.

The players' union said in a statement that "no man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights. No worker nor any athlete, professional or not, should be forced to become less than human when it comes to protecting their basic health and safety."

The NFLPA said "the line that marks the balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just 'shut up and play.'"

On the issue of violence on the field, Trump said players are being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and it's "not the same game."

Over the past several seasons, the NFL and college football have increased penalties and enforcement for illegal hits to the head and for hitting defenseless players. A July report on 202 former football players found evidence of a debilitating brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them. The league has agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the concussion dangers of playing football.

During his campaign, Trump often expressed nostalgia for the "old days" - claiming, for example, that protesters at his rallies would have been carried out on stretchers back then. He recently suggested police officers should be rougher with criminals and shouldn't protect their heads when pushing them into squad cars.

It's also not the first time he's raised the kneeling issue. Earlier this year he took credit for the fact that Kaepernick hadn't been signed.

Television ratings for the NFL have been slipping since the beginning of the 2016 season. The league and observers have blamed a combination of factors, including competing coverage of last year's presidential election, more viewers dropping cable television, fans' discomfort with the reports of head trauma and the anthem protests.

Ratings have been down even more in the early 2017 season, though broadcasters and the league have blamed the hurricanes that hit Florida and Texas. Still, the NFL remains by far the most popular televised sport in the United States.

Trump said the anthem protest was the top reason NFL viewership had waned.

"You know what's hurting the game?" he asked. "When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they're playing our great national anthem," he said.

Trump encouraged his supporters to pick up and leave the stadium next time they spot a player failing to stand.

"I guarantee things will stop," he said.