49ers

Manning should heed Montana, Namath, Unitas

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Manning should heed Montana, Namath, Unitas

Whitey Gleason
Special to CSNBayArea.com

Peyton Manning is not the first elite quarterback to saddle up and head west before hanging up his guns. In fact, there are three Hall of Fame quarterbacks who won Super Bowls with one team, then finished their careers with another. The results were decidedly mixed. So Peyton, heres a little Wild West history lesson for you -- the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly story of Hall of Fame quarterbacks riding off into the sunset.

The Good: Joe Montana, KC Chiefs, 1993-94
Once the dismantling of Bill Walshs great teams began, 49er fans had to adjust to some strange sights, like Ronnie Lott in a Jets jersey, and Jerry Rice with the Raiders. But none of those moves had the visceral impact of this one. After two injury-plagued seasons, during which Steve Young cemented himself as the 49ers quarterback, 37-year-old Joe Montana was traded east to Kansas City -- but still ended up in the AFC West. Wearing No. 19 (the Chiefs had retired Len Dawson's No. 16), Montana actually had a shot at meeting his old team in the Super Bowl after the 93 season. Both the Niners and the Chiefs, however, lost their conference championship games, and the 30-13 loss to Buffalo was especially brutal for Montana, who left the game with a concussion. In two seasons with the Chiefs, Montana threw for 5,427 yards and 29 touchdowns -- two fewer touchdowns than hed thrown for San Francisco in the 1987 season alone. While he couldnt take Kansas City to the Super Bowl, as Dawson had, Montana did get the Chiefs to the playoffs both years, playing his last game in a 1994 Wild Card loss to Dan Marino and the Dolphins. After retiring, he would undergo the same neck fusion surgery that Manning had last year.

The Bad: Joe Namath, LA Rams, 1977
One of the most surprising aspects of Joe Namaths 1977 season with the Rams is that anybody wanted him in the first place. In 1976, a sore-kneed, 33-year old Namath threw four touchdowns against -- gulp! -- 16 interceptions in eight games for the Jets, who won only one of those games. (And hes criticizing the Jets for picking up Tim Tebow?) The Jets waived Broadway Joe, who signed with a Rams team that had serious Super Bowl aspirations. A 34-14 Week 3 win over Jim Plunkett, O.J. Simpson, and the 49ers put Namath and the Rams at 2-1, and Namath had thrown three touchdown passes through the first three games. But Namaths next game would be his last, a Monday Night debacle in Chicago in which an ineffective running game forced him to throw often. Namath threw four interceptions, the Rams blew a 13-0 lead, and lost 24-23. Namath would never play again, and the Rams would rally behind Pat Haden to reach the playoffs. Namaths final numbers with the Rams -- three touchdowns, five interceptions, and a passer rating of 54.5 -- are so lackluster, they make me want to get drunk and try to kiss Suzy Kolber.

The Ugly: Johnny Unitas, San Diego Chargers, 1972
Just as some Colts fans curse Jim Irsay for the way Mannings Colt career just ended, so did Colt fans in 1972 curse Irsays father Bob for the way Johnny Unitas career ended in Baltimore. The elder Irsay had actually purchased the Rams in 1972, with the intent to swap them for the Colts, which he did. Irsay wanted the Colts to get younger, which meant that Johnny Us days were numbered, since he was 39 and had played in only eight games in 72. So in January of 1973, Unitas was traded to the San Diego Chargers for unspecified future considerations. If Unitas had given any specific consideration to his future, he probably never wouldve gone to San Diego. The team was awful, ending up 2-11-1. Unitas threw for 55 yards with three picks in the opener, and was replaced early in the year by future Hall of Famer Dan Fouts. Unitas did have one shining moment in the San Diego sunshine, throwing a pair of touchdown passes in a Week 3 win over Buffalo. Throwing for two scores in one game for a team as bad as the 73 Chargers was nearly as remarkable as Unitas 47-game touchdown pass streak. But the next time you hear someone argue that a player should not change teams late in his career because it might damage his legacy, consider the case of Unitas. His brief stay with the Chargers was so out-of-character with the rest of his career, that not only did it leave his legacy intact, most people dont even know it happened. Certainly, Unitas tried to forgot about it as quickly as he could. Deactivated by San Diego for the last game of the season, Unitas went back to Baltimore to watch the Colts play.

Once enshrined in Canton, Brett Favre will no doubt join the Super Bowl-Winning, Team-Switching HOF Quarterback Club, although it wouldve been in keeping with our western theme had he come out retirement last year to join the Raiders after Jason Campbells injury. As for Peyton? Happy trails, amigo. Just be aware, the road out West for 30-something-year-old gun-slinging legends is fraught with peril, picks, and playoff disappointment.

Whitey Gleason is the host of "The Rise Guys" on 95.7 the Game.

Long supports Eagles teammate, wraps arm around him during anthem protest

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USATSI

Long supports Eagles teammate, wraps arm around him during anthem protest

Chris Long supported his teammate, Malcolm Jenkins, Thursday night by wrapping his left arm around Jenkins, who continued to raise his right fist in protest of racial injustice during the national anthem prior to the Eagles' preseason game against the Bills at Lincoln Financial Field.

Long's intention Thursday night was not immediately known. While he's been outspoken on Charlottesville, Virginia, he did not specify how he would conduct himself during the anthem.

Long and Jenkins both publicly criticized President Donald Trump's response to the racial tensions that resulted in the tragic violence and the death of Heather Heyer last weekend in Charlottesville, Long's hometown.

Last Sunday, Long touched on his comments by speaking to reporters, reiterating his disappointment in President Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville, where white nationalists held a "Unite the Right" rally in protest of the removal of a statue honoring Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

"Some people are tired of hearing me tweet because they want me to stick to football but I like to use social media like I was a regular guy because I think I am," Long said Sunday. "I don't tell people to stick to their job when they want to talk politics. And this isn't political. That's the thing. Everybody is trying to turn this political. This isn't a political issue. This is right or wrong. I believe you're on one side or the other. For me, being from Charlottesville, no one wants to see you sit idly by and watch that stuff happen and not say anything. And I wish there was more categorical denial from some very important people in this country who have had the opportunity to strike it down but didn't."

READ MORE AT CSNPhilly.com

Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved

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AP

Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ passing game has ranked 29th or lower in each of the past four seasons.

If two practices against last year’s No. 1-ranked pass defense are any indication, the 49ers could be vastly improved under coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Brian Hoyer.

“I think our guys were expecting to do good,” Shanahan said on Thursday after a second joint practice against the Denver Broncos in two days. “There’s a lot of stuff we can clean up. A lot of stuff we can do better. But I think our guys were happy with how they competed and, hopefully, that can continue to carry over.”

Hoyer hit more higher-percentage passes on Thursday. He teamed up with rookie Victor Bolden on his deepest completion -- down the left sideline against first-team All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris. After completing better than 80 percent of his passes against the Broncos a day earlier, Hoyer was 12 of 19 passing on Thursday.

Pierre Garçon, who figures to be Hoyer’s top target, was not as active during Thursday’s practice. But he did find himself in the middle of the action with a tussle against Harris.

Hoyer’s red-zone pass intended for slot receiver Jeremy Kerley was tipped and intercepted by safety Justin Simmons. Away from the action, Aqib Talib blocked Garçon, who retaliated by tossing him to the ground.

“That’s part of the game,” Garçon said. ‘You always expect one scuffle in joint practices. But it ended and you move on. It was nothing personal at all.”

Hoyer was especially sharp during the practices to strengthen his grasp on the team’s staring job. Meanwhile, rookie C.J. Beathard had a solid showing on Thursday. He will enter Saturday’s game after Hoyer and could play through the rest of the first half and open the third quarter.

The 49ers exited the field after their two most-significant practices feeling optimistic about where things stand.

“We did good the first day,” Garçon said. “We could’ve done better the second day. But we’re still learning each other and getting better. We still have a lot to do to get ready for the regular season, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

QUICK SLANTS
--Linebacker Reuben Foster wore shoulder pads and took part in all but the contact drills due to what the team described as a “mild AC joint sprain” of his right shoulder. That did not prevent Foster from getting into the middle of a skirmish that appeared to involve Broncos tackle Menelik Watson and 49ers linebacker Eli Harold.

The 49ers expect Foster to play Saturday night, Shanahan said.

--Linebacker NaVorro Bowman was pulled from practice on Thursday after experiencing soreness in his shoulder. Shanahan said Bowman's shoulder soreness is similar to what Foster experienced.

--The Broncos’ offense, which struggled to complete passes on Wednesday, made a lot more plays down the field on Thursday with Paxton Lynch at quarterback.

--Tight end Vance McDonald made an outstanding catch of a Hoyer pass at the sideline against tight coverage from safety Will Parks.

--The 49ers’ practice Thursday brought an official end to the team’s training camp. They will transition to a regular-season type of schedule next week leading up to the team’s third exhibition game, which is scheduled for Sunday at the Minnesota Vikings.

“Training camp is over, and what that means is we’re not all staying in dorms together and we’re not having night walk-throughs,” Shanahan said.