Opening Statement:Good morning. Grinding through training camp right now. Its a great opportunity for us to look at guys and how they deal with the day in and day out, week after week. So much of the NFL season is how consistent guys can be day-to-day, week-to-week. So many players over the years Ive seen, just couldnt maintain a level of consistency mentally, physically, or emotionally. Thats the kind of stuff that affects a team as much as anything. Were getting a real good chance here to work with our players over the course of time. Were having physical practices and you get a real chance to see how they come to work day in and day out. Theres so much parity in the National Football League, as we all know. People that can come in day in and day out and you know what to expect from them as a coach, it makes planning that much easier. Very important component of what were evaluating is how a guy can come in and bring it every day. With that, Ill throw it out to you, any questions?How do you challenge a player mentally when he is exhausted? What are you looking for?I think as a coach, youre at all times seeing how a player is engaged in what youre doing. Some guys just jump off the screen at you, as guys that are fully engaged at all times with whats going on. Theyre not daydreaming. Theyre thinking strictly about whats happening to them at that time. Or theyre thinking about how what youre covering with them might affect them on game day. Guys that have a tendency to be a little less consistent, you definitely want to spend more time emphasizing how important it is to focus. So, its really player by player.Any guys that really jump out in that situation?Guys that to me and really to us as a staff we have a really good group of guys, number one. These guys are a really good group. I think that the guys that weve had here, are to a man, really good in that regard. The guys that weve acquired in free agency or the draft WR Randy Moss is a true professional, fully engaged at all times. WR Mario Manningham, I know RB Brandon Jacobs who is injured, the same way. I think were very fortunate that weve acquired some players that have that understanding of how important it is. As far as the young guys go, we talked last week about RB Kendall Hunter and FB Bruce Miller, how good they are. TE Delanie Walker is a guy, TE Vernon Davis has been phenomenal. Our quarterbacks are, and you have to be as a quarterback to have a chance. Really, to a man, the thing thats pleasing is that the players that we acquired are really 49er type of guys.Do you ever fear that you might -when youre grinding it out- that you might have a player who doesnt grind it out very well, but still is a really good player? Do you think, alright hes fading now, but once we get into the regular season where its not as arduous, he could be a great player for us? Do you have to have that in the back of your head at all?I think our approach is more, its one day at a time. You try to get that player to perform at his maximum every day and understand the importance of that. And then it will be what it is. I dont think we take a break on that at all, or assume too much. I dont think you can assume. The way we look at it, what you do today is what youre going to do the first week of the season. Thats just something thats just fundamental with what we do. Its truly one day at a time. We had a great day yesterday -well its over. We had a bad day yesterday -its over. What can we learn from it? How can it make us better? Now its all about the next day.Now that Moss and Manningham are on the team, can we expect more long passes in the games?It all depends on who were playing. If theyre playing way off, then I doubt it. If theyre playing up close, I would say yes.T Anthony Davis is going to be going against Broncos LB Von Miller early in the game. He is a quick, runs the arc well. Are you looking forward to seeing that matchup in terms of Davis against a smaller, quicker type of pass rusher?Thats a good question. I think Denver has two really good edge players in 58 and 92 there, Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil and Miller. Theyre really good, productive players. Like you said, they can run that hoop pretty well and trim the fat there on the edge good. With crowd noise behind them, it will be great work for us. It will really be good work for us. I think just the way their defense is built right now with those two players coming off the edges, its tremendous work for us. We have to be on our A game.Who are your starting wide receivers?All of them. Theyre all starters right now. If we got into five wide receivers grouped the first play of the game, then five receivers would be our starters. If we had one wide receiver the first play of the game, then one wide receiver would be our starter. Theyre all contributors and theyre all competing right now for a role. How they compete, what they show they can do well, that will kind of carve out a role whether it be small, large. Its definitely a very competitive situation. Weve got some good guys there. Real fortunate.Yesterday, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio told us he wants more of his reserve safeties to step up and take that backup role behind S Dashon Goldson and S Donte Whitner. Are there still some areas offensively, going into this third game you want to see more of that?Singling out a particular position, obviously early on there were a lot of questions about who the right guard was going to be. At this very moment all I can report to you is that GT Alex Boone has done a very good job and continues to get better. The wide receiver position- weve got a lot of good ones. Our mindset is, well how can we use all of them? Why should we just play two or three of them and let two of them sit there and gather dust? I think that will continue to avail itself there and how we can use them. The backup quarterback position is a battle, its ongoing. Well see how that unfolds. The way we look at it, football is a rough game and were trying to create depth as we go. You never know whats going to happen. Were trying to coach everybody, evaluate them every day. Youre trying to build contingency plans as you develop your starters. The way we look, at it, all scenarios are possible because you never know whats going to happen. We had a couple guys get nicked in the game the other night, right? So, you better have a contingency plan, you better be coaching the backups at really every position. Pretty pleased though with how our offense is approaching practice. Were getting a lot of stuff done, covering a lot of ground. Weve got a lot of work to do still.How did RB Anthony Dixon do in those short yardage scenarios that probably would have gone to Brandon Jacobs had he been healthy?I thought Anthony had a really good game. The first third and one, were not really game planning preseason games, but they kind of had us outnumbered there. Anthony basically was his own blocker to get us that first down. The second short yardage situation, which was a fourth and short, Anthony got everything that was blocked for him. So, I thought Anthony had one of his best games since Ive been here. And was very pleased with his physicality, his preparation and how he played. He did a great job. He needs to have another great one this week.Why do you think the offense will be better on third downs this season compared to last season?Thats a good question. I think time on task. I think number one, a very wise man said this to me and I found it to be true, you can look at statistics and thats great, because anybody can look at statistics. But the thing you want to know is why are these statistics the way they are? Thats really what youre looking at. When you look at statistics, whether it be third down scoring, rushing yards, whatever, OK, why was your third down percentage what it was? Thats the real question. And as we studied it in the offseason and really throughout the season last year, it was really just a lack of execution, a lack of cohesion. I would attribute that to really just time on task. And I would fully expect our third down production to be much better due to the fact that weve got a lot more time invested in it, and I think its that simple. Now youve got to go out and do it. Just going out and practicing it doesnt guarantee you a thing. But I would fully expect our third down production to be better starting with time on task, guys knowing what to do, what spots theyre going to be in, all the multiple coverages, protection. Its a laundry list really. But, really the best third down teams are generally really efficient in the passing game on all downs and really good in short yardage situations. Thats just something I think will happen with our development, our evolution.Will your first team offense play more this game than they have the first two games? Do you expect them to?Thats possible. Not for sure right now. Thats possible, not for sure.What areas have you seen QB Alex Smith take his biggest strides in your second year working with him?Just knowing what words mean to start with. Everything. Everything. Totally understands the offense. Now he can recite things. He can fix things. Understands where people are. When we go back and look at our first early games last season, just getting through a straight progression was a work in progress relative to what it was late in the season, relative to what it is now. Hes getting through his reads quicker. Hes eliminating reads earlier and really just taking ownership of our offense. He understands all the different things that we do and hes really, really, really intelligent. Bright football player. Really intelligent. He is super smart. Savant-like at times and has great ideas. I suppose its like when youre married the first couple months, the first six months or whatever, youre kind of still getting to know where the toothpaste goes and whatnot. And then after a while you get to know somebody and thats kind of how Alex is with our offense.You mentioned savant-like, which is high praise. Anything caught your mind as far as what youve seen of Alex?You can have a play call thats 15 words long and if he sees it, he can just recite it. He doesnt need to look at anything to recite it. And then lets just say the person typing that play in made a mistake. Hell fix it right away without even blinking. Ive yet to see that from anybody. Thats just a quick snippet of his understanding of things and how quickly hell pick something up. If I sit there and study something for hours on end, Ill pick it up too. But the first time out, hes pretty sharp.Is there an area where you focus more on certain teachings with Alex Smith than head coach Jim Harbaugh does? Is there another thing that quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst does?Theres no real specific area, but we definitely all work together with him. It covers all areas. Its just a team effort all around.What about when Alex is in the pocket trying to elude with the pass rush? It seemed the sack numbers were high last year?Yeah, wed like to get those numbers down, bottom line. Some of the sacks he took, I thought were what I would call smart sacks. But far too many of them were unforced errors, lack of execution on our part. Thats something that has to improve. And thats not just the offensive line. Thats receivers getting open, tight ends getting open, tight ends blocking, backs blocking, receivers that have to make hot adjustments. The one thing that Alex did through all that, did a historically great job of protecting the football, historically great. We look for more of that as well.Has he had a straight incompletion yet? It seems like either someone was dropping it or hes throwing it away. It doesnt look like hes just all out.No, hes been pretty sharp. I think a couple of them have been six inches here or there. But hes been really sharp thus far. I think thats pretty accurate.There was a 2nd and 7 the last game against the Houston Texans, Alex threw an accurate pass to TE Vernon Davis and he dropped it. It looked like WR Randy Moss was breaking open deep. After looking at the film, did Alex make the right read and make the right throw?In case somebody from an opponent is reading this, I dont want to let them know about our quarterback reads. But I thought it was the appropriate decision. Theres times when a quarterback has to make a quick decision. And, let me put it to you this way, how open was Randy? How open was Vernon? Was Vernon that much open hand gestures, that much, that, that hand gestures? Its going to be different every time. Randy, leverage, whos the corner? Where is he? Leverage. Its going to be different every time. Hes got to make that decision quickly. And, generally speaking when you run somebody on a shorter route and one on a deeper, if its man-to-man coverage, youre generally going to look to the shorter route first because hell probably be open quicker. And thats not true of all plays, but I thought it was a good throw and I know Vernon was pretty upset that he didnt grab it.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Anquan Boldin didn't decide overnight he was going to quit football in order to speak out against longstanding concerns over inequality in America.
The recent deadly and racially charged conflict in Charlottesville, Virginia, did, however, become the tipping point that caused Boldin to reassess his priorities and led to the Buffalo Bills receiver's decision to retire after 14 NFL seasons.
"I think anybody with any sense can see how divided we are as a country, and Charlottesville only magnified what we were already seeing," Boldin told The Associated Press by phone Monday.
He was disturbed by the hateful messages directed at African-Americans, Jewish people and the LGBT community during a rally involving neo-Nazis and other right-wing groups in which a counter-protester was killed and two Virginia state police officers died on Aug. 13.
"That's not the America that I want to live in," he said. "And I think the only way that this America changes is that we as a people stand up and change it."
Boldin spoke a day after abruptly informing the Bills he was retiring some two weeks after signing a one-year contract with a base salary of $1.75 million.
The NFL's 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year, Boldin is no stranger to activism and humanitarian causes. He oversees the South Florida-based Q81 Foundation, which offers educational support for underprivileged children.
He has lobbied for criminal justice reform at the state and federal levels since his cousin was killed by a plain-clothes police officer along the side of a Florida highway in October 2015.
Difficult as it was to walk away from football, Boldin felt he could no longer stand silent on the sideline.
"There's not enough money in this world for me to continue to allow the things that are going on to continue to spread," the 36-year-old father of two boys said.
"I will not feel safe leaving this earth and having my kids have to live in the America that we have today."
Boldin then challenged NFL owners and executives to use their clout to demand change and back many of their players who are already doing so by protesting during the anthem.
"You have your players crying out for help. That's the reason why guys are taking knees during the anthem," he said.
"Just because we're professional athletes doesn't mean we're exempt from the things that go on in society," Boldin said, noting his position as an athlete couldn't save his cousin from being shot.
"If I'm an owner and I see one of my family members - players - hurting, I'd do whatever I can to make sure that my family is OK."
Boldin's decision to retire coincides with what he witnessed during the anthem before Buffalo's preseason game at Philadelphia on Thursday. Eagles defensive end Chris Long showed his support by putting his arm around cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, who stood in silent protest with a raised fist. Bills backup lineman Cameron Jefferson was so inspired by what he saw that he also raised his fist on Buffalo's sideline.
Boldin ranks in the top four among active receivers with 1,076 catches, 13,779 yards receiving and 82 touchdowns receiving.
He spent last season with Detroit, where he had 67 catches for 584 yards and eight touchdowns in 16 games.
The former Florida State star spent his first seven NFL seasons with Arizona, then played three years with Baltimore and three with San Francisco. He helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl in February 2013.
Lions safety Glover Quin credited his former teammate for having the courage for ending his career while knowing he can "have a bigger impact to do something else."
"I tip my hat to him," said Quin, one of several NFL players who joined Boldin in addressing Congress last year. "One day, we'll be able to look back on it and say, `That was the start of something great.'"
A day later, Boldin feels he made the right choice and pays no mind to those who suggest he simply stick to sports.
"I think it's absurd to tell a person to stick to playing football when the issues that he's talking about are affecting him," he said.
Earlier in the day in an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Boldin said his decision to retire had nothing to do with the Bills trading their top receiving threat, Sammy Watkins, in a pair of blockbuster deals on Aug. 11 , or how the team's offense struggled in a 20-16 preseason loss at Philadelphia.
He also discounted the notion he might reconsider retirement and choose to play for a contender later this season.
"Do I feel like I can still play? Of course," Boldin said. "My passion for the advocacy work that I do outweighs football at this point, so I'm not coming back to play for a contender or to do anything else. I'm done with the game of football."
The 49ers made a late-night trade in April to move back into the end of the third round to select an unheralded quarterback from Iowa.
The deal did not come without some second-guessing. After all, why trade away a seventh-round pick for C.J. Beathard, when he was likely to be available five picks later with the 49ers’ next scheduled draft pick?
Beathard has done everything right since his arrival, seemingly justifying the 49ers' decision to make sure they secured him when they did. And a solid showing during training camp has placed him in position to overtake veteran Matt Barkley as the team’s No. 2 quarterback.
“That’s for the coaches to decide on and evaluate,” Beathard said. “I’m critical of myself and I feel like there were plays that I can improve on and get better at. That’s part of football. You’re never going to play a perfect game. I’m always trying to get better.”
Brian Hoyer strengthened his grasp on the 49ers’ starting job with an impressive training camp with his arm strength, accuracy, and knowledge and execution of Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Beathard has saved his best performances for the two exhibition games with and against backup players. Beathard has completed 14 of 23 passes (60.9 percent) for 211 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating is 130.6.
“There were a couple third downs I thought he missed, but it was hard to get anyone in a rhythm that game,” Shanahan said after the 49ers’ 33-14 loss to the Denver Broncos on Saturday. “I think under the circumstances, he did solid.”
Beathard, the grandson of long-time NFL executive Bobby Beathard, led Iowa to a 12-2 record as a junior. His production dropped as a senior, as he completed 56.5 percent of his attempts with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in the Hawkeyes' pro-style offense.
He entered training camp at No. 3 on the depth chart. He and Barkley have been assigned the same number of practice snaps since the team reported to Santa Clara in late-July.
But Beathard has taken advantage of technology to get more and more comfortable in the 49ers’ offense. The 49ers are one of six NFL teams that use STRIVR Labs as an aide in training players via virtual reality. The tool is especially useful for quarterbacks with the camera stationed approximately 10 yards behind the quarterback.
The 49ers have two stations inside Levi’s Stadium with VR headsets, and Beathard has taken full advantage of the resource to train his eyes to read defenses and route progressions. One source told NBC Sports Bay Area that Beathard recently reviewed more than 1,000 practice plays in a week with the technology on his own time.
“You only get limited reps in practice, but you’re able to watch through virtual reality, essentially every rep in practice – all of Brian’s and Matt’s and go back and watch mine, and kind of play things out in your head as you watch practice,” Beathard said.
Beathard's pedigree, football smarts and toughness are what originally drew Shanahan to him before the draft.
Beathard’s toughness was on display in the first exhibition game, when he hung in to deliver a pass down the field to Kendrick Bourne just moments before taking a hit from a Kansas City defensive lineman. Bourne turned it into a 46-yard touchdown.
On Saturday, Beathard executed a convincing play-fake to running back Kapri Bibbs before rolling to his left and tossing to tight end George Kittle, his Iowa teammate. Kittle turned upfield, ran over one would-be tackler, stiff-armed another and managed to stay in-bounds en route to a 29-yard touchdown.
Kittle, who caught two touchdowns passes from Beathard against Nebraska in their final game together at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium, is not surprised with how quickly Beathard has adapted in his first NFL training camp.
“He is the most competitive person I’ve ever met in my life,” Kittle said. “You’ve got a guy who just cares about football.”