49ers

Recording dooms Saints' appeals

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Recording dooms Saints' appeals

Weve now read the Yahoo.com story and heard the audio on Gregg Williams speech before the Saints-49ers playoff game which is the smoking bazooka in BountyGate. Put simply, the Saints got off easy.That said, we need to remember that if this had worked, if the Saints had beaten San Francisco and then the New York Giants and New England Patriots, the National Football League would never have let any cats out of this particular bag.Oh, Williams would have been retired, in that wonderfully euphemistic way that HR departments have of greasing the disobedient. And the team would have been quietly fined. And nobody anywhere would have been the wiser.REWIND: Saints punished for bounty program
But Sean Payton would have skated again, because the league would never tolerate a two-time Super Bowl winner and supergenius being publicly rebuked for something they were trying to keep on the down-low.In short, the 49ers did the league a huge favor. Alex Smith is owed a huge solid, and heres hoping now that hes been given the back of the business hand in his latest contract that someone sees fit to take care of him.Those two late scores took out New Orleans, freeing Roger Goodell to muster enough owner support to drop a bag of hammers on Tom Benson and his perpetually defiant football staff. And if you think Paytons appeal wasnt damaged by this story, youre drunk way too early.And maybe thats why the story got out. A leak to a leak to a leak to Mike Silver of Yahoo, who is not one prone to cheerfully be used by the authorities, only helps the league and hurts Payton.Then again, Payton would have been appealing his sentence to the same cop who pulled him over, so he didnt have a lot of chance anyway. This might have just been the warning shot to shut him up preemptively because the league is willing to do that, too.RELATED: Payton, Saints appeal suspensions
And frankly, while this definitively finishes Gregg Williams, it also points out how the NFL handles employees who go fingers-up to the big man. Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and by extension owner Tom Benson essentially told the league office to screw itself on BountyGate by doing nothing to change their behavior.And that is the real crime that is being punished here. Just as USC got the works for crossing the NCAA, the Saints took theirs because the weight of 31 billionaires is far greater than the weightlifting power of one.Payton is being punished not so much for his arrogance but for his cavalier dismissal of authority (and it explains why Al Davis saw such good in him). He told the league to slag off, and the league reminded him of who runs the Department of Slag.Indeed, the meeting between him and Goodell would have been a short one.Commissioner, I present today my appeal for . . . "First, stop speaking. Second, let me ask you something, you little weasel. Who do you think youre screwing with? I pick guys like you out of my teeth when I floss. I should double the year you already got and dare you to take it to court. Cross me again, and youll be volunteering to run Pop Warner fundraisers in the Okjlahoma panhandle. Appeal denied. Get out. And apologize to my secretary for soiling the couch you sat in.And then hed sit back and wait to see if Payton can hire enough lawyers to fight the league. Which he cant. Another uneven fight won by the NFL.But thats how it works in the real big leagues. Payton fought the law and the law won. Williams is one of the sidekicks in"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" who buys it in the gunfight, but Payton is definitely Liberty Valance.Who, by the way, also buys it in the movie.But for those of you who believe in tradition,. Never fear. The bounty system will never go away. Itll just become more surreptitious. It wont be advertised. Itll work just the way it always has, only on the down-low.And thats all the NFL really wanted here for the Saints to shut up about it. But Gregg Williams couldnt, and Sean Payton wouldnt, and Loomis wasnt going to buck his superiors by going to his other superior.But Alex Smith screwed them all. If there isnt some lifetime job in the league for him because of this, then the league really is filled with ingrates and brutes.Oh. I forgot. It is.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Reuben Foster does not wait long to show he can be special for 49ers

Reuben Foster does not wait long to show he can be special for 49ers

SANTA CLARA – There is something different about Reuben Foster.

It is similar to when Patrick Willis stepped on the practice field with the 49ers for training camp in 2007. He started out as a backup and had to earn his way onto the field.

All it took was two exhibition games. Brandon Moore was out of the starting lineup. Patrick Willis was in, and seven consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl followed.

Foster is not being handed a starting job with the 49ers. In fact, he faces a more difficult challenge to break into the starting lineup.

In front of Foster is veteran Malcolm Smith at the weakside linebacker spot. Eventually, Foster’s role in the 49ers’ defense will be the middle linebacker spot, where NaVorro Bowman is entrenched as the starter.

But it’s only a matter of time until Foster asserts himself as an every-down player.

Foster will have to earn his way into the starting lineup. He will have to earn respect with how he practices and plays. That was apparent on Thursday when Bowman was asked whether he watched Foster in college. Bowman gave a tepid review of Foster.

That’s understandable. After all, Foster had not practiced with the team until Friday. He was held out practices during the offseason program as he rehabbed from shoulder surgery. It took Bowman a full year before he won his starting job. Bowman started one game as a rookie before establishing himself as a starter and an All-Pro performer the next season.

Bowman is not going to lavish praise on a player who had never made it through an NFL practice – even someone who was the most-accomplished collegiate player on the 49ers’ roster.

Foster received medical clearance on Wednesday to take part on Day 1 of practice when the 49ers opened training camp on Friday. It took almost no time for him to stand out.

Foster intercepted a pass from fellow rookie C.J. Beathard early in Friday’s practice. Then, quite a scene followed. Foster returned it into the end zone through a maze of players -- many of whom were standing behind the line of scrimmage and not even involved in the play.

In his three seasons at Alabama, Foster never intercepted a pass. He was known for his toughness and violent sideline-to-sideline tackling ability.

“It was good to get him out there, get him on the field,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I know he’s been chomping at the bit for a while now. It was good to see him go through it full speed, deal with getting aligned right and stuff. I think he got an interception out there today, which was good for him. It was a good first day.”

Foster could quickly turn into the most-exciting player on a team that is severely lacking in star quality. The 49ers targeted him early in the draft process as a player they wanted. Then, he had to check out physically and mentally for the team to determine when he was a person they wanted, too. When he visited the 49ers before the draft, general manager John Lynch became even more intrigued.

“He’s got an excitement that’s infectious,” Lynch said. “He’s an alpha dog. He wants to lead. He’s ready, he’s eager and we are certainly excited to watch him play.”

The 49ers did not believe his shoulder was a major issue. According to national reports, some teams removed him from their draft boards over concerns about his health. The 49ers would have taken him with the No. 3 pick in the draft if Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas were selected with the top two picks.

Concerns over Foster’s health and a diluted urine sample, which immediately places him into the NFL program for substances of abuse, were the only justifications for his tumble to the end of the first round. The 49ers found a trade partner in the Seattle Seahawks and took Foster with the No. 31 overall pick.

Some teams probably really did have serious concerns about his shoulder. And perhaps those concerns were justified. But, maybe, the teams that could have drafted him feel the need to cover their own backsides for passing on a player who has the look of a special player.

49ers sign top pick Solomon Thomas during first practice

49ers sign top pick Solomon Thomas during first practice

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers completed contract negotiations with their final unsigned draft pick as the team was going through warm-ups for the first practice of training camp.

Former Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas, whom the 49ers selected with the No. 3 overall pick, signed Friday and was expected to join his teammates later in the day.

The sides agreed to the mandatory four-year contract worth more than $28 million, including a signing bonus of approximately $18.6 million. The deal is expected to be fully guaranteed.

The 49ers also have an option for the fifth season (2021) that must be exercised months after the 2019 season.

Thomas was unable to participate in full-squad workouts during the offseason due to Stanford’s late class schedule. NFL rules prohibit a rookie from attending the offseason program until his school’s classes have concluded for the spring session.

The 49ers – and the vast majority of NFL teams – have not had a contract stalemate with a rookie since the new collective bargaining agreement went into effect in 2011.

The organization had similar timing with a first-round pick from last year. Guard Joshua Garnett, also from Stanford, signed with the 49ers on the evening before players were scheduled to report to training camp.

Around the NFL, there has been only one notable contract disagreement that prevented a draft pick from reporting to camp in a timely fashion. Defensive lineman Joey Bosa, whom the Chargers selected with the No. 3 pick last year, sat out a month of training camp due to a disagreement over how his bonus would be distributed. Bosa and Thomas are both represented by the agent firm of Creative Artists Agency.