Spikes' exit clears way for 49ers' Bowman to start


Spikes' exit clears way for 49ers' Bowman to start

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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
SANTA CLARA -- In his one starting assignment as a rookie, 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman replaced Patrick Willis and responded with 15 tackles in the final game of the season against the Arizona Cardinals.This season, Bowman's goal is to start alongside Willis. And that looks like a reasonable possibility after veteran Takeo Spikes agreed to a three-year contract with the San Diego Chargers on Tuesday.RELATED: Spikes agrees to terms with Chargers
"He made a good decision for himself," Bowman said. "It's one less competitor. I'm not coming here like I already have the starting job. I'm coming in here to compete, and I'm sure they'll probably bring in somebody else to compete for the job. It's not mine yet, but I'm definitely shooting for it."

Bowman was a third-round pick of the 49ers last year. He was eased into the action on third downs early in the season, but Spikes ultimately became an every-down linebacker. He said he felt a different comfort level in the season finale after stepping on the field at the beginning of the game.And his strong play in the 49ers' 38-7 win over the Cardinals also gave him a lot of confident heading into the offseason."I think it helped, it was the one time I got out there and started the game," Bowman said. "I felt comfortable and got a feel for the other team and what they wanted to do. I got a chance to play my first full NFL game, and it felt great. I'm ready to go out there and compete for the starting job, and hopefully I get it."I came here with the same mindset I came here last year -- just ready to work. Like coach has been saying, this is an opportunity and I want to take advantage of it."Bowman reported Wednesday to the 49ers' practice facility at 240 pounds. It's the same weight at which he played last season, he said. "But it's a better 240 and a smarter 240," he said.

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Gerald Hodges is in search of a new team and he's looking at a division rival of the 49ers.

The unrestricted free agent is scheduled to visit the Seahawks on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

Acquired in October of 2015 from Minnesota for a sixth-round pick, the four-year pro played in 25 games over the past two seasons with the 49ers.

In his time with San Francisco, the former fourth-round pick recorded three sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

But he was not considered a fit for the new 49ers under general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Hodges was deactivated for a game late in the season at Atlanta for breaking team rules. He did not offer an explanation or apology

The 49ers have signed three linebackers through two weeks of free agency: Malcolm Smith, Brock Coyle and Dekoda Watson.

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

On the same day the FBI director announced members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign are under investigation for colluding with Russia to influence the election, Trump turned his thoughts to Colin Kaepernick’s status as an NFL free agent.

And Jim Harbaugh, appearing on Pro Football Talk, suggested teams that are not showing interest in Kaepernick are making a mistake.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” Harbaugh said Tuesday morning.

“He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships.”

On Monday evening, during a rally in Kentucky, Trump made remarks about Kaepernick. In the lead-up to the November election, Kaepernick called Trump “openly racist” and said he would not vote for Hillary Clinton, either.

“And you know, your San Francisco quarterback? I’m sure nobody ever heard of him,” Trump said.

“There was an article today, it was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that. I said if I remember that one I’m gonna report it to the people of Kentucky. Because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reported an AFC general manager told him there were three reasons Kaepernick has not signed. Some believe, according to the anonymous source, that Kaepernick can no longer play at a high level. Others “genuinely hate him” for kneeling during the national anthem as part of his protest of racial inequality in America.

And, “some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him,” according to the report. “They think there might be protests or Trump will tweet about the team. I'd say that number is around 10 percent. Then there's another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.”

Kaepernick’s teammates voted him the winner of the Len Eshmont Award for courage and inspiration last season. It is historically the most prestigious award among 49ers players. But the 49ers have already signed veteran quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

General manager John Lynch acknowledged last week on KNBR the odds of the 49ers bringing back Kaepernick are slim.

“I think the likelihood of that happening has gone down significantly. But we’re not going to close our mind or out options on anyone, including him,” Lynch said.

Even though there has been no reported interest in Kaepernick from any team around the league, Lynch said Kaepernick nearly signed with a team earlier during the free-agent signing period.

“I don’t know what happened to that market,” Lynch said. “He was, in everyone’s mind in this league, very close to signing a deal with a team at a really good number. And it fell through, apparently.”