49ers

Torrey Smith could benefit from Shanahan's big-play philosophy

Torrey Smith could benefit from Shanahan's big-play philosophy

Wide receiver Torrey Smith has not lived up to the five-year, $40 million contract he signed with the 49ers in 2015.

Or have the 49ers been the problem for failing to properly take advantage of Smith’s skills as the deep threat that was sorely lacking in previous seasons?

New 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan figures to bring a more aggressive mindset to the team’s offense. Now, it’s a matter of finding the right players to plug into the right spots.

Smith could find a situation similar to what he enjoyed during most of his four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. In 2014, Smith caught 11 touchdown passes before leaving for the 49ers as a free agent.

“It’s not rocket science. Football is football. Plays are plays,” Smith said. “It’s the way they scheme it up and put it together. The way I watch it from afar, he (Shanahan) tailors it to people’s strengths, which is always a plus. So I’m excited to see what his plan is for us.”

The plan, according to new 49ers running backs coach Bobby Turner, is to use the running game to set up big plays down the field.

“At times, you can’t run it if they put eight or nine in the box,” Turner told CSNBayArea.com during Super Bowl week in Houston. “It’s tough to run the ball. We might only get a yard on that play. But by doing that, being consistent and continually trying to run the ball, you exploit them through the air with the play-action game.”

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan led the NFL with 17 passes of more than 40 yards in the regular season.

Smith caught a 53-yard touchdown pass against Buffalo for his only reception that covered 40 yards or more last season.

”The offense, I have experience with it,” Smith said. “I’m interested to see how he teaches it. You just have to execute. But with his track record, it kind of speaks for itself. I’m excited for him to have that opportunity. He’s a young guy. I feel like he could fit in in our locker room. He looks that young. He has a proven track record and he knows what he’s doing. It’s his time, so I’m excited for him.”

Smith has a scheduled salary-cap figure of $9.475 million for the 2017 season, but the 49ers are comfortably under the salary cap with an estimated $80 million in cap room heading into the new league year.

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.