The 49ers were learning a new offense, complete with an entirely new set of protection packages.In the first exhibition game just two weeks after the opening of training camp, the 49ers faced a veteran Saints defense under the direction of coordinator Gregg Williams.The Saints immediately smothered 49ers quarterback Alex Smith with blitzes off the blind side. The 49ers had every reason to be astounded at the Saints' classless and dangerous approach to the first game after the lockout.Now, it makes a little a more sense.
NEWS: NFL: Saints engaged in 'bounty' program
The NFL on Friday announced the Saints defense maintained a "bounty" program in violation of NFL rules during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.The league announced that a "lengthy investigation by the NFL's security department has disclosed that between 22 and 27 defensive players on the New Orleans Saints, as well as at least one assistant coach" were involved in the illegal activity."The league's investigation determined that this improper 'Pay for Performance' program included 'bounty' payments to players for inflicting injuries on opposing players that would result in them being removed from a game," the NFL announced.Williams administered the bounty program with the knowledge of other defensive coaches, the league's investigation found. Williams occasionally contributed funds, according to the report.There was no mention in the report of Smith or Colin Kaepernick -- or any other 49ers players -- being targeted as part of the Saints' bounty program. Smith and Kaepernick took a beating in the exhibition opener but avoided injuries.
"Our investigation began in early 2010 when allegations were first made that Saints players had targeted opposing players, including Kurt Warner of the Cardinals and Brett Favre of the Vikings," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.Goodell will determine the appropriate discipline for the violation, the league stated. The discipline could include fines and suspensions and, in light of the competitive nature of the violation, forfeiture of draft choices. Goodell would also decide any appeal.In January, Williams joined the NFC West, as new coach Jeff Fisher hired him as St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator.REWIND: With Williams' move, NFC West got more interesting
The 49ers also faced the Saints twice in the regular season and one more time in the playoffs during the time frame in which the bounty system was in place. The 49ers sustained no known significant injuries due to any illegal hits.Coincidentally, 49ers safety Donte Whitner knocked running back Pierre Thomas from the game with a legal helmet-to-helmet hit that caused a fumble early in the 49ers' 36-32 victory in an NFC divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park.
Colin Kaepernick began his silent National Anthem protests in late August.
For almost four months, his parents have remained quiet.
But after reports that Kaepernick did not have the support of his parents, Teresa and Rick Kaepernick reached out to ESPN's The Undefeated on Friday to set the record straight.
"Colin is carrying a heavy load and following a difficult path that he truly believes in. He is putting his entire future and possibly his life on the line for those beliefs. As his parents, it pains us to read articles and tweets saying that his family does not support him; this could not be further from the truth. We want people to know that we are very proud of our son and admire his strength and courage in kneeling for the rights of others," the couple said in a statement to the publication.
Kaepernick's parents also commented on those you have called their son un-American or labeled his protests as anti-Military.
"Colin has chosen to kneel for the national anthem as a protest to the continuing racial inequality in this country. He has explained his reasons for this in multiple interviews, yet it seems some people still do not understand his point. For whatever reason, there are some who want to view this as an anti-military protest or an un-American stance. These views could not be further from the truth, but we know that people will believe what they wish to believe. The recent remarks (attacks) by Admiral Harris supported by the Pentagon are over the top, and we feel the desire to make a public statement in support of our son," The Kaepernicks said in their statement.
They concluded their statement by discussing the reaction the family received due to Kaepernick's protest, including detailing the hate mail that has been sent to them.
"When Colin first 'took a knee', his family was as surprised as anyone. We did not understand why he was doing this and were overwhelmed with the public reaction and hate. Colin not only received terrible racist tweets, but also received letters directly to our home similar to that recently received by [Denver Broncos linebacker] Brandon Marshall. We were truly shocked at the amount of racist hatred out there! Until this had occurred, we had naively believed that the racial atmosphere in this country was far better than it actually is. Prayer and talks with our son gave us a much better understanding of the reason for his protest and how we should view it."
The Undefeated's Martenzie Johnson also spoke to Teresa Kaepernick by phone on Friday and she threw her family's support behind her son.
"I just want to be on the record that we absolutely do support him," she said.
The 49ers signed tight end Vance McDonald to a five-year contract extension through the 2021 season, the team announced late Friday.
The deal is worth $35 million, including $16 million in guaranteed money, ESPN reported. The actual contract terms and amount of fully guaranteed money is expected to be less than the reported figures.
McDonald ranks third on the 49ers with 24 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns. He has touchdown receptions this season of 75 and 65 yards.
"Vance has shown consistent growth throughout his four-year career and his production this season is the result of his dedication and hard work,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “We believe he has only scratched the surface of what he will be able to accomplish in his career. Vance is a tremendous ambassador for the 49ers, and his passion for helping others provides a wonderful example for this organization. We look forward to his continued contributions to this organization, both on and off the field.”
McDonald is in the final season of his original four-year, $3.99 million contract he signed as a second-round draft pick in 2013.
In McDonald’s three previous seasons, he caught just 40 passes for 475 yards and three touchdowns.
McDonald spoke last week about the greater chances he's gotten to prove himself since the 49ers traded Vernon Davis last season.
“I just always look back at the opportunity when Vernon went to (Denver),” McDonald said. “Just being able to have the trust and the opportunity to start games and play every down.”
Said 49ers coach Chip Kelly, "He’s one of our weapons on the offensive side of the ball and he runs better than most tight ends in this league. So really depends on week to week what people have available at the safety spot to kind of match up with him. But he’s certainly someone that I think people defensively have to game plan for.”