Manning to 49ers? And other QB strategies


Manning to 49ers? And other QB strategies

Were the 49ers satisfied with the play of quarterback Alex Smith?Yes.Are they expecting the position to be better in 2012?Yes.So, how do the 49ers achieve improvement at the game's most important position?One strategy is to do nothing. Remember, Smith turns 28 in May. He is just now beginning to reach his athletic prime. Theoretically, he should continue to get better for several more seasons. The 49ers also selected a quarterback in last year's draft to groom for the future.
Another solution for the 49ers is to aggressively pursue another option."We said that we'd get the best quarterbacks in here and throw out the balls," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said recently. "That's a position that's earned. It's never an anointed position."So as the 49ers head into the offseason, there are four possible paths for them to take:Status quo
Harbaugh described Smith as "elite." If we take that comment at face value, there is no reason for the 49ers to make a change when the club already has an elite quarterback entering his second season in the same system.Smith, of course, is scheduled to be a free agent. In his first six NFL seasons with the 49ers he averaged 5.5 million in annual salary. In the recently completed season, he earned 6.25 million after maxing out his incentive package.He would figure to be in line for a pay bump after posting career-best numbers en route to the 49ers' 13-3 regular season and appearance in the NFC Championship Game.If the 49ers keep the same three quarterbacks on their roster, the position still should be better in 2012. With greater familiarity in the system, Smith would be expected to improve. Also, the 49ers traded up in the second round to draft Colin Kaepernick. He should be better-prepared to play with a full offseason of work with the coaches.Scott Tolzien, whom the 49ers claimed off waivers from the San Diego Chargers after the final cuts, is still around. The 49ers will get a full offseason to evaluate him in the team's offense.Big splash
The name this offseason is Peyton Manning.In the past, speculation centered around such quarterbacks as Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb and Vince Young.But the one veteran quarterback the 49ers went after last offseason was Matt Hasselbeck, and the 49ers thought they were going to get him. Hasselbeck, instead, decided to sign with the Tennessee Titans.Harbaugh has said repeatedly the 49ers will always look to upgrade every position. But, clearly, if the 49ers spend the kind of money it would take for Manning, they'd have to make sacrifices elsewhere on their roster.Manning turns 36 in March, and it seems unlikely he'll return to the Indianapolis Colts. He's been in one system his entire career. He missed the entire 2011 season after undergoing three neck surgeries in 19 months. In September, he underwent a spinal fusion to repair a damaged nerve in his neck that caused weakness in his throwing arm.A healthy Manning would be a significant upgrade, no doubt. But the 49ers would be taking a huge risk, financially, while also rolling the dice on Manning's physical condition.The hottest young free agent is likely to be Green Bay's Matt Flynn, who played well in his limited action as Aaron Rodgers' backup. But would the sizable financial commitment be too much of an investment on an unproven player?Veteran acquisition
Tampa Bay backup quarterback Josh Johnson, a pending unrestricted free agent, remains a legitimate possibility. Of course, Harbaugh coached Johnson at the University of San Diego, and he has referred to him as a "beloved son."The 49ers can add Johnson without taking on much of a financial risk. Then, Johnson would have a chance to compete for his role with the 49ers -- whether as a starter, a backup or the team's No. 3 quarterback.Pick to the mix
The 49ers own the No. 30 overall draft pick, and it seems highly unlikely the club would select a quarterback at that point.After all, the 49ers traded a second-round pick (No. 45), as well as picks in the fourth (No. 108) and fifth (No. 141) to move up last year to select Kaepernick with the 36th overall selection.Still, using a late-round pick on a quarterback can never be ruled out. The 49ers will undoubtedly bring four quarterbacks to camp. Any draft pick would be competing against Tolzien for a spot on the active roster or practice squad.

Anthem singer at Heat-76ers game kneels during performance

Anthem singer at Heat-76ers game kneels during performance

MIAMI -- A woman performing the national anthem before an NBA preseason game in Miami did so while kneeling at midcourt.

Denasia Lawrence opened her jacket just before she started to sing, revealing a "Black Lives Matter" shirt, then dropped to her left knee and performed the song. She said it was her way of protesting racial oppression.

"We're being unjustly killed and overly criminalized," Lawrence wrote early Saturday in a Facebook post. "I took the opportunity to sing and kneel to show that we belong in this country and that we have the right to respectfully protest injustices against us."

Miami Heat officials said they had no advance knowledge of Lawrence's plan to protest. Lawrence, a social worker, kept the shirt hidden until her performance.

"I didn't get paid to sing the national anthem nor was this moment about any sort of fame," Lawrence wrote. "Black Lives Matter is far larger than a hashtag, it's a rallying cry."

The anthem issue has been a major topic in the sports world in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand while it is played. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and athletes from many sports - and many levels, from youth all the way to professional - have followed his lead in various ways.

Heat players and coaches stood side by side for the anthem before their game with Philadelphia, all with their arms linked as has been their custom during the preseason. The team plans to continue standing that way for the anthem this season as a show of unity.

"Throughout all of this, I think the most important thing that has come out is the very poignant, thoughtful dialogue," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We've had great dialogue within our walls here and hopefully this will lead to action."

The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.

"All I can say is what we've seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Friday in New York. "It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do."

Heat guard Wayne Ellington often speaks about the need to curb gun violence, after his father was shot and killed two years ago. He had his eyes closed for most of the anthem Friday, as per his own custom, though he was aware of Lawrence's actions.

"At the end of the day, to each his own," Ellington said. "If she feels like that's the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her."

Making a statement in the manner that Lawrence did Friday is rare, but not unheard of in recent weeks.

When the Sacramento Kings played their first home preseason game earlier this month, anthem singer Leah Tysse dropped to one knee as she finished singing the song.

Tysse is white. Lawrence is black.

"I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans," Tysse wrote on Facebook. "I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do. I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability."

49ers promote RB to active roster ahead of game vs Bucs

49ers promote RB to active roster ahead of game vs Bucs

The 49ers on Saturday promoted running back DuJuan Harris to the active roster to be eligible to play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi’s Stadium.

The team waived defensive lineman Taylor Hart to make room for Harris on the 53-man roster. Hart, originally a fifth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014, was claimed by the 49ers off waivers on Sept. 5. He appeared in one game and recorded two tackles.

Running back Carlos Hyde has been ruled out of Sunday’s game due to a right shoulder injury. Mike Davis and Shaun Draughn have served as the 49ers’ backup running backs through the first six games of the season.

Harris (5 foot 7, 206 pounds) has bounced between the 49ers’ 53-man roster and practice squad this season. He has yet to appear in a game. Last season, he played in two games, rushing for 140 yards on 27 carries. He also caught nine passes for 97 yards.

Draughn and Davis are the 49ers’ fourth- and fifth-leading rushers this season behind Hyde and quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick. Draughn has 55 yards rushing on 18 attempts, while Davis has 18 yards on 10 carries.