Willis' role as peacemaker in Smith-Panthers Twitter twit

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Willis' role as peacemaker in Smith-Panthers Twitter twit

SANTA CLARA -- Alex Smith made a comment. Jon Beason responded. And Patrick Willis, seemingly, provided the final words.As you know by now, Smith answered a few questions on Wednesday after 49ers practice in Santa Clara.Smith, on the 49ers' 2011 passing game, said, "We were inconsistent when we had to throw the football." He pointed to the team's problems on third downs and in the red zone.As a follow-up, I cited the 49ers ranked 29th in the NFL in passing yards and asked Smith where he expected the 49ers rank this season.ssssssAnd, yes, I understand that passing yards can be overblown. But, at the same time, the top five quarterbacks in passing yards last season were Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers. Coincidence?Smith responded, "I think that's a totally overblown stat. Because if you're losing games in the second half, guess what? You're like the Carolina Panthers and you're going no-huddle the entire second half and, yeah, Cam Newton threw for a lot of 300-yard games, that's great. You're not winning, though."Smith made his point.But Smith is also savvy enough to know that the moment he singled out Newton, who was selected to the NFC Pro Bowl team as a rookie, he would subject himself to backlash from the Panthers.Smith was taking a shot, specifically, at the Panthers' 6-10 record and he mentioned Newton by name. That is one sure way to create a mini-controversy.Smith, obviously, didn't care how his comment would be perceived. And that can easily be considered as a good thing for a quarterback who spent the first six seasons of his NFL career trying to please everybody.
Then, Jon Beason, the Panthers' three-time Pro Bowl linebacker, responded in a way that was predicatable. He basically told Smith to mind his own business while delivering a shot -- some would say a low blow -- directly at Smith.On Twitter, Beason wrote: "Alex smith, don't hate on Cam (because) your stats would've gotten u cut if Peyton decided to come 2 San Fran. Truth b told. That's after a 13-3 yr."Truth be told, Smith was not under contract when Peyton Manning decided on the Denver Broncos over the 49ers, so the 49ers would not have cut Smith. But, OK, he made his point, too.Now, leave it to Patrick Willis, the 49ers' best player with a Twitter account, to not get caught up in the twit. On Friday evening, Willis made a statement clearly designed at putting this whole thing to rest.Willis wrote on Twitter: "Wins are Wins I stand with My Qb Alex Smith and all my teammates. I can't wait for the season."In other words, let's just turn the page.And that is a statement in which all can agree.

Kaepernick's parents defend his anthem protests: 'Very proud of our son'

Kaepernick's parents defend his anthem protests: 'Very proud of our son'

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.

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

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.”