This was written for www.ninersnation.comI know it's been a while since Frank Gore walked away from 4949 Marie P. DeBartolo Way, but it's important to take a look at what he brought to the table off of the field with the current state of the San Francisco 49ers offense. I'm not crying over spilled milk but we need someone to fill the shoes that Gore left behind, even more than the cleats.
Gore was the rock of the offense, the core, the big brother. He was the one constant for his 10 years on the 49ers offense. As coaches and players passed through the building, he remained sure and steady.
Gore's tenure included four head coaches:
Seven different offensive coordinators:
- Mike Nolan
- Mike Singletary
- Jim Tomsula (one game)
- Jim Harbaugh
And ten different starting quarterbacks:
- Mike McCarthy
- Norv Turner
- Jim Hostler
- Mike Martz
- Jimmy Raye
- Mike Johnson
- Greg Roman
Gore holds the 49ers franchise records for career rushing yards at 11,073, single season rushing at 1,695, and the single game rushing record at 212. His play on the field garnered the respect of every player on the team, offense and defense, and the respect carried over to the locker room as well. As the season records would go up and down, yes, he would get frustrated but he kept things simple, saying "just play football." He's a grinder that never quit on the game or his teammates.
- Alex Smith
- Tim Rattay
- Ken Dorsey
- Cody Pickett
- Trent Dilfer
- Shaun Hill
- Chris Weinke
- J.T. O'Sullivan
- Troy Smith
- Colin Kaepernick
After the debacle at Arizona, the defense bounced back, holding the Packers to 17 points after Aaron Rodgers threw for five touchdown passes the Monday before. If not for a few questionable calls, the score might have even been less. How did the defense rebound instead of going into a downward spiral? The solid leadership of NaVorro Bowman and Antoine Bethea who lead by example and have the respect of the entire team. These are guys who the rest of the team would lay down their lives for, men they trust and respect.
Who is that person on the offense? Who is a solid producer who has been there through thick and thin and knows what it's like to battle out of a 1-3 start to the season? Who is the calm voice of reason and maturity? It used to be Frank Gore.
Anquan Boldin has been very emotional during games, maybe a little too emotional. He refused to speak to the media after the game, which everyone understands after a few losses, but that's not a mark of a leader. Reggie Bush is another veteran, but he has been out with an injury the last two weeks and he is new to the team. Joe Staley, is another well respected vet that everyone likes, but is his personality strong enough to rally everyone together to fight back through adversity? Vernon Davis has been hurt and doesn't seem like the type of player to get everyone else motivated. Torrey Smith is the best candidate, level headed and a professional who at least addressed his negative body language after the Packer game.
Normally the leader on the offense is the quarterback, but Colin Kaepernick has been struggling. He needs a wing man and that position was previously been held by Gore. Several times Gore and Kaepernick would take the press conference podium together, taking turns answering questions. Gore was the one for whom everyone would take a bullet. Who will take a bullet for Kaepernick?
Without getting too TMZ on here, Aldon Smith's ex-girlfriend Nessa was in attendance for Sunday's game vs. the Packers, reportedly in support of Kaepernick. She got a bit defensive regarding the posting of a picture of her at the game on her Instagram account which you can see here. You can say that that is an off the field issue that shouldn't effect the play during the game, but there's no telling how this has affected players on the team. Who is telling them to ignore the distractions and "just play football" when Gore is no longer in the building?
With the blame game running strong towards the front office these days, this is one you can actually pin on them. Gore was recently interviewed for the Indy Star and revealed that he was told that if he stayed, he would be taking a back seat to second year Carlos Hyde. He had a sit down with Tomsula but wanted to hear it from Trent Baalke himself. He never did. All he wanted to do was compete for the position, because that's the type of player and person he is.
I was there 10 years and I played every down the same whether we were winning or not.
This was written for www.ninersnation.com
The San Francisco 49ers opened the 2015 season at home with a huge win and a remarkable performance by running back Carlos Hyde. The second year running back rushed for 168 yards on 26 carries. After the game Carlos Hyde tweeted out a thank you to his offensive line.
Yes, this is only one game, but during training camp and the preseason, one of the big question marks about the 49ers was the viability of the offensive line. We have seen a revolving door on the right side of the line from center over. There were late additions to the group, including Jordan Devey and Nick Easton, which didn't do much to quell the fear that the organization was still scrambling for personnel in the 11th hour. Head coach Jim Tomsula had said that they had it all figured out following the final preseason game, but who really believed him? Well, maybe now we can believe, at least a little. Tomsula spoke on the criticism of the OL:
The criticism hasn't come from me. We are not there yet. This is one game in a long season, so we're not there yet by any means. But, I've not defended the offensive line, people have their opinions. Again, I just deal with what we see in practice and the way we work.
The game plan didn't include Hyde being the bell-cow running back from the beginning but when Reggie Bush left the game with a calf strain, all bets were off. Colin Kaepernick had seven rushing attempts, while Jarryd Hayne had four and Bush two. It's not surprising that according to ProFootballFocus Hyde ran mostly to the left where veterans Joe Staley and Alex Boone reside, but the whole line, tight ends and receivers all did their part against the Vikings.
After the game it seemed like all of the doubt surrounding the team has made the group closer. Boone spoke about not being bothered by not having had long term continuity in the OL thus far:
We just go in thinking we're brothers. Everybody's got everybody's back. We have a lot of fun out there and just a lot of smart guys, tough guys, that's what you want in your O-Line. Not pretty, out there mauling people, having fun, getting dirty with it. It was a great day.
Boone on the negative talk about the team and OL:
We enjoy it when you guys talk about us like that. We don't really listen to it but when we hear it, it just kind of makes us laugh and at the end of the day we just go to work. We listen to Jimmy and he says let's just go to work and ignore everybody.
Carlos Hyde spoke in a similar vein about this win:
I think it showed that we blocked out all those distractions. We came together as a group and as a team. A good bond going on in that locker room. A bunch of guys that believe in each other. That's all you need. You get a group like that, you can go out and compete with anybody.
Final stats for the Vikings defense was one sack and 3 QB hits, and according to the game book, Kaepernick only scrambled 5 times. No one is talking Super Bowls, but you have to admit this is a little ray of sunshine after a very stormy offseason.
In the midst of the Comic Con chaos in San Diego, over three hundred kids, from grades 1-12 gathered in La Mesa, CA to spend a little time and receive valuable coaching from their hometown hero, Reggie Bush at his ProCamp. Little did these kids know what a deal they were getting. Bush brought out a bevy of his friends, current and retired NFL players to help out with the two day camp. The team included: Donte Stallworth, Joique Bell, Lance Moore, Golden Tate, Joe Fauria, Billy Miller, Larry English, Thomas Williams, Rob Sims, Robert Griffith, and Stephen Cooper.
The camp was emceed by the exuberant Rod Huber who has endless amounts of energy to keep the campers organized and motivated. The day always starts with organized group calisthenics, opening announcements and then the kids are broken up into small groups by age, the ratio of campers to coaches is about 10 to 1. This camp stands out as one of the few that includes high school aged athletes. These older kids get the opportunity to work with Aaron Drogoszewski and his Everlast sponsored crew. Similar to Colin Kaepernick’s camp, Citi sponsored an exclusive lunch for a few lucky campers and they were each allowed to ask Reggie a question.
The following is a transcript:
Kids: What team do you play for?
Reggie: I play for the San Francisco 49ers now. I played for Detroit last year. I’ll be back in red and gold.
Kids: What kind of video games did you play when you were a kid?
RB: I played Sega Genesis, Nintendo, Atari, Play Station when it first came out. Tecmo Bowl. You guys don’t even know what Tecmo Bowl is. It was one of the first football games that came out. I remember that Bo Jackson was a beast on that game so that was one of my favorite games to play, Tecmo Bowl on Nintendo. Some of these kids are like “What is THAT?”
Kids: How do you think Colin Kaepernick and you will fit together?
RB: I think we are going to do well. This will be my first year, my first time in my career where I’ve played with an athletic running quarterback, running the option, so it’s going to be a little different for me. I’m not used to seeing my quarterbacks take off and run down the field. It’s going to be a little different at first I think, but it’s also a good thing because having that ability from a quarterback standpoint only puts more pressure on the defense and more pressure on the defensive line to always watch where he’s at. I think the more eyes that are watching other people than me, is the better for me and the better for our team, so I think we are going to do well together. I’m excited. Good question.
Kids: What’s your favorite team that you played for?
RB: Haha, Helix High School. I miss those days, those easy high school football days. Yeah, I would say, you know, every team that I’ve played for, they’ve all been great. I’ve enjoyed all of them. I think I’ve taken something different from every team, every organization and every city. I’d say the one that sticks out the most is the New Orleans Saints because we won a Super Bowl, but they’ve all been great. I would say that my first five years in New Orleans were pretty special, what we were able to accomplish as a team.
Kids: How old were you when you started playing football?
RB: Good question. I was nine years old when I first started playing tackle football, and my mom didn’t want me to play football, like all moms, usually. They think it’s too physical of a sport, but I was really hyper and energetic as a kid growing up. I used to get into trouble a lot when in school when I was in elementary because I had so much energy and I think when you’re that young you still try to find a way to use that energy in a positive way. All you know is to play and have fun and do whatever it is you do. Point of the story is that all of the teachers thought that I should be prescribed some kind of ADD medicine, Ritalin, or whatever it is for kids who are hyper and my mom didn’t agree with that and so my dad finally talked her into letting me play sports. Baseball was my first sport. I love baseball but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t using enough energy, it was too boring for me, no offense to anybody. Once I started playing football, everything made sense and I found a positive way to use that energy. I stopped getting into trouble and my grades went up and my parents didn’t really have to do much because they knew I was going to stay out of trouble playing football.
Kids: What age did you know you wanted to play in the NFL and what did it take?
RB: You know, that’s a funny question because people ask me a lot: If you weren’t playing football, what would you be doing? I never have an answer for that question because all I had was a plan A. I didn’t have a plan B, C, D. I knew I wanted to play football and that was it, and I just stuck to that, and I wasn’t going to let anybody stop me, I wasn’t going to let anybody hold me back, I wasn’t going to do anything to keep me from playing football whether it was grades or things outside football. So I think at a young age when I started playing at nine years old, I always knew I wanted to be a professional football player. and I love football so much that I just work hard at it. There’s a lot of kids who I played with growing up who were just as talented as me and who should be where I’m at today but because of a few decisions that they didn’t make, they didn’t do well in school or whatever it was, the focus wasn’t there. I truly believe that whatever you guys want to do, anything, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t have to be football, it can be anything, if you want to be that, don’t let anybody tell you you can’t be that. Don’t let anybody hold you back, don’t let anybody say that you can’t do it, it doesn’t matter. Times have changed and the sky is the limit for anybody, there’s no more barriers. You guys can dream big and keep those victories.
Kids: On Madden 15, do you just use your team or do you play with everybody?
RB: (Laughing) I play with everybody. I like to play with all of the players on all of the teams. I actually prefer to play with everyone else rather than play with my team and me. Kids: What was the hardest thing you’ve had to do to get in the NFL? RB: Hmmm, that’s a good question. I don’t think that there is one thing that was really hard, I think football is hard, in itself, as a sport, it’s not easy. It’s a tough sport, it’s a tough sport to play because it really tests your physical capabilities and your mental capabilities. I think just over time, just maintaining that focus from when I was a little kid all the way up until high school to college, up until the day when you’re out there training for the combine and pro day and all the scouts are out there watching, I think the hardest thing is just maintaining that focus when you’re a little kid. You don’t just wake up and get drafted, it’s difficult a process that goes into becoming an NFL player and it starts right now, you guys are kids now. It doesn’t start 10-15 years from now, it starts right now. You guys all kind of have an idea of what you want to do, right? Maybe you want to play basketball, maybe football. It starts now. It’s a life long process. I think the hardest thing is just maintaining focus and never allowing that focus to waiver or to get out of synch, keeping it all the way up until you hear your name called at that podium, until you walk up there and you’re holding a jersey, just maintaining that focus.
Kids: Who is your favorite teammate? RB: Well, I think you guys had a chance to see a lot of guys out there today. All of those guys I’ve played with, actually there were one or two that I didn’t play with, but all of those guys out there are all my friends and some of them are retired, some of them play for other teams, I don’t think I have any teammates out here from the 49ers. I had some guys from the Saints, I had some guys from the Detroit Lions, I didn’t have any guys from the Miami Dolphins, but the thing that’s really cool about football is that those relationships, those friendships that you build, even now I’m still friends with some people, some kids from my Pop Warner days. Those friendships last forever. I still talk to my coaches from Pop Warner. I still talk to my high school coaches. So along the way when I was young, high school, college, NFL, little league, I made friends along the way and I still keep in contact with a lot of those guys. There were some guys out there today that you didn’t know, that I grew up with and played with, but there’s generations of friends, all because of football.
Kids: Who is the best player on your team?
Moderator: Besides you, of course!
RB: (laughing) I’ll go down the line of the teams I’ve played for. In New Orleans I got the chance to play with Drew Brees who you guys know, right? I think Drew is one of the hardest working men that I’ve ever been around. He’s very talented but he’s equally, if not more of, a hard worker. He’s just an overachiever. He’s always working, always working hard, always working on his craft, so he was one of my favorites to play with. I think in Miami, I got a chance to play with Brandon Marshall, who plays for the Jets now, and he was just a freak of nature, he’s tall, strong, fast. If you could build a prototypical football player, size, strength, speed, agility, everything, I think it would be Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson. Those two guys that I had a chance to play with are everything you wish you had, all in one player.
Kids: What was your favorite NFL team before you joined the NFL?
RB: I was actually a 49er fan growing up. We grew up big 49er fans. I was a 49er fan and a San Diego Chargers fan, obviously. I remember watching a lot of those guys, that Charger team that went to the Super Bowl and actually played the 49ers and lost. Some of my favorite players on that team were Natrone Means, Stan Humphries, obviously Junior Seau, one of my favorites of all times, just a great guy and a really, really good person and obviously a great athlete. They also had Rodney Harrison. Then on the 49ers, that was like a dream team, they had everybody. Yeah, those were my two favorite teams growing up.
Kids: If you could go back and play on any team, which one would it be?
RB: I think I would go back to high school. That’s when life was good, no taxes, no bills to pay (laughing), just wake up, go to school and have fun, play football. That’s the life right there. I really enjoyed high school and college a lot. I think there’s something a little different there. Once you get to the NFL there’s obviously the business side of it. It can be a little mentally wearing on guys, having to do it so long. I don’t want to get too in depth, you guys are still kids I still want you to have dreams of playing in the NFL (laughing). But yeah, I think high school and college were some of my favorite times of playing football.
Kids: What’s your favorite car?
RB: I more of an old school muscle car type of guy, so I like old american muscle cars. I have a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda. That’s one of my favorite cars and I really like the 1970 Chevelle.
Kids: What’s your number on the 49ers?
RB: Number 23.
Kids: Why not 21?
RB: Well, I think they are going to retire 21 because of Frank Gore. He played there for 10 years and he’s a great player. I think he deserves it. I think he’s their leading rusher of all time, so I think they are going to retire number 21.
Kids: Have you ever gotten tackled by Richard Sherman?
RB: You know what? I’ve never actually played against Richard Sherman, no wait, we actually played Seattle when I was in Miami, it was either my first or second year there, I can’t remember. We played Seattle in Miami and we beat them. I don’t remember if Sherman was on the field though. They weren’t the Seattle Seahawks that they are now, I think they were one or two years away. That year I don’t think they went to the playoffs, but I gotta assume he was there. How many years has he been in the league?
Kids: Was Marshawn Lynch on the team then?
RB: You know that’s a good question, you’re really testing my memory today. I think so, I gotta believe that he was there. It was about four or five years ago. I think they were there.
No doubt, the next time the two players meet, it will be a more memorable than their previous match up.
One of the best parts of ProCamps with Colin Kaepernick is the the mini "press conference" where a few lucky kids, grades 1 - 8 get to ask him any question they can think of. They always come up with some interesting inquiries. This year, however, wasn't quite as challenging as last year where one of the campers asked Kaepernick how he felt about his teammates holding out for more money. Yes, that was an 11 year old's question!
Kids: How long have you been playing football?
CK: I've been playing team sports for as long as I can remember but I started officially playing football when I was 8 years old. So, this is going to be my 20th year of playing football.
Kids: Will the 49ers be moving to LA?
CK: (Lots of laughter) I don't think we're going anywhere anytime soon.
Kids: Who is the nicest 49er?
CK: One of the nicest 49ers I've been around is Bruce Miller. We came in the same year, just a really good hearted person. He came out to Camp Taylor last year with me, he's coming this year. Not because he has to, because he wants to. He's a good friend and a great person.
Kids: Are you a Golden State Warriors fan?
CK: I am. I cheer for the Warriors. I've talked to a few of them a few times. I'm happy for what they've done but I will say, I grew up in Milwaukee so I still root for the Bucks, it's a little rough for us though.
Kids: What do you do when you're not playing football?
CK: Most of the time when I'm not playing football, I'm either hanging out with my friends or I'm asleep. I spend a lot of time at football, at workouts and things like that so when I get home, it's time to rest and let my body recover.
Kids: Do you like your new neighbors?
CK: Yes, they're really good people. I see them out pretty often.
Kids: The reason I'm asking this is because I'm one of your neighbors.
CK: I figured that much (laughing).
Kids: Could you name some of the players in the NFL that you know?
CK: That's a long list right there. It's actually surprising. Before I got into the NFL I really didn't know anybody in the NFL. Now that I've gotten there, you meet so many different players from different teams at events here and there or just hanging out. You might be training together at the same training facility, so I have a lot of friends on a lot of different teams.
Kids: What was your most successful season?
CK: The most successful season would be...probably the Super Bowl season we had here. Did well, made it to the Super Bowl, didn't finish it right so, hopefully this season is the most successful season.
Kids: Have you met your new partner Reggie Bush?
CK: I have. I got to spend quite a bit of time with Reggie. Great player, great guy. Excited to see what he can do this year.
Kids: Which high school did you go to?
CK: I went to Pitman High School in Turlock, California.
Kids: Out of this year's draft picks, which do you think will have the biggest impact on the team this year?
CK: That's tough to say. You always assume your first round draft pick will have a big impact for the team. It will really depend on how things play out through training camp. We'll have to see when September comes.
Kids: How do you learn the play book?
CK: A lot of studying and a lot of repetition. It takes a while, our play book is pretty thick, so it takes a little bit of work.
Kids: Who's your favorite wide receiver?
CK: My favorite wide receiver is going to be whoever scores next for me. (laughter) Last year our go-to guy was definitely Anquan, very reliable, very strong, very tough player.
Kids: Who would you want on our team?
CK: Hmmm. That's a good question.
Kids: Frank Gore (whispered)
CK: Hmmm let's see. I would go with Calvin Johnson. Calvin Johnson, he's a playmaker, huge, easy to throw to. He's going to go after the ball, he likes scoring touchdowns.
Kids: Who was your favorite NFL player when you grew up?
CK: My favorite player growing up was Bret Favre. I was actually a Packers fan growing up, so, watched him a lot and loved the way he played the game, the passion he played with and the excitement he had.
Mom of camper: What are the odds that the 49ers make history and have home field advantage for Super Bowl 50?
CK: I can't tell you what the odds are but I know what the odds are in my mind, so we're going to go with those for nowand hopefully I'll see you there!
Kaepernick also does a mini presser with the few members of the media who come to the camp. The kid's interview is actually more interesting!
Reporters: Tell us why you decided to do this camp.CK: I love coming out here with the kids, spending time with them. It takes me back to my days.R: Why is it important for kids to learn about competition and team sports? CK: To me, I've been in competition team sports since I was 8 years old, and a lot of it, it teaches you how to interact with people. It teaches you how to deal with adversity and struggles, and also successes. I think it's a good opportunity for these kids, at a young age, to learn some of those skills and be able to take them into their regular lives. R: You've been following the Warriors. Are there any lessons that can be taken from there?
CK: I think the biggest thing that I noticed is, they are a team. They were the ultimate team. It didn't matter if it was David Lee coming into the finals and having a huge impact or Draymond being their defensive stopper or Iguodala having to be their stopper. Steph went through a rough period in the finals and wasn't his hottest, came back and shot lights out. It just teaches you how to deal with things. Once again, I deal with adversities, come back from them and [can] still be successful. R: Speaking of teams, you have a whole new team this year. How's that been so far?
CK: Not a whole new team but we have some new additions, we had some departures but [we're] excited for it. It will be a good year for us. R: SB50 is coming to the Bay area, does that bring an extra level of excitement and energy to the team?
CK: We're just getting ready for game one at this point. We'll go from there. R: Have you had any surprises from minicamp so far, from the rookies or anybody thats stepped up?
CK: Yeah, we did have some people step up and look good, but we'll keep that internal. R: Can you talk about the transition of Jarryd Hayne going from rugby to American Football? CK: Very talented player, amazing person as well. Excited to see what he can do once we get pads on. He's looked promising so far through OTAs so, I'm excited to see it. R: Have you beaten him at ping pong yet? CK: (laughing) We've played a little ping pong, just to pass the time.
I was greatly saddened when I heard the news that Ed Sabol had passed as I similarly was when his son Steve passed in 2012. They and NFL films are the biggest reasons I am the NFL fan I am today. The Sabols were the pioneers that changed the way we see the game.
They were ridiculed at first for spending incredible amounts of money on the reels and reels of film needed to produce the slow motion highlights that we crave and love so dearly. Sabol obviously knew what others didn’t: that creating a story and a mood while giving amazing insight would bond the American public to football forever.
Sabol was the first to “mic up" players and coaches. It allowed fans to see and hear a side of football never before accessible, they ate it up – and still do. The NFL network, which Sabol had a hand in creating, broadcasts SoundFX, a show that is simply sound bites from coaches and players from games – another “Sabol-ism.” He produced reality TV before the words were even in our vernacular.
Over his lifetime, NFL films has been awards Emmys in various categories including writing and cinematography. His words were given a voice by John Facenda, which Sabol nicknamed the “voice of god.” His narrations gave the films life, humor, drama and connection to those watching. And then there was the music. The original scores and orchestrations added even more suspense and drama to an already heightened sense of reality. The end product was something you couldn’t turn away from, something you couldn’t change the channel from. At least that was the case for millions of fans around the world, including myself.
Thank you Mr. Sabol. Thank you for making me love football. Thank you for making the NFL what is is today. You will be missed.
It was cold, it was foggy and for a short time it even drizzled. The first weekend of summer was ultimately dreary for most of West San Francisco but you couldn't tell by the smiles on the faces of the 300+ kids at Colin Kaepernick's ProCamps weekend. Once a year Kaepernick gives the kids at ProCamps unfettered access with him to work on their football skills, ask questions and just have fun. It's a two day camp for kids grades 1-8 where they are broken up into small groups by age. The day begins with warm ups and position drills and concludes with two hand touch games. ProCamps is a complete marvel at organizing the 300+ kids that attend each camp. By the end of the two days, each camper has had one on one interaction with the athlete featured at the camp. In Kaepernick's third annual camp, he threw a pass, handed off, high fived, and huddled up with every kid in attendance. Parents were allowed to watch from the stands at St. Ignatius College Preparatory as their kids learned from the many coaches, Kaepernick included.
Along with honing their football skills, the kids get great messages from Kaepernick, and the coaches and staff of ProCamps. When asked what he would tell his 'younger self' to do better, Kaepernick replied he 'would tell his younger self to have a better attitude.' He also talked to the campers about competition and overcoming adversity and challenges in life.
The most notable aspect about Kapepernick when at his camp is his relaxed demeanor and permanent ear to ear grin. The usually stoic and quiet QB laughed and joked with the campers and at one point even explained spider 2Y banana. (Gruden would have been proud) He talked to the older kids about the read option and how to hold the football correctly during the process. At the risk of sounding like a promotional commercial for Kaepernick, it would be fantastic if more of the football world could see him with the kids of ProCamps, he still doesn't get tired, but he's also having a great time during the journey.
Trent Baalke, popularly known amongst 49er fans as the Draft Ninja, worked his magic on day one of the draft, acquiring the player he wanted, as well as two future picks in a trade with the San Diego Chargers. Days before the draft, several analysts had Arik Armstead, DE from Oregon, going to the 49ers as the 15th pick. Baalke tends to do the opposite of what the popular opinion is, and joked in his Thursday night presser that this pick was his one chance to appease the media.
There has been a little skepticism regarding Armstead's consistency but Baalke was quick to talk about how rare a sold 'four technique' player is to find, stating that there were only five of them on his draft board this year. New HC Jim Tomsula talked about Armstead's unique physical gifts, being just under 6'8 and having the ability get as low as he is able to. Tomsula also talked about his ability to connect with Armstead on a personal level and how important that is to him as a coach.
Baalke stated that there will be a learning curve for Armstead and he will need to earn his spot just like everyone on the roster. The upside is that Armstead hasn't been in the weight room much, being a two sport athlete for most of his time at Oregon. If he has the motivation in the classroom, weight room and on the field, the potential that Baalke sees could be realized.
Click here for Baalke's entire press conference
Fun fact: In his time off, Arik Armstead likes to cook
All of us have had moments or experiences where we have felt out of place, unaccepted or like an outsider. Coincidentally, many of the writers on this site deal with this often. Women with a liberal knowledge about football are much more accepted now than they used to be, but speaking from experience, the post game locker room experience as a woman can still be daunting. Having that type of uncomfortable feeling since childhood, however, is a completely different thing.
Enter Jamie Neal, who I have been following on twitter for as long as I've had my account. Jamie gives informed news and educated opinions about all Bay Area sports for BaySportsNet.com as well as writing and co-hosting the 4th and 9 podcast. Up until April 6th however, Jamie was known to all of us on twitter as Jason. On April 10th, Jason and I were interacting on twitter about the 49ers, as usual, when I noticed a different profile picture peering back at me, and then the altered handle. I went back through Jamie's timeline and read all of the notes of encouragement and finally found the answer to my questions: Jamie had come out publicly about being transgender.
Her story is one about feeling different and out of place and then having the incredible courage to go public with the lifestyle that makes her who she is. As if this decision isn't tough enough on its own, the potential repercussions of owning theses choices in the male dominated profession that is sports reporting, loom large.
The link to her story:
I had wonderful opportunity to 'chat' with Jamie via text:
Q. Was there a particular event that triggered you coming out?
A. Not one event per se. I got really tired of worrying about whether people would see my nails in a picture or that I'd meet someone in person and they'd out me because of my nails or makeup or nose piercing. I figured it was time to own who I am.
Q. Is there a person that you look up to/mentor/role model, public figure or personal friend that has inspired you during this evolution?
A. As for famous people, the way Sophia Bush conducts herself in terms of supporting and encouraging women was a huge part of it for me. Watching Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera come out and be true to themselves, that was inspiring.
As for friends, and family, my mom was amazing. She set standards I can only hope to reach. My ex girlfriend has been super supportive and has been a great resource and outlet for me as one of the people I know I can turn to for advice or to vent. My friends Lindsay, Kim, Scott, Megan, Jason, Renee, James, Jenn, Meagan, Kayla, Bertha, Isaac, Karen, Shaylene, Janessa, Danielle, Stephanie, Alex, Bridget, Shannon, Loni and I'm sure there are more, have been super encouraging in terms of taking my time, doing it the right way, but gently pushing me to better myself and be true to myself. They have all been there to let me vent, show me tips and tricks, to encourage me when I was feeling beat up or like I wasn't enough. I really do have the best people in the world surrounding me and I'm so thankful for that.
Q. What is your first memory of knowing you were different?
A. I remember being about five years old and playing dress up with the girls that babysat me while my parents were at work. Around eight years old I asked my friend Janessa to do my makeup like hers.
Q. Did you like sports and participate in them out of necessity or did you truly love them in your childhood?
A. I learned to love them, but it was mostly out of necessity.
Q. Your involvement in sports now, is it genuine love?
A. Absolutely. I have learned to love the teams, the players, the skills it takes to accomplish the things that these guys and gals do. I became very competitive and love the camaraderie that is only built between athletes on a team. There is something special that happens when everyone is working towards the same goal, sacrificing for the betterment of everyone and pushing their limits to get everything out of their bodies and talents. That's something I admire and hope to emulate.
Q. Do you have any advice for others who are unsure about coming out as you have?
A. Being true to myself is the greatest thing I've ever done. That said, the timing was finally right for me and I think that's the most important part of this. You'll know when the time is right. You can't force it, but when you're ready, it won't matter who you lose in your life because being you will be more important than any single person. Let me also add that I've never had more love and support from both people who I know, and strangers that I've never met. I was prepared for the worst, but was more than pleasantly surprised when I had friends, family members and strangers encourage me and tell me that they didn't care what I looked like on the outside, all that matters is on the inside. That sounds trite but it's 100% true.
Q. What has been the biggest challenge for you?
A. The fact that I'm 6'2 and that I'll never fit the mold of what society says is beautiful as a woman. It took me a long time to admit that to myself and to accept it. Not that it was ever an option, but just acknowledging that there are more important things than being magazine beautiful (although wouldn't that be nice?). I also struggled with the fact that there are people who simply won't like me because of who I am. I am the type of person who wants to be liked and wants to get along with everyone, but with things like this, there are some people who won't talk about it, don't want to be informed, they just make up their minds and that's the end of it. I struggle because it doesn't make sense to me, but everyone is accountable for their own actions and happiness. I wish them well and know that I've made the choice that allows me to be the happiest.
Jamie does not only worry about what the athletes might think as an interviewee but also what it will be like to simply attend sporting events as a fan. What might people say, especially in the heat of a competitive game when alcohol removes the social filters that keep people's manners in check? Everyone who has attended a live game, or even gone to a sports bar during one, knows what I'm talking about. At NFLfemale we always "keep it classy" and welcome Jamie with open arms. I would happily go to a game with you, (don't forget, I was a professional wrestler), and will stand behind you in all of your endeavors. Welcome to the Sisterhood!
Early Sunday morning Chris Borland appeared on Face The Nation to talk about the move that stunned the nation, his retirement from the NFL at the young age of 24 after a remarkable rookie season. If you have not seen the interview yet, here is the link:
Chris Borland on Retirement CBS News via Face The Nation
Face The Nation's Bob Schieffer asked Borland if there was one event that led him to walk away from millions of dollars. Borland replied "There was a moment in camp where I probably sustained a mild concussion, and it wasn't something that was detrimental to my health immediately, but changed the way I viewed the risks of my chosen profession." Borland did a lot of research about the possible detrimental effects that concussions could have on his future health. His response to NFL's Senior VP of Health and Safety, Jeff Miller's, statement that football is safer than it's ever been, was: "That may be true, however, football is inherently dangerous and that will never change." Borland continued by saying "I love visceral feeling of the violence of the game. I think everyone that plays at a high level is passionate about that. However, I don't think you should [sic] be uninformed, and I think you should have every opportunity to know all you can about the dangers of that feeling you love and the sport that you are passionate about." Borland also answered the question that many had asked following his retirement: would he payback the signing bonus of which he had earned only a portion of. He finished his interview confirming that his retirement was not the cash grab he has been accused of, and he will be repaying 3/4 of his signing bonus.
I am newer to covering the 49ers than most of my media colleagues, but I have been a fan my entire life. My first “foot in the door” gig covering the Niners was to go to Patrick Willis’ ProCamp. For those of you who don’t know, ProCamps is an organization that facilitates kids spending a day, sometimes two, with their favorite athlete. Upwards of 300 kids at a time attend camp, which is an organizational feat in itself. The kids are broken up into smaller groups, do warms ups, drills and even play in scrimmages. The campers get a chance to interact one on one with the pro athlete featured at the camp. My first ProCamp was also Patrick Willis’ first ProCamp.
At the start of the camp the player addresses the entire group and there is usually a Q&A and trivia about the player. The campers age range is 5-12 for most camps, 5-18 for others. As a result, some of the kids know everything about the athlete and others, simply know the team they play on. What impressed me the most was Patrick’s message to the campers. He talked about how being from Bruceton, Tennessee, he had really wanted to be attend the University of Tennessee. "They didn’t want me, but when someone doesn't want you, that doesn't mean you give up on wanting to go to school or wanting to pursue your dream, that just means you find a way to go get it somewhere else. That worked out at Ole Miss, they gave me a full ride and that's where I went, and here I am years later."
Willis also talked to the Campers about thanking the people that brought them to the camp, and what a great opportunity it is to be able to go to a program like ProCamps. He touched on his childhood a little bit and thanked everyone in the crowd himself. Patrick Willis is an anomaly. He is humble and grateful while being incredibly talented. He had every opportunity to take the wrong path during his challenging childhood (link to his E:60 piece), but did not. I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet with Patrick and wish him the best in his retirement. He will be missed.