Coach Kyle Shanahan, quarterback Brian Hoyer and safety Eric Reid took turns at the 49ers media podium Wednesday, and aside from a couple questions about Sunday’s trip to Arizona, a 50-minute seminar on American society evolved.
To no surprise, the 49ers are planning a team-wide demonstration before kickoff against the Cardinals, presumably during the national anthem, where protests on a lesser scale have been commonplace among the 49ers since Colin Kaepernick’s pioneering ways last summer.
And, to no surprise, Shanahan, Hoyer and Reid all reacted with disdain at President Trump’s critical comments about the NFL and those who kneel during anthem protests.
Here are three things we did learn Wednesday at team headquarters.
1. How protests are being formed. On Monday, Shanahan said he spent five minutes talking to his team as a whole about pregame protests. Shanahan then spent 20 minutes discussing it further with his 10-player leadership council and general manager John Lynch.
Because Shanahan viewed Monday as a “bonus day” for preparations after the weekend off, he said talk of protest “hasn’t affected us at all” in terms of game planning.
“We’re still deciding what it’s going to be, but, for me, because I don’t want to kneel for the national anthem, it doesn’t mean that I can’t support my teammate and brother that feels like he wants to,” Hoyer said. “Whatever we do, we’re going to do as a team.”
Typically before games, about 10 teammates have surrounded Reid and placed hands on each others’ shoulders. Reid, who knelt last season with Kaepernick and linebacker Eli Harold, resumed taking a knee during the exhibition season, incited by Trump’s tame comments about the social unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
While Shanahan and Hoyer spoke about their desire for unity and less division throughout America, Reid maintained the same message he’s had for over a year, which is an outcry against police brutality and social injustice.
“This is a long journey about social justice and we need people to care about it,” Reid said.
Reid strongly noted that Kaepernick remains the leader of this social-equality movement, adding that it is “asinine” no team has signed the free agent quarterback who helped lead the 2012 49ers to the Super Bowl and has three road playoff wins to his credit.
“If everybody got to experience playing and being in a NFL locker room for a year, our country would be so much better. You get to experience people from all different parts of the country — inner-city, country, maybe grew up rich, maybe grew up dirt poor.
“I’ve played with guys that atheist, Christian, Muslim, Hispanic, black, whatever. The one thing is you get to know these people and enjoy them who they are,” Hoyer added. “Trust me, I don’t always see eye to eye with their views or opinions, but you come together for a common goal and learn to respect and love them as your brother.”
Beside Reid and Hoyer, other members of Shanahan’s leadership council are: wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, tight end Logan Paulsen, left tackle Joe Staley, linebacker NaVorro Bowman, defensive end Elvis Dumervil and long snapper Kyle Nelson.
2. Responses to Trump. Wednesday marked the 49ers’ first media access since Trump called NFL protesters “sons of bitches” who should be fired for kneeling during the anthem. Here is how key 49ers reacted:
Shanahan: “I was pretty bothered by it. I’ve got a lot of regard for that position. I have my whole life. It’s a very important, big position, to be the leader of our country. When I hear something like that, it definitely bothered me, especially when he’s calling out people you’re associated with. …
“The most bothersome thing is how everyone sees that position in our country, expects that position to be the best leader possible. When I think of being a leader, I think of bringing people together,” Shanahan added. “All I know is the quotes I read, and when I read those quotes, that’s the opposite of what you’re expecting.”
Said Hoyer: “I’d like to spend (time) on football, but it’s an important thing ongoing, and when it gets called out by the president, you have to address it. You have to go in with some sort of plan. You saw that around the league, whether it was staying in the locker room or what Dallas did. It’s unfortunate; we want to focus on football. You have to take time away to do it. But it’s needed. You need the discussion on the table and say how do you see it and what do you want to do.”
Reid’s reaction: “I was confused. I didn’t really understand why he said what he said. It’s obviously frustrating. But he gave us an opportunity to have something positive come out of it. I don’t know why any president would use that kind of language on any subject.
“He’s given us an opportunity and eye balls to talk on issues that Colin and I started protesting about,” Reid continued. “It’s helped people get past the fact we’re protesting during the anthem, and it’s given us the ear to why we’re doing it.”
3. Hyde, Foster still hurting. Running back Carlos Hyde’s hip remains sore from Thursday’s night first-quarter hit and he will be limited in practice throughout this
Hyde ranks third in the NFL with 253 rushing yards, and his first two touchdowns of the season came Thursday after he returned from that hip injury. He finished with a season-high 25 carries for 84 yards, along with three receptions for 10 yards.
Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster is only 2 1/2 weeks removed from a high ankle sprain, and the 49ers remain cautious with him. Foster will remain out of practice this week, Shanahan said.
Ray-Ray Armstrong has started in Foster’s place next to NaVorro Bowman, and that duo shares the team lead in tackles with 20 apiece.
Foster, a first-round draft pick who got hurt 11 plays into the season, was seen last week walking well out of an orthopedic boot.
Fullback Kyle Juszczyk, safety Jaquiski Tartt and linebacker Brock Coyle are progressing in the post-concussion protocol, and all wore non-contact jerseys at Wednesday’s practice.
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