Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


49ers Winning With Good Players, Better People

Gilbert Brink
May 18, 2020 at 9:33 AM


Take a moment to think about the last 49ers player to be arrested. Google it if you must. This exercise may take a few moments of your time, but that wasn't always the case.

Quite frankly, a 49er being arrested was a monthly occurrence under past regimes. 49ers fans would dread the days like this one, mid-May, when the NFL was deep in hibernation and yet a 49ers player would be the talk of the sports world. Whether it be Rueben Foster's domestic violence allegation, Aldon Smith's numerous DWIs or unfathomable bomb threat, Bruce Miller's physical assault of a senior citizen or Ahmad Brooks being booked on sexual battery charges, the 49ers had no shortages of disgusting headlines focused around the deplorable behavior of some of their biggest stars.

Once beloved former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh famously said he wanted the 49ers be "above reproach" in regards to off the field issues. Harbaugh talked a good game when it came to his desire to create a high-character roster, but his actions sang another tune. It can be argued that the Harbaugh era was a breeding ground for the poorly disciplined and unaccountable culture that permeated the franchise for the years he served and the years that followed. From January 2012 until February 2018 there were 17 arrests/charges against 49ers players. That is roughly 3 arrests/charges per year. The 49ers essentially were league leaders in domestic violence, DWIs, sexual assaults and physical assaults.

The final arrest of the 17 noted above belongs to a player who was chosen by the current regime. In 2017 the 49ers GM John Lynch traded up into the first round to select L B Reuben Foster out of Alabama. Foster shined on the field during his rookie year, but it was apparent early that Foster's on-field abilities would be saddled by his off-field issues. Like many other 49ers during that time period, not all of Foster's undesirable actions led to arrests and charges. Foster was accused numerous times for domestic violence, and later the accuser rescinded the accusations. While Foster may not have been guilty of those accusations, the negative energy surrounding Reuben Foster was unsettling. On November 25th 2018, the 49ers decided to release Foster after another allegation of domestic violence occurred at the team's hotel during a road trip to Tampa Bay. For GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan enough was enough.

Reuben Foster serves as the great lesson that both Shanahan & Lynch needed as novices to their positions. Both are a first time head coach and general manager, respectively. Reviewing that 2017 1st round, it was clear to see that in Foster they ignored every red flag for the immense talent. On the contrary, earlier in that round the 49ers displayed what the real direction of this franchise would be when they selected DL Solomon Thomas. While many view Solomon Thomas to be the albatross of the Shanahan/Lynch regime, the motivation to make Thomas their first selection was driven by the quality of his character. Certainly he was evaluated to be a top talent by nearly all NFL scouting departments, but John Lynch loved the person who Thomas was after developing a relationship with him while attending a course with him at Stanford University. While Thomas has been a general disappointment on the field, the person he is off the field is the template of what built these 49ers into one of the best teams in the NFL.

Open a newspaper today and you will not find headlines about Fred Warner, George Kittle, Jimmie Ward or Dre Greenlaw. Their faces aren't plastered across ESPN due to something stupid they did or something inappropriate that they said. A common theme coming from the 49ers locker room was love and unity. The 49ers succeeded due to their tight knit locker room comprised of good people who work hard to be the very best they could be. Instead of trading for Antonio Brown in the offseason, the 49ers trusted their young WRs through the season, and when they needed help, they traded for a strong veteran leader in Emmanuel Sanders, a player who WRs Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne credit for helping them mature into better versions of themselves. After releasing Foster, the 49ers had to fill the gap left in his absence. They turned to 2018 3rd round selection LB Fred Warner to be that replacement. In 2018 Warner flashed as a bright spot on a bad defense and was given the green communication dot in his rookie season. In 2019, Warner became the heart and soul of the defense and led the 49ers to a Super Bowl with zero police run-ins recorded. While former 49ers Ray McDonald and Ahmad Brooks made headlines for sexual crimes, the 49ers drafted LB Dre Greenlaw whose first headline showcased him as a hero who potentially stopped a sexual assault.

In 2020, the 49ers fanbase has much to be proud of. Not only is the team a legitimate championship contender with a brilliant future, John Lynch & Kyle Shanahan have created a locker room that causes no shame when you thrown on a jersey and cheer them on every Sunday. No longer do the fans have to dread the headlines, anticipating the day when they have to donate their jersey to Goodwill in embarrassment (somebody, somewhere is enjoying my Aldon Smith & Reuben Foster jerseys). With recent headlines of Seahawks & Giants players' alleged armed robberies, an arrest of a Bills player on gun charges & DWI and a Redskins player firing a gun in public, it's nice to have no 49ers news to read this offseason. Thanks for keeping us bored San Francisco 49ers, we appreciate it.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


1 Comment

  • Brian Stephany
    Well said . . . and so very true. Hi character players represent both the 49ers and their fans well. And they bring that intangible benefit helping to forge team unity because they're more likely to think about "we" instead of "me". With football being the ultimate team sport, unity and cohesion is necessary for success.
    May 18, 2020 at 9:51 AM
    0

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Silver: Some 49ers players and coaches believe team is better with Jimmy Garoppolo

By David Bonilla
Sep 19

The San Francisco 49ers avoided a catastrophe by bringing back quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on a restructured one-year deal. Trey Lance's season ending in Week 2 is disappointing. The worst-case scenario for this season would have been not having a quarterback capable of stepping in and keeping the team competitive. Holding onto Garoppolo once seemed like an unnecessary luxury. Now, some feel the team is better suited to make a deep playoff run than they were with the second-year quarterback. Garoppolo knows the offense and what is expected of him. He's been a part of the locker room since 2017. According to one report, inside the building, some feel the team is better equipped to compete with Garoppolo at the helm of the offense. "[T]his is the part



Jimmy Garoppolo still looking to establish chemistry with 49ers offense but says 'It's getting better'

By Kirk Larrabee
Sep 30

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo says he's still looking to get on the same page with the rest of the 49ers offense after being away for most of the offseason and preseason but that things are getting better, slowly but surely. Garoppolo raised a few eyebrows after the 49ers' 11-10 loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 3 when he said he was still looking to get in game shape and still trying to establish chemistry with his teammates on offense following an offseason that saw him sidelined due to shoulder surgery and a preseason where he was working and rehabbing separately from the team while awaiting word on a possible trade. He spoke more about that subject



John Lynch: George Kittle has 'looked good' in practices ahead of 49ers-Broncos

By David Bonilla
Sep 22

The San Francisco 49ers' All-Pro tight end, George Kittle, practiced for the second consecutive day. He appears on track to make his 2022 season debut on Sunday against the Denver Broncos after sustaining a groin injury on September 5. "Well, George, he's had two good practices, so that's a great thing," general manager John Lynch told KNBR's Tom Tolbert and Adam Copeland. "George, he's got a lot of really special qualities. Number one, he's really good at what he does, and he's a very versatile player in that he's very good in the run game [and] he's very good in the pass game. "But there is another quality that George brings to this team. He kind of lifts us. He lifts everybody around here because he's a character. But it's real; it's genuine. And he just lifts



49ers-Rams Injury Report: Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw questionable; Daniel Brunskill good to go for Monday night

By David Bonilla
Oct 1

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing for their Week 4 contest against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Defensive linemen Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw returned to practice. Armstead has been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, forcing him to miss the 49ers' Week 3 game against the Denver Broncos. Kinlaw played in that game but sat out the first two full practices of the week due to a knee injury. "Just flaring up on him," head coach Kyle Shanahan said of Kinlaw's knee. The defensive tackle underwent reconstructive surgery on his ACL last year. Is the coach concerned that the injury could hinder Kinlaw throughout the season? "Yeah, anytime someone has something, it's a concern,"


Featured

More by Gilbert Brink

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone