Justin Smith: Consistently good

What was expected has now happened.

One of the things I enjoyed about Justin Smith, other than his consistency (played 221 of 224 games) and his lethal attack on the opposing quarterback, was that he didn’t seem like the kind of guy to let fame to get to his head.

He was in discussion for defensive player of the year once. He was praised as the anchor of the 49ers defense. The fame from his success and the team’s success was there. Yet he just seemed like the kind of guy who would go out to the lake and go fishing after practice instead of hanging out at bars or at parties. He was truly a cowboy in every sense of that nickname.

In the locker room, he kept to himself. He didn’t cause any scenes during media time yet he got along well with all teammates. He was all business. The perfect man for the job of being the lead anchor.

Enjoy retirement, Justin. Ride off into the sunset, cowboy.

 

Why the timing of the new 49ers black alternate uniform seems to be perfect

On Thursday, I took some time to digest the new 49ers black alternate uniform. After about 24 hours since it first surfaced, I have determined that this was the perfect time for these uniforms to exist.

Here are my personal thoughts.

Let me preface that the 49ers didn’t need an alternate uniform. In fact, if they wanted to introduce a new set for the upcoming season, they should have brought back a throwback. Those 1994 throwbacks are very popular and would have been a much better choice.

But due to the limitations of creativity for alternate uniforms in the NFL, the 49ers had little to no choice but to go with black. (Take a look at the alternate uniforms in MLB, NBA and NHL. All of them break away from the same template of the team’s standard design. In the NFL, all templates remain the same.)

But the question simply remains: Why?

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49ers unveil new black alternate jersey on Snapchat; black pants also included

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Update made to post added towards end of entry.

On Wednesday, the 49ers announced that they would unveil a new alternate uniform during the draft. Ladies and gentleman, here it is via their new Snapchat. After some speculation on Wednesday, a black uniform was suspected and this is what we have.

This new jersey appears to be a simply recolored version of the team’s standard uniform. Essentially, the 49ers have taken the base of their white jersey and made that black. The red numbers, names and stripes remain. Considering that the team’s logo features black and nowhere else on the standard uniform uses black, this seems to be an odd choice. But given the trend of what alternate uniforms look like in the NFL (and the popularity of black jerseys), this was the only logical direction. A gold alt would have been too difficult to mass produce and it would not look great with the team’s current gold (more like khaki) pants. But they added a gold Nike swoosh on the sleeves. So there’s that for color diversifying.

Adding a black jersey will diversify and grow the potential merchandising opportunities. The team did not go with adding a different red jersey. They went with a new color, which will be a hot sell no doubt among fans. The 49ers have never worn an alternate in their entire team history. They have worn throwbacks, but alternates are made specifically with the intent to have a different option during the seasons (along with the merchandise sales). Per NFL rules, alternates can be worn a maximum of two times during the regular season.

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What to expect from the new 49ers alt uniform

First of all, the above news. Here is a part of the release: 

The 49ers will be introducing the team’s first alternate uniform in franchise history. The 49ers last made changes to their uniforms prior to the 2009 season, when San Francisco reintroduced the classic color of the 49ers, alongside the return of the grey facemask to the helmet. The new alternate uniform was the result of a coordinated effort between the 49ers, their players, Nike and the NFL.

“I think the fans are going to be excited when they see our new look,” said 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who was among a group of players involved in the design of the new uniform. “I think the fans are going to understand we mean business. All I can say is we won’t have to worry about how we look, because we’ll know we look good.”

This is not a surprise. In fact, this was in the works in 2013.

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Patrick Willis leaves the game happy and that makes me happy

Patrick Willis, in his retirement press conference, said that he leaves the game happy without any regrets. He said he gave the game everything he had but looking towards his future, he knew health was very important to him. Having issues with his feet, Willis cited that he was going to leave the game for that primary reason. Willis said that he won’t have an itching to come back later on because he leaves the game with closure.

I remember the first time I met him. What a joy it was for me and he was so respectful in answering all my questions. A few months later, he signed a 49ers mini helmet for me during training camp. It still remains as one of my most prized memorabilia possessions.

Willis was a very respectful man and a man with a huge heart in his time with the 49ers. He remained honest every day and I am happy that he’s happy. He gets to enjoy life.

Thank you, Patrick.

Patrick Willis, Frank Gore and Justin Smith are all leaving the 49ers?

Patrick WIllis and Frank Gore were two very important players for the 49ers in the past decade. Now both are no longer going to be with the team.

I remember when I first met Patrick Willis. It was the summer of 2009 and I had just begun my first season covering the 49ers for Examiner.com several months earlier. It was a screening for “The Taking of Pelham 123″ and Willis was hosting the screening with Alex Smith. I was invited to attend the screening and had a chance to interview both players. Willis was entering his third season with the 49ers and had already been selected to two Pro Bowls — he would make the Pro Bowl for seven consecutive years to start his career.

At the time, the 49ers were still struggling to become a winning team but Willis was still excited about the possibility of the team being better and the defense being one of the best in the league. Willis was optimistic and had always been that way his entire career. In the three seasons I got up close with the team, Willis was always great to be around.

He wasn’t the best in terms of giving very elaborate interviews, but as a team leader, he knew that his words carried a lot of weight. Knowing that, he remained professional in every way shape or form with the 49ers. And aside from that, one of the best things about Willis was that he was a genuinely good person. There is no other example you need to read than this story of Willis spending time with a young cancer patient. I remember that day very well and it is one of my favorite highlights covering the team.

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So what does Jed York know?

The 49ers signed Jerome Simpson. Yes, that guy who has gotten in trouble for marijuana in the past and has been arrested three times. That doesn’t seem to mesh well with York’s proclamation that the team has to “win with class” when you’re bringing in players that don’t really embody that.

So, when asked about it, he gave a very poor answer.

“You have to ask [G.M.] Trent Baalke,” York told Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle. “I don’t know what the thinking was.”

He doesn’t know why a certain player with a troubled past was signed. And the ignorance of not knowing doesn’t really keep him accountable to the standard he claims to have set for the team. This is not a good sign. So is York all talk but really not in the loop of what’s going on within his own franchise?