Tag Archives: Cleveland Bowns

49ers Take A Hit In Free Agency

San Francisco 49ers

49ers

The first three days of National Football League free agency has seen some high profile players switch teams, including San Francisco 49ers All-Pro safety Donte Whitner. The two-time Pro Bowler returned home, signing with the Cleveland Browns. For the second consecutive offseason the 49ers will have lost an elite safety. Last offseason Dashon Goldson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 49ers replaced Goldson in the draft with LSU safety Eric Reid, who had an outstanding rookie season. Due to the talented roster the 49ers have assembled losing free agents is a fact of life in the NFL, the key replacing the talent they lose. San Francisco moved quickly to replace Whitner by signing Antoine Bethea from the Indianapolis Colts. In replacing Whitner with Bethea San Francisco essentially saved $5 million over four years. Like Whitner, Bethea is a two-time Pro Bowl selection, after the 2007 and 2009 seasons. Bethea isn’t the physical presence that Whitner was in the secondary, but possesses arguably better range and cover skills than Whitner and should provide a solid combination with the physical Reid. In addition to singing Bethea the 49ers resigned Eric Wright to a one-year contract for additional secondary depth.

The 49ers are hosting visits with a handful of other intriguing players, including Walter Thurmond of the Seattle Seahawks and Chris Cook of the Minnesota Vikings. The talented Thurmond is also visiting Jacksonville and Washington. He’d be an interesting addition to the 49ers roster, adding a capable player while subtracting a talented depth player from their chief division rivals, the Seattle Seahawks. Cook, coming off a couple of disappointing seasons in Minnesota, is a rangy and skilled player who hasn’t lived up to his potential in the NFL. Perhaps a change of scenery and the ability to play for an elite coaching staff can benefit Cook and help him reach his potential.

While the 49ers were hosting Thurmond and Cook, running back Anthony Dixon was visiting the Tennessee Titans and his former college running backs coach Sylvester Croom. Dixon is also set to visit the Buffalo Bills. Dixon is a capable backup but his potential loss could be offset by the presence of Marcus Lattimore. After missing his entire rookie season due to a devastating knee injury he suffered in college the former South Carolina star may be ready to contribute behind Frank Gore. If Lattimore can return to form the 49ers may have found the steal of the 2013 NFL draft.

In addition to the free agent signing of Bethea the 49ers made a couple of interesting, and high profile trades. The first move was sending a 7th round draft pick to the Dolphins for offensive tackle Jonathan Martin. Like Cook a change of scenery may benefit Martin after the well publicized Richie Incognito controversy. Martin didn’t perform well in his limited starts in Miami but the thought is his former college head coach, Harbaugh, can potentially help Martin reach his potential. If Martin can live up to his potential the 49ers may have picked up some good depth and a player who could be a potential starter down the road. In addition to Martin the 49ers also traded a 6th round pick for former Jaguars starter Blaine Gabbert. The former 10th overall pick never lived up to his potential, but could end up being a valuable backup in San Francisco. It’s a classic low risk move that helps boost the talent of the overall roster and gives the 49ers a potential solid backup should Colin Kaepernick ever go down for an extended period of time.

The 49ers open up the 2014 in the new Levi’s Stadium leaving their old home of Candlestick Park. Levis Stadium cost $1.2 Billion and has a capacity of 68,500. 49ers Ticket prices for their opening game of the 2014 – 2015 season have yet to be announced but with the new stadium they are expected to run from $200-$1000 per ticket. By: Chris Cabrera

Dream of Playing in the NFL Not For Everyone

Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, and the rest of the 2012 NFL Draft Class now have the opportunity that many of them dreamed about their entire lives–fame and fortune. Griffin even had another year of collegiate eligibility, but passed it up for the chance to earn millions and, who knows, maybe even win a Super Bowl someday.

Believe it or not, there are some college football players who have said, “No,” to the NFL dream. Players who had passed all the tests and had the talent to compete at the next level chose to do something else. Hard for layperson to swallow, but for Andrew Sweat, Jeff Demps, Albert Rocker, and Jacob Hickman, their choices were easy.

Hickman started 36 straight games at center for the University of Nebraska, a school notorious for developing the nation’s best offensive linemen. After his senior season in 2009, Hickman was invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis where the top prospects in the country are put through a battery of tests to determine their draft status. Hickman declined the invitation.

“I had a great experience,” Hickman said. “I didn’t feel the need to continue playing. It just didn’t feel like it’s what I wanted to do with my life.”

Injuries played a part in Hickman’s decision. The 6-foot-4, 290-pounder has 14 screws and two metal plates piecing together his body as well some early arthritis. He was projected to be No. 10 center taken in the draft in 2010. Instead he chose to use his degree in construction management and the opportunity to chase his future kids around when the time comes.

College football fans will remember Jeff Demps and how dangerous he was for opposing defenses every time he stepped on the field for the University of Florida Gators. Demps was a running back and kick returner for the Gators whose speed led him to choose the track over the fortunes of the NFL.

Demps is on a quest to make the U.S. Olympic track team. After rushing for 2,470 yards and 23 touchdowns in his four-year career on the football field, Demps passed on the college all-star games and the NFL draft workouts in order to compete on the Florida track team. Demps is a four-time national champion on the track and holds the junior world record in the 100 meters (10.01) which he ran at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.

The Gator star could still return to football at some point, but even if he fails to make the US Olympic team this year, there is still a lucrative career ahead of him on the world track & field circuit.

Albert Rocker is not very well-known across the college football land. But, at Microsoft…well, that’s a different story.

Rocker was an outside linebacker for Georgia Tech, playing in a total of 38 games, all 13 games during his junior year in 2010, and was set to be the starter for the upcoming 2011 season, his senior campaign.

Rocker had decided that he was going to be a success; he was going to be successful in business or he was going to the NFL for a successful career. He approached both with tenacity. His days often started at 4:30 AM and ended well after 11:00 PM. There were football workouts and there were long hours spent hitting the books.

His drive paid off. Rocker attended a career fair where a former Georgia Tech alum passed on Rocker’s resume to a Microsoft recruiter. Ultimately, Rocker skipped his senior season to accept a job as a technical account manager with Microsoft in Irvine, CA.

“Your future’s not really secure in anything, but it’s a gamble as far as the NFL goes,” said Rocker. “I felt like I had to do what would be better for me in the long run.”

Andrew Sweat had to make the choice that would benefit him the most in the long run also. It was much easier after he slipped in the shower and hit his head.

Sweat started his junior and senior seasons at LB for Ohio State earning Academic All-Big Ten honors three times and was a four-time OSU Scholar-Athlete award winner. He was hoping the phone might ring during April’s NFL Draft, but that didn’t happen. But, when the Cleveland Browns called and offered a free-agent contract, Sweat had realized his dream.

After reporting the Browns, Sweat was staying at the team hotel and just hours before his first official workout with the team, slipped, fell, and hit his head in the shower. Sweat had suffered three concussions while playing for the Buckeyes the most recent midway through his senior year.

When the concussion symptoms returned after the shower mishap, Sweat made a decision. He is going to law school. Sweat graduated from OSU with a degree in finance and was accepted into five different law schools. Instead of choosing his Cleveland Browns uniform number, Sweat will be deciding on which law school to attend.

While the fame and fortune of the NFL is enticing, most will never have the opportunity. And for some that do get that opportunity, the fame and fortune just isn’t enough. For some, the choice is something other that football.