San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch addressed Reuben Foster‘s Feb. 11 arrest for the first time Wednesday and dismissed speculation the linebacker was being treated differently by the team because of his talent.
Foster was arrested earlier this month on charges related to domestic violence, threats and possession of an assault weapon, the second time he had been arrested in a span of a month.
Lynch told Bay Area reporters at the scouting combine in Indianapolis that the team has followed all the protocols required by law enforcement and the NFL.
“We’ve been a little quiet and that’s for a reason,” Lynch said, according to the team’s website. “There are certain places that I can’t and won’t go, because we’re dealing with an ongoing legal matter.”
In contrast to Foster, cornerback Tramaine Brock was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence last April and released the next day.
“Listen, I know there’s a lot of conjecture as to, ‘Well, of course Brock wasn’t the player that Reuben is.'” Lynch told reporters, according to The Sacramento Bee. “I would counter to say that he was a starting cornerback for us. And we didn’t take that lightly”
Lynch added: “It was the decision that we felt was best for everyone involved and made it accordingly. And as I mentioned, each situation is different and we’ll leave it at that,” he said.
Charges against Brock were filed in June but dropped in August because of insufficient evidence.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney hasn’t decided yet whether Foster will be charged in connection with his Feb. 11 arrest.
That arrest came on the heels of a Jan. 12 incident in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he was charged with second-degree marijuana possession, a Class A misdemeanor in Alabama.
Lynch told reporters that the 49ers will take Foster’s legal troubles into account when they approach free agency and the draft.
The 49ers met with Foster after his arrest and while Lynch wouldn’t get into details about his conversation with the linebacker, he did say the team made clear what the expectations were for its players.
“The context, in a broad sense, of what we discussed with Reuben, is just our expectations for him and our expectations for all of our players,” Lynch said, according to The San Jose Mercury News. “We have a high standard. I think we made that very clear. We remain in communication, but a lot of that’s gonna remain private between us because of a lot of things such as the ongoing legal matter and protocols that are in place.”
Foster initially raised some red flags at last year’s NFL scouting combine, where he was sent home early after an argument with a hospital worker. He also had a urine sample taken there show up as diluted, which, according to the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse, was treated as a positive test.
Because of the diluted sample, Foster entered the league as part of the substance abuse program.
After being selected No. 31 overall by the 49ers in last year’s draft, Foster was second on the team in tackles with 72 in 10 games.
ESPN’s Nick Wagoner contributed to this report.
Houston Texans hire Baltimore Ravens’ David Culley as head coach, sources say
Culley, 65, who has spent the past three seasons in Baltimore, just completed his 27nd season as an NFL coach. Along with serving as the team’s assistant head coach, Culley was Baltimore’s passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach. The Ravens finished the 2020 season ranked last in the NFL in passing.
“It’s a great opportunity there,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said of the Texans’ opening in the week leading up to Baltimore’s divisional playoff game. “They have a heck of an organization. I do believe that David Culley would be a tremendous hire for any team; maybe, especially, the Texans with Deshaun Watson.”
Culley has never been an offensive coordinator at the NFL level. He was also an assistant head coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. When the Ravens hired Culley in 2019, Harbaugh said the coach was highly respected “as a teacher, game-planner and motivator.”
When the Texans fired head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien in October, Houston became the first team with an opening for either position. The Texans hired Nick Caserio as their new general manager earlier this month and gave him the reins to their head-coaching search.
Along with Culley, Houston interviewed Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, former Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and current Texans quarterback Josh McCown after Caserio took over. The Texans also interviewed Brandon Staley before he was hired by the Los Angeles Chargers.
Amid the Texans’ coaching search, sources told ESPN that Watson was not happy with the process the organization used to hire Caserio. And sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that regardless of whom the Texans hired as their next head coach, Watson’s desire to be traded was not expected to change.
The Texans are coming off a 4-12 season, one in which Watson played the best football of his NFL career. The fourth-year quarterback set career highs in touchdowns, passing yards and completion percentage. He also threw a career-low seven interceptions.
Jason Witten retiring from NFL after 17 seasons, plans to do so with Dallas Cowboys
FRISCO, Texas — After 17 seasons, Jason Witten is retiring from the NFL. He intends to sign a one-day contract and retire as a member of the Dallas Cowboys in March when his contract with the Las Vegas Raiders expires at the end of the league year.
Witten, 38, played 16 seasons with the Cowboys and spent 2020 with the Raiders. No tight end in NFL history has played more games than Witten’s 271, and only Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez has more receptions and yards at the position.
“A coach once told me, ‘The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example,'” Witten told ESPN. “As I hang it up, I walk away knowing that for 17 seasons I gave it my absolute all. I am proud of my accomplishments as a football player on the field and the example I tried to set off of it. Football is a great game that has taught me many valuable lessons, and I look forward to passing on that knowledge to the next generation.”
Witten first retired after the 2017 season and spent 2018 as an ESPN Monday Night Football analyst but opted to return to the Cowboys in 2019.
A third-round pick in 2003, Witten developed into one of the best tight ends in NFL history. He was named to the Pro Bowl 11 times, tied with Hall of Fame defensive lineman Bob Lilly for the most in Dallas history, and was considered a complete tight end because of his ability as a blocker in addition to his pass catching. In 2012, he was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year winner for the work he and his wife, Michelle, have done with their foundation.
Witten is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in receptions (1,215) and yards (12,977) and is second in touchdown catches (72). He had four 1,000-yard seasons, and in 2012 he set the record for catches in a season by a tight end (110) — a record that has since been broken (Zach Ertz, 116).
He played in a team-record 255 games, including a franchise-record 245 starts, missing just one game in his career because of a broken jaw as a rookie. He had 13 catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns for the Raiders but was lauded by coach Jon Gruden and fellow tight end Darren Waller for his mentorship.
Coaching has long been mentioned as a possibility for Witten’s next move. He has been linked to opportunities in the NFL and college levels immediately should he want to start down that path. Undoubtedly he will be inducted into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor, and he will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2026.
Source — Green Bay Packers fire special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers have fired special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga after two seasons in that role with the team, a source confirmed to ESPN.
Mennenga was part of coach Matt LaFleur’s original staff when he was hired before the 2019 season.
There was no immediate word on the status of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, whose contract expired after this season. Pettine was meeting with LaFleur on Wednesday to discuss his status.
Pettine opted not to sign an extension after last season, sources said. Most Packers’ coordinators and position coaches always have two years on their deals, but Pettine chose to go into the last year of his contract and see how things played out.
Despite the Packers’ 13-3 regular season and berth in the NFC championship, they struggled on special teams throughout the season.
Blocked kicks, long returns allowed and an ineffective return game overshadowed a near-perfect season by kicker Mason Crosby, one of the few bright spots on special teams.
The Packers ranked 29th in Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings, widely considered the gold standard for special teams evaluation around the league. Green Bay was 26th last season.
Mennenga inherited the worst special teams unit in the league from 2018, when they ranked 32nd under former coordinator Ron Zook. The Packers also ranked last in the league in 2014 under then coordinator Shawn Slocum. The club’s highest ranking on special teams between 2014 and 2020 was 16th in 2017.
Among the Packers’ issues on special teams this season were:
A blocked punt in Week 9 by the 49ers
A bad snap on an extra point in the divisional playoff game against the Rams that led to a scramble situation on which holder JK Scott panicked and threw the ball to Crosby, who suffered a shoulder injury
An inconsistent season punting by Scott
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst used draft picks in 2018 on Scott (fifth round) long snapper Hunter Bradley (seventh round), and neither has performed up to standards.
NFL Network first reported the news about Mennenga’s firing.
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