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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Football

49ers GM: We are committed to Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

Watching the San Francisco 49ers last season, it was hard not to view Jimmy Garoppolo as being a weakness on the team. But the 49ers invested a lot of money into Garoppolo and believe in him long term, their GM says.

49ers GM John Lynch spoke with media members from the NFL Combine on Tuesday and talked about Garoppolo.

“We’re extremely proud of Jimmy and committed to Jimmy moving forward,” Lynch said via NBC Sports’ Jennifer Chan. He’s our guy. As I said, from the day he walked into our building, he made us better. And we continue to feel that’s the case. And that’s the most exciting thing about him, is the room for growth. He’s not come close to hitting the ceiling. The room for growth, the more experience he gets in general, we think the arrow is up. And that’s a good thing.”

Garoppolo has three years left on his 5-year, $137.5 million contract he signed before the 2018 season, which he missed most of due to a torn ACL. Though he appears to be a middle-of-the-pack quarterback, he’s still making reasonable money for a starting QB, which is part of the reason why San Francisco is unlikely to get rid of him.

Garoppolo was good enough to get the 49ers to the Super Bowl, but most people believe the strong defense, running game, and excellent play of George Kittle had much more to do with the team’s success than Jimmy G.

Report: NFL teams ‘strongly against’ keeping pass interference reviewable

Rams Saints pass interference

The NFL’s decision to make pass interference reviewable last season did not have much of a positive impact on the game, and it should surprise no one that the league may scrap the experiment in 2020.

NFL teams are strongly opposed to renewing the replay rule making pass interference reviewable, Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports. On the NFL Competition Committee’s annual offseason survey, a whopping 21 teams said they do not want to make the rule permanent.

Overall, the ability for coaches to review pass interference calls and no-calls last season ended up being a sham. There were 101 such replays initiated either by coach’s challenges or booth reviews, and the call on the field was changed just 21 times. Referees consistently showed an unwillingness to change the call on the field, even when it was blatantly obvious that the wrong call was made or a call should have been made.

The NFL only decided to experiment with reviewing pass interference plays after one of the worst no-calls in football history cost the New Orleans Saints a trip to the Super Bowl. The rule change was a direct response to public pressure, but officials barely ever used it to correct themselves last season. If those reviews are going to be handled similarly in 2020, there’s no point in having them.

ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi apologizes for Baker Mayfield comment

Tony Grossi

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter Tony Grossi issued an apology on Tuesday, hours after being suspended for a comment about Baker Mayfield.

Grossi was at the NFL Combine and joining ESPN Cleveland/WKNR show “The Really Big Show” for an interview. The show is also aired via video feed on TheLandonDemand.com, which is where Grossi’s comment calling Mayfield a “f—ing midget” aired on the video feed.

Here is the video clip:

Good Karma Brands, which owns ESPN Cleveland, issued a statement apologizing for the comment. They said they were suspending Grossi indefinitely for his comment.

Grossi later issued a statement of apology.

“I am truly sorry for my language and choice of words in a remark I made about Baker Mayfield that was captured on our live feed on TheLandOnDemand. I sincerely apologize for using a word that is a derogatory slur. There’s no excuse for using that language in any context. It was said without malice but also without thought,” Grossi wrote.

“It is well known that Baker and I have had our differences, and in the course of this experience, I’ve had to question my role in the erosion of the relationship. I have always endeavored to report and comment on him and the team fairly, and am shaken by these events. I will strive to be a better person and professional.

“I apologize to little people, Good Karma Brands, the Cleveland Browns, Baker Mayfield, to our listeners and to anyone who was offended by my remark.”

Grossi has a lengthy negative history with Mayfield that we’ve detailed before. Grossi accused Mayfield of being a high-maintenance person during the predraft process. Since then, Mayfield has been openly defiant when fielding questions from Grossi. The quarterback walked out of a press conference last season following a heated exchange with Grossi.

Grossi used to write for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and he was pulled from the Browns beat years ago for criticizing the team’s owner in a tweet.

Pete Carroll leaves door open to another Marshawn Lynch return

Marshawn Lynch

Marshawn Lynch has already come out of retirement twice. He hasn’t officially retired again, but another return is apparently possible.

That’s according to Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who clearly left the door open for a potential Lynch return in 2020.

Lynch rejoined Seattle late last season as the team suffered a major running back injury crisis. He wasn’t a major factor, but there was a buzz every time he touched the ball and the Seahawks seemed to enjoy having him around.

Lynch’s latest great catchphrase seems to be more of a parting message than anything else, but you truly never know with the running back. He turns 34 in April, and it may be up to him if he wants to play some more.

Patrick Mahomes sends great message to Joe Burrow about small hands

Patrick Mahomes

Joe Burrow has some of the smallest hands of any quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft class, but he is not the least bit concerned about the football nerds who take those measurements seriously. Patrick Mahomes is someone who knows all about hand size becoming a topic of discussion, and the Super Bowl MVP had a great message for Burrow about it.

After his hands measured at “only” nine inches, Burrow joked in a tweet that he is contemplating retirement because he won’t be able to properly grip the football. Mahomes, whose hands measured at 9.25 inches when he was coming out of Texas Tech, chimed in with an awesome response.

Mahomes has arguably the strongest arm in the NFL, and his hand size wasn’t enough to stop him from winning a Super Bowl MVP and an NFL MVP. While Burrow’s hands may be unusually small for a 6-foot-4 quarterback, he threw for 5,671 yards, 60 touchdowns and only six interceptions while playing in one of the most competitive conferences in college football last year.

Hand size may matter, but you don’t ignore everything a player has accomplished just because he has smaller hands than some of his peers. The Bengals don’t care if Burrow has nine-inch hands, 12-inch hands, or 7-inch hands. They’re almost certainly going to draft Burrow, and Mahomes’ success is a nice reminder than hand size can mean absolutely nothing sometimes.

Matt Rhule ‘unbelievably excited’ to work with Cam Newton

The Carolina Panthers continue to send mixed signals about Cam Newton’s future with the team.

On Tuesday, it was new coach Matt Rhule who said that he was “unbelievably excited” to get the opportunity to work with Newton despite rumors that the Panthers may still look to move on from the quarterback.

Newton is recovering from a Lisfranc injury that limited him to two games in 2019. The Panthers want to see him healthy before committing to him, but there are certainly indications that Carolina is leaning toward committing to the quarterback. Public comments like this from Rhule will only add to the belief that the Panthers will be sticking with their quarterback going forward.

Vikings GM suggests Stefon Diggs rumors have been ‘sensationalized’

Stefon Diggs

The Minnesota Vikings have had to deal with Stefon Diggs trade rumors for much of the offseason, with Diggs’ own social media posts fueling the speculation. If you ask the Vikings, though, there’s not much to it.

Vikings GM Rick Spielman denied Tuesday that Diggs had asked for a trade, and hinted that he felt the media had “sensationalized” the situation.

Any talk of a Diggs trade has been pure speculation, and most reporting indicates that the Vikings expect to keep him. Diggs’ social media activity has been suspicious, but it seems to be a case of the player simply being himself, and it doesn’t sound like he wants out, at least not right now.