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#pounditFriday, September 24, 2021

Football

Report: 49ers led Mac Jones to believe they were drafting him

Mac Jones

It was widely believed that the San Francisco 49ers traded up to No. 3 in the NFL Draft earlier this year so they could select Mac Jones, but they wound up taking Trey Lance instead. While that may have been their plan along, they did not communicate that to the former Alabama star.

Jeff Howe of The Athletic spoke to several sources about what went on behind the scenes with what was considered a loaded quarterback class this year. According to Howe, Niners decision-makers indicated to Jones in pre-draft interviews that he was the QB they wanted. The team also did an extensive amount of background work on Jones and spoke to some of his high school coaches from Jacksonville, Fla.

The Niners claimed they traded up because of Lance, but that is hard to believe given everything we have learned since the draft. There’s no reason why they would mislead Jones or go through all that effort of finding out so much about him if they traded up with only one player in mind.

What likely happened was that the 49ers believed there were multiple quarterbacks worthy of the No. 3 pick. They may have even still thought they had a shot at Zach Wilson, as there was talk for a while that the New York Jets could select Justin Fields at No. 2.

Kyle Shanahan previously mocked the rumors linking Jones to San Francisco, but they certainly were not pulled out of thin air.

Here is the play where Christian McCaffrey suffered hamstring injury

Christian McCaffrey hamstring

Christian McCaffrey suffered a hamstring injury in Thursday’s Carolina Panthers game at the Houston Texans. The versatile back suffered the injury early in the second quarter and headed to the medical tent. A few minutes later, FOX’s Erin Andrews reported that McCaffrey was out for the rest of the game.

FOX did not immediately pick up on the moment when McCaffrey got hurt. However, they later showed this clip of McCaffrey pulling up lame while rushing inside the red zone on second down.

McCaffrey pulled himself out of the game after that play and did not return. He was quickly ruled out, which is generally not a positive sign.

The 25-year-old had 7 carries for 31 yards and two catches for nine yards in the game.

McCaffrey only played in three games last season due to shoulder and ankle injuries.

Packers trainer Bryan Engel went to great lengths to locate Aaron Jones’ necklace

Aaron Jones

The saga of Aaron Jones’ missing necklace pendant has a happy ending. He can thank Bryan Engel for going to great lengths to help out.

Jones scored four touchdowns in his Green Bay Packers’ win on Monday night. He lost a special piece of jewelry on one of the touchdowns.

Jones’ father died of COVID-19 complications in April. The Packers running back had a mini football pendant made and put his father’s ashes in the pendant. He wore it on the field but lost it.

Engel, better known as “Flea,” stayed out at Lambeau Field until nearly 2 a.m. to locate the missing pendant.

Engel’s efforts paid off as he was able to finally find the pendant. Jones said he was “forever grateful” to Engel for the find.

It’s a happy story all around. Next, Jones needs to repeat his four-touchdown day.

Kyle Shanahan, Matt LaFleur’s brother had tense exchange about Aaron Rodgers?

Kyle Shanahan

The San Francisco 49ers understandably did their due diligence this past offseason after Aaron Rodgers asked the Green Bay Packers for a trade. While the two coaches have denied it, the inquiry may have resulted in some tension between Kyle Shanahan and Matt LaFleur.

LaFleur and Shanahan have long had a close relationship. On Wednesday, LaFleur was asked if that friendship was impacted by the Niners trying to pry Rodgers away from the Packers several months ago. LaFleur insisted it is not an issue.

“Kyle’s a great friend of mine,” LaFleur said. “I haven’t talked to him in a while. It’s just part of the business, I hold no ill will towards him. … He’s got a responsibility to everybody in that organization if he’s got an opportunity. I don’t hold that against him. That will have no affect on our relationship.”

That doesn’t mean the situation wasn’t awkward. According to NFL Network’s Michael Silver, Shanahan became upset over an exchange he had with LaFleur’s brother, New York Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, minutes before the start of the NFL Draft. Mike LaFleur reportedly needled Shanahan about his Rodgers trade inquiry, and Shanahan did not take kindly to it.

Here’s how the exchange was described to Silver:

Rodgers is from Northern California. There had been rumblings that the 49ers were his top choice when he demanded a trade, so Mike LaFleur (and his brother) may have felt Shanahan and the Niners were toeing the tampering line.

For what it’s worth, Shanahan told “The Rich Eisen Show” after the draft that all he did was call Matt LaFleur and ask if there was any truth to the reports that Rodgers wanted out. LaFleur made it clear that Rodgers was not available, and Shanahan says that was the end of it.

Had it not been for LaFleur stepping in, Rodgers may have ended up playing elsewhere. LaFleur can’t possibly blame Shanahan for seeing if there was an opportunity to acquire one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. But even if the two coaches understood one another, there still may have been some moments of tension while all the drama was unfolding.

Randy Moss has message for Cowboys OC Kellen Moore

Kellen Moore

Randy Moss has some advice for Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.

Moss is one of the analysts who appear on ESPN’s “Monday Night Countdown” program. The crew was discussing the Cowboys-Chargers game from Week 2, which led to Moss’ advice.

The Hall of Fame wide receiver said he felt the Cowboys would use too many multi-receiver formations in the past. He feels they’re best off using 12 personnel, which is a combination of one back and two tight ends.

“12 personnel, that’s the meat and potatoes. We call that ‘Tiger’ personnel too,” Moss said.

Moss noted that the Cowboys used some versions of 12 personnel that included Ezekiel Elliott, Jeremy Sprinkle and Dalton Schultz. They also mixed it up with Tony Pollard, Schultz and Blake Jarwin.

“I think it’s up to the OC Kellen Moore to be able to put a two-headed monster in the backfield and let it be successful,” Moss suggested.

Then as they went to commercial Moss repeated his advice: “12 personnel, Kellen Moore.”

The Cowboys are 1-1 so far this season. They lost to Tampa Bay in Week 1 but beat the Chargers 20-17 in Week 2. Dallas is looking to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2018, when they won the division but lost to the Rams.

NFL could have wild card playoff game on a Monday

Roger Goodell

The NFL playoffs traditionally take place over the course of four weekends, but they may be making a change this season.

The league already expanded to seven playoff teams last season compared to the previous amount of six. That meant an extra wild card game for each conference was played, giving us a total of six games on the first weekend of the playoffs. Under the previous format, only four games took place in the Wild Card Round.

This postseason, one of the wild card playoff games could take place on a Monday. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport says there would be two Saturday games, three Sunday games, and a Monday game if such a change were made.

NFL fans are already used to games being played on Monday nights, so they would likely be up for it, and the game would likely do great ratings. But there is one possible issue.

If two teams played on Monday, that would mean the winner of the game would have less time to prepare for its next game compared to its opponent. The coaches involved in the Monday playoff game probably would not be happy about that disadvantage.

Jimmy Graham had great way of using Rob Gronkowski for motivation

Rob Gronkowski

Jimmy Graham was once considered the premier playmaking tight end in the NFL, but then Rob Gronkowski came along. And if you think Graham was unaware when he was on the verge of being de-throned, think again.

When Gronkowski first became a star in the NFL, Graham says he hung the then-New England Patriots tight end’s jersey on the wall in his bedroom. He said it was the only item hanging on the wall at his house. It served as a reminder of how hard Graham needed to work.

“I’ve never told anybody this,” Graham told ESPN’s Mike Triplett. “My first four years in the league, I actually had Gronk’s jersey hanging in my bedroom. I didn’t have a TV hanging in my room, I had Gronk’s jersey hanging in my room. Literally it was the only item I had hanging in my house. So every morning I had to wake up and I knew that I needed to get to work.”

Graham set the single season record for receiving yards by a tight end in 2011 when he hit 1,310 with the New Orleans Saints in Week 17. The record stood for mere minutes, as Gronkowski promptly broke it by getting to 1,327 in the Patriots’ blowout win over the Buffalo Bills the same week.

“I would say anybody and everybody needs some kind of a rivalry at some point, at least mentally to push yourself even more. And you know Gronk has always been that for me,” Graham said.

Graham was traded to the Seattle Seahawks in a shocking move back in 2015. He says he finds it “sad” that he didn’t remain in the Saints’ system, as he’ll never really know what he could have accomplished.

Since the trade, Graham has become more of a journeyman. He’s with the Chicago Bears now but is not a significant part of the offensive attack. Gronk, on the other hand, has revived his career and is off to a dominant start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Given the way his and Graham’s career paths have gone, that has to sting for the latter.

Lamar Jackson misses practice due to injury he suffered on flip celebration

Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson is dealing with an injury heading into the Baltimore Ravens’ Week 3 game against the Detroit Lions, and the former NFL MVP has admitted that the wound was self-inflicted.

Jackson did not practice on Thursday because of a hip injury. He admitted the day before that he was “kind of sore” after flipping into the end zone on an easy touchdown run in Sunday night’s thrilling win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jackson joked that he didn’t want to tell Harbaugh about he injury out of fear he might be scolded for flipping. Harbaugh shared his thoughts on the flip earlier in the week.

You can see the play below:

It doesn’t sound like Jackson is at any risk of missing Sunday’s game, but he probably won’t be flipping into the end zone anymore. We’ve seen some serious celebration injuries over the years, and Jackson would hate to be added to that list.

UPDATE: The Ravens’ official injury report said Jackson missed practice with an illness.

Donovan McNabb’s daughter announces college commitment decision

Donovan McNabb

Donovan McNabb’s daughter Lexi inherited her mother’s and father’s athletic genes, and the University of Buffalo is set to reap the benefits.

Lexi McNabb, a guard at Seton Catholic High School in Chandler, Ariz., announced on Monday that she has accepted a scholarship offer to play basketball at Buffalo. She made an official visit to the school over the weekend with her family, according to Rachel Lenzi of The Buffalo News.

Donovan also shared the news on social media:

“Happy to announce that my baby girl @lex.m5 has committed to @ubathletics. Proud father and great staff. We’re back in Upstate NY. Let’s Go,” McNabb wrote.

Raquel Nurse McNabb, Lexi’s mother and McNabb’s wife, was also a star athlete. She played point guard at Syracuse from 1994-1998, which was around the same time Donovan was the quarterback for the Orange.

Lexi averaged 13.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.8 assists in 21 games during the 2020-21 season. She helped Seton Catholic win back-to-back Class 4A championships in Arizona.

Video: Sam Darnold did a real dynamite job on this block attempt

Sam Darnold block

Sam Darnold had a nice game for the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night, but he did have one funny moment.

Darnold’s Panthers ran a reverse in the second half of their 24-9 win over the Houston Texans. Darnold took a snap and handed the ball to Chuba Hubbard, who then pitched the ball to DJ Moore.

Darnold was around as the lead blocker on the play, though his effort on Jacob Martin left a lot to be desire.

Take a look:

They’ll have some laughs over that one during film study.

This story isn’t intended to question Darnold’s toughness in the least bit. He scored two rushing touchdowns and got beat up on one of them. But seeing a QB try to block like that is humorous. At least it was better than Tim Tebow’s effort.