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Davis Visits the Troops Part II

Posted by Taylor Price on March 9, 2010 – 10:59 AM

Vernon Davis’ visit with American troops overseas wrapped up today, but we have more of David Krichavsky’s updates of the daily activities from this year’s NFL USO All-Star Tour. Along with the detailed accounts from the NFL’s Director of Community Affairs, USO photographer Dave Gatley has provided remarkable images from the tour.

Day 5, March 6th

One of the highlights of any NFL-USO tour is visiting the smaller, more remote bases that lack the creature comforts of the larger bases and very rarely have celebrity entertainment tours.  These bases are usually classified as Forward Operating Bases, or FOBs.  On Days 5 & 6 of the NFL-USO tour, our group did a little “FOB hopping.”

On Day 5, we departed Bagram Air Base to travel by helicopter to Jalalabad Air Field (JAF).  JAF is located in Eastern Afghanistan, near the border of Pakistan.  Our group would spend the next two days along the border, an area that has seen some of the most intense fighting, as the Taliban will frequently strike in Afghanistan and then flee into Pakistan where US forces are not allowed to chase them.

Flying by helicopter from Bagram to JAF gave our group a great sense of Afghanistan’s sheer beauty and imposing terrain. The eastern part of the country is covered with one mountain ridge after another, separated by narrow valleys.  Small Afghan villages are built into the mountains or in the valleys.  There is only one paved road in the eastern part of the country, and it is a dangerous one to travel. 

When we arrived at Jalalabad Air Field, we were greeted by Command Sergeant Major Charles Sasser, the top NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) on the base, who gave us a quick briefing and tour.  He also “coined” the players in the military tradition and gave them gifts from the 4th Infantry Division.  We reciprocated by giving CSM Sasser a limited edition game coin from Super Bowl XLIV. 

This was only a quick stop though, as we would return to JAF tomorrow for a longer meet-and-greet.  We were soon back at the LZ (landing zone), boarding Blackhawk helicopters en route to FOB Blessing.

FOB Blessing is located approximately 100km north of JAF and was named after Sgt. Jay Blessing who was killed in action in the area in 2003.  At Blessing, we toured the FOB and held a meet-and-greet before eating lunch at the DFAC with the troops.  One of the great things about visiting FOBs is that the players get to visit with nearly everyone on base who isn’t out on a mission.  A definite highlight of our time at Blessing was watching the troops fire off mortar rounds (both 120mm and 155mm rounds) while visiting the artillery pits.  The 155mm mortar rounds have a 200 meter kill radius — meaning that anything within 200 meters of where a round lands will be obliterated — and the noise when one of these rounds is fired is absolutely deafening.

Then it was back to the Blackhawks to fly to FOB Joyce.  Joyce is located on the eastern edge of Afghanistan, less than 2km from the border of Pakistan.  FOB Joyce is where we would spend the night, but it is a “black out base” — meaning that the base isn’t lit up at night for security reasons.  Overall, our accommodations were very modest at Joyce.  The players bunked-up, two to a room, in small plywood-constructed rooms that contained nothing more than one bunk bed with two mattresses.  We brought sleeping bags to put on top of the mattresses.

Nevertheless, our group had an absolutely terrific experience at FOB Joyce.  We met the brave men and women who go “outside the wire” on patrol as often as 6 times a week.  Each time they do, they know that they are very likely to engage the enemy in some way — where it is direct fire, indirect fire, or an IED attack. 

The battalion at Joyce had been there for 4 months and hadn’t had a celebrity visitor of any kind — a politician, USO tour, etc.  So they were very appreciative of our visit.   The NFL-USO tour had hit its stride as we “FOB hopped” on Day 5.

Day 6, March 7th

Day 6 began with a 05:30 wake-up call at FOB Joyce.  After a morning hike to the OP (Observation Post) at the edge of the base and then breakfast, our group was back on its helicopters and off to our next FOB.  FOB Bostick is located to the north of Joyce, but also extremely close to the Pakistani border.  Bostick has approximately 450 US troops — mostly Army — but nearly 1,000 troops when you include ANA (Afghan National Army) and ANS (Afghan National Security) forces.  At the very heart of the US strategy in Afghanistan is training the Afghans to take control of their own country so we can pull our troops out and go home.  To this end, one of the most important jobs our troops have is tutoring the Afghan forces, and when our troops go out on missions, ANA troops almost always travel with them. 

The troops at Bostick have seen a lot of combat action during their time in Afghanistan.  We were told story after story by troops of the firefights and ambushes by the Taliban, close calls, causalities, and even deaths.  Our group met a 21-year old sergeant from Boise, ID who had been shot two days before we arrived.  Apparently, the bullet went in his backside and emerged out of his hip.  Since he wasn’t ambulatory and able to make it to our formal meet-and-greet, the players went up to the room where he was convalescing to see him.  We learned that he was staying at FOB Bostick to recover rather than going to a larger base with a dedicated hospital so that he could stick with his “band of brothers” and continue fighting with them once healed.  These are the types of stories you hear all the time in the military.

We stayed at FOB Bostick through lunch and then traveled back to Jalalabad Air Field, or JAF.  This time we held a meet-and-greet and had the opportunity to visit with hundreds of troops on base.  We also met and exchanged coins with the Commanding Officer on base, Colonel George. 

From JAF it was one more chopper ride back to Bagram, where our “FOB hopping” had begun the day before, and where we would spend the night.

More photos from the trip:

Davis-San Francisco 49ers (L-middle), Joe Thomas-Cleveland Browns(Left), Mario Williams-Houston Texans (R-middle) and Jason Witten-Dallas Cowboys (R) peer out the cargo door of a KC135-Aerial Tanker as they touchdown in the Persian Gulf, March 3, 2010.  The NFL 2010 All Star players are traveling on their first USO tour, the players will trek to nine bases in eight days to boost morale and bring a touch of home to troops.

NFL players (L-R) Joe Thomas-Cleveland Browns, Jason Witten-Dallas Cowboys (background-green), Mario Williams-Houston Texans (R-Center), and Vernon Davis-San Francisco 49ers (R) sign autographs for the crew of a C-17 cargo aircraft at the airbase, March 3, 2010. 

Davis gave this Captain a lift while fellow NFL All-Stars (L-R) Cleveland Browns Joe Thomas, Dallas Cowboys Jason Witten and Houston Texans Mario Williams gets a good laugh, March 5, 2010. 

(L) Davis and (R) Houston Texans Mario Williams record a spot in the Armed Forces Network (AFN) studios, March 5, 2010.

Davis shares an intimate moment with this group of Marines, March 6, 2010. 

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49ers and USA Football Partner for Youth Football

Posted by Taylor Price on March 5, 2010 – 3:05 PM

[Special from usafootball.com]

The 49ers showed their continued support for youth football by hosting the team’s third USA Football State Leadership Forum at its Santa Clara training facility on Feb. 27. USA Football is the sport’s national governing body on youth and amateur levels and is the 49ers’ official youth football development partner.

Youth football leaders – league commissioners, presidents and board members – from across the region gathered at the team’s practice facility to learn more about USA Football’s resources and how the 49ers and USA Football can strengthen their organizations. Leading the forum was USA Football Northwest Regional Manager Bassel Faltas. Jared Muela and Nana Yaw of the 49ers’ community outreach division also attended to present the team’s programs and initiatives designed specifically for the youth football community.

“There was a lot of information about how organizations handle issues and information was shared that will help us make our league better,” said Tom Holloway, vice president of Central Coast Youth Football League (CCYFL) and a first-time attendee.

“The concussion awareness section we went through was very beneficial, since this is becoming more and more of a hot topic,” Holloway added.

USA Football’s resources include coaching education for football’s dedicated volunteers, concussion awareness information, equipment grants, coaching benefits such as online practice planners, and a video drills library, as well as price breaks for the leagues to conduct in-depth background checks on potential volunteers.

The full-day event and discussion allows attendees to take information back to their respective leagues for the 2010 season.

“This was an interactive and informative meeting,” said USA Football’s Faltas. “The 49ers recognize the importance of youth football and its positive impact on the community.”

“This was a wonderful opportunity to not only present the youth football programs we currently run, but to also get feedback from the different leagues on what they would like to see us do going forward,” said the 49ers’ Muela. “I think events like this will help both us and the leagues represented here continue to bring quality programming to our community’s youth.”

“USA Football is doing a lot of good and there were many great things they showed us,” said Art Ortega, the vice commissioner of Peninsula Pop Warner, who was attending the state leadership forum for the third time. “There were a lot of things from the forum that I took away, ranging from their fundraising ideas for our association, the work USA Football does in awarding equipment grants, etc. It was very informative and helpful.”

Faltas and league commissioners also discussed player registration, officiating training resources, a national youth football playing standard, pre- and post-season events and fundraising guidance.

“The professionalism and dialogue shared among the attendees throughout the day reflects their commitment to the sport,” USA Football’s Faltas added. “It was a powerful day of discussions and I look forward to working further with all of Northern California’s leagues and clubs.”

At each of USA Football’s state forums, one commissioner is selected to attend the NFL/USA Football Youth Football Summit in Canton, Ohio, taking place in July. Diane Castaneda of Hollister, representing NORCAL Youth Football and Cheer, was selected at the forum to attend the summit.

Approximately 200 coaches and administrators from every state take part in this annual event in Canton to discuss topics vital to the continued success of youth and high school football programs.

“I very much look forward to participating in and learning from the NFL/USA Football summit,” Castaneda said. “When I return to our next board meeting, I can relay vital information to our members and share the experience I had while in Canton.”

Castaneda, a league “cheer mom” since 1993 and a “cheer coach” since 2002, has served as her league’s president for two seasons and became her conference’s secretary in 2009.

“When I started my journey with youth football, I knew very little about what is needed to work with parents, coaches and players, but I jumped right in,” she said. “I look forward to learning more and more each year.”

Find out more about USA Football or have a regional manager meet with your league’s leadership by visiting www.usafootball.com.

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Davis Visits the Troops Overseas

Posted by Taylor Price on March 5, 2010 – 12:29 PM

Vernon Davis never rests.

Not in the season, nor in the offseason does the 49ers Pro Bowl tight end take a minute to relax.

Since the 49ers season wrapped, he’s been to South Florida to start for the NFC in the NFL’s All-Star game, spent a week in New York City for fashion week as an intern for a designer,  and spent a weekend with the US Curling team as their Honorary Captain at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

At the moment, Davis has been a part of the NFL’s USO All-Star Tour of the Middle East. Davis has been updating fans of his activities overseas via his Twitter account. He was also gracious enough to send us a couple of his personal pictures from his trip.

Davis is joined on the tour by fellow NFL stars, Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas, Houston Texans defensive end Mario Williams and Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten. The tour began on Tuesday, March 2nd and ends Tuesday, March 9th.   Below are some of the photos snapped by USO Photographer Dave Gatley along with trip udates, followed by Davis’ personal pictures.

Day 1, March 2nd

(Below is an overview of daily activities from this year’s NFL USO All Stars Tour by David Krichavsky)

After a long day of travel, we arrived in Doha, Qatar and cleared customs.  Our traveling party includes four of the top players in the NFL – Vernon Davis, Joe Thomas, Mario Williams, and Jason Witten — as well as a USO tour manager, USO photographer, and NFL representative. 

We met our military escorts at the airport and were transferred to Al Udeid Air Force Base, approximately 40 minutes outside Doha.  Al Udeid is home to nearly 11,000 coalition troops — mainly US Air Force — and from this base our troops fly combat as well as supply and refueling missions over both Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was after 8 p.m. local time by the time we arrived on base.  The Commanding Officer, General Wilson, hosted a reception for the players and the senior officers on base.  During this reception, the players had the chance to eat some food and relax after the long flight from the States.  They also had their first opportunity to speak with the troops, ask questions about our mission, talk football and boost morale.

Many more of these opportunities would follow.

Day 2, March 3rd

On Day 2 of the NFL USO tour, our group tried to cover every inch of Al Udeid AB and meet as many of the 11,000 troops on base as possible.

We began the day with an 8 a.m. breakfast that was structured as a “football roundtable Q&A” in which the players sat at a table at the front of the room and the troops in the DFAC (dining facility) had the opportunity to ask the players questions.  As a representative of “America’s Team,” Jason Witten seemed to have the most questions directed his way, although there was interest in a wide range of football (and non-football) topics.

After breakfast, the players toured the flight line, seeing all the different planes and jets that operate out of Al Udeid AB and visiting with the men and women who fly and work on the planes.  The B1 bomber was a particular hit with the players due to its precision bombing capabilities.  The players not only provided autographs to all the B1 pilots at this stop, but they also were able to sign a few of the bombs heading on the B1s into the war zone.  “From Cleveland, with love,” wrote Joe Thomas affectionately.

Another highlight was touring the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC).  This command-and-control center coordinates all air assets over both Iraq and Afghanistan.  In the CAOC building, there are giant screens showing all planes currently in flight above both war theaters.  The screens also show everywhere in Iraq and Afghanistan where we have Troops In Combat (TIC).  And the most amazing part of all is that we generally have renaissance planes over these TIC areas that transmit live pictures to the CAOC so that those at the CAOC can call in additional air support if necessary. 

The players spent 30-45 minutes in CAOC, soaking everything in and signing autographs for all the airmen and women working there.

One other highlight of our tour of Al Udeid was our visit to the K-9 unit.  Al Udeid has a dog unit specially trained to sniff out explosives.  The players had the opportunity to watch the dogs go through a number of exercises designed to test and refine their training.

After a brief rest and dinner, our group had a large meet-and-greet in the evening.  This appearance attracted well over 300 troops from across the base. 

Day 4, March 5th

We spent Day 4 of the NFL-USO tour at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, which is the main hub for Operation Enduring Freedom, our military’s mission in Afghanistan.  Yesterday, our group arrived at Bagram from Qatar via a C-130 military cargo plan.

Our day began early, and after breakfast we moved to the flight line where we visited the pilots who fly Apache attack helicopters.  Next we moved on to the F-15 and F-16 fighters, where we saw several jets take-off and land.  One of the most stunning aspects of Bagram is that the base is set in a valley surrounded by 360 degrees of snow capped mountains.  To watch these planes take-off and land with the mountains in the background is quite a majestic sight.

The next stop for our group was sure to be one of the most significant and meaningful stops of the entire trip — a visit to the Pat Tillman USO Center.  This visit did not disappoint, as the Tillman Center was packed with troops for a meet-and-greet with the players.  And of course, seeing the Tillman Center meant a tremendous amount to the players, knowing that the center is named for and dedicated to a member of the NFL fraternity who gave up his football career and made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

Over 10,000 troops pass through the Tillman Center in a given month.  More than 300 servicemen and women visited during the meet-and-greet with our players to receive an autograph, take a photo, and chat with the players.

Another stop on Day 4 was the hospital on base.  This not only gave us a chance to meet with all the hospital workers, but also visit with the patients who had been brought in from the field for emergency treatment.  This visit was a sobering one, as the players spoke with troops in the ICU who only two days earlier had lost limbs in IED attacks.  Several of these patients considered themselves fortunate because some of their squad members did not survive the attacks.

The last stop of our day was at a secret Special Forces compound where we had dinner with a group of Green Berets.   After dinner, the Green Berets gave us a tour of their compound and showed us some of their advanced vehicles and weaponry.  Needless to say, it was an impressive place, and a very impressive group of people.

Here are some of Davis’ personal pictures from the trip:

“Im in Qatar you all and I am having a blast on my USO tour. The troops are showing me everything and keeping me up to speed,” -Davis.

“I also had a chance to fly next to the pilot on my way into Afghanistan, take off and landing. We flew in on a c130,” -Davis.

“Since I’ve been on this side of the world, the craziest thing I did was get attacked by the k-9, even though I was protected it was a nightmare,” -Davis.

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McCloughan’s Mailbag 2010

Posted by Taylor Price on March 4, 2010 – 11:36 AM

Our annual offseason Q&A sessions with 49ers General Manager Scot McCloughan known as “McCloughan’s Mailbag” will officially be back on 49ers.com, but with a new twist.

This year, anyone can submit questions in three ways:

-Tweet us your questions to the Official 49ers Twitter account (@SF_49ers) along with the hash-tag of #SM_Mailbag.

-Write your McCloughan’s Mailbag question in the comments section of our Facebook account here.

-Upload your questions for Scot to our 49ers YouTube account here.

Ask away, but it should be noted due to NFL rules, McCloughan cannot answer questions about any potential free agents and will refrain from giving detailed information on any draft-eligible players.

To see what was asked last year, you can read all of McCloughan’s Mailbags from 2009 here.

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2010 NFL Free Agency/CBA Q&A

Posted by Taylor Price on March 4, 2010 – 11:00 AM

The 2010 free agency signing period begins at 12:01 AM ET on Friday, March 5. The NFL has provided us with this free agency/collective bargaining agreement Q&A to alleviate any questions fans might have.

 Q.  When can players start being signed in the 2010 free agency signing period?
A.  Beginning at 12:01 AM ET on Friday, March 5. 

Q.  What are the categories of free agency?
 A.  Players are either “restricted” or “unrestricted” free agents.  Within the categories are also “transition” and “franchise” players.

Q.  What is the time period for free agency signings this year?
A.  For restricted free agents, from March 5 to April 15.  For unrestricted free agents who have received the June 1 tender from their prior Club, from March 5 to July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later).  For franchise players, from March 5 until the Tuesday after the 10th week of the regular-season (November 16).  If he does not sign by November 16, he must sit out the season.  There are no transition player designations this year.

Q.  What is the difference between a restricted free agent and an unrestricted free agent?
AIn the 2010 League Year, players become restricted free agents when they complete three, four or five accrued seasons and their contract expires.  Unrestricted free agents have completed six or more accrued seasons.  An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no compensation owed to his old club.

Q.  What constitutes an “accrued season?”
A.  Six or more regular-season games on a club’s active/inactive, reserved-injured or “physically unable to perform” lists.

Q.  Other than accrued seasons, what determines a restricted free agent? 
A.  He has received a “qualifying” offer (a salary level predetermined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players) from his old club.  He can negotiate with any club through April 15.  If the restricted free agent accepts an offer sheet from a new club, his old club can match the offer and retain him because it has the “right of first refusal.”  If the old club does not match the offer, it can possibly receive draft-choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer.  If an offer sheet is not executed, and the player receives the June 1 tender from his old club, the player’s rights revert exclusively to his old club on June 1.

Q.  What determines an unrestricted free agent?
A.  A player with six or more accrued seasons whose contract has expired.  He is free to sign with any club, with no compensation owed to his old club, through July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later).  At that point, his rights revert to his old club if it made a “tender” offer (110 percent of last year’s salary) to him by June 1.  His old club then has until the Tuesday after the 10th week of the season (November 16) to sign him.  If he does not sign by November 16, he must sit out the season.  If no tender is offered by June 1, the player can be signed by any club at any time throughout the season. 

Q.  What determines a transition player?
A.  A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s prior year’s salary, whichever is greater.  A transition player designation gives he club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires.  If the club matches, it retains the player.  If it does not match, it receives no draft pick compensation from that club.  In 2010, a club may designate a franchise player or a transition player in lieu of a franchise player, as well as one additional transition player. 

Q.  What determines a franchise player?
A.  The salary level offer by a player’s club determines what type of franchise player he is.  An “exclusive” franchise player — not free to sign with another club — is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the current year as of April 15, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, or the average of the top five salaries at his position as of the end of last season — whichever of the three is greater.  If a player is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries of last season at his position, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, he becomes a “non-exclusive” franchise player and can negotiate with other clubs.  His old club can match a new club’s offer, or receive two first-round draft choices if it decides not to match. 

Q.  Can a club decide to withdraw its franchise or transition designations on a player?
A.  Yes

Q.  Can a club then use them on other players?
ANot in the 2010 season.  A club can withdraw its franchise or transition designations and the player then automatically becomes an unrestricted free agent either immediately or when his contract expires.


 Q. When does the CBA expire should there be no extension to the agreement?
A. In March of 2011.

Q. Will there be a college draft in 2011?
A. Yes.

Q. What is the “Final League Year” in the current agreement?
A. The “Final League Year” is the term used in the CBA to refer to the last year of the agreement, which is 2010.  The 2010 League Year begins on March 5. 

 Q. What are the differences between the “Final League Year” and any other “League Year?”
A.  The principal differences are that in the “Final League Year” there is no salary cap and there are substantial additional restrictions on player free agency and reductions in player benefits.

Q. Are current player benefits affected in the Final League Year?
A. We expect the amount of current player benefits to decline in the Final League Year.  The union agreed that in the Final League Year, clubs would be relieved of obligations regarding numerous benefit programs.  Examples include second career savings (401K), player annuity, health reimbursement arrangement, severance pay and performance-based pay.  The total league-wide contributions to such plans in 2009, the last capped year, were in excess of $335 million or more than $10 million per club. 

Q. Are retired player benefits affected in the Final League Year?
A. Commissioner Goodell has stated in a letter to the NFL Alumni Association Board of Directors that there will be no reduction in pension or disability payments to retired players during the Final League Year (2010).  Since at least the fall of 2007, NFL owners have consistently agreed and planned that they will not reduce the funding for pension or disability benefits for retired players, nor will they change qualifications on payments to players under the 88 Plan during the Final League Year. 

Q. What determines an unrestricted free agent in the Final League Year (2010)?
A. In capped seasons, a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent if he has four or more accrued seasons.  In the Final League Year (2010), a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent only if he has six or more accrued seasons.  An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no compensation owed to his old club. 

Q. What determines whether a player is a restricted free agent in the “Final League Year?”
A. In capped seasons, a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three accrued seasons.  In the Final League Year (2010), a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three, four or five accrued seasons.

Q. In addition to the right to designate a franchise (or transition) player each capped year, can clubs designate additional players in the Final League Year?
A. Yes, one additional player can be tagged.  In capped years, a club may designate a franchise player or a transition player in lieu of a franchise player.  In the Final League Year (2010), the above rule also applies, however, a club may also designate one additional transition player.  A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s prior year’s salary, whichever is greater.  A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires.  If the club matches, it retains the player.  If it does not match, it receives no draft pick compensation from that club.

Q. What is the Final Eight Plan?
A. During the Final League Year, the eight clubs that make the Divisional Playoffs in the previous season have additional restrictions that limit their ability to sign unrestricted free agents from other clubs.  In general, the four clubs participating in the championship games are limited in the number of unrestricted free agents that they may sign; the limit is determined by the number of their own unrestricted free agents signing with other clubs.  They cannot sign any UFAs unless one of theirs is signed by another team.

For the four clubs that lost in the Divisional Playoffs, in addition to having the ability to sign unrestricted free agents based on the number of their own unrestricted free agents signing with other clubs, they may also sign players based on specific financial parameters.  Those four only will be permitted to sign one unrestricted free agent for $5,807,475 million or more in year one of the contract, plus the number of their UFAs who sign with another team. They also can sign any unrestricted free agents for no more than $3,861,823 million in year one of the contract with limitations on the per year increases.

In the case of all final eight teams, the first year salary of UFAs they sign to replace those lost cannot exceed the first year salary of the player lost with limitations on the per year increases.

Q. Is there an Entering Player Pool in the Final League Year?
A. Yes.  The CBA provides that the league has the right to keep the rookie pool in the Final League Year. 

Q. Is there a Minimum Team Salary in the Final League Year?
A.  There is no Minimum Team Salary in the Final League Year.

Q.  Are there individual player minimum salaries in the Final League Year?
A. Yes, but they rise at a rate somewhat slower than player minimum salaries rise in capped years.

 Q.Do any player contract rules from capped years remain in place for the Final League Year?
A.  Yes.  Some rules like the “30% increase rule” are still in effect in the Final League Year for player contracts signed in capped years.  That rule restricts salary increases from 2009 to 2010 and beyond.  For example: a player with a $500,000 salary in 2009 would be limited to annual salary increases of $150,000 ($500,000 x 30%) beginning in 2010.

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Combine Leftovers and Closing Thoughts

Posted by Taylor Price on March 2, 2010 – 5:31 PM

It was a great trip to Indianapolis this past weekend at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine. We spoke with the countless NFL prospects, interviewed two of the NFL’s top information men from two major networks, spoke with our head coach and general manger, toured the 49ers interview room and even caught up with the athletic training staff.

On top of all that, interviewing groups of players over a four-day period gave us a lot of information on this year’s prospects.

It also gave us insight on members of the 49ers current roster. 

For instance, Virginia Tech punter Brent Bowden recalled how talented of a player 49ers wide receiver Josh Morgan (49ers sixth-round pick, 174th overall in 2008) was during their time as college teammates.

“Josh Morgan used to strike fear in the front line of our punt team,” Bowden recalled. “Whenever we would do it in practice every day, I’d used to hear my snapper or one of my guards talk about, ‘Man, Josh Morgan is the hardest dude ever to block!’”

Bowden said he and the rest of his teammates on the punt team took pride watching Morgan play with the 49ers over the past two seasons.

“Whenever they’re on TV I try to catch them because I know he’s playing there. I know he’s doing a pretty good job.”

The 49ers first-round pick of 2009, (10th overall) also was praised by one of his teammates.

Guard Brandon Carter, known for his imaginative face-paint worn on gamedays in college and pass protection for Red Raider quarterbacks, had rave reviews for his former teammate Michael Crabtree.

“He deserves a lot of credit, he was a great player and he was a hard-worker,” Carter said of his teammate who caught 41 touchdowns in college. “I did follow what he did this season and I think he did well. He’s going to do a lot better in years to come. I always had all the respect in the world for him. He was a great player and a good guy in the locker room.”

Likewise, Pittsburgh tight end Dorin Dickerson followed the play of his college teammate, Scott McKillop (49ers fifth-round pick, 146th overall in 2009).

“I heard he was Special Teams Player of the year for the 49ers, that’s pretty good.”

Dorin ran an Eric Dickerson-like 4.4, 40-yard dash at the Combine thanks to all the hard work in his preparation. McKillop noted in his last rookie diary he was working out with his former teammates, Dickerson being one of them.

“He was telling us what to expect here at the Combine,” said the impressive, 6-2, 230-pound tight end.

Dickerson might have received a head’s up on what to expect, but once he arrived at Lucas Oil Stadium, the magnitude of the event struck him instantly.

“I’ve been watching the Combine since I was little, it’s kind of cool actually seeing yourself there. When I pulled up, I was looking at the stadium like, ‘This is the real deal.” So you have to be prepared for it.”

In case you missed any of the headlines, photos, or interviews from the Combine, check out 49ers Combine Central for a comprehensive look at 49ers.com’s coverage.

And for all the best Combine performances, NFL.com has the top workout numbers posted here.

In the coming days we’ll have more Combine-related content including  1-on-1 interviews with a handful of the draft’s top prospects from both sides of the ball, including one Bay Area talent you might be familiar with.

Until then, put on your GM hat and discuss your draft opinions in the comment section of this post.

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2011 Pro Bowl to be Played in Hawaii

Posted by Scott Kegley on March 2, 2010 – 1:56 PM

The 2011 Pro Bowl will be played a week before Super Bowl XLV and return to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, the NFL announced today. The game will be televised live on Sunday, January 30 on FOX at 7 PM ET. FOX will televise Super Bowl XLV a week later on Sunday, February 6 from Cowboys Stadium in North Texas.

The decision to play the NFL’s All-Star Game the week before the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year follows a significant increase in viewership for the 2010 Pro Bowl, the first Pro Bowl to precede the Super Bowl.

The 2010 Pro Bowl on ESPN was watched by an average of 12.3 million viewers, the most for a Pro Bowl since 2000 (13.2 million viewers) and a 40 percent increase from the 2009 game (8.8 million viewers). The 12.3 million viewers also marked the largest viewership for an All-Star game in any sport on cable television. The game at Sun Life Stadium in South Florida also attracted the largest Pro Bowl attendance (70,697) in 50 years.

The Pro Bowl format was discussed last week with the NFL Players Association and a group of players during a meeting with the Competition Committee in Indianapolis.

“Playing the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl generated more excitement and interest in the event and also kicked off Super Bowl week in an innovative new way,” said Frank Supovitz, the NFL’s senior vice president of events. “We are pleased to return to the State of Hawaii, which has embraced the Pro Bowl for 30 years.”

The Pro Bowl’s return to Hawaii, where it had been held consecutively from 1980 to 2009, is part of a two-year agreement between the NFL and the state of Hawaii to play the 2011 and 2012 games there.

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