Once the 49ers hit the practice fields Friday afternoon, it will be the last time the full squad practices together for the next six weeks.
Following the first of two Friday sessions, Mike Singletary announced his decision to reward his players and cancel Saturday’s two minicamp practices. He informed the media shortly after he broke the news to the team.
And while it might be looked at as a reward for the player’s hard work over the last couple of months, quarterback Alex Smith said it wasn’t merely a gesture by Singletary to thank the players for working hard.
It had more to do with how the players went about their business.
“I think it’s a pat on the back for a couple of reasons,” Smith said. “One, we’ve worked really hard this offseason. The effort has been there. But more importantly, the discipline has been there, guys have been coming in ready to work. I really think that’s the reason we’re getting this.”
Left tackle Joe Staley said he wouldn’t have been bothered if Singletary kept the schedule intact, but was pleased to know how much his head coach appreciated their hard work.
“I felt like we deserved it. We’ve definitely been working hard,” Staley said. “As an offensive line, we got a lot of great work and we look forward to closing this camp with a great afternoon practice.”
Morning Notes and Quotes
Singletary proclaimed the return of his famous “Nutcracker” drill to the team’s 2010 training camp schedule. That got us thinking on which players are already salivating for the notorious drill, and which matchups would they desire most. Check TV49 later in the day for some of the answers from various players in the locker room.
Not so much a surprise, but Smith articulated how much this offseason has been a positive for him and how it’s the most comfortable he’s felt in his pro career. “I feel good with where I’m at right now. I feel like we got a lot done this offseason with our offseason program, including all the OTAs and now minicamp. I think we’ve really taken a step and I feel like I’ve done that as well.”
The defense picked off three passes in the morning session, all against second-year quarterback Nate Davis. Outside linebacker Manny Lawson dropped into coverage and intercepted Davis’ quick pass over the middle in the first team period. In the final play of the first 7-on-7 period, safety Taylor Mays came up with his first interception with the 49ers. And later in the final team period, undrafted linebacker Keaton Kristick intercepted a Davis pass that was initially deflected by safety Curtis Taylor.
Kristick was a late addition to the 49ers offseason program as he waited for his alma mater (Oregon State University) to finish graduation before he could join the team. Kristick hasn’t played significant football since the East-West Shrine Game, but said he’s been embracing every opportunity this offseason with the 49ers. His interception on Friday was a result of being at ease with his new surroundings. “It comes with being comfortable. I’m starting to know how to drop, and I haven’t really done that since Pop Warner,” Krisitck admitted. “I’ve been getting the feel for it and I’ve been learning a lot from the veterans so far. I’m anxious for everything that’s coming up, every rep on defense and special teams. I’m trying to make the most of it and not make too many mental errors.”
The best offensive play of the morning session took place on a 40-yard deep ball from Smith to wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who got behind cornerback Shawntae Spencer and safety Dashon Goldson. Crabtree has really emerged this offseason as one of Smith’s comfort blankets. He appears to be back to his old Texas Tech days, in terms of play-making ability and explosiveness after the catch.
Backup quarterback David Carr ended practice leading the offense in a two-minute drill scenario. But Carr’s quest to move the team into field goal range was thwarted when Mays picked off his second pass of the practice. As Carr hit tight end Delanie Walker on a quick out in the right flat, the ball was bobbled initially, allowing Mays to swoop in and get his hands on it. You can check our 49ers Twitter account to see Mays’ celebration following the takeaway.
The 49ers wrapped up their 2010 minicamp with a practice that featured more red zone and two-minute drill work.
With season-ticket holders attending the practice, the players put on a show with several big plays by the offense and defense. Here are some photos from the session.
Fans looked on as quarterback Nate Davis looked for an open receiver.
Quarterback Alex Smith throws a pass in the right flat.
Fans soak in the sights of a 49ers minicamp practice.
In the first team period, the offense relied on taking what the defense gave them, making check-downs a premium. That all changed though, as Smith hit Vernon Davis on a 20-yard touchdown hookup which got the attention of the fans in attendance.
Linebacker Scott McKillop must have taken offense to seeing Davis and other receivers catch so many passes over the middle of the field this offseason. The second-year inside linebacker intercepted Smith later in the team period, when Smith tried to find Crabtree in the back of the end zone. On the very next play, McKillop was in position to make another interception, but could only get his fingertips on the highly thrown pass from Carr.
Fellow inside linebacker Navorro Bowman came up with his first turnover with the 49ers, when he stepped in front of Smith’s quick pass intended for Walker. Had it been a game situation, Bowman would have easily returned it for a touchdown.
The offense worked on two-minute situations to close out practice. But the offense failed to pick up points when cornerback Karl Paymah broke up Smith’s pass intended for Ted Ginn Jr.
Tags: Alex Smith, Joe Staley, Keaton Kristick, Michael Crabtree, Taylor Mays
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You will never hear Patrick Willis question the importance of practice. Not in mid-June, or in any month for that matter.
The 49ers three-time Pro Bowl linebacker and unquestioned defensive leader has been eager to return to the practice fields ever since he underwent a minor knee surgery this offseason.
In recent weeks, Willis has been slowly working over 49ers head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson for permission to practice, asking him what he’s allowed to do each and every day he’s been around 49ers headquarters. And while Ferguson has limited Willis to individual work in last week’s organized team activities, this week was a different story.
Willis’ self-described gnat-like behavior must have paid off as Ferguson gave him the clearance to join 11-on-11 periods during Monday’s OTA session.
The wait was difficult for Willis, but he understood Ferguson’s reasoning and respected it.
“He’s one of the best trainers in the league and with my injuries before he’s done a great job of getting me ready, preparing me,” Willis said while standing in front of his locker. “I was just going to listen to him and let him tell me what to do, but at the same time, I had to bug him a little bit to let me get back out there. He gave me the ‘OK’ to participate in some of the drills and it felt good to get my feet wet and get back on the field with the boys.”
The feeling was beyond mutual.
Once Willis stepped into the huddle, outside linebacker Parys Haralson remarked, “The X-Factor is back!” Others chimed in, “Welcome back 52!”
Willis wasted no time validating the opinions of his teammates. He instantly got involved in the action by perfectly timing a delayed blitz for a would-be sack of quarterback Alex Smith.
Several plays later, he read an inside handoff to running back Glen Coffee and was in perfect position to make a play on the second-year back.
Not bad, considering Willis told reporters how he felt slower with his eyes than his feet after Monday’s practice.
With Willis back in the fold for the remainder of the offseason, the leader of the defense only sees a better performance for the entire unit in 2010.
“I think our defense can be exceptionally good. It’s going to take a lot of hard work. It’s going to take guys continuing to grow and be hungry and want to be stronger than we were before. We want to be No. 1, but if we can get in the top-3, I feel like that’s putting us in a great spot as an overall defense.”
Notes and Quotes
With Willis amongst his teammates for team periods, safety Taylor Mays took the opportunity to stand beside head coach Mike Singletary and secondary coach Johnnie Lynn deep in the 49ers defensive backfield. That location, some 40 yards behind the play, was Willis’ destination for most of the offseason. But on Monday, Mays took mental reps and asked questions in between the plays he participated in during the team period.
The first and only turnover of the day took place in the first team period, when safety Michael Lewis intercepted Smith’s pass intended for tight end Joe Jon Finley. The deep crossing route was first deflected high in the air by cornerback Kary Paymah, which allowed Lewis time to catch the ball and run it down the right sideline for a nice return.
The best offensive play took place later in practice as third-string signal caller Nate Davis found rookie wide receiver Kyle Williams 35 yards down the field on a go route over the coverage of undrafted cornerback Tramaine Brock.
Tags: Alex Smith, Karl Paymah, Kyle Williams, Michael Lewis, Nate Davis, Parys Haralson, Patrick Willis, Taylor Mays, Tramaine Brock
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Moments after the 49ers received overwhelming approval from Santa Clara voters on Tuesday, June 8th to move forward with plans for a new stadium in Santa Clara, the team launched a brand new website, 49ersNewStadium.com.
The site has received an extraordinary amount of traffic from fans of the team and supporters of the project. In the first 24 hours of the launch, the site garnered more than 50,000 unique visitors, and is still averaging 1,245 unique visitors per hour.
The 49ers partnered with Channel 1 Media on the development of this new website. Channel 1 has produced similar pieces for over 80 professional sports franchises and properties throughout North America. Evan Karasick, Channel 1’s President, informed the 49ers that this is the most positive reaction they have ever seen to a site in its first day and the traffic generated was the highest of any site Channel 1 has developed.
“With over 50,000 unique visitors on its first day, it virtually trumps the number of viewers for similar sites we have produced for other prominent teams within the NFL, NHL and NBA,” Karasick said.
In the first 24 hours, along with over 50,000 unique visitors, the site averaged 2,085 unique visitors per hour. Between 11:00-11:59am PST on Wednesday, the site received its highest number of unique visitors (4,448).
This website was designed to educate fans about the new stadium, provide answers to their most pressing questions and offer an outlet for non-season ticket holders to join the wait list.
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Jed York was so immersed in the plan to build a new stadium, the 49ers President and CEO went door-to-door in several Santa Clara communities to spread the word on the finer details of the project.
On Wednesday, York explained some of the experiences he encountered in fielding questions from the local media over a conference call.
York’s hands-on involvement was a matter of him wanting to better understand the concerns of local voters, and also ease them of those issues by stating the facts that were involved in the proposed project.
York listened to the apprehensions and tried to alleviate them as he saw fit.
In one circumstance, York encountered a local voter who simply refused to support the project because of his allegiance to the Dallas Cowboys.
York didn’t let the resistance stop him.
He simply informed the voter of the all the benefits that would come along with a new stadium. But in the end, York thought it would be best to have the words come from a high-ranking official within the Cowboys organization.
York figured, who better to explain the benefits of a world-class facility, than someone with the Cowboys, who have already hosted several marquee events in their building in just one year of operating.
York explained the unique encounter.
“There was a voter when I was out canvassing that wasn’t going to vote for the project because he was a Cowboys fan. I didn’t get Jerry on the phone but I called some of the other guys I know at the Cowboys trying to get Jerry (Jones), Stephen (Jones) or Jerry (Jones) Jr. to talk to the guy. He wasn’t home when we went back so, unfortunately, we couldn’t have anyone talk to him. But, I think it shows how all of the owners and all of the teams in the league are pulling for us to get a stadium done and take their time to talk to one individual voter. Because it’s very important to make sure that people get out there to vote and I think the people spoke loudly last night that they wanted a stadium.”
Here’s the transcript of York’s conference call. You can listen to the audio on 49ers.com as well.
On whether it is still an option to build the stadium on the larger parking lot or are they committed to the smaller lot:
“The environmental impact report allows us to do either. We’ve looked to the smaller lot based on Cedar Fair and Great America’s concerns. Actually, as we got into it, we like the site a little bit more probably because of its proximity to the training facility. I think that makes for a better experience for our players, not just on game days, but on the other days when they are just here practicing.”
On whether there will be more negotiations with Cedar Fair about access to the bigger parking lot:
“I’m sure that will be part of the discussion. We want to make sure that we have a project that we know the voters approved before we get into the real serious negotiations and I think those will start soon.”
On whether the 49ers or the City of Santa Clara can get out of this agreement if they want to:
“They can, but the binding agreement is more in terms of political speak, that this is binding in that you can’t overturn this. That’s why you wait until you have a certified EIR [Environmental Impact Report], but the reason that you wouldn’t move forward was if you don’t have financing, if that falls through.”
On how the stadium will be financed from here on out:
“Yes, I think we’ve been pretty clear with all of our work that there’s going to be three pieces of financing. Obviously, the stadium, authority, which will be selling naming rights, they’ll be selling concession agreements, stadium builder’s licenses. You have the investment from Santa Clara where you’ve got money coming from the redevelopment agency and you’ve got money coming from the hotels and then you’ve got the 49ers who are responsible for – and the NFL – that are responsible for close to $500 million and that is looking at the NFL financing and it’s looking at the financing that the 49ers can get on their own. I think the thing that people need to understand on NFL financing, the G3 [stadium finance] program doesn’t exist any longer, but the precursor to the G3 program, the club seat waiver is still available. And I think you’ve heard from [NFL] Commissioner [Roger] Goodell, that he wants to support stadiums going forward. Obviously, we are looking at extending a collective bargaining agreement now. I assume that will be a piece of the collective bargaining agreement and if not there’s still that club seat waiver program that we can borrow money, using the visiting team’s share of our club seats.”
On how he would classify this in terms of all of the hurdles that lie ahead:
“I keep defining the stadium project as a step function. You do a lot of work and then you don’t gain any ground and then you take a giant step up, like we did last night, with a resounding victory. The next step is working on the financing plan and that will be our main focus over the next year and a half, two years, so we can put shovels in the ground in January of 2012.”
On how the spending is impacted relative to football operations:
“I think they are two very separate pieces. Trying to win on the field and trying to build a new stadium are not the same. It’s a different budget. We have a budget for what our player compensation is going to be and I think we’ve shown we want to make sure we extend our younger players. We want to make sure we go out and add the right free agents and we are going to continue to do that. Playing at Candlestick hasn’t held us back from going out and signing our own players and going out into the free agent market and bringing in guys that we think can put us over the top and get us back to another Super Bowl.”
On whether he’s heard from other owners across the league:
“I’ve gotten a lot of emails, texts and calls from folks. I think it’s a very, very big day, not just for the 49ers, but for the NFL. When you look at how difficult it is to build a new stadium anywhere in this country, having a 60-40 win on a public vote is huge and I think owners are very excited for us and I think they are very excited about adding the first new stadium in California in three or four decades.”
On whether there were any new stadiums they paid close attention in terms of design and getting the measure passed:
“There were a lot of stadiums that we looked at. Not just football, but we looked at a lot of baseball stadiums, a lot of arenas, a lot of soccer stadiums. We are trying to find what works best from a fan’s standpoint. So, there isn’t one particular building that we looked at, but we like some of the design elements of stacking suites on one side of the building, to really make access easier for all of your fans. This way you can have a more sustainable building and better sight lines from the upper deck, so you can really make sure that fans are having a great experience when they are coming to a ballgame. From a standpoint of who have we looked at for the overall project, we’ve looked at everybody for help and guidance because anybody that’s been through it, they’ll tell you that each stadium deal is unique, but there’ s a lot of things that you can learn from wins and missteps in all of these projects.”
On whether there is a price for the SBLs and when that information will be released to fans:
“We’re still working on that and there are a lot of different variations that we’re exploring right now. At this time, we’re not releasing that information. But, there’s a lot of information on our website, 49ersnewstadium.com, that should answer a lot of the questions that fans have.”
On what stadiums currently have their suites on one side:
“There are two NFL stadiums that have done it, basically because they’ve had too small of a site to be able to build the traditional suite tower, the traditional suites going around. That was Soldier Field and Ford Field. The arena, I believe it’s Phillips Arena in Atlanta that has done this where they’ve stacked all of their suites on one side of the arena. They did that by pure design and they had the full plate to build. When you look at that, I think it allows for a lot better fan access. We’ve talked to the Lions and the Bears and when you go through and see what they’ve done, they would say, if we had just a blank piece of land that we can do whatever we wanted, and for different reasons they couldn’t build everything, that they wanted in their stadium, they love the design of that because it allows you to service your suite patrons in a much better, more efficient way. It allows for all of your other fans to really have unique amenities that otherwise wouldn’t exists.”
On what one of the amenities is and that fans will not have to skip a suite level to get to the upper deck:
“That’s one of the big things. If you don’t have two rings of suites going around the stadium and then a traditional club mezzanine level, we’re able to drop our upper deck by 30-40 feet and bring it closer to the field and that’s just the geometry of building the football stadium. When you look at some of the amenities for the non suite fans, you have much bigger concourses where you don’t have to worry about walking into a suite corridor or where you can’t get through a suite corridor. You’ve got open concourses, you’ve got open views and beer gardens and those types of things. For the suite patrons, it’s a lot easier to get them food, get them service, because all of your suites are centralized in one area. I think it’s very important that you can consume – that’s where you can consume the majority of your energy is in that suite concourse in club seats and those types of things. If all of that is comprised in about one-third of your building, you’re able to be a much more sustainable building, but you’re also able to be sure that you service your patrons. You don’t have to build three or four kitchens. You can build one kitchen and get food directly to those patrons.”
On whether the amusement park will be a major opposition going forward:
“I don’t think it will be a major problem. I’ve had conversations with them in the past and we’re confident we can come up with a resolution.”
Tags: Jed York
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In speaking for all of his fellow 49ers teammates on Wednesday, cornerback Tarell Brown sounded very pleased to hear the citizens of Santa Clara had approved the plan for a new 49ers stadium.
“I’m excited and I know my teammates are too. It’s been a long time coming,” said Brown on an off day for players between OTA sessions. “A lot of people are really excited about it, and it just shows you how much trust the city has in us as 49ers and the great job they’ve done upstairs in getting the job done.”
With 59.61 percent of the vote in favor of Measure J, the citizens of Santa Clara supported the stadium measure not just with votes but with their time. Some 700 hundred volunteers took part in the campaign process, spreading the word about the benefits of having a world-class stadium in the heart of Santa Clara’s entertainment district.
Because of the outpouring of public support around town, the players truly felt the passion from those around them in the community.
“It makes you realize how much people care about not just the team or the city, but things outside of the football in the community,” rookie safety Taylor Mays added. “The people are extremely passionate and that’s what I’ve realized from seeing this stadium vote go through.”
In respecting that passion of the team’s Faithful fan base, the 49ers will remain as the San Francisco 49ers.
Linebacker Matt Wilhelm put the stadium change into perspective best.
“The tradition of this organization with all the championships and the Hall of Famers is not going to go away over night just because the stadium is moving. We’re going to wear the ‘SF’ on our helmet and we’re representing more than just San Francisco, we’re representing the whole Bay Area.”
Most of the players had been following the campaign results last night, but fell asleep like many of us, not knowing the final outcome.
Thankfully, they were informed of the positive vote when drove to work this morning only to see a giant billboard posted on the corner of Tasman Dr. and Centennial Blvd. which read, “Future home of the San Francisco 49ers.”
“I saw that this morning coming in and thought to myself, ‘It’s going to be crazy!’ Brown said with a smile. “I think it’s going to surprise a lot of people and surpass a lot of stadiums. This is going to be one of the top stadiums people will love to come play at.”
Brown sees the new stadium as a great venue for all Bay Area football fans, not just the players on the field.
“At the end of the day we’re still the San Francisco 49ers. There are a lot of other teams who have the stadium in different cities, just like the New York Giants playing in New Jersey and the Dallas Cowboys playing in Arlington. Regardless of where you put the stadium, that’s not going to change who we are and where we’ve come from.”
For more information on the 49ers new stadium visit: www.49ersnewstadium.com
Tags: Matt Wilhelm, Tarell Brown, Taylor Mays
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We have arrived at the American Legion in Santa Clara, site of the 49ers “Yes on J” election results party. Taylor Price, CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco and I are set up in our “media row” in the back of the room. Stay tuned to 49ers.com and our Twitter account for results as they come in. The polls will close tonight at 8:00 pm so we should start getting results in shorty thereafter.
Below is a picture of our setup.
We will also be posting more images, videos, quotes and comments from those in attendance throughout the night. Stay tuned!
With 10 of 58 precincts reporting, 61% of the votes counted are yes. A picture of the first returns, which is being projected against one of the walls, is below.
I just spoke with the “Yes on J” campaign manager, Brandon Smith. With the polls showing an early lead for the Yes on J campaign (8,383 votes Yes to 5,295 votes No), Smith was optimistic with the initial returns.
“Being up 16 percent off the first break of the ballots was huge,” Smith said. “We didn’t think it was going to be that high so we’re optimistic. With that said, you never know what the turnout was on the ground. Unless we lost big at the polls, we’re in good shape.”
Most of these early results are the vote-by-mail ballots. Stay tuned for more results!
** ALL OF THESE NUMBERS ARE REPORTED BY THE SANTA CLARA COUNTY REGISTRAR OF VOTERS **
There has not been any new updates on the election results from the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, but I did catch up with Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan who said she was thrilled for this day to finally arrive.
“It’s been three years of hard work and it’s coming to fruition,” Mahan said. “This is a great night. It’s sort of a pause to celebrate and hopefully there’s a lot more work to do, but we’re ready for it.”
Like the “Yes on J” campaign manager, Mahan was also pleased with the early returns.
“I’m pretty excited by the results so far,” she said. “I’m glad to see it’s such a big margin in favor of the stadium because for me it means that Santa Clara supports this.”
Team President/CEO Jed York has arrived at the election results party and should be making a speech shortly.
With 12 of 58 precincts reporting, the lead for Yes on J remains virtually unchanged with a 61 percent – 38 percent lead.
Jed York just fielded questions from the media at the election results party. Tonight is the result of lots of hard by York personally. The 49ers President/CEO campaigned by going door to door, including this past weekend.
“The most common question was probably, ‘Is the name still going to be the San Francisco 49ers?’ and the answer is yes. We’re the San Francisco 49ers,” York said.
York said he also received a lot of questions from residents who were worried their taxes would increase.
“I think that was always the misnomer,” York explained. “What taxes are going up? How are we paying for this? And when you walk people through how a redevelopment agency works, and they understand that this is money that is supposed to spur economic development, they see this is a good use of funds. When they see that the only people really getting taxed are the eight hotels, they understand this must be a pretty good idea if eight local businesses are choosing to put $35 million into this project. There must be a reason to do that.”
Though the initial returns appear good early, there is still much work ahead.
“The next step is to final the tally tonight, and hopefully win the election,” York said.
If the ballot measure passes, York said they would begin construction in 2012 and have the opening kick-off in 2014.
That’s it for our coverage from the election results party. We’ll have a lot more coverage on the election results on 49ers.com tomorrow so stay tuned!
Tags: Jed York, Patricia Mahan, Yes On J
Posted in Breaking News | 12 Comments »
With the NBA Finals tipping off tonight, why not get some predictions out of some of the players in the locker room? There’s always basketball talk going on in the locker room anyway, so I figured I’d get some of our guys on record with their NBA Finals picks.
Last year, Takeo Spikes went around during OTAs for his debut episode of “Spikes TV” and asked teammates about their picks between the Lakers and the Orlando Magic.
The Lakers received most of the votes in 2009, but this time around, the opinions were much more divided.
Rookie safety Taylor Mays is picking the Lakers to win.
“I know the work that Kobe puts in because I’ve seen him put it in. He works with a trainer that’s from my school,” Mays said. “I don’t know how many games it’ll go. Those Celtics are physical. We’ll see.”
Nate Byham, the tight end the 49ers selected in the sixth-round, appreciates Boston’s toughness, but can’t see them dethroning the defending champions.
“I’ll take the Lakers and I’ll say six games. Boston is tough, but I think it’ll go six.”
Other rookies seemed to be swayed by the physical style of defense that the Celtics play, a key to helping them defeat the Lakers two years ago in the Finals. (I think Coach Singletary would approve of the defensive thought process behind this).
“I like the Celtics, because they have the experience and they’ve brought it all together in the playoffs, offensively and especially defensively,” rookie cornerback Phillip Adams said.
Sixth-round pick Kyle Williams is pretty blunt about his reasoning for seeing the Celtics hoist another title.
“Celtics in six. I can’t stand the Lakers. My whole family is Lakers fans. I can’t stand them. Can’t do it. Can’t go with them.”
Tags: Kyle Williams, Nate Byham, Phillip Adams, Takeo Spikes, Taylor Mays
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Former 49ers running back John David Crow (1965-1968) will be the subject of a special art unveiling on Saturday, June 12, from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the Mussi Artworks Foundry in Berkeley.
The 1957 Heisman Trophy Winner will be honored when renowned sculptor Steven Whyte reveals a newly casted 12-foot bronze statue in the former 49ers likeness.
David Crow was the second overall pick of the 1958 NFL Draft by the Chicago Cardinals and went on to make four Pro Bowls. In his 11 seasons of professional football, seven with the Chicago/St. Louis franchise (known as the Arizona Cardinals today) and four with the 49ers, David Crow rushed for 4,963 yards and 38 touchdowns. He also caught 258 passes for 3,699 yards and 35 touchdowns.
The unveiling is one aspect of the foundry’s “Moonlight Pour Party,” which will also feature a live bronze sculpting demonstration and live music. For more information on the event visit http://www.artworksfoundry.com.
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