WHAT WOULD IT TAKE? That was a central question during one of the most chaotic and divisive weeks of Goodell’s 11-year tenure, according to more than a dozen interviews conducted by Outside the Lines with players, owners, league, union and team executives, and other executives briefed on confidential meetings, most of whom spoke only on the condition of anonymity. Last weekend’s games were not just a protest about police brutality and racial inequality, which is why the still-jobless Kaepernick said he sat during the playing of the anthem before taking a knee a year ago.
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It was also a protest against authority. Players defied the preference of many of their coaches and owners by kneeling; the Steelers, Seahawks and Titans defied league rules by remaining in the locker room during the anthem, and Goodell let them slide. Led by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan at Wembley Stadium in London, some owners locked arms on the sidelines with their players. A league famous for its control grappled with how to deal with losing it, with the president of the United States steadfast in his determination to keep the issue dominating the national conversation.
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The 49ers, with one of the youngest defenses in the NFL, are tied for sixth in the NFL in fewest yards per play allowed at 4.9.
Where San Francisco’s defense has issues is giving up touchdowns. The group is ranked 24th in the NFL in yielding 23.5 points per game.
The unit must shut down the rushing attack led by former 49er Frank Gore, who along with Brissett has scored two touchdowns on the ground this season. San Francisco linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong leads the team in tackles and will need to attack the line of scrimmage to keep the Colts’ rushing attack from getting started.