Player Feature: Laken Tomlinson
Laken Tomlinson moved to America from Jamaica when he was close to 11 years old, where he was raised by his single mother in the Rogers Park section of Chicago, IL.
Growing up in Jamaica, Tomlinson always aspired to serve in the healthcare industry. After his football career, he plans to become a neurosurgeon. Tomlinson has always taken education seriously, commuting 90 minutes each day to and from school to receive a quality education in high school. He went on to graduate from Duke University with a bachelor's degree in evolutionary anthropology and psychology.
NFL players had the opportunity to participate in the NFL's annual My Cause, My Cleats campaign during Week 14 of the 2019 season. Tomlinson and his teammates represented their respective causes with custom-designed cleats to raise awareness and funding. Tomlinson represented the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and said, "I play for all those struggling with mental health."
In 2018, Tomlinson received the Bobb McKittrick Award, which is given annually to the 49ers offensive lineman who best represents the courage, intensity, and sacrifice displayed by the longtime offensive line coach, during his 21 years of service to the 49ers.
Read more about Laken Tomlinson by clicking his bio below.
Coach's Corner: Jon Embree
This month's "Coach's Corner" comes from 49ers Tight Ends/Assistant Head Coach, Jon Embree.
Having another big year for the TE position with the 49ers, what is it about this offensive scheme that makes TEs so successful?
I think the success of the scheme is being able to do play-action passing and run the football. To do that, your tight ends have to have a certain skill set that complements what we're trying to do. Obviously in the run game, George Kittle does a good job. When you get a tight end that blocks and you have a coach like Kyle Shanahan that wants us to play-action pass, the opposing team doesn't know if Kittle's coming to block them or if he's going to run a route. If they aren't good with their eyes they find out the hard way that it's probably the opposite of what they thought and that lends itself to big plays.
George Kittle is described by many as the best TE in the league. Where do you see improvements that he can make to stay on top of his game?
He can be a lot better as a route runner which is something that we'll continue to work on. There are some things in the run game, just having looked at the season that he can be more consistent with. And then I think he can be a lot better as a pass protector. Those are some of the main things we'll be focusing on and trying to get better at.
Can you talk about the importance of blocking by the TE position in the Shanahan offense?
It's not just in this offense, but any tight end I've had, if you don't block, you can't play for me. That's just how it is. Having played tight end myself, a lot of run blocking is a mindset and if you have the right mindset then the technique and all the stuff that you need to take your game to the next level, so to speak, will be a lot easier to do. In this scheme with Kyle, it all ties together.
Can you describe what your role as Assistant Head Coach is for the team?
My role varies. Sometimes it's helping out with scheduling, other times it's bouncing things off of Kyle or trying to be a buffer on things that would take him away from doing what he needs to do as far as game planning. It is a catch-all.
To read more about Coach Embree click his bio below.
WON of Us: Oona Smith
Oona Smith, a 49ers fan since attending her first game as a kid with her hero, her father.
I have been a 49ers fan since I was six years old when I watched the 49ers play the Rams at Candlestick Park. My dad was a big fan, so when he took me to a game, I fell in love with the team instantly. I distinctly remember getting a 49ers pennant and I waved it the whole game. There was a Rams fan sitting near us and he tried to discourage me from cheering, but even as a new fan, I was already so invested. It was going to take more than a rival fan's banter to stop me.
What do you love about WON?
There is nothing better than being in a room with a diverse group of people. While all of us in WON are women, we may not have the same thoughts on things like politics, lifestyle, or fashion but we can always come together for the 49ers. When it comes to WON, you're a real die-hard fan. We are here through the success and the hard times. Growing up an only child, it feels like I've found a group of sisters with how welcoming everyone has been. At each event, I get an extraordinary feeling of warmth. The group is made up of amazingly talented women, who have taught me so much from football to everyday life.
Get to know WON member Oona.
Was there one inspirational moment in team history that confirmed your 49ers fandom?
Week 14 of the 1981 season, 49ers vs. Bengals. I must have been 11 or 12 years old and for the first time in my life, my dad was going to take me to a 49ers watch party at one of our family friends' houses. Even though it was only the regular season, I remember my dad saying to me before kickoff, "If we win today, I believe this team will win the Super Bowl!" The Niners pulled off the 21-3 win over Cincinnati! It was amazing to witness the pure joy on my dad's face. We were still weeks away from the playoffs, but he believed our team was bringing home our first Super Bowl Championship. What makes the memory even more special is knowing that we would go on to beat those same Bengals in Super Bowl XVI.
What 49ers tradition or superstition do you/your family have?
Brace yourselves, we've got a lot of traditions.
- At every home game, knowing that the referees will deserve it at some point, we boo them as soon as they take the field.
- During the coin toss, I always have to yell "HEADS!"—it seems to work in our favor every time.
- I bring pom-poms to every game! Every time that the 49ers score, I pass one of the poms to my friend who sits further down the row. We then proceed to execute a perfectly choreographed dance from our respective seats. Speaking of the poms, I was lucky enough to attend Super Bowl LIV. But security did not allow the poms into Hard Rock Stadium… I think we all now know why the outcome went the way it did. The team needed me to have my poms.
- Whenever any of my friends have children, I always gift the child a full 49ers outfit, regardless of what team the parents are fans of.
- Every gameday, I am dressed in head to toe red.
- During the season, my husband and I will watch away games at restaurants around the Bay Area, but if the team is on a winning streak, we will only go to the restaurant where we witnessed the last win.
What impact has the 49ers had on your life?
Growing up, my dad was my Superman and truly a saving grace. He was a 49ers fan so I was always going to be a 49ers fan and it has impacted my life in so many ways. But the biggest impact that the 49ers have had on my life is the relationship that I have with my Mother-in-Law. Upon meeting her for the first time, the second question she asked me was if I was a 49ers fan. Once I told her, yes, we had an instant connection and I had passed the first test. She was a fan dating back to the days at Kezar Stadium. Not only were the 49ers important to my family but it was a necessity to join her family. We bonded over the team that day and with every meeting.
When she passed, her service was Niners themed. Everyone in attendance was encouraged to wear team gear and even those who have made the mistake of being a fan of another team came in red and gold.
This team and this organization are integrated into our everyday lives on a deep level. We may not always agree on everything in life but we can always come together over 49ers football.
Community Connection: 49ers Contribute $500,000 to Support Employees and Community
The San Francisco 49ers are committing $500,000 to support employees and the greater community in response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency. The team is partnering with Cindy Chavez, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, and Sam Liccardo, Mayor of San Jose, Comcast, and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to assist the region's most vulnerable populations. The 49ers will immediately invest $49,000 to support a newly created fund for nonprofit organizations in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties addressing this crisis.
"While the 49ers organization is talking to regional leaders to assess how we can best leverage our resources to help our friends and neighbors, we are happy to support this effort by Supervisor Chavez and Mayor Liccardo," said Al Guido, San Francisco 49ers President. "We appreciate their leadership and creating this opportunity for us to advocate for those most impacted by this situation."
The team will continue to collaborate with public health officials, the non-profit community, and elected leaders throughout this unprecedented public health emergency.
"The 49ers continue to demonstrate their commitment to our community and their employees by stepping up in this time of uncertainty, with generosity and kindness," said Cindy Chavez, President of the Board of Supervisors, Santa Clara County. "I deeply appreciate our partnership with the 49ers."
"The 49ers continue to show their importance to our community during a time of considerable uncertainty," said Sam Liccardo, Mayor of San Jose. "Their efforts will aid in protecting vulnerable populations during this crisis. I am grateful for our partnership."
This Month in 49ers History
A look at marquee moments throughout the team's rich history pulled from the 49ers Archives.
April 7, 1993
The 49ers signed free-agent safety, Tim McDonald from the Arizona Cardinals. McDonald established himself in San Francisco as an aggressive, hard-hitting safety with a knack for the big play. From 1993 to 1999, McDonald was the cornerstone of the 49ers secondary, totaling 20 interceptions and seven sacks. He earned three straight Pro Bowl berths with the 49ers from 1993-1995 after suddenly becoming the team's most prolific defensive scoring weapon. McDonald returned two interceptions for touchdowns in 1995 to lead the NFL. In 1994 he also scored twice: once on a 49-yard fumble return and another on a 73-yard interception. McDonald was a starter for the 49ers at Super Bowl XXIX.