49ers condemn racist messages sent to Cards S Baker

The San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday publicly condemned racist messages sent to Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker and said they are trying to identify the person so they can ban them from future games and events.

On Monday, Baker posted a screenshot of what appeared to be Instagram direct messages sent from the handle “niners8” to Baker that, along with calling Baker the n-word numerous times, called the two-time Pro Bowl selection a “monkey” and a “slave” and telling him to get on his knees.

When he posted the screengrab on Twitter, Baker wrote, “Im all good with opposing fans talking trash. But This right here man… All you can do is pray for ppl like this.”

On Tuesday, the 49ers posted the following message to their social media accounts:

“The San Francisco 49ers unequivocally denounce the racist messages sent to Budda Baker. The individual who sent the messages does not represent the 49ers or the Faithful. Per team policy, we are working to identify this person and will ban them from all 49ers games and events. Incidents like this demonstrate how much work remains to be done to address racism and hate in our society. We remain steadfast in our commitment to that work.”

49ers CEO Jed York added via his own Twitter account, “Sadly, these incidents occur far too often. Permitting these individuals to go unchecked allows racism and hate to spread. I urge other teams in the world of sport to consider our policy of banning those who seek to tear others down with racial slurs and threats of violence.”

The issue appears to be a hit that Baker put on 49ers Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle during the Cardinals’ 24-20 win Sunday in San Francisco. In the final minute of the first half and with the 49ers in the red zone, San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw a pass to Kittle that sailed high. Kittle was unable to make the catch and Baker, who had begun diving at Kittle as Kittle was in the air trying to make the grab, hit Kittle just as the tight end was coming to the ground.

Kittle’s left knee appeared to hyperextend and he limped to the sideline. He missed one snap but finished the game. Nonetheless, Kittle’s status for next Sunday in New York against the Jets is in the air.

On Tuesday, Kittle posted a photo of himself and Baker, who wears No. 32, during a play with the caption, “Nothing but respect 32! See you down the road.” An hour later, Baker responded to Kittle’s post with “Always Respect Bro.”

Baker, 24, was taken in the second round in 2017 out of Washington. He has 338 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and 14 passes defended in 47 games (37 starts) for his career. He made the Pro Bowl in 2017 and ’19 — the first on special teams and the second on defense.

Kittle, 26, was also taken in 2017 (though in the fifth round). The former Iowa star made the Pro Bowl in 2018 & ’19, earning first-team All-Pro honors last season. He has 2,989 yards on 220 catches with 12 touchdowns in his career.

Both players signed contract extensions in the offseason, and each was among the first to congratulate the other.

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