Ryan, who normally provides color on 49ers broadcasts, was suspended for remarks that alluded to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s skin color providing an edge during play fakes.
Cornerback Richard Sherman, an African American, was one of those who spoke up for Ryan. While noting that Ryan made a poor choice of words, Sherman said he made a good point about the challenges of playing against Jackson.
Sherman said Ryan apologized to individuals at the 49ers team hotel.
“I know Tim personally, and I listened to the dialogue and saw it written, and honestly I wasn’t as outraged as everybody else,” Sherman said. “I understand how it can be taken under a certain context and be offensive to some. But if you’re saying, this is a brown ball, they’re wearing dark colors, and he has a brown arm, honestly, sometimes we were having trouble seeing it on film.
“He’s making a play fake, and sometimes he’s swinging his arm real fast, and you’re like, Ok, does he have the ball? And you look up and [Mark] Ingram is running it. So it was technically a valid point, but you can always phrase things better. You can always phrase things and not say ‘his black skin.’ ”
He added that he didn’t think anybody in the San Francisco locker room took offense to Ryan’s statement.
San Francisco defensive end Dee Ford also backed Ryan.
“He walked up to me earlier, and before he even said anything, I told him ‘I’ve got your back,’” Ford said. “I already knew the story — words kinda got taken out of context. Of course — I think he knows now he could have used better judgment with his words. But we’ve got his back.”
EARLIER: Radio analyst Tim Ryan has been suspended for one game by the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers for insensitive remarks he made about Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson during a radio interview.
Ryan claimed during the interview that Jackson’s dark skin helps him disguise the football when running offensive plays.
“He’s really good at that fake, Lamar Jackson, but when you consider his dark skin color with a dark football with a dark uniform, you could not see that thing,” Ryan said on air.
He later apologized for the comments, but the team said Ryan he will be off the broadcast this week. The 49ers also apologized to the Ravens.
The 49ers issued a statement on the matter. “We hold Tim to a high standard as a representative of our organization and he must be more thoughtful with his words. Tim has expressed remorse in a public statement and has also done so with us privately. We know Tim as a man of high integrity and are confident he will grow and learn from this experience.”
Ryan made the remarks on the Murph and Mac show on the 49ers home radio station KNBR in San Francisco on Wednesday morning. He was detailing Jackson’s success running the ball against the 49ers during the Ravens 20-17 victory on Sunday.
Ryan was a two-time All-American defensive tackle at USC and played four seasons in the NFL with the Chicago Bears. He was a TV analyst on Fox for 11 years and has spent the past six seasons calling 49ers games on radio. He was also co-host of Movin’ the Chains on SiriusXM NFL Radio.