The San Francisco 49ers suspended radio analyst Tim Ryan for one game after he said on-air that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has an advantage in faking handoffs because of his "dark skin color with a dark football."
“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 San Francisco radio station KNBR’s “Murph & Mac Show" on Monday.
“I mean, you literally could not see when he was in and out of the mesh point and if you’re a half step slow on him in terms of your vision, forget about it, he’s out of the gate," Ryan continued about Sunday's game in which the Ravens beat the 49ers, 20-17.
Jackson rushed for 101 yards in the game and so far this season has rushed for 977 yards. He is close to beating the NFL single-season rushing record by a quarterback, now held by Michael Vick, who ran for 1,039 yards in 2006.
Some on social media slammed Ryan's comments as racist, while others contended they were simply "dumb."
The 49ers said in a statement that Ryan would be suspended for the team's game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
“We are disappointed in Tim Ryan’s comments earlier this week, and have suspended him for the upcoming game,” the team said. “We have reached out to the Baltimore Ravens organization to extend our apologies and assure them the matter is not being taken lightly.”
“We hold Tim to a high standard as a representative of our organization and he must be more thoughtful with his words," the statement added. "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."
In a statement released through the team, Ryan apologized.
“I regret my choice of words in trying to describe the conditions of the game," he said. "Lamar Jackson is an MVP-caliber player and I respect him greatly. I want to sincerely apologize to him and anyone else I offended.”
Ryan, a former player for the Chicago Bears, has been a radio announcer for the 49ers for six seasons and prior to that was a TV analyst on Fox.
The Rev. Jethroe Moore II, president of NAACP Silicon Valley-San Jose, said he would like to meet with Ryan before he returns from suspension.
"Part of his coming back should be coming to meet with members of the African American community for better understanding of how those words can be hurtful," Moore said, according to NBC Bay Area. "That includes the 49er players and actually letting them talk about how they feel about the comments."
Niners cornerback Richard Sherman, who is black, defended Ryan on Thursday and said the radio man was making a valid point — but should have chosen better words, Pro Football Talk reported.
“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," Sherman told reporters.
"He’s making a play fake and sometimes he’s swinging his arm real fast and you’re like, Does he have the ball? And you look up and (Ravens running back Mark) Ingram is running it. So it was technically a valid point, but you can always phrase things better.”
Former 49ers defensive lineman Dennis Brown, who has been a pre- and post-game analyst for KNBR, will take Ryan's place in the booth on Sunday, the team said.