<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Sports News, Sports Teams, and Scores for the Sharks, 49ers, Raiders,Giants, Bears and More]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Wed, 26 Nov 2014 07:59:01 -0800 Wed, 26 Nov 2014 07:59:01 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Niners Have Advantage Over Seattle at Home]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 08:54:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/ninerspikofff.jpg

In the lead-up to Thursday night’s 49ers-Seahawks clash at Levi’s Stadium, two things stand out statistically.

One is that for all the trouble the Niners have had with the Seahawks the past few seasons, San Francisco has dominated the series when it is the host.

Last season, the 49ers beat Seattle 19-17 at home. In 2012, the 49ers won 13-6. In Jim Harbaugh’s first season as head coach in 2011, the Niners prevailed 33-17. In fact, Seattle hasn’t won in the Bay Area since 2008.

So, when the Seahawks take the field at new Levi’s Stadium on Thanksgiving (5:30 p.m.), few in the organization will have any memory of coming out of the Bay Area with a victory.

In Seattle, of course, it’s been a different story. There, the Seahawks have dominated. They delivered a beat-down on the 49ers during the regular season in 2013, then won the rematch in the NFC Championship Game. Under Harbaugh and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, the clashes between the NFC West rivals have been among the most spirited in the NFL.

Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, in fact, says the games have featured a “physicality” that is special. He said the two teams’ defenses have been “the most physical in the conference.” So, he said, Thursday night’s should again be a terrific battle.

Oddsmakers have made the 49ers a slim 1½-point favorite, a nod to San Francisco’s home-field advantage. Otherwise the teams are evenly matched, with solid running games, mobile quarterbacks and defenses that rank first and second overall in the league (with Seattle No. 1).

Which brings us to the second thing that stands out statistically in this game: turnovers.

In a game as even as this one appears to be, the outcome could likely hinge on which team best takes advantage of its foe's mistakes.

On the one hand, San Francisco is the third-best team in the NFL this season with 22 takeaways. Only Houston and Green Bay have more. In 11 games, the 49ers have 16 interceptions and six recovered fumbles. Those takeaways have been huge in the team’s recent three-game winning streak, particularly in victories over the Saints and Giants. The Seahawks have only 15 takeaways on the year (seven interceptions, eight fumble recoveries).

On offense, meanwhile, the 49ers have 14 giveaways (six interceptions, eight lost fumbles) compared to just nine by Seattle (five interceptions, four fumbles). So the Seahawks have been much more careful with the football.

Overall, the 49ers are tied for fourth in takeaway-giveaway differential, with plus-8. The Seahawks are eighth, with plus-6.

So, the 49ers get a slight nod. But it’s slight.

But in Thursday night’s game – in which the loser will receive a severe dent in its playoff hopes -- the outcome will likely hinge on a slight advantage, such as the home field, or one less giveaway.

Harbaugh, for one, likes the way his team continues to battle to come up with though, slim victories. Many of the victories haven’t been pretty, but he doesn’t care. He points to the 49ers’ ability to come up big when it counts.

“You make a deposit in the toughness account,” he told reporters this week. “And you’ll be able to make withdrawals from that later down the road. We want to keep making those deposits.”

Thursday night might be a good time to make a withdrawal, too.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Denarius Moore, Forgotten Man on Bench, Could Soon be Gone]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 08:52:42 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/dennnnmohr.jpg

Since his rookie training camp in 2011, Denarius Moore has displayed amazing athletic ability and a knack for making big plays.

In just his second NFL game, he made an acrobatic, 50-yard touchdown catch against the Buffalo Bills in a game in which he caught five balls for 146 yards.

It appeared the Raiders had struck gold with the fifth-round draft pick from Tennessee.

Now, however, it appears No. 17’s days in Oakland are down to a precious few.

When wide receiver Rod Streater is activated – which could come soon – Oakland will need to cut one of its wideouts. And Moore seems like the best bet.

Moore had seasons of 33, 51 and 46 catches before this one, including 12 that went for touchdowns.

But this season, Moore has just 12 catches in 11 games – putting him seventh on the team – and has just one reception in the past four games.

In fact, he hasn’t played a single offensive snap over the past two games, including the Raiders’ first victory of the season over Kansas City last week.

As Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle noted this week, when Streater returns it’s going to have a ripple effect on the wide receiver corps. Someone will have to go.

“And the arrow might be pointing at once-promising fourth-year receiver Denarius Moore,” Tafur wrote, adding that Moore “has gradually slid to the bottom of the depth chart.”

While Moore remains quick, can make catches in traffic and has great leaping ability, the coaching staff doesn’t trust him to be consistent. Over this season, Moore has been passed by second-year wideout Brice Butler and Andre Holmes, and Oakland has brought in former Patriot Kenbrell Thompkins and ex-Charger Vincent Brown in a search for more production.

It’s not likely that Streater will be activated this week. He returned to practice Monday, but the team has a three-week window to re-activate him. So, Moore is likely safe this week as the 1-10 Raiders prepare to play the Rams in St. Louis Sunday morning.

But unless something miraculous happens, his days remaining in silver and black are likely to be very brief.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Getting Big Boost from Aldon Smith]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:22:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/166*120/aldonwash2sacks.jpg

Aldon Smith didn’t start two games ago in his return from a nine-game suspension, but he was rotated into the defense on passing downs and the 49ers wound up intercepting Giants quarterback Eli Manning five times in a 16-10 victory.

Then this past Sunday, Smith regained his starting spot and had two sacks of Washington QB Robert Griffin III as the San Francisco defense racked up five sacks overall in a 17-13 win.


Probably not. Call it the No. 99 Equation.

With Smith on the field as one of the NFL’s best pass rushers, San Francisco’s defense has become a more aggressive, dominating group. Despite injuries in the secondary that could be devastating, the Niners front seven has been playing so well – even without linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman and nose tackles Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey – that opposing offenses haven’t been able to function to full effect.

As the 7-4 49ers get ready for their Thanksgiving night showdown with the NFC West-rival Seahawks (also 7-4), the defense now appears fresh, fast and furious with No. 99 rushing the passer from his right outside linebacker position in the 3-4 defensive scheme.

Against Washington on Sunday, Smith had two sacks, four quarterback hurries and three tackles.

He now has 44 sacks in 45 career regular-season games.

Both his sacks Sunday contributed to forcing Washington punts.

“I thought he played outstanding,” 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh told the media after Sunday’s win. “He really had the speed, had power, came up with the big play on several occasions for us today.”

And, Smith’s presence is forcing opponents to concentrate more on him, allowing teammates to make plays. Late in the game, Justin Smith came barreling in for a sack and forced a fumble that locked up the victory for San Francisco.

With a fresh Aldon Smith and young linebacker Chris Borland also playing lights-out football since Willis was sidelined, the 49ers have two young playmakers contributing in a big way for a team that needs its defense to continue to be its strength as the offense can’t seem to find its rhythm.

The 49ers now rank No. 2 in the NFL in total defense and pass defense and rank No. 7 overall in rushing defense.

Said Aldon Smith: “Things are going really good. Everybody’s playing really good ball. It’s just good being back and everybody’s just doing their thing and making plays out there.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Time for Raiders to Turn to Murray and Reece]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:27:47 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/181*120/reecenchiefs.jpg

After 11 games, it’s time for Raiders head coach Tony Sparano to put running backs Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew on the back burner.

Though the two veterans have had great seasons in their careers, their time has come and gone. No longer do they have the quickness and bursts of speed that made them so dangerous.

Oakland’s top two running backs entering this season have done very little, and without a running game, the Raiders have had to rely on rookie quarterback Derek Carr to just about carry the offense on his own – a tough task for even a veteran.

At 1-10, the Raiders are dead last in the NFL in rushing with just 809 yards – a paltry 73.5 yards per game. McFadden leads the team with 422 yards, but he’s gaining just 3.4 yards per attempt and his longest run of 2014 is 17 yards. Jones-Drew has carried 36 times for only 69 yards – a horrible 1.9 average – with a long of 12 yards.

But in picking up their first victory of the season last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Raiders were able to run the ball early (with Latavius Murray) and late (with fullback Marcel Reece). Together, those two carried 12 times vs. the Chiefs for 149 yards.

Early in the game, Murray picked up 112 yards on four carries, including a 90-yard TD burst. Then, after Murray departed with a reported concussion, Reece came up big on the Raiders’ last scoring drive, carrying seven times for 34 yards.

Now, with the Raiders getting ready to face the Rams in St. Louis this Sunday, it’s time for Murray and Reece to get the bulk of the rushing load. McFaden and MJD have proven they can’t do it. Time to see what Murray and Reece can do.

Sparano, however, told the media the day after Thursday night’s victory that he wasn’t yet ready to make Murray his No. 1 back – if he passes all concussion protocols this week.

While he lauded Murray for what he did, he also pointed to Murray losing his grip on the ball on one carry and said he needs to continue to practice well in order to make the starting lineup.

Reece, meanwhile, has been a playmaker whenever coaches have called his number. He’s a Pro Bowl fullback who can run like a tailback and catch passes like a wide receiver, yet he’s often disappeared in the offensive scheme of a team that desperately needs playmakers.

This season Reece has just 14 carries through 11 games (for 60 yards and a 4.3 average) and 19 catches. Thirty-three touches in 10 games (he missed one) is not nearly enough.

Yet when Sparano believed the game was on the line vs. Kansas City and he wanted production, he gave the ball to Reece.

“I felt it was an opportunity for a big back,” Sparano said. “The runs we were going to make (Thursday) night were downhill, unpopular between-the-tackle runs. I felt Marcel could give us something there.”

And, he did. On the final scoring drive, Reece had runs of 9, 7, 4, 4, 1, 5 and 4 yards as Oakland marched 80 yards on 17 plays.

This Sunday, it’s time for Reece and Murray again to get the bulk of the carries. Unfortunately for McFadden and MJD, their time has come … and gone.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Aren't Sharp, But Pull Out Must-Win Game]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 16:48:01 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/164*120/4ty9nerswiin.jpg

This was a game the 49ers absolutely, positively, no-doubt-about it, had to win.

With a Thanksgiving night showdown with Seattle looming this week, 6-4 San Francisco had to beat a 3-7 Washington team that came in struggling on both offense and defense. The 49ers couldn't stumble in a so-called trap game and let their wild-card playoff hopes slip away.

The 49ers did what they needed, however, getting the victory by a 17-13 score. But it wasn’t as easy as it should have been.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Niners – who hadn’t scored an offensive touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game this season -- trailed 13-10 and found themselves with a fourth-and-1 from their own 34 with 5:28 remaining.

But reliable Frank Gore pounded for 3 yards and a first down, Colin Kaepernick connected with Anquan Boldin for 29 yards on the next play – plus picked up another 15 yards on unnecessary roughness – and the 49ers punched in a go-ahead touchdown on Carlos Hyde’s 4-yard burst three plays later for the 17-13 lead.

The 49ers defense then held – sealed by a Justin Smith sack and forced fumble with 52 seconds remaining -- and San Francisco improved to 7-4. The team’s third straight victory allows the 49ers to keep pace with the Seahawks. Both will have the same record when they meet Thursday night, after Seattle’s 19-3 victory over the NFC West-leading Cardinals in Seattle. Arizona has a two-game lead with five remaining.

Sunday’s game at Levi’s Stadium started in a promising way for the Niners, who took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a quick, five-play drive that ended with Kaepernick connecting with Boldin for a 30-yard score. Boldin had a huge day, finishing with nine catches for 137 yards.

But other than a 41-yard field goal by Phil Dawson just before halftime, the 49ers offense wasn’t able to score again until the late fourth-quarter TD by Hyde.

Kaepernick at times wasn’t sharp – he was 20-of-29 for 256 yards and one TD and one interception – and San Francisco coughed up two fumbles. Plus, the 49ers’ field position was horrible all day. Through three quarters, the 49ers were forced to start drives five times from their own 10-yard line or worse.

But San Francisco’s defense again was tough. The Niners sacked Robert Griffin III five times – including two by Aldon Smith, his first of the year – and held Washington to just 213 total yards.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best of NFL: Week 12]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 19:20:52 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/459467122.jpg Don't miss the most dramatic images from the twelfth week of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Activists Rally at Levi's Against Washington's NFL Mascot]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 15:52:33 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/B3J6E-eCMAAobud.jpg+large.jpg

Community groups and human rights activists rallied and marched to Levi's Stadium before Sunday's game against Washington, D.C. to protest the name of the team's mascot.

The protesters said Native Americans deserve the right to determine how their culture and identity is represented in the National Football League and in the media.

The protest is part of a series of similar nationwide actions held at other games played by the Washington team.

Sunday's game kicked off at 1:25 p.m.

Photo Credit: Ian Cull]]>
<![CDATA[Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday Spotlight]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 09:55:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP747099438720.jpg New York Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has had a stand-out first season, and recalls that he has always been ready for the Sunday spotlight.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Buffalo Bills Hitch Rides Aboard Snowmobiles]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 17:53:34 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KRAIG+URBIK1.JPG

Up to seven feet of snow wasn't going to stop the Buffalo Bills from flying out to Detroit for Monday’s game against the Jets — even if some players needed a novel way to get to the Bills’ stadium and a bus to the airport.

“Just texted with a Bills player who was picked up on a snowmobile to head to his game,” tweeted Albert Breer, national reporter for the NFL Network. “So in 10 years of covering the NFL, that’s a first.”

The game was supposed to have been played in Buffalo on Sunday, but was moved to Detroit because of the deadly storm.

The blizzard dropped 85 inches of snow on Buffalo, enough to bury Snookie, Jim Kelly and even Yao Ming.

On The MMQB, Peter King describes the planning that went into the "snowmobile rescues."

"I have covered the NFL for 30 years, and I must say I have never heard an NFL executive say he hoped a snowmobile would come up big for his team in advance of a game with big playoff implications," he wrote.

Photo Credit: EMILY URBIK
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<![CDATA[Giants to Host 'Orange Carpet' World Series Film Premiere]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:30:51 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/141029-giants-royals-world-series-game-7-wednesday.jpg

The San Francisco Giants are celebrating their 2014 championship with an "Orange Carpet" event that will premiere their official World Series film, Giants spokeswoman Shana Daum said.

The event will take place on Monday, Nov. 24 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. The red carpet arrivals are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and the film is expected to start at 7:30 p.m.

National League Championship Series hero Travis Ishikawa, broadcaster Jon Miller, public address announcer Renel Brooks-Moon, and mascot Lou Seal are expected to attend the premiere. The World Series trophy is also scheduled to be at the event.

Season ticket members can buy general admission tickets for $25 on the Giants' web site.

The World Series video will be available in stores Tuesday morning, Daum said.

The film is narrated by Colin Hanks, who is a Giants fan and star of the FX series "Fargo." The film will include highlights, behind-the-scenes access, and interviews, the team said.

Major League Baseball is also hosting the event. It has produced World Series films since 1943.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Can't Look Past Struggling Washington]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 09:51:22 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/gorerheddzune.jpg

With six games remaining this season, including Sunday’s vs. Washington at Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers are on the playoff bubble.

At 6-4, they’d be out of the postseason if the regular season were over, a game behind the 7-3 Cowboys, Eagles and Packers.

But Sunday’s game represents the beginning of a six-game season of its own, with four of those games at home. They’ll have Washington and the Seahawks at home this week and next, while finishing at home vs. the Chargers and Cardinals after back-to-back road games at Oakland and Seattle.

Going 6-0 will do the trick, of course, but that’s unlikely. But they need to go 5-1 or at least 4-2 and hope for some help to get into the tournament for a fourth straight season under Jim Harbaugh.

But this final stretch begins with what seemingly is a winnable game against 3-7 Washington. Oddsmakers have made the 49ers 9-point favorites. But they can’t look past Sunday’s game to their big Thanksgiving night matchup vs. the Seahawks. They have to take care of business in Game No. 11 before Game No. 12.

The Niners have some momentum with consecutive victories over the Saints and Giants, but this season the opponent has seemed to matter very little. It’s how the 49ers offense has performed that has dictated whether San Francisco has won or lost. The defense has been steady, despite some major absences. The offense has been up and down week to week.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman told reporters that the 49ers need to be better in the red zone, avoid negative plays and score more consistently. So far, San Francisco has yet to score an offensive touchdown in the fourth quarter in 2014.

“Point production, obviously we’ve got to produce more points,” he said. “We know that. And when you look at it, we just had too many negative plays. So I’ve got to do a better job of coaching and we’ll do a better job of executing and get that right.”

When it comes to efficiency in the red zone, Roman acknowledged that perhaps he’s abandoned the run, which has been effective in the past and now has the luxury of two hard-running backs in Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde.

So, if the 49ers get inside the 20 Sunday, expect to see more power-running plays.

“I do think that we need to run the ball better in the red zone as well,” said Roman. “I don’t think we’ve set ourselves up well down there running the football.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jose Canseco Pranks Everyone with Finger Hoax]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:56:59 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP565783519558.jpg

Looks like Jose Canseco gave everyone the finger. 

The former Major League Baseball player took to Twitter at the end of October to announce that he had shot off his middle digit and had it reattached during surgery. Last week, Canseco claimed that the mangled finger fell off during a poker tournament because it had been “very loose” and “smelling really bad.” He also said he would be selling the thumb and gun that shot it off on eBay a few days later.

“Maybe I will make it a package the chrome 45 caliber Remington with the finger both for sale a package deal," he tweeted on Nov. 17.

But despite continuing to post on social media about the plan, Canseco reportedly will not be selling his appendage to the highest bidder—it was all just a prank.

When TMZ reporters followed up about the details of the unique eBay sale, Canseco finally admitted it was all a hoax, the site reported. He said he thought of the whole plan when he saw a fake finger in a Halloween store. 

What remains true, NBC Sports reports, is that the prankster did shoot off his finger but had it successfully reconnected with surgery.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[McKenzie Gets a Win And a Vote of Confidence]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:24:02 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/177*120/emDavisonGM.jpg

Raiders fans finally had something to celebrate Thursday night, with rookie quarterback Derek Carr leading the team to its first victory in more than a calendar year.

Yet the good cheer spread by the 24-20 win over the visiting Chiefs at O.co Coliseum might have been dampened by team owner Mark Davis’ statements that general manager Reggie McKenzie isn’t going anywhere.

On the same day it was reported that some Raiders fans had bought an ad in a Bay Area newspaper pleading with the organization to bring back head coach Hue Jackson – let go by McKenzie after an 8-8 season in 2011 – Davis gave a strong vote of confidence to McKenzie, whom many fans want fired after seasons of 4-12, 4-12 and (so far) 1-10.

Under McKenzie’s watch the Raiders are 9-34.

On Thursday, before the Raiders took on the Chiefs, Davis told Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network that he’s satisfied with the way McKenzie has dug the team out of salary-cap hell and brought in new talent, such as Carr, linebacker Khalil Mack and guard Gabe Jackson in the 2014 draft class, which has been judged by some analysts to be the best draft class in the NFL this season.

“We are in really good shape, based on the way Reggie put all the contracts together and everything else,” Davis told Rapoport. “We’re not settled with a lot of upside-down situations anymore. The situation he walked into originally was pretty tough. The deconstruction phase of that went very, very well. I think we’re a pretty desirable place for someone that wants to come in and build.”

That’s a reference, of course, to the hunt to bring in a new head coach after the firing of Dennis Allen after four games and the elevation of Tony Sparano to interim head coach.

For once this offseason, the Raiders won’t have to spend energy or a high draft pick searching for a franchise quarterback. They believe they have one now in Carr, who picked up the first pro victory of his career Thursday night.

The Raiders will be well-positioned in the 2015 draft again, with perhaps the top pick, and should be able to stock the roster with more impact players for next season to build around Carr on offense and Mack on defense.

But if McKenzie sticks around, he’ll need to do a better job in free agency. The GM signed nine veterans this past offseason for about $70 million, yet most have done very little. Receiver James Jones has been solid, and caught the winning TD pass Thursday night. Left tackle Donald Penn, defensive lineman Antonio Smith and corner Tarell Brown also have contributed. But Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Carlos Rogers and Maurice-Jones Drew haven't had much of a positive impact.

Yet Davis believes McKenzie has provided the franchise with a foundation. Though the Raiders are 1-10, Davis wants stability and the team to build from the ground up, through the draft and wise pursuit of unsigned college free agents. Though the call for McKenzie’s head has gotten louder, Davis has his earplugs in.

He says McKenzie is not “an interim GM.”

As much as Raiders fans are happy with Thursday night’s victory, some likely are just as unhappy with Davis' thinking on the morning after. Yet on Twitter, many fans seem to be siding with Davis. Wrote one: "Reggie McKenzie is changing the culture in Oakland. I'd be furious if they fired him." Wrote another: "Reggie McKenzie needs to nail this next HC and have him work with him and make the Raiders! With a great coaching staff, things will change."


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Carr Leads Winning Drive to Snap Losing Streak]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:01:17 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/191*120/murrayvschiefsnov.jpg

Finally. So that's what winning feel like.

After 368 days without a win, the Oakland Raiders can at long last put a “W” in the standings.

The Raiders, who started this season 0-10 and were 0-16 dating to last Nov. 17, pulled out a 24-20 victory over the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs on national television Thursday night at O.co Coliseum.

It was an improbable win over a team that had won five straight and came into the game a heavy favorite.

After taking a 14-3 halftime lead – their first halftime lead in almost a year – the Raiders stumbled, allowing Kansas City to go up 20-17 with 9:30 remaining.

But the Raiders came roaring back, with Derek Carr leading a clock-eating, 17-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with Carr’s 9-yard touchdown strike to James Jones with just 1:42 left in the game.

The Raiders then withstood one final possession by the Chiefs, who got great field position on a kickoff return to their own 39, then drove into Oakland territory, aided by a Raiders penalty on a Chiefs fourth-and-3 play to keep it alive.

Finally, after a Sio Moore sack of Chiefs QB Alex Smith on third down, a fourth-and-13 pass from Smith with 28 seconds remaining fell incomplete, and the Raiders could celebrate a victory.

From the start, it looked like it might finally be Oakland’s night.

The Raiders jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their second possession, driving 60 yards for a touchdown, with running back Latavius Murray going around left end for 11 yards.

It was a great-coming out party for Murray, who had a good game last week against the Chargers and was given an opportunity Thursday night to show what he could do.

He certainly proved himself, following up his first TD with a 90-yard burst for another score to put Oakland up 14-0.

But after gaining 112 yards on four carries and giving the Raiders the running game they’ve been searching for all season, Murray took a blow to the head and was knocked from the game.

The Raiders offense then proceeded to go flat, and Kansas City climbed back into the game.

The Chiefs caught the Raiders at 17-17 on a 30-yard pass from Alex Smith to Jamaal Charles with 12:29 left, then forced a three-and-out by Oakland. Kansas City then drove for a go-ahead 25-yard field goal by Cairo Santos with 9:30 remaining.

That’s when Carr and the Raiders offense came alive, engineering the 80-yard, game-winning drive.

Now 1-10, the Raiders return to action Sunday, Nov. 30, with a game in St. Louis against the Rams -- and a chance for a two-game winning streak.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A's Invite Switch Pitcher to Spring Training]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:52:17 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Pat-Venditte.jpg

Only the A's could sign a left- and right-handed pitcher with one contract.

True to form of squeezing as much value out of every player as possible, the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday signed "switch pitcher" Pat Venditte.

Newsday reports that Venditte, who's toiled in the minors since 2008, could be the first switch pitcher to make the Major Leagues.

Venditte, 29, throws either right or left-handed depending on the batter, according to the website. He pitched as high as AAA, one level below the majors, recording a 2.64 ERA primarily as a reliever.

Venditte says he thinks the A's are an attractive team to play for, given general manager Billy Beane's independent thinking, according to the website.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Defense Faces Up-and-Down RG III]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:03:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/167*120/RG3vsAldyn.jpg

In the one game Robert Griffin III has faced the 49ers, it wasn’t a pleasant outcome for the young Washington quarterback.

Last season RG III was sacked four times and completed just 16-of-26 throws for only 118 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. He did scramble four times for 27 yards, but he was largely ineffective in a 26-6 49ers victory in Washington.

Now the 6-4 49ers get ready to face Griffin again this Sunday at Levi’s Stadium, and Griffin again is the focal point of his team’s offense.

After a sensational rookie season in which he had a quarterback rating of 102.4 and led his team to the playoffs, RG III has struggled since a knee injury suffered late that season that limited his mobility. Last season his QB rating fell to 82.2 as he was sacked 38 times in 13 games while throwing 12 interceptions vs. 16 TD passes. This season he’s improved somewhat from 2013, with a rating of 88.0, but he’s missed time because of injuries while also losing his starting spot to Kirk Cousins and former 49ers backup Colt McCoy.

Griffin has thrown just two TD passes with three interceptions and has been sacked 15 times in four starts for the 3-7 Washington team.

Still, Griffin is a talent, and when he’s on his game he should be a challenge for the 49ers defense, which is still dealing with injuries in its secondary.

Against the Texans this season, RG III was 29-of-37 for 267 yards. Against the Vikings, he was 18-of-28 for 251 yards.

“Always had great admiration for Robert’s talent, his execution,” said 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh this week in a news conference. “He’s extremely gifted as a pocket passer. When he’s out of the pocket he’s very dangerous to run or throw on the run. … Gifted in terms of reads and keeps. He’s got arm strength and accuracy. He’s an outstanding player.”

Griffin has some dangerous receivers, too, in former Eagle DeSean Jackson (40 catches for 819 yards and four TDs) and Pierre Garcon (43 catches for 464 yards and three TDs).

Griffin is coming off a loss to Tampa Bay in which he wasn’t sharp, throwing two interceptions in a 27-7 loss.

After that loss, Griffin said he needed to continue to play better, but also said the whole team needs to be better – which some interpreted as a knock on his teammates. Griffin responded by writing on his Facebook page that “I would never throw my teammates under the bus!” and has discussed his comments with them.

“We are all focused on the same thing: winning, staying together and beating San Francisco,” Griffin told reporters.

On paper, however, it looks as if RG III and his offensive mates might be overmatched against a San Francisco defense that came up big in a victory over the Giants last week, with five interceptions of Eli Manning and a better pass rush with the return of Aldon Smith.

Griffin has watched the film and knows the 49ers will be difficult to beat at home.

“Very tough defense,” he said. “They make you earn every single thing you get. They don’t give up a lot of big plays and they play with passion. So we are going to have to match that going into their house and they are not going to make it easy for us.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Avaya Stadium: Naming Rights Sold to Earthquakes' New Home]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 17:48:15 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/EARTHQUAKES-STADIUM-FAN-SEATS-VO---00002217.jpg

What's in a name? How about $20 million over the next 10 years? That's how much a Santa Clara-based company is paying for the naming rights to the new San Jose Earthquakes stadium in San Jose.

The new venue will be called Avaya Stadium.

The venue will be the first "cloud-enabled stadium" in Major League Soccer, and the sky's the limit in terms of cost. The Quakes' new home-of-their-very-own near San Jose International Airport has all the latest bells and whistles, including some tech gadgetry befitting its location in Silicon Valley.

It's also costing almost twice as much as initially thought, with the bill – all to be paid from private funds – climbing up from $60 million to about $100 million, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The newspaper says that that's "the average" for a new MLS stadium, which in San Jose's case has room for 18,000 fans as well as the "largest outdoor bar in North America."

Avaya is a “global firm that provides tech service to other companies," the newspaper explained.

The new stadium is set to open in March 2015. 

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Red-Hot Chiefs Present Problems For Raiders]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:54:52 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/jamchuckvsoak.jpg

The schedule maker certainly wasn’t kind to the Raiders this week.

After falling to 0-10 this past Sunday in a loss to the Chargers, Oakland has had a short week to prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs, who visit O.co Coliseum Thursday for a 5:25 p.m. kickoff on national television.

And the Chiefs, at 7-3, are coming in hot. After starting the season 2-3, Kansas City has reeled off five straight victories, including a 24-20 decision over the Super Bowl-champion Seahawks last week.

In that game, the Chiefs played a physical game on offense and defense, stopping Seattle three times on fourth-down plays, sacking Russell Wilson twice and rushing for 190 yards, with Jamaal Charles churning for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.

Raiders head coach Tony Sparano said this week that Kansas City presents significant challenges. He said the Raiders “will be taxed” to beat the Chiefs because in every area – offense, defense, special teams – Kansas City is formidable.

“They’re an explosive team and they play real good defense, obviously, with two good rushers out there – one guy that’s got a ton of sacks. They’ve got a great front – a big, physical bunch of guys. They get after you pretty good and I know their defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and he brings a lot of different exotic pressures. … They’ll come after us. They’ll challenge us a bunch there.”

Defensive end Justin Houston leads the NFL in sacks with 12, and tackle Dontari Poe – dominant vs. the run – also has five sacks. Linebacker Tamba Hali, meanwhile, is one of the most active in the NFL.

On paper, at least, it seems impossible that the Raiders will be able to run the ball. Oakland is last in the NFL in rushing. The only hope is that Latavius Murray, who looked good in a brief role vs. the Chargers last week, gets more opportunities Thursday night and makes the most of his chance.

On defense, the Raiders are 27th against the run, which also spells trouble. Charles, Knile Davis and De’Anthony Thomas give Kansas City a stable of good backs who can dominate a game.

Charles, in particular, has had success vs. the Raiders. He had 128 yards from scrimmage in a 24-7 victory over Oakland last October, then had 215 yards – including 195 and four TDs on receptions – in a 56-31 win in December.

Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr said the Chiefs defense gives the offense plenty to think about over just three days of preparation.

“There’s a lot for every quarterback to get ready for, especially with  talented defense like Kansas City has,” he told reporters this week. “It just puts more on your plate and you just knock it out in the time that we do have.”

NFL oddsmakers have made the Chiefs 7- to 8-point favorites over the Raiders, who have now lost 16 in a row dating to November of 2013.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Need to Fix Fourth-Quarter and Red Zone Offense]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 10:00:45 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/kolynvgiants.jpg

With the 49ers holding just a 16-10 lead entering the fourth quarter vs. the Giants this past Sunday, San Francisco needed a score to put the game out of the reach.

But in the final period, the 49ers' first possession stalled at the Giants 40, forcing a punt. Their second and third possessions also resulted in punts.

That lack of production from the 49ers offense put enormous pressure on the 49ers defense – which came through with a goal-line stand and two fourth-quarter interceptions.

But the game highlighted a huge weakness for the Niners this season: the offense has yet to score a touchdown in the final quarter. That lack of late scoring has resulted in the 49ers having to rely on their defense to hold late, slim leads, or contributed to at least two of the team’s four losses – a 28-20 decision to the Bears in September and a 13-10 defeat to the Rams on Nov. 2.

Plus, the 49ers are having trouble scoring touchdowns throughout games when in the red zone. Against the Giants Sunday, San Francisco was touchdown-less in four trips inside New York’s 20. The Niners are just 13-for-33 in red-zone efficiency this season, the second-worst mark in the NFL. Their 39 percent efficiency is way down from last season’s 53 percent.

As the 6-4 49ers prepare to host Washington this Sunday, it’s a fact the team is well aware of and working to fix. In a season where every victory is important for the 49ers as they chase a wild-card spot, there’s going to be times when San Francisco will need to punch in a touchdown late in the game to seal a victory or pull off a comeback. This Sunday’s game against a struggling 3-7 Washington team may not require it, but the Thanksgiving night game vs. Seattle at Levi’s Stadium could likely come down to just one, late score.

Fortunately, the 49ers at least have a reliable kicker in Phil Dawson, who kicked three field goals Sunday in the win over New York.

“Glad we made them, the field goals were important,” 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh told the media. “They were the result of some very good drives. You’d like to get the touchdown, but you do come away with points on the board and those are critical. You do what you have to do to win the game.”

But there’s no doubt winning games down the stretch will come down to punching in a few more touchdowns -- especially late in the game -- instead of settling for Dawson field goals.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Are Winless, But They Struck Gold With Mack]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:33:45 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/197*120/themackmynLB.jpg

There was much discussion leading up to this year’s draft about which defensive player would be better in the NFL.

Was it Jadeveon Clowney, the defensive end from South Carolina? Or linebacker Khalil Mack of Buffalo?

The Texans believed in Clowney and made him the No. 1 overall pick in the May draft. Mack was taken No. 5 overall by Oakland.

Though Clowney won the draft battle, Mack is winning the in-season competition.

The Raiders are winless at 0-10 as they prepare to face the hot Kansas City Chiefs Thursday night in Oakland, but Mack has been outstanding.

He recorded the first sack of his NFL career on Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers Sunday, drew two holding penalties and was again terrific against the run. Against the Chargers, Mack was in on five tackles and now has been in on 56, has two passes defensed and a forced fumble.

Clowney, meanwhile, has played in just three games because of injury and illness, has four tackles and no sacks.

With Mack, the Raiders defense has been much better this season than in 2013. He’s been a force. At one point, Pro Football Focus graded him as the No. 1 linebacker in the league against the run.

“Khalil, yes, he had a sack and he affected the quarterback and he drew a hold (actually two) and harassed the quarterback several times there,” head coach Tony Sparano told reporters Monday night after Raiders practice.

Sparano said it wasn’t just Mack, however, but the defensive line getting pressure across the front, which allowed Mack some freedom.

At the halfway point of the season, ESPN’s “NFL Live” analysts named Mack their defensive rookie of the year, ahead of Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr and Ravens linebacker CJ Mosley.

Former NFL running back Meril Hoge – who believed Mack should have been the No. 1 overall pick in the draft – believes Mack can be something special.

“I think he is going to be one of the most complete, dominant linebackers we’ve ever seen,” said Hoge, who now works for ESPN. “He is just a phenomenal football player. I’ve never seen a linebacker make this type of easy transition to the NFL.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Canseco May Sell His Shot Finger, Gun on eBay]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 09:57:12 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Jose-Canseco-1.jpg

Jose Canseco says he's parting with his finger forever — for a price.

The former major leaguer tweeted Monday that he'll sell his detached digit, along with the gun with which he accidentally shot it off. He tweeted last week that the operation to reattach the finger had failed, and it had fallen off during a poker game.

Canseco said he is also selling the chrome-plated .45-caliber handgun he was cleaning when he accidentally shot off the middle finger on his left hand.

In a series of tweets posted Friday afternoon, Canseco said his finger fell off during a poker game Thursday night, even after he had it surgically reattached. (Warning: The below tweets might seem disturbing to some.)

Canseco was apparently unaware that a bullet was in the chamber when he was cleaning the gun, Las Vegas Metro Lt. Mark Reddon told NBC News.

"It was a serious hand injury," but not a serious medical injury, Reddon said. "There was nothing suspicious. There was no alcohol involved, just a misstep with a handgun."

Canseco began his long major-league career in the 1980s with the Oakland Athletics before going on to play for the Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox and other teams.

He has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his MLB career. After retiring, he also competed in mixed martial arts and boxing.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Rice Visits China to Promote NFL]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 00:33:27 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/rice-horz.jpg

San Francisco 49ers legendary wide receiver and NFL Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice is in China trying to entice the world's most-populous country to tune into NFL football on every given Sunday, according to reports.

An NBC News crew captured Rice in the moment in Beijing, where NFL officials are "demystifying the game" by "putting footballs in [Chinese peoples'] hands."

On Sunday, Rice put on a clinic, which one young fan described as "the greatest football experience of my life."

There is also already a flag football league in Beijing, but NBC noted the country is "with little history of contact sports like American football."

Photo Credit: Mathew Luschek]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Tony Hawk Rides Hoverboard]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 05:28:20 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-11-17+at+3.26.35+PM.png

The hoverboard is reality, and Tony Hawk has taken a spin on it.

The pro skateboarder tested the $10,000 prototype Hendo Hoverboard after husband and wife Greg and Jill Henderson launched a Kickstarter to fund it. 

In the video, Hawk performs a few tricks on the board, which hovers an inch off the ground and uses magnets, though he also ends up falling several times.

Hawk had caught attention for another hoverboard video earlier this year — a fake video made by Funny or Die that featured the skateboarder, musician Moby and others riding boards high into the sky, in a prank for which Hawk eventually apologized.  

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<![CDATA[USC's Josh Shaw Won't Be Charged]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 21:04:31 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/USC+Josh+Shaw.jpg

The Los Angeles District Attorney will not file domestic violence charges against USC football player Josh Shaw, the office confirmed Monday, citing "insufficient evidence."

Shaw, a USC Trojans co-captain, had been the subject of a domestic violence investigation by Los Angeles police after admitting to lying about how he hurt both of his ankles

Shaw initially told a university blog that he sprained his ankles after he jumped from a second-floor balcony of his cousin’s Palmdale apartment on Aug. 23 to pull his struggling 7-year-old nephew from a pool. He admitted the story was "a complete fabrication" days later and was suspended "from all team activities" indefinitely.

Police then said they took a burglary report that same night, in which the victim named Shaw as her boyfriend, and began looking into emerging domestic violence allegations.

The night of the report about 10:30, Shaw and his girlfriend were "involved in a heated argument inside the apartment" when his girlfriend threw a lamp to the floor, according to a DA charge evaluation document dated Nov. 13 obtained by NBC4 on Monday.

Shaw then walked out to the balcony to "calm himself," the document stated. Neighbors heard screams from inside the apartment during the argument and called 911.

When police arrived, Shaw saw officers from the balcony and "panicked," so he "climbed over the railing, hung by his hands and fell approximately 20 feet," hurting his ankles, the document stated.

After responding to the 911 call of neighbors hearing screaming, police forced their way inside the apartment to find a lamp on the floor and an open sliding glass door. No one was inside.

When Shaw's girlfriend returned that night, she told police she was at the apartment complex gym when the call was placed, but in a later interview admitted she lied about going to the gym. She later said she was, in fact, at the apartment during the incident with Shaw, but denied that Shaw physically or sexually assaulted her.

Shaw told police that the pair did argue, but "adamantly denied" any assault. The victim has "remained steadfast that nothing happened" and has refused further interviews with police.

"There is insufficient evidence to prove that Mr. Shaw assaulted the victim in any manner," the document stated. "Accordingly, this case is declined."

It was not immediately clear if or when Shaw would be reinstated to rejoin team activities.

USC spokesman Tim Tessalone told The Associated Press that as planned, the school will conduct its own investigation now that local authorities have concluded theirs. He did not indicate how long the probe will take.

Photo Credit: USC Athletics]]>
<![CDATA[Future of Candlestick Park: "Urban Outlet" Shopping Center]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 19:19:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/candlestick-edt-454299290_10.jpg

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee on Monday unveiled the future of the now-defunct Candlestick Park, in what developers hope will be an "urban outlet" mall, featuring an African diaspora-themed market, movie theaters and 6,000 homes - despite some objections from lower income residents who fear the gentrification of their neighborhood.

"I am overjoyed," Lee said at a news conference. "As painstaking as it was to have the Niners leave us on this stadium...We are now ready."

Candlestick Park, built in the 1950s, was decommissioned after the 49ers football team left the San Francisco stadium, nicknamed the 'Stick, for a new $1.2 billion stadium nearly 40 miles south in Santa Clara earlier this year.

Demolition of the storied venue is expected to begin this winter.

The new Candlestick development project, which is expected to largely be completed by 2017, is a partnership between Miami-based real estate developer Lennar Corp. and shopping mall operator, Macerich.

The hope for the former 49ers football stadium is to create a 500,000-square-foot “urban outlet” shopping center, which may resemble a shopping center much like Santana Row in San Jose. In a statement, Lennar and Macerich said the project is expected to create more than 3,000 permanent jobs and build 6,000 homes.  The Wall Street Journal estimated the cost would be more than $200 million.

“Rebuilding and redeveloping Candlestick and The Shipyard is helping us deliver on our promise to make sure San Francisco remains a city where families at all levels of the economic spectrum can succeed,” Lee said. “This is an important milestone in our revitalization efforts in this important community and we are bringing housing, jobs, parks, open space and economic growth through this public-private partnership and laying the groundwork for more housing for our low and middle income families.”

But Hunters' Point resident Espanola Jackson is worried that Gucci- and Armani-type stores will make her low-income neighborhood unaffordable. "This is not being built for the people here," she said. "It's being built for those people coming here."

Construction has already been underway in parts of the San Francisco's Hunters Point Naval shipyard.

Candlestick Point developers promised that 50 percent of the jobs will go to those living in Hunters Point, and they expect to demolish the park in about four months.

In a joint statement, the developers said that Candlestick Point will be one of the largest urban mixed-use projects in the United States, the companies said in a joint statement.  In addition to the "urban outlet" component, it will feature a diversity of commercial offerings, including neighborhood retailers, a restaurant village, an African diaspora-themed marketplace, movie theaters, a performance venue and hotel.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Culliver Shows Support for Harbaugh]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 08:42:22 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/cullyinnewyork.jpg

Shortly before his 49ers took the field against the New York Giants Sunday, a report by the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport indicated that this will be Harbaugh’s last season with the team.

Rapoport said “it would be a surprise” if Harbaugh returned as head coach for the final season of his five-year contract in San Francisco.

Previously, Rapoport and others have reported that Harbaugh had worn out his welcome with the front office and many of his players. However, after those reports surfaced, many of his players stood up for Harbaugh.

And on Sunday, cornerback Chris Culliver made a strong statement of support for his head coach.

After the cornerback picked off an Eli Manning pass – one of five 49ers interceptions of Manning in a 16-10 victory over the Giants – he ran over to Harbaugh and handed him the ball.

Culliver said he gave Harbaugh the ball because of the friendship they have and the fact they share an inside joke.

But Culliver also said it was a show of support for Harbaugh.

“He’s our coach,” Culliver told the team’s website. “Whatever he say, we rock out with it and we go to war with him leading.”

Harbaugh said he “was touched” by Culliver’s gesture – but said he would give the ball back to the cornerback.

Sunday’s report by Rapoport indicated not only that this would be Harbaugh’s last season with the Niners, but that his wife doesn’t want to leave the Bay Area – meaning that he might be a candidate for the Raiders’ job next season if Oakland decides not to bring back interim head coach Tony Sparano.

Former 49ers great Jerry Rice also recently said he believes this will be Harbaugh’s last season with the team.

However in October, 49ers CEO Jed York tweeted his support for his head coach.

“Jim is my coach,” he tweeted. “We’re trying to win a SB, not a personality or popularity contest. Any more questions?”

In addition, team leaders such as tackle Joe Staley and quarterback Colin Kaepernick have said there’s no truth to reports Harbaugh has lost the support of the team.

“I love coach Harbaugh,” Kaepernick said last month. “I’d go to war with him any day of the week. I mean, he’s a competitor, he wants to win and he’s going to do anything to put this team in a position to win.”

The 49ers have now won two straight to improve to 6-4, and play host to 3-7 Washington this Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. With six games to go, San Francisco is tied with Seattle for second in the NFC West and has the third-best record in the wild-card race.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders' Murray Has Earned Opportunity]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 08:41:40 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/179*120/latmurrvssd.jpg

Latavius Murray was the Raiders’ best running back in training camp and the exhibition season.

In the final preseason game, a victory over the Seattle Seahawks, Murray carried eight times for 41 yards and a touchdown, much of it against the Seahawks’ No. 1 defense. And over four summer games, he averaged 4.1 yards per carry, churning out 94 yards on 23 attempts.

Though Murray began the season No. 3 on the depth chart at his position, behind Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden, it seemed that it was only a matter of time before the big (6-foot-3, 225 pounds), bruising running back in his second year from Central Florida would get his chance in 2014.

Yet through the Raiders’ first nine games, Murray was almost invisible. He had just six carries for just 11 yards and went five consecutive games without a rushing attempt.

In Sunday’s 13-6 loss to the Chargers in San Diego, however, Murray put some late life in Oakland’s dormant running attack.

He had just four carries, but broke of 23- and 14-yard runs as part of his 43 yards rushing – a 10.8-yard average. He also had three receptions for 16 yards, including a 10-yarder.

With six games remaining in the season, the Raiders may have finally found the guy to run the football. McFadden is averaging just 3.5 yards per rush (393 yards on 113 attempts) and Jones-Drew is getting only 2.1 yards per attempt (70 on 33 tries).

“It felt good to get in there and run the ball,” Murray told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “It always does, so I was definitely pleased. I left some plays out there also. I dropped a pass on a slant. But I was able to get better and I’m ready for work next week.”

The 0-10 Raiders’ next opportunity comes quickly, a Thursday night matchup with the Chiefs at O.co Coliseum. Kansas City has a rugged defense, so if Oakland hopes to run the ball and take the pressure off rookie quartrerback Derek Carr, it seems as if the Raiders coaching staff will need to give the ball to Murray more often.

What Murray did against the Chargers caught the attention of head coach Tony Sparano.

“I thought he ran the bll well,” Sparano told the media after Sunday’s loss. “There were some things for him that maybe weren’t there early in the game for Darren. Latavius is a big, strong kid. We’re trying to get him more involved.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiderettes Take On Team, NFL Over Wages, Conditions]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 08:35:42 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Raiderette6.JPG Raiderettes Caitlin Y. and Jenny C. have taken on the Oakland Raiders and the NFL, claiming they are not paid fairly. They were inspired by a suit filed by a fellow cheerleader, Lacy T.

Photo Credit: Michael Koo]]>
<![CDATA[Raiderette Opts Out of Class Action Wage Labor Settlement With Raiders]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 18:42:11 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/caitliny5.JPG

A Raiderette who sued the Oakland Raiders over the wages she was paid is rejecting a settlement in another cheerleader's lawsuit, saying it doesn't do enough to fix what she calls the misogynistic culture of the NFL.

Caitlin Y. had danced in the front of the Raiderettes’ cheerleading line for three years. Now, ever since she sued the Raiders and the NFL in June, she says she has been relegated to the second row.

“I’m not in the front anymore,” the 27-year-old ballet dancer told NBC Bay Area in an exclusive interview. “I’ve been put in the back. But that’s OK. It’s all about being part of the team.”

Caitlin, who has accused the team and the league of wage theft and "deplorable" working conditions, formally opted out of a $1.25 million class-action settlement Monday in a fellow cheerleader's suit, saying it doesn't go far enough.

"It doesn’t include the entire NFL," Caitlin, who works as the PR director for a family-run Mountain View skin care company, explained. "It’s a league-wide issue that affects cheerleaders on all teams, not just ours. By accepting this, the NFL gets off the hook."

Caitlin — who like many other NFL cheerleaders prefers not to use her last name, for fear of stalking — wants to push harder for the Raiders and the NFL to pay more, and pay it evenly among cheerleaders across the league.

Her decision to opt out means she will not take the roughly $20,000 owed to her as part of the class action settlement tentatively reached in September, her lawyer Drexel Bradshaw explained. In the formal “objection” filed in Alameda County Superior Court, her attorneys argue that the Raiderettes as a whole are “owed millions and millions.”

Specifically, the legal filing says the class action underpays the Raiderettes somewhere between $1.5 million and $2.7 million – or at least $17,000 per Raiderette per year. The lawyers plan to argue this in court on Feb. 26 during a class action hearing.

"This is far, far from over," he said.

The Raiders have repeatedly declined comment, as has the NFL, whose spokesman and attorneys have not returned calls and emails. The NFL has argued in court, however, that the labor dispute was solely between the cheerleaders and the Raiders, and that the league does not belong in the suit.

Caitlin will not pinpoint a dollar amount that she thinks she should be paid. But she says the class action amount — roughly $5,000 a year for each year worked for each of the 90 cheerleaders — is not enough and doesn’t address the root of the problem.

But she and her lawyer both say that the Raiderettes should be paid more than minimum wage, which was $9 in Oakland at the time.

“These women should be paid more than the Raiders’ mascot, who makes $45,000 a season, plus a pension,” Bradshaw said. “They are obviously athletes and classical dancers, and to pay them $9 an hour is laughable. The guy pouring beer at the concession stands makes more than that.”

Bradshaw said Caitlin is rejecting the payout because the settlement doesn’t address the "misogynous" nature of the NFL, which has come under fire for how it responds to domestic violence accusations against players.

The settlement, if approved by the court, would resolve a similar wage suit brought by another Raiderette, Lacy T., in January and would include 90 other cheerleaders. That suit, the first of its kind in the country, was the force behind a new contract that ensures the Raiderettes make $9 an hour for all hours they work — not just for games.

Even as Caitlin opts out of the class-action settlement in that suit, she and her co-plaintiff — Jenny C., a former Raiderette who now lives in Las Vegas — plan to keep pursuing their joint suit against the NFL. Their suit accuses the league of violating antitrust laws by "acting in concert with teams to depress the wages of all NFL cheerleaders."

Lacy’s lawyer, Sharon Vinick of Oakland, isn’t quite sure why Caitlin wouldn’t buy in to the class action. “We obviously believe it’s an outstanding settlement,” she said. Vinick added while she agrees that the Raiderettes are still “woefully underpaid,” she does not think the Raiders have a legal mandate to pay them more, and that there is no legal basis for suing the NFL, because “the women don’t work for the NFL.”

But a labor expert sees it differently.

"It's understandable that some cheerleaders might find the settlement inadequate," said San Francisco State University Professor and Director of Labor and Employment Students John Logan. "The settlement... puts the cheerleaders, who have a high-profile job in a multi-billion dollar industry, on the same level of poverty-wages as WalMart or McDonald's workers. WalMart and McDonald's workers deserve more, and it's not hard to understand why some NFL cheerleaders believe they deserve more."

While she does want more. Caitlin will not discuss the details of how she's being treated on the team as she pursues her legal claims. She would not disparage the Raiders or her fellow cheerleaders. She insisted she doesn't mind that she doesn't dance in the front anymore; she just wants to dance and get paid fairly for it.

"I know that I’m lucky to have this job," she said. "I love this job. I love being a cheerleader, and I love the Raiders. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be treated with respect or paid adequately for the skills that I've trained for my whole life and I use on game day."

Photo Credit: Michael Koo
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<![CDATA[Niners Pick Off Giants for Second Straight Win]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 18:17:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/krabbtouch.jpg

It was supposed to be easy.

The Giants were 3-6, struggling to stop the run on defense and inconsistent on offense. The 49ers, meanwhile, had everything to play for to stay in the playoff hunt and also had a punishing ground attack that seemed built to beat New York.

Instead, the 49ers needed five interceptions – including one by rookie inside linebacker Chris Borland on a Giants fourth-and-goal play late in the fourth quarter – to beat the Giants 16-10 Sunday at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

The victory pushes the 49ers’ record up to 6-4 and keeps them in the hunt in NFC playoff hunt.

The 49ers’ victory was preserved thanks to a goal-line stand with just under five minutes remaining in the game.

Eli Manning, who had connected with Odell Beckham for a 37-yard gain to the 49ers’ 4, missed on four consecutive passes. Fine defensive plays by Chris Culliver, Eric Reid and Dontae Johnson thwarted the first three, and then Borland gathered in a tipped ball on the fourth attempt to kill the threat and preserve the win.

But from the outset, the Giants made it tough on San Francisco.

The 49ers took the opening kickoff and drove to the New York 16, but then fumbled the ball away. The Giants then marched the opposite way to take a 7-0 lead on a touchdown pass from Manning to tight end Larry Donnell.

The 49ers took over the next two quarters, putting up three field goals by Phil Dawson and a touchdown on a 48-yard pass from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree in the third quarter that gave the Niners a 16-10 lead. Still, the 49ers were frustrated offensively. They moved the ball well, but had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. The offense has yet yet to score a TD in the fourth quarter this season.

Fortunately, the San Francisco defense came through in a big way, picking off Manning five times, including two by the rookie Borland, who again had an outstanding day playing in place of the injured Patrick Willis. Also with interceptions were Michael Wilhoite, Reid and Culliver.

The 49ers defense also allowed just 65 rushing yards.

On offense, the 49ers running attack was clicking. Frank Gore ran for 95 yards, with Carlos Hyde (25) and Kaepernick (24) also chipping in.  The ground game and turnovers added up to the Niners winning the time-of-possession battle, almost 35 minutes to 25 minutes.

Kaepernick was 15-of-29 for 193 yards and one TD with no picks.

The 49ers, now on a two-game winning streak, will host Washington this coming Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Find New Way to Lose]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 17:39:04 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/161*120/Qahrfumble.jpg

Winless teams always seem to find new, creative ways to lose.

On Sunday, that was certainly true of the Oakland Raiders, who fell to 0-10 Sunday with a 13-6 loss to the Chargers in San Diego.

On their first offensive play of the day, from their own 22-yard line, a shotgun snap to quarterback Derek Carr turned into a fumble that was recovered by San Diego. Immediately, the Chargers turned it into a touchdown on a 22-yard pass from Philip Rivers to Malcom Floyd.

It would be the only touchdown of the day for either team in a game that would have been 6-6 otherwise.

The game turned into a defensive struggle and puntfest after that first possession, with both offenses incapable of sustaining drives. Punters Marquette King and Mike Scifres each had nine punts.

The Raiders – as has often been the case this season – made things interesting late. They drove to the San Diego 7 for a field with 4:06 remaining to cut the deficit to seven points. Then, after getting the ball back with 1:05 remaining, were able to get out to their own 41 with just seconds remaining on a a 28-yard pass from Carr to James Jones. But Carr’s final Hail Mary pass toward the end zone fell incomplete.

The Raiders are not only winless in 2014 but have a losing streak now up to 16 games. The one-year anniversary of their last victory is Monday.

The Raiders played much better defensively against the Chargers in their second meeting of the season, holding them to just 300 total yards. In their first matchup, Rivers alone threw for 313 yards and three TDs. This time, the Raiders sacked him twice, put pressure on him constantly and allowed him to complete just 22 or 34 throws for 193 yards.

Carr was 16-of-34 for 172 yards, with no interceptions, though also often under pressure.

One bright spot for Oakland was running back Latavius Murray, who finally got a chance to run the football and gained 43 yards on just four attempts.

The Raiders now have a difficult task, having to regroup in time to host the Chiefs on Thursday night football at O.co Coliseum. Kansas City looked very strong Sunday in defeating the Super Bowl-champion Seahawks 24-20.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best of NFL: Week 11]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 20:04:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/458986756.jpg Don't miss the most dramatic images from the eleventh week of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Reggie Wayne Talks Special Bond With T. Y. Hilton]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 12:30:53 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-11-16+at+2.09.54+PM.jpg Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, now in his 14th season, has mentored third year wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who's an emerging star in the league. The players discuss their special bond ahead of the Colts- New England Patriots showdown Sunday night. ]]> <![CDATA[Canseco Says Shot Finger Fell Off]]> Fri, 14 Nov 2014 21:47:54 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/jose-canseco-getty.jpg

Jose Canseco’s struggle with his shot finger continues.

The former baseball star accidentally shot himself in the finger while cleaning what authorities say was a large-caliber handgun last month, but in a recent series of tweets, Canseco says the procedure to save his finger apparently didn’t work.

In the tweets, he details how his finger fell off Thursday night during a poker game.

(Warning: The below tweets might seem disturbing to some)

Canseco shot a finger on his left hand, apparently unaware that a bullet was in the chamber, Las Vegas Metro Lt. Mark Reddon said.

"It was a serious hand injury," but not a serious medical injury, Reddon told NBC News. "There was nothing suspicious. There was no alcohol involved, just a misstep with a handgun."

Canseco began his long major league career in the 1980s playing for the Oakland Athletics, before going on to play for the Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox and other teams.

He has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his MLB career and after retiring also competed in mixed martial arts and boxing.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[49er Ray McDonald's Parents Criticize Police in Son's Arrest]]> Fri, 14 Nov 2014 17:25:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/familyMcDonald.jpg

The parents of 49ers football player Ray McDonald spoke publicly for the first time since prosecutors decided not to charge the defensive end with felony domestic violence, criticizing the police for the information they released, saying it caused their 30-year-old son to get "slaughtered by the lynch mob."

Speaking to NBC Bay Area by phone on Friday, LaBrina McDonald said she and her husband, Ray McDonald Sr., were tired of keeping quiet. McDonald Sr. said the police released information in "bits and pieces" to make everyone think that his son "attacked" his pregnant girlfriend when "that was totally wrong." He chastised the police, saying they didn't have the "full facts."

"We are a very close family and we come from a close knit community," added LaBrina McDonald. "And we know our son. To hear and read all those things that folks are saying and prejudging — it's heart-breaking. We had to grit our teeth and bite our tongues until this was all done and over."

The San Jose police responded to media requests for a response to the criticism Friday by issuing a three-paragraph statement citing the mandatory disclosure of the California Public Records Act, which include police reports.

"Based on the overwhelming request by various media outlets for police records regarding the Ray McDonald case, the San Jose Police Department complied with state law," police said.

The statement also added that police are "very cautious and sensitive about the information we provide to the media and the public because we do not want to interfere with an active and ongoing investigation. Many times we are precluded from sharing very intimate details about an investigation because we must allow the investigators to conduct their followup investigations."

The McDonalds decided to speak out after the Santa Clara County district attorney's office announced Monday that it wouldn't prosecute the 49er, who was arrested Aug. 31 after a birthday party he threw himself at his San Jose home.

The police news release at the time cited "visible injuries" to a woman officers accused McDonald of harming, but an internal DA memo released this week showed there was "insufficient evidence" and conflicting testimony to charge him with any crime.

There was indeed a fight, the prosecutors noted, where McDonald told his then 10-weeks-pregnant girlfriend she was an "unfit mother." But when the punch flew, both McDonald and the woman said she threw it, according to the document.

McDonald "grabbed her neck" to remove her from the house, which "resulted in a visible injury," the memo says. The action was used to restrain her, according to the documents. She told police that she was "fighting back." The prosecutor's memo describes the injuries as "seemingly minor" and characterizes the fight as a scuffle, "rather than an attack."

"He only restrained her," Ray McDonald Sr. said. "That was it."

Neither parent would not comment on their son's relationship with the woman at the center of the fight. They would not identify her, and would not answer whether she and their son still intended to get married. "You'll have to ask Ray," LaBrina McDonald said.

Ray McDonald told CSNBayArea that he was "doing stuff to try to better our relationship... because we do care about each other, love each other."

It was the "visible injuries" line that irks the McDonald parents, who own an insurance company in Florida and have one other child, a 32-year-old daughter.

"This basically led the public to believe that he hit or attacked her," the family said in a statement first issued to the Mercury News. "The fact that no additional information was given in this press release, in our opinion was very irresponsible and leads us to question the integrity of the ranking individuals that approved this press release."

READ: Ray McDonald Parents Statement on San Jose Police

NBC Bay Area was the second news outlet to obtain that statement and also an exclusive video interview with both parents from the airport on Friday as the couple was heading to Jamaica to celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary.

LaBrina McDonald said that it was hard as a mother to watch her son's name be tarnished — a son she described as laidback, a "big teddy bear," a "Mama's boy," and a talented piano player. 

Since she's a "big talker," LaBrina McDonald said it was especially hard for her not to tell her friends what happened from her son's point of view that night. Ray McDonald Sr. said it was his son who counseled them "to be patient," saying that soon, "the truth will come out."

For the McDonald parents, they are only too happy that there were no charges filed against their son.

"He's a loving person," LaBrina McDonald said. "Just because he makes a lot of money and is a defensive lineman doesn't mean he's a bad person." 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of LaBrina McDonald
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