<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Sports News, Sports Teams, and Scores for the Sharks, 49ers, Raiders,Giants, Bears and More]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Thu, 05 Mar 2015 20:12:03 -0800 Thu, 05 Mar 2015 20:12:03 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Giants' Pence Suffers Fracture in Forearm, Out 6-8 Weeks]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 19:08:42 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/457333104_8.jpg

The San Francisco Giants say Hunter Pence has a broken left forearm after getting hit by a pitch in the sixth inning Thursday.

“It doesn’t look good,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

X-rays show Pence has a non-displaced fracture in his forearm, just above the wrist. He is scheduled to be out six to weight weeks.

Pence was facing the Chicago Cubs' Corey Black when a pitch rode in on his hands and struck him squarely in the forearm. The right fielder usually sprints down to first regardless of how hard he gets hit by a pitch, but he stayed down for about 10 seconds before slowly walking to first base, holding his hands together. Trainer Anthony Reyes immediately removed Pence from the game.

Read more from CSN Bay Area.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Ex-49er Ray McDonald Won't be Charged: Report]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:20:09 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_ray_mcdonald1.jpg

Former San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald reportedly won't be charged for an alleged sexual assault that occurred in San Jose after a night of drinking where the defensive end had said the sex was consensual, according to a report.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network first reported that McDonald’s agent Tom Condon, who represents the 30-year-old defender, sent a letter to teams stating the charges stemming from December 2014 won't be pursued.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, however, said no decision has been made regarding the case.

Still, Rapoport tweeted: “In a letter to teams, Condon says McDonald’s counsel was told the news, despite Santa Clara DA’s process not fully completed with a release.”

And McDonald's mother, LaBrina McDonald, told NBC Bay Area on Thursday that her son's lawyer Josh Bentley spoke to someone in the DA's office who said that her son woldn't be charged. That information was relayed to his agent Tom Condon.She doesn't know the exact day, but it was recent.

She said she was kept out of the loop for the most part because there is video surveillance from the  night in question between her son and the woman, and there are "things that a mother shouldn't know."

As for her son not being charged? “This thing should have been done and over with, she said. “This was over nothing.”

LaBrina and Ray McDonalds Sr., who live in Florida,  had long insisted to NBC Bay Area that he had not committed any crime.

This is the second time McDonald has escaped charges. Prosecutors decided there wasn't enough evidence to charge him stemming from an Aug. 31, 2014 domestic-abuse arrest at his home.

The team released McDonald after San Jose police revealed the defensive lineman was under investigation for "rape by intoxication."

On Thursday, the 49ers signed Arizona Cardinals Darnell Dockett, either as a replacement for McDonald or for Justin Smith if he retires.

Last month, his house on Bentley Ridge Drive in San Jose went up for sale.

NBC Bay Area's Gonzalo Rojas contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dockett Gives 49ers a Quality Starter]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 10:02:28 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/171*120/ninersdokkettt.jpg

The Arizona Cardinals had hoped to re-sign Darnell Dockett.

Though Dockett missed all of the 2014 season with a torn ACL and will turn 34 in May, the Cardinals still believe the defensive lineman has plenty of game left.

Apparently the 49ers do, too.

Dockett and his agent announced Thursday morning that Dockett has signed a two-year deal to play with the San Francisco 49ers. The longtime Cardinal immediately figures to be an impact player on the 49ers defense, either as a replacement for Ray McDonald on the left side of the team’s 3-4 defensive line, or on the right side should Justin Smith retire. With young defensive end Tank Carradine also expected to compete for playing time, the addition of Dockett gives the 49ers some depth and insurance.

Dockett – who’d been with the Cardinals 10 seasons – is expected to pick up where he left off with Arizona. Over 16 games in 2013, Dockett was in on 36 tackles and had 4½ sacks. He had 40½ sacks during his long stay in Arizona, with 349 tackles, nine forced fumbles, four interceptions and 18 batted-down passes.

The 6-foot-4, 293-pounder, a third-round pick out of Florida State in 2004, was a three-time Pro Bowl pick, in 2007, 2009 and 2010. He was one of the defensive standouts on the Cardinals' 2008 Super Bowl team.

Dockett is familiar with the 3-4 scheme, having played it in Arizona, so he should be able to step right into new defensive coordinator Eric Mangini’s defense.

Dockett tore his ACL during summer training camp practice in August. By September, he was already doing heavy rehab work, intent on coming back strong in 2015. At that time, he said he believed he could come back as good as ever.

“I’m just trying to cut the (rehab) time in half,” Dockett told a reporter at that time. “Adrian Peterson did it and came back and led the league in rushing. I just try and look at the whole situation. If there are ways I can cut corners by going four times a day (to rehab), I’ll do that. It doesn’t exactly come easy.”

The Cardinals released Dockett recently to save $6.8 million against the salary cap, but had hoped to bring him back at a lower price. General manager Steve Keim said he would make a strong pitch to keep him.

“With the energy he brings to the defense, he is the heart and soul of our team,” he told Fox Sports Arizona.

According to ESPN.com, the 49ers signed Dockett to a two-year deal worth $7.5 million, with $4 million for the first season.

It certainly seems, too, that the 49ers are getting a very motivated player.

Upon learning of his release by the Cardinals, Dockett tweeted: “No matter the logo I’m gonna win that comeback player of the year … ”

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ballot Paperwork Filed for Proposed Raiders-Chargers NFL Stadium]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 16:20:15 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/rhhoachhhh.jpg

Organizers behind a proposed stadium for the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers in a Los Angeles suburb filed paperwork Wednesday to bring their plan before voters.

Submission of the ballot initiative to the city of Carson, California, marks an incremental step in development of the $1.7 billion project.

If approved, it would modify zoning laws to allow construction of a stadium on the site of a former landfill.

Organizers, funded by the two teams, could begin collecting petition signatures as soon as next week to place the plan on the ballot. They'll need to get 8,041 signatures in the next 180 days.

The Raiders and Chargers announced last month they are planning a shared stadium in Carson if both teams fail to get new stadiums in their current hometowns.

A ballot approval would put the plan on the same footing as another NFL stadium project 10 miles away in Inglewood that is backed by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke.

The fast-tracked Inglewood plan last week got to skip the ballot process with a simple City Council vote because it is being added to an already-in-progress development.

Yet another stadium plan, for downtown Los Angeles, also remains alive, but has no team attached.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tice Has Key Role with Raiders in 2015]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 09:26:21 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/189*120/myketysss.jpg

In his one season as offensive line coach in Atlanta in 2014, Mike Tice was almost a miracle worker.

Despite losing several starters to injury, Tice cobbled together a lineup of undrafted free agents, veterans and No. 1 pick Jake Matthews to produce an offensive line that played far above expectations.

Pro Football Focus ranked the Falcons unit 26th overall in the league last season, but that was likely a level far beyond what could be expected from the individual pieces on the unit. “The encouraging sign is they did get better as the season went on,” wrote Pro Football Focus evaluator Khaled Elsayed.

Now Tice, a longtime NFL assistant and onetime head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, is one of the key coaches on the new Raiders staff assembled by head coach Jack Del Rio. Del Rio is expected to lean heavily on Tice this coming season to sharpen the play of an offensive line that did a fairly solid job of protecting rookie quarterback Derek Carr in 2014, but was underwhelming as a run-blocking unit.

Del Rio and Tice have a long friendship – dating to their days as players (when Tice was a strong run-blocking tight end for the Vikings) – and Tice spent four years on Del Rio’s staff in Jacksonville. From 2006 to 2009, Tice was assistant head coach/offense and then assistant head coach/tight ends.

For most of his NFL coaching career, Tice has been an offensive line coach, working for the Vikings, Bears and Falcons in that capacity.

Bill Williamson, who covers the Raiders for ESPN.com, noted that Tice “is known as one of the best offensive line coaches in the league” while also being “known for his boisterous teachng skills.”

At 6-foot-7, Tice can be an intimidating presence, even while working with the biggest players on the team.

When Tice announced he was making the move to Oakland after a season in Atlanta, he indicated he’d already done a bit of homework on his new team.

“I have an initial feeling on the guys,” Tice said of the Raiders offensive line. “I think there is some talent here that we can work with. But I need o go and grade the whole season before giving a valid assessment of the group. No. 71 (Menelik Watson) and No. 66 (Gabe Jackson) look like they have the potential to be good players. The left tackle (Donald Penn), from what I’ve seen to this point on film, played solid.”

However, there are question marks hanging over the unit that Tice will need to answer. It’s still not certain who the starter will be at center, right guard and right tackle. Watson will have to fight off a challenge from Austin Howard at right tackle. And the move of Howard leaves a whole at right guard.

And, most importantly, can the line continue to protect Carr – now thought of as the franchise quarterback – while creating holes for a running game?

Tice has a big challenge ahead.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[San Jose Giants Players Seek Host Families]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 09:05:02 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/IMG_2656.JPG

The Giants are looking for host families for their rising stars.

Every year, the team’s minor league affiliate, the San Jose Giants, looks for South Bay residents willing to take in young players.

This year, the team needs homes for 25 players who will live with families from April through the playoffs. Among the San Francisco Giants who have gone through the program: Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey.

Interested families can apply on the San Jose Giants website.



Photo Credit: Lori Preuitt]]>
<![CDATA[NFL Commissioner Testifies at Super Bowl Seats Trial]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:42:10 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/super+bowl+xlv+temp+seats.jpg

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell testified in a video deposition played Wednesday at the North Texas Super Bowl seats trial in Dallas federal court.

Goodell said he relied on people under him who provided assurances that temporary seats were being installed as planned for Super Bowl XLV in Arlington.

"Everyone was fully aware of the consequences and the need to address the issue," Goodell said in the August 2013 recording.

Goodell said he did not mention seating concerns for fans at a Feb. 4, 2011, press conference, two days before the game, because he was still under the impression the seats would be ready.

"My comments were very brief and I was there to answer the questions from the media," he said.

By game time about 1,200 sets were still not approved by city inspectors. Approximately 400 fans who never got seats that day were taken to a club below the seating area where they watched the game on TV. They were allowed on the field after the game.

One of those fans is plaintiff David Wanta, a Wausau, Wis., school teacher. Wanta testified Wednesday that he took out a $5,000 loan at his credit union and used savings that upset his wife, to see his beloved Green Bay Packers in the 2011 Super Bowl.

He and plaintiff Ken Laffin paid $800 for each of their tickets. They flew from Madison, Wis., to Denver and then to Oklahoma City, where they rented a car because icy weather that year made the rest of the trip impossible by plane.

At the game they were blocked from entry and corralled in a fenced area with other angry fans whose seats were not ready.

Wanta testified he never would have made the trip if he'd known he would end up watching the game on television.

But an attorney for the NFL questioned Wanta on the $7,245 in total expenses he claimed for the trip. It included $320 in taxi cab fares, $565 in food, $800 of incidentals and $1,000 for events other than the Super Bowl.

Wanta said he purchased Packers clothing and wanted to make the most of the disappointing experience since they made the long trip.

The NFL has already settled with hundreds of other fans, offering refunds and trips to subsequent Super Bowls. In opening statements an NFL attorney said these plaintiffs made excessive demands.

The Dallas Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones were responsible for temporary seat construction at the stadium for the 2011 Super Bowl. Jones and the team are not defendants in the lawsuit, but Jones is expected to be a witness in the trial.

NFL officials have said icy weather before the game was a big factor in failing to have all the seats ready but that the league accepts responsibility for what went wrong. Goodell repeated that in the deposition heard Wednesday.

"Ultimately it's our responsibility," Goodell said. "It is our responsibility to put the event on and make sure fans have a positive experience."

The trial could last two weeks. The threat of freezing weather ended Wednesday's session at 1:30 p.m.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn told jurors to return at 1 p.m. Thursday after the threat of icy roads has passed. Goodell's video deposition will continue Thursday.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[San Francisco Giants Spring Training 2015 Photos]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:13:05 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Oakland-Giants-Spring-Baseball.jpg Here are some photos from the San Francisco Giants' 2015 spring training.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Carradine Could Have Breakthrough 2015 Season for 49ers]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 08:09:54 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/tttannnkkk.jpg

The 2015 season is going to be a transition year for the 49ers on many different fronts. There will be a new coaching staff, some new schemes and changes at several positions. One area certainly impacted will be the defensive line.

Even if veteran defensive end Justin Smith returns for another season, the 49ers will be looking for other players to step up to replace Ray McDonald at the other end and show they can be a replacement for Smith when he retires.

So, this season will be an important one for Cornellius “Tank” Carradine.

Carradine, a former standout at Florida State, was a second-round pick of the 49ers in 2013. He was considered a first-round talent, but he fell to the second round because of a torn ACL in his final season with the Seminoles. His first season was a learning and recovery year, so 2014 essentially was his rookie season – one in which he didn’t make a huge impact.

Carradine played in nine games, was in on 17 tackles and had three sacks. But, he wasn’t activated for several games.

Yet former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said late in the season that the light was starting to come on for Carradine. The learning curve and recovery arc had been steep, but Carradine was starting to become the player the 49ers had hoped for when they made him the 40th overall pick of that 2013 draft.

“To me, you throw out last year,” Fangio said of the 2013 season. “Last year was a total nonexistent year for Tank when it comes to learning and getting better playing football. It was a zero year for him. So this was his rookie year.

“And he was struggling early, but he slowly was getting better and better. Then he hit another plateau. Struggled a little bit at that plateau, and now he’s taken off from that plateau. So it’s a nice progress he’s got going and I think the arrow’s up.”

Carradine, in fact, was at his best over the final three games of the 2014 season as he got more playing time. Against the Seahawks in Seattle, he had two sacks; in the final game against Arizona, he had three tackles and a sack.

With McDonald gone, the door would seem wide open for Carradine to assert himself in spring workouts and summer training camp. 

Robert Mays of Sports Illustrated’s Grantland, in writing about the 49ers prospects for 2015, wrote this week that Carradine’s “role would likely see a major boost.”

Carradine, who is 6-foot-4 and 276 pounds, said late last season that he could feel himself getting better.

“For now,” he told reporters, “it’s about me getting better every day.”

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Andre Johnson May Not be Good Fit With Raiders]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 07:58:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/185*120/aaajjjons.jpg

The Raiders have millions to spend in free agency, plus a need at wide receiver.

So when news surfaced recently that the Houston Texans will soon release or trade veteran wideout Andre Johnson, some NFL observers were putting two and two together to put Johnson in an Oakland uniform.

But as Bill Williamson of ESPN.com wrote this week, the marriage wouldn’t be a perfect one. It might be much wiser for the Raiders to upgrade at the position through the draft or with a younger free agent.

As Williamson wrote, the pairing “May not make a whole lot of football sense. Johnson turns 34 in July and his game is slipping. Oakland needs an impact receiver and is expected to address the need in both free agency and the draft. The only way Johnson may be a fit for the Raiders is if he plays in a limited role, but that’s why Johnson is leaving the only NFL city he has known, because he doesn’t want a reduced role.”

Johnson will be entering his 13th season, but has remained productive. This past season, he caught 85 passes for 936 yards and three touchdowns. In 2012 and 2013, he had 112- and 109-catch seasons, each for more than 1,400 yards. So, despite his age, Johnson is effective.

Plus, as Williamson noted, he and Raiders quarterback Derek Carr are friends. Johnson played with Derek’s older brother, David, in Houston, and Johnson used to spend time with the Carr family.

But a Johnson-Carr reunion doesn’t make all that much sense for a franchise that wants to cast off its image as a home for aging veterans. The Raiders went that route in free agency last offseason, and it didn’t work well. This offseason, general manager Reggie McKenzie wants to bring in impact players in the prime of their careers.

With the fourth pick in the draft, the Raiders could land one of the best pass catchers available – such as Amari Cooper or Kevin White – and add a free agent such as Randall Cobb or Jeremy Maclin.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Possible Strike Threatens Opening of New SJ Stadium]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18:57:07 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/453094128_10.jpg Just as the Bay Area was getting ready for a new era of Major League Soccer with the opening of a new stadium in San Jose, a players strike threatened to stop the season. Robert Handa reports.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Top Photos: MLB Spring Training 2015 ]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 07:56:33 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mlb-th-AP38074322960_0.jpg See photos from Major League Baseball's 2015 spring training as teams gear up for the upcoming season.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Justin Smith May be Leaning Toward Another Season]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 08:23:59 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/182*120/gustynsmythe.jpg

Back in December, it seemed that Justin Smith was headed toward retirement.

At age 35, the perennial Pro Bowl defensive lineman of the 49ers talked about stepping away from the game, and Alex Flanagan of the NFL Network even reported his retirement as a sure thing.

“I’m hearing this will be 49ers DT Justin Smith’s last game,” she reported on Dec. 28. “Retirement looming after 14 years in the NFL.”

But now that Smith has had more time to ponder his options and the calendar has flipped from December to March, there are indications Smith will be coming back for another season.

Matt Barrows, who covers the 49ers for the Sacramento Bee, is reporting that Smith will meet Wednesday with new head coach Jim Tomsula about his future. Tomsula, the former defensive line coach for the team, has a strong relationship with Smith; the two have worked closely together since Smith came over from the Cincinnati Bengals in 2008.

According to Barrows, Smith has been training regularly at the 49ers practice facility and elsewhere, and on Monday was doing a bleacher workout at San Jose State with former 49ers teammates Parys Haralson and Ray McDonald.

Wrote Barrows: “Smith has not been acting like a retiree. He appears to be in excellent shape, although (GM Trent) Baalke warned not to read too much into his offseason habits.”

Baalke told Barrows that Smith is building a new home in Missouri, and that the home will include a weight room.

“That’s just the way he’s wired,” Baalke told Barrows. “That’s part of his life. That’s why he’s been successful as he’s been throughout his career.”

But who runs bleacher workouts just to stay in shape for retirement? Those are intensive workouts tailor-made for football.

Tomsula told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch last month that he’s stayed in touch with Smith this offseason but would “not try to talk him out of anything.”

Added Tomsula: “He has earned the right to make his decision on his terms.”

If that’s the case, it appears Smith – given some time off after a disappointing season – may now be eager to come back for one more season.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders May be Destination for Ndamukong Suh]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 07:48:56 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/184*120/delyonsuh.jpg

How would Ndamukong Suh look in silver and black?

It’s possible the Raiders and their fans may soon find out.

Suh, the NFL’s most dominant defensive tackle, appears to be headed for the free-agent market that begins March 10 now that the Detroit Lions have declined to put the franchise tag on him.

The tag would have cost Detroit $26.8 million.

Suh is ranked as the No. 1 player available in free agency by Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, in their assessment of the top 101 free agents of 2015.

“A double-team defeater against the run as well as the pass, Suh is on a Hall-of-Fame career path,” they wrote.

The 28-year-old former Nebraska star will be expensive, however. Suh has said he wants to be the league’s highest-paid defensive player, and his price tag likely will be higher than the six-year, $100 million contract signed by Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, wrote Kevin Patra of NFL.com.

The Raiders, however, are one of just a handful of NFL teams that can afford Suh. They also are a team that is intent on winning. Owner Mark Davis has a new coaching staff in place, led by Jack Del Rio, and general manager Reggie McKenzie has said he’s going to be aggressive in free agency.

The Raiders, coming off yet another losing season, could make huge strides this offseason by plugging Suh into their defensive front in front of second-year linebacker Khalil Mack, who showed in 2014 that he is a star in the making.

Rosenthal wrote this week, in assessing Suh’s likely landing spots, that the Raiders rank No. 1 on the list.

“They have a boatload of salary cap room to spend and a need under new NFL rules to spend to the new salary cap ‘floor,’ ” he wrote. “They have an owner and general manager that are desperate for a turnaround. …. Wouldn’t Suh make sense continuing the tradition of the renegade-Raiders defenders?”

Suh certainly has a reputation not only for being terrific, but also for being a renegade. In five seasons he’s been a Pro Bowler four times and first-team All-Pro four times and has missed just two games. He has 36 sacks, 238 tackles and 13 pass breakups. He also has been fined and suspended for unnecessary roughness on the field. According to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com, Suh has lost $420,669 due to fines and suspensions.

NFL.com’s Rosenthal noted that Suh has said he’ll let his agent choose his team, so it’s going to come down to a money decision.

Wrote Rosenthal: “Oakland appears to be the most likely team to make Suh the richest defensive player in NFL history.”

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[DeLorean Time Machine Giveaway]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 16:07:06 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/179*120/GettyImages_52521392.jpg

Great Scott! One lucky museum-goer could own their very one "Back to the Future" DeLorean time machine, but there’s a catch.

“Back to the Future Part II” predicted the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series in 2015 and if that prediction holds true, one fan could become the owner of their very own DeLorean time machine automobile.

Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois, says it is prepared to give away a 1981 exhibition model DeLorean, valued at $85,000, should the Cubs become champions for the first time in more than 100 years, according to their website.

The year 2015 was depicted in the 1989 cult film "Back to the Future Part II," which saw Michael J. Fox's character Marty McFly travel to the future, then back to the past (well, an alternate present, if you want to get technical), then really back to the past. For Cubs fans, the film’s bold World Series prediction has been something to look forward to.

The giveaway is part of a contest scheduled to begin March 21. The contest ends one day before the 2015 World Series game and anyone who visits the museum is eligible to win.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[All Signs Point to 49ers Parting with Ahmad Brooks]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 08:51:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/brooks55gone.jpg

Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks has been an underrated but valuable player for the 49ers since becoming a full-time starter in 2011.

He was durable (he didn’t miss a game from 2011-2013) and dynamic. Though overshadowed by deluxe pass rusher Aldon Smith on the other side of the field and by Pro Bowl inside linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, Brooks was a playmaker. Since 2009 – when he began playing a prominent role as a reserve – Brooks has 39 sacks, three interceptions and 10 forced fumbles.

But Brooks, 30, is coming off his worst season and could be a candidate to soon be released by San Francisco.

The 49ers desperately need more space under the salary cap, and Brooks is expected to count $6 million against the cap in 2015. Plus, Brooks had a couple of disagreements with the coaching staff in 2014 and lost playing time to rookie outside linebacker Aaron Lynch.

The 49ers could release Brooks and have the lower-priced Lynch step into the role. Lynch, in fact, might have been the more productive player in 2014. He tied Brooks for the team lead in sacks with six, while playing fewer snaps. Pro Football Focus, according to stats cited by SB Nation, noted that Lynch’s pass-rush efficiency was tied for the 10th best in the league, while Brooks was 28th.

If the 49ers cut ties with Brooks, they have both Lynch and third-year pro Corey Lemonier as backups, as well as Dan Skuta (should they choose to re-sign him).

Brooks, too, wasn’t happy with his situation in 2014, so he may be eager to go elsewhere. He could have several more productive years remaining in his career, and the situation may have soured too much for him in the Bay Area.

When the 49ers played the Giants in November, for instance, Brooks had a sideline disagreement with defensive line coach Jim Tomsula – who just happens to be the new head coach. He had been benched, and said he didn’t take it well. In fact, he apologized to Tomsula and his teammates for the way he acted.

As Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee noted recently, the 49ers’ two outside linebackers, Aldon Smith and Brooks, are scheduled to count about $17 million against the salary cap in 2015, a large total, which he believes will mean one of them should be released this offseason, with the cutting of Brooks “more likely.”

If that’s the case, the 49ers likely would add another 3-4 edge pass rusher in the draft. It’s an area where general manager Trent Baalke has been adept at getting talent – Smith and Lynch, for instance – and the draft is deep in that area this year.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Seem Likely to Pass on Schaub]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 08:10:29 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/emschaaabbb.jpg

The Raiders are in the odd position this offseason of having to spend money.

Because Oakland is so far under the projected salary cap for 2015, the Raiders will be able to spend a significant amount to bring in what general manager Reggie McKenzie calls high-impact free agents.

But that doesn’t mean the Raiders won’t part ways with players that haven’t been wise investments. In the past few days, it’s been reported that often-injured safety Tyvon Branch and defensive end LaMarr Woodley both will be released.

But if there’s one player most Raiders fans would expect to be cut loose, its quarterback Matt Schaub.

The former Texans quarterback ranked as the team’s No. 1 personnel mistake of last season. McKenzie acquired Schaub from Houston and expected him to win the starting job and rebound from a horrible 2013 season. Instead, Schaub wasn’t impressive in summer camp, lost the starting job to rookie Derek Carr and became just a high-priced holder.

Schaub threw just 10 passes, but had two of them intercepted. His QB rating was just 27.9.

Now Schaub is due $5.5 million for this season – money that could be spent much more wisely on a player capable of contributing more.

Yet while it seems logical that Schaub will soon be gone, McKenzie recently told Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle that “it’s always realistic” that Schaub might return.

Why?

Young quarterback Matt McGloin already has shown that he’s a better backup than Schaub. In brief stints over two seasons (and in the preseason) McGloin has been effective.

Yet Schaub, according to several reports, has been a good influence on Carr, helping him study and prepare for games and being a helpful, professional teammate.

McKenzie even hinted that if the Raiders hold on to him a while, perhaps another team might trade for him – allowing the Raiders to get something in return.

But, everything else points to the Raiders letting him go soon. That could come as soon as this week, or perhaps by the March 10 kickoff to the free agency season.

While the Raiders can continue to shed salaries to lower their payroll even further --- the release of running back Maurice Jones-Drew (who will count $2.5 million vs. the cap this season) would be another expected move – it’s hard to see Oakland paying $5.5 million to an untrustworthy backup QB.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[White Sox Legend Minnie Minoso Dies]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 14:59:46 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/minnie+minoso+sox.jpg

White Sox legend Minnie Minoso, affectionately known as the "Cuban Comet," died Saturday night at 90 years old.

Minoso died of natural causes related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

The Cuban-born Minoso was the first black player for the South Side baseball team. He is a nine-time All-Star outfielder and Gold Glove winner.

Minoso made his debut at Comiskey Park in 1951, and his play time with the team spanned four decades. He was named as a candidate for induction into baseball's Hall of Fame in 2012 but was denied last year.

In tweet after his death, the White Sox said, "Minnie Minoso -- Mr. #WhiteSox -- has died. Tears of sadness are falling for a great man."

The Minoso family confirmed the death Sunday afternoon in a statement to the press.

"Minnie lived a full life of joy and happiness, surrounded always by friends and family," the family said. "It is during moments like these that love matters most. Minnie enjoyed nothing more than to be at the ballpark cheering on his White Sox. For Minnie, every day was a reason to smile."

Minoso appeared in a total of 1,835 career games over 17 major-league seasons with Cleveland, the White Sox, St. Louis and Washington.

Minoso's influence reached far beyond the baseball stadium. As the first black Major League player in Chicago, he served as an inspiration to countless young people, including President Barack Obama.

"Minnie may  have been passed over by the Baseball Hall of Fame during his lifetime, but for me and for generations of black and Latino young people, Minnie's quintessentially American story embodies far more than a plaque ever could," the president said in a statement.

Governor Bruce Rauner called Minoso "a trailblazer, a leader and an extraordinary baseball player."

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Minoso's "infectious enthusiasm forever solidified his place as a Chicago icon for the ages."

The Chicago Cubs also released a statement expressing their condolences for the White Sox.

"Having recently lost one of our all-time greats Ernie Banks, we share the heartache with the White Sox organization and fans everywhere who were blessed to enjoy the talent, heart and passion of Mr. White Sox," the North Side team said. "He will be forever known as an electric offensive player and great ambassador for the game of baseball."

According to the Chicago White Sox, Minoso once talked about wearing his Sox uniform till the day he died -- and even afterward.

"When I die, I want to be playing baseball," Minoso said. "Truly. They don't bury me without my uniform. If I die, I die happy because I was wearing No. 9 for the White Sox."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Avaya Stadium Hosts First Preseason MLS Soccer Game]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 20:23:59 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/avaya_stadium_quakes.jpg

The San Jose Earthquakes' new home Avaya Stadium hosted its first Major League Soccer game Saturday, a preseason game against the rival L.A. Galaxy.

In Saturday's "soft opener," at least 10,000 people were expected to come out for the event, so fans should be prepared for traffic near the new stadium, located right next to San Jose airport. Fans can avoid traffic all together by taking VTA there. Saturday was just a test, so only 10,000 fans were allowed in, but when the season starts, all 18,000 tickets will be available.

Earthquake fan Larry Fredlund gives the new facility a big thumbs up.

“It’s a fabulous place," Fredlund said. "I’m really looking forward to having a great season, and hope the team does a little better this year.”

The loud noise and traffic congestion on game days brings crowds--and that is good for business, local business owners said. The owner of MOD Pizza said he is hoping to make new customers out of Quakes fans.

Not everybody liked the huge traffic jam, as a long line of cars could be seen along Coleman Avenue. Critics of the stadium were afraid of this because there is only one major road in or out of Avaya.

Those who got there early, though, beat the traffic.

“We got here about two hours ago," Alex Adame said. "Just enough time to tailgate, have a good time with friends.”

“No traffic. Pretty exciting," Adame added. "It was easy to get here, pretty easy.”

But Campbell resident Valerie Hamilton said she had a more difficult experience.

“It took me about 20 minutes to get three blocks." Hamilton said. "Then, I went into the VIP by mistake. That’s another 10 minutes.”

Traffic got so jammed off Newhall Drive, police had to block off the turn lane into the Coleman Landings Shopping Center, so confused drivers would not go there and disrupt business.

The mayor of San Jose said he looked forward to the turnout.

"When you have assets like this, a place of public gathering space where people feel part of one community, it starts to create a sense of pride," mayor Sam Liccardo said.

The $100 million Avaya Stadium is also home to the largest outdoor bar in North America. The soft opener game started at 2 p.m. and ended with a victory for the home team. The Earthquakes beat the L.A. Galaxy 3-2 in the stadium's unofficial debut.

Officials have three weeks to figure out crowd management at Avaya Stadium. The first official game is March 22 against the Chicago Fire -- and all 18,000 seats are expected to be sold then.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Knick Anthony Mason Dies at 48]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 07:34:43 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/22815mason.jpg

Anthony Mason, one of the Knicks’ most popular players of the 1990s who had one All-Star season during a 13-year pro career, has died following a massive heart attack, the team said Saturday. He was 48.

According to multiple reports and league sources, Mason had been fighting for his life after undergoing multiple surgeries over the last few days. Veteran NBA writer Peter Vescey broke the news Wednesday about Mason.

The Springfield Gardens, Queens, native was a bruising power forward with a no-nonsense demeanor on the court, and he had a fan-pleasing blue-collar work ethic. He came up from the minor leagues and also played overseas before finally making the NBA.

Mason won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award in 1994-95, a season after helping the Knicks reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 1973. The Knicks lost to the Rockets in seven games.

On Saturday, Anthony Mason Jr. issued a statement following his dad's death.

"Overnight New York City and the world lost a legend, a friend, a brother - but more than anything our father. ... As you all would expect our father - Big Mase - put up an incredible fight, dealing with a severe heart issue," he said.

"Pops we've got to let you know we love you and know you'll always be with us," Anthony Mason Jr. said.

Figures from Mason's past took to Twitter to express their grief.

"We gonna miss u brother," tweeted Charles Oakley. 

"A great athlete and true gentleman. He will be missed," wrote the Rev. Al Sharpton.

When Don Nelson succeeded Pat Riley in 1995-96 as the Knicks' head coach, Mason was at the center of a full-blown controversy. Nelson decided to make Mason the focal point of the Knicks’ attack, going away from perennial All-Star and the face of the franchise, Patrick Ewing. Nelson’s move was unpopular with Ewing and other Knicks and led to his removal as head coach only 59 games into his first and only season in New York.

“For Nelson to do that was amazing," former Knicks great Bernard King told NBC 4 New York. “Patrick was still a dominant player in the league at that time. While Anthony was a very good player for the Knicks, Patrick was still one of the best players in the league."

Mason was later traded to Charlotte in the famous Larry Johnson deal that helped key the Knicks’ success in the late 1990’s, culminating with a trip to the NBA Finals in 1999, where the Knicks lost to the Spurs. That was the first of Tim Duncan's five title teams.

Mason later played for Riley in Miami, becoming an All-Star in 2001 as an injury replacement for Grant Hill.

-- Mitch Lawrence contributed to this report.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 22 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter.

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<![CDATA[In Draft, 49ers' Character Values May be Tested]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 09:42:31 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/mizzouDGB.jpg

Back in January, when 49ers CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke introduced Jim Tomsula as the team’s new head coach, all three talked about a new era for the franchise.

Referring to several off-the-field incidents that plagued the 49ers in recent seasons, Tomsula even talked about “winning with class” and how important it would be for 49ers players to conduct themselves in a positive way.

In the weeks before Tomsula was announced as Jim Harbaugh’s successor, York, too, talked about the importance of bringing in players with high-quality character.

“Absolutely,” he said. “And there are guys that they might not be 100 percent choirboy, perfect quality players. And the NFL is made up of teams that have mixtures of personalities. You need to find a way to get to the guys that are potentially on the edge. That have the ability to really be good guys. … Maybe they didn’t have the greatest background, they didn’t have the greatest upbringing, but that doesn’t mean that they’re bad people.”

Then, he said, it would be up to the coaching staff to keep them, “On the side of the road that fits with our core values.”

It’s likely that the 49ers will be tested along those lines in this 2015 draft.

Often, extremely talented players with off-field issues drop down the draft board and become great-value picks.

One such player may be former Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.

NFL analyst Bucky Brooks wrote this week that Green-Beckham – “arguably the most talented receiver in this class – could be available in the middle to low end of the first round this season because of off-field issues. And, he listed the 49ers, who have the 15th selection, as a possible landing spot for him, along with the Chiefs and Colts.

The Niners are seeking a playmaking wide receiver who can add some life to a passing attack that took a step backward in 2014. It’s been argued that quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s development has been hampered by the lack of a go-to downfield receiver.

Beckham, who is 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds, could be that receiver. Brooks says he “has all the tools” of a No. 1 wideout.

“He is big and athletic, and he has speed, quickness and impressive ball skills,” Brooks wrote. “He effortlessly snatches the ball out of the air and routinely wins 50-50 balls with defenders.”

Also, says Brooks, Green-Beckham is elusive after the catch.

But, Brooks noted, Green-Beckham likely won’t be taken at the top of Round 1, and might even drop into Round 2 “due to concerns about his character and past troublesome behavior.”  Brooks cited “two marijuana-related arrests and an alleged assault” that led to his transfer from Missouri to Oklahoma. He never played for the Sooners, however, and decided to turn pro in time for this year’s draft.

Brooks said the incidents plus “questions of a suspect work ethic” come along with the eye-popping talent he’d bring to a team.

If the 49ers were to take him, wrote Brooks, “He could become the focal point of San Francisco’s revamped offense.”

The question is, if Green-Beckham is available when the Niners pick, will they see the reward as higher than the risk?

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Carr Was Solid, but Some Have Questions About His Future]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 08:23:47 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/carr2ndyrrr.jpg

For the first time in years, the Oakland Raiders have a quarterback they trust.

Derek Carr’s rookie season was bright, even on a 3-13 team that lacked much of a running game, special receivers or a strong defense.

As the Raiders enter the free-agency season (that begins March 10) and prepare for the start of the draft on April 30, they’ll be free to pursue players at other positions because they believe in Carr.

But, there are two schools of thought about Carr.

One is that he’s the real deal.

Carr showed good decision-making abilities, avoided sacks (only 24) and had a great touchdown pass-to-interception ratio for a rookie paser (21 to 12). He threw for a team rookie record of 3,270 yards and completed 58.1 percent of his passes. His teammates and coaches believe in him, and he was able to learn from a rough first season, starting all 16 games. Surrounded by better players in 2015, Carr has a bright future, goes the prevalent line of thinking.

As Bucky Brooks of NFL.com noted, “Carr has been the surprise of his class, producing and performing at a surprising level despite playing with an inferior supporting cast.”

But Carr also was extremely conservative in 2015. He rarely threw downfield, and was often content to throw passesof under 10 yards. His yards-per-attempted pass was just 5.4, well below average. Daniel Jeremiah, a former NFL scout who now writes for NFL.com, said Carr “needs to take more chances and push the ball down the field.”

Which brings us to the other line of thinking about Carr.

In writing for the sports analytics website Numberfire.com, JJ Zachariason this week cautioned that perhaps Carr isn’t as good as the Raiders believe he is. The reason: his poor numbers in Net Expected Points (NEP), a statistic that measures each play and calculates how many points an average team would be expected to score in that situation, considering down, distance to go and yard line.

According to Zachariason, the average NEP rating for quarterbacks in the NFL in 2014 was 45.17. Carr, meanwhile, finished with a minus-40.94 total. That put him as the fourth-worst in the NFL. Zachariason wrote that, historically, NEP scores by rookie QBs can be a good predictor of a quarterback’s future success, and that Carr’s number ranks among such flops as Geno Smith, Joey Harrington and Josh Freeman.

However, it’s not foolproof. Carson Palmer and Matthew Stafford also had low scores but have had productive careers.

Zachariason pointed out that Carr faced big obstacles in 2014, including a tough schedule, the lack of a running game and no great wideouts. Plus, he said, future Hall of Fame-caliber QBs such as John Elway and Peyton Manning thrived after rough rookie seasons. “Carr can still succeed,” he wrote. “He can still be a top-tier quarterback."

But, he says, the NEP score is just one cautionary number that must be considered when evaluating Carr’s future.

Meanwhile, count new head coach Jack Del Rio in the camp that sees nothing but a bright future for his young quarterback.

“Carr’s a special young talent,” Del Rio said recently. “He’s got a really quick release, good decision-maker, he’s shown some of that grit we’re looking for, some of that toughness, so he’s a guy that we feel like we have an opportunity to build around.”

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[San Jose Earthquakes Boast New Avaya Stadium]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:15:28 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/avaya-stadium.jpg

The San Jose Earthquakes held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday for their new Avaya stadium on Coleman Avenue.

The Quakes will hold an exhibition game on Saturday with limited seating. The first regular game is in three weeks.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Earl Lloyd, First Black NBA Player, Dies at 86]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 06:14:52 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP861620179640.jpg

Earl Lloyd, the first black player in NBA history, died Thursday. He was 86.

Lloyd's alma mater, West Virginia State, confirmed the death. It did not provide details.

Lloyd made his NBA debut in 1950 for the Washington Capitals, just before fellow black players Sweetwater Clifton and Chuck Cooper played their first games.

"The State family mourns the loss of a fellow Yellow Jacket and trailblazer who was a true champion both on and off of the basketball court," West Virginia State President Brian Hemphill said in a statement. "When Earl stepped out on the court on that fateful date in 1950, this remarkable man rightfully earned his place in the historic civil rights movement and, more important, he opened the door to equality in America."

Lloyd helped the Syracuse Nationals win the 1955 NBA title, joining teammate Jim Tucker as the first black players to play on a championship team.

The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in 560 regular-season games in nine seasons with Washington, Syracuse and Detroit. He missed the 1951-52 season while serving in the U.S. Army.

Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 as a contributor, Lloyd was 22-55 as Detroit's coach in 1971-72 and the first nine games in the 1972-73 season.

Lloyd, a native of Alexandria, Virginia, lived in Crossville, Tennessee. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles Acho Taking Va. Teen to Prom]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 08:52:11 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/228*120/2015-02-26_1345.png

A Loudoun County, Virginia, teen got the surprise of a lifetime Friday when Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho agreed to take her to prom.

Back in January, Hannah Delmonte reached out to Acho on Instagram and asked if he would take her to prom if she got 2,000 retweets on Twitter, Comcast SportsNet Philly reports. But Acho upped the ante -- Delmonte had to reach 10,000 retweets.

And she did.

Delmonte's post received over 17,000 retweets, far surpassing her goal.

Acho dropped by Woodgrove High School in Purcellville on Friday and surprised Delmonte with a customized Eagles jersey with the number 15 and the word "prom" written across the back.

Acho also plans to play piano and sing Delmonte a song on the night of the prom, according to Comcast SportsNet Philly. Prom is scheduled for May 9, according to the school's calendar.

Check out her priceless reaction in the video above.



Photo Credit: Comcast SportsNet Philly
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<![CDATA[Return of Ricky Jean Francois to 49ers Not a Sure Thing]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 10:52:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/192*120/GettyImages_460467806.jpg

When Ricky Jean Francois left the 49ers after the 2012 season, he was signed by the Colts and played well in Indianapolis.

This past season, over 16 games, he had three sacks, was in on 28 tackles and had a fumble recovery. The defensive lineman was a strong player for the Colts, but became a salary-cap casualty because of the $5.5 million he was due to make in the 2015 season.

Immediately upon his release, many predicted a perfect landing spot for him would be San Francisco, where he played his first NFL seasons out of LSU as a seventh-round pick of the 49ers in 2009. He’s familiar with the system, played under Jim Tomsula and would fill a need, with one defensive end, Ray McDonald, released, and another, Justin Smith, contemplating retirement.

But that may not be a slam dunk.

Jean Francois’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told the Indianapolis Star this week that there is a “healthy market in free agency” for his client – which could include re-signing with Indianapolis at a lesser salary.

In addition to the 49ers – who are scheduled to meet with Jean Francois – Washington and Seattle also are reported to be bringing him in for interviews.

Seattle is looking for depth on its defensive line and Jean Francois, 28, would fit nicely as a rotational player up front. Washington, meanwhile, is facing the loss of two of its top defensive linemen in free agency, so Jean Francois could plug a hole. In addition, new Washington general manager Scot McCloughan, formerly of the 49ers, drafted Jean Francois.

Jean Francois certainly seems open to new possibilities.

After being released by the Colts, he tweeted: “Good morning. Every end has a start. Every start has a decision. Every decision has a reason. And every reason has a meaning.” Then, he followed up with more tweets about phone calls being made and re-tweeted reports of NFL teams with interest in his services.

Jean Francois may still return to San Francisco. That possibility still makes sense. But it appears there will be heavy competition for his services.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Have Alternatives if Wisniewski Walks]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 10:52:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/177*120/replacesteffff.jpg

One of the Raiders’ biggest decisions this offseason is whether to re-sign center Stefen Wisniewski.

After four years in Oakland, the former Penn State standout is an unrestricted free agent, and general manager Reggie McKenzie will have to decide whether to let him walk or stay.

Wisniewski, who reportedly made $978,000 in 2014, wants a significantly larger deal to stay in Oakland. But is he worth it?

Wisniewski has been reliable and durable – two qualities that have been lacking on Oakland’s revolving door of an offensive line the past few seasons. But his play has been graded as just average by some observers. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 22nd-best center in the NFL last season.

Speaking at the NFL Combine last week, McKenzie told Bill Williamson of ESPN.com “I don’t know” when asked if Wisniewski might be re-signed before hitting free agency on March 10.

“Our guys have talked to him and we’ve been talking to Wiz since last summer,” said McKenzie. “But we’re going to see how it plays out. There’s always a right price to everything.”

So, if the Raiders let him go – and there appears to be a free-agent market interested in him – who might the team bring in to replace him?

Two of the most attractive candidates are Chiefs center Rodney Hudson and Brian De La Puente of the Bears, both expected to be available.

According to Williamson, Hudson might be the best replacement – but come with a high price tag, perhaps as much as $7 million or more per season.

“Hudson is considered one of the best centers available and could fit in the Raiders’ plan of using more no-huddle offense,” wrote Williamson.

Hudson is coming off his best season in 2014 when he was ranked as the No. 3 player at his position by Pro Football Focus. He will be 26 by opening day. Hudson’s agent met with Chiefs representatives at last week’s NFL Combine, and Kansas City has expressed interest in re-signing him. But the Chiefs are reported to be just about $4.5 million under the salary cap, and may not be able to meet Hudson’s price while also keeping other free agents on the roster.

De La Puente, 29, has played both center and guard in the NFL. He’s coming off  an ankle injury that ended his season in November. His grade at center by Pro Football Focus wasn’t close to Hudson’s, but his price tag would be significantly less. 

If Wisniewski is allowed to walk, Raiders fans may still see him twice a year with the Broncos. Adam Caplan of NFL.com has reported Denver is likely to have strong interest in him.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors' Curry Talks Hoops, Malaria, Cauliflower]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 09:18:07 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Stephen-meets-Bo-and-Sunny-at-the-White-House.jpg

Hard to say who might have been more thrilled this week, Stephen Curry or the president of the United States, an avid hoops player himself who once called the Golden State Warriors guard the best shooter he had ever seen.

But Curry, who lives in Oakland, did not officially visit the White House on Wednesday to show Barack Obama how to make a three-pointer. He was there to speak about the president’s Malaria Initiative, something he became passionate about after visiting Tanzania in 2013 and seeing how children were affected by the disease.

"That hit home to me as we traveled through the camp to hear stories of how malaria impacted all those families," Curry told the Mercury News. A father himself, Curry said he was moved to act. He and his wife, Ayesha, have two children.

"Let's keep the fight going," he said after the meeting.

Curry for the past three seasons has donated three insecticide-treated mosquito nets for every 3-pointer he makes as part of the United Nations Foundation's Nothing But Nets campaign. Since he started in 2012, Curry has donated 1,599 bed nets, according to the organization.

The goal of the group is to find athletes who are willing to find “fun, creative ways” to raise awareness and money to buy a $10 bednet to combat the disease by protecting people from mosquito bites. Since 2006, Nothing But Nets has delivered more than nine million nets to families in 29 countries across Africa. Malaria kills more than 600,000 people worldwide each year.

But Curry’s charitable works don’t end with malaria. On Thursday, he and San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick are pushing the benefits of cauliflower as part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative, which has been nicknamed “FNV,” a supposedly catchier title for fruits and vegetables.”

NBC Universal's Jennifer Vasquez contributed to this report.
 



Photo Credit: Nothing But Nets
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<![CDATA[2-Year-Old Son of NFL Long Snapper Sings National Anthem]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:48:08 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/AP828165311104.jpg

Forget football! The 2-year-old son of Cincinnati Bengals' long snapper showed he is ready for the stage when he belted out the National Anthem at a high school basketball game.

The NFL player, Clark Harris, held son Trent's hand as he led him to the court for the tot's performance.

Decked out in a blazer and with hair reminiscent of his father's mane, Trent sang in front of a packed gym ahead of a matchup between the Southern Regional High School and Pinelands Regional High School boys' basketball teams.

Clark's wife and proud mom, Jessica, posted Trent's rendition to YouTube, captioning the video: "My sons first performance!! ... I'm so proud!!!" 

Watch the full video below.



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
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<![CDATA[NFL Stadium Proposals ]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:41:02 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/carson-stadium.gif

Ever since the Rams and the Raiders left Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, there have been attempts to bring an NFL team back to the city.

The football league approved an expansion franchise for Los Angeles as early as 1999, but no agreement was reached and a team went to Houston. The NFL requires a three-quarters vote of the 32 teams for any team to move.

There are now four proposals on the table. Here they are:


Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers to Share a Stadium

The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers have announced that they will together pursue a new home at a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, in Los Angeles County,  but only if both teams cannot find alternatives in their home markets. The stadium, which would require voter approval, would have more than 72,000 seats and with 18,000 parking spots, room for tailgating. It would be built on the site of an old municipal landfill at the intersection of the 405 Freeway and Del Amo Boulevard. Right now, the Jets and the Giants are the only NFL teams to share a stadium.

Meanwhile negotiations over a new stadium for the Raiders in the Bay area could be facing a 30-day deadline, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle. Oakland Mayor Libby Scaaf has said she would be wiling to spend taxpayer money to help pay for a new stadium, which could total up to $300 million, according to columnists Phil Matier and Andy Ross. But issues over using public money could be insurmountable, they report.


Replacing Hollywood Park Racetrack

Stan Kroenke, the owner of the St. Louis Rams, wants to build a new $2 billion stadium on the site of the now closed Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood, California. The proposal is for an 80,000-seat stadium, 6,000-seat performance venue, 300-room hotel, and 1.5 million square feet of retail, office and residential space.

The developer, not the public, would pay for the cost of building the stadium, according to a consultants' report.

The Inglewood City Council unanimously approved the plan on Feb. 24.

Kroenke has partnered with Stockbridge Capital Group and is the first NFL team owner to control a site large enough for a new stadium. The Rams are playing at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, but are unhappy with the conditions. The Inglewood proposal will put pressure on St Louis to reach a deal for a new stadium or watch the team return to Southern California, where it played from 1946 to 1994.

Farmers Field

The Anschutz Entertainment Group or AEG agreed in 2012 to build a football stadium at the L.A. LIVE complex downtown and renovate the Los Angeles Convention Center. In October, the city granted AEG a six-month extension. AEG plans to commit $600,000 to development, but it is also offering alternatives to a stadium, meaning a large hotel might be built in its place.
 
Grand Crossing

Developer Ed Roski Jr., the president of Majestic Realty Co., in 2008 announced plans to build an $800 million stadium in the city of Industry near the interchange of the 60 and 57 freeways. The project is being called Grand Crossing.



Photo Credit: MANICA ARCHITECTURE]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Reported to be Very Interested in Randall Cobb]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 09:22:05 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/190*120/packkcobbb.jpg

Reggie McKenzie is a Raider now, a former linebacker in silver and black who’s been the general manager in Oakland since January of 2012.

But McKenzie has deep roots in Green Bay, where he worked for the Packers for nearly 18 years, moving up to director of football operations, and he’s often returned to those roots in Oakland, bringing in such former Packers as wide receiver James Jones, quarterback Matt Flynn and safety Charles Woodson.

So, as the free-agent season approaches, it’s no shock that McKenzie and the Raiders have been linked to another Packers player, wide receiver Randall Cobb. McKenzie was still a Packers decision-maker in 2011 when Green Bay made him a second-round pick.

This week, Bill Williamson of ESPN.com reported, “No shock, but hear expectation around NFL is Raiders will make a run at Cobb.”

Cobb would be one of the most desired free-agent receivers on the market if the Packers decide not to re-sign him. The 5-foot-10 speedster from Kentucky has played four seasons in the NFL, all with Green Bay and has been an impact player, both as a receiver and punt/kick returner.

This past season, Cobb had 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns in 16 starts. He also had an 80-catch season in 2012, before losing 10 games to injury in 2013. This past season he was ranked as the NFL’s top wide receiver by Pro Football Focus and the No. 4 receiver in the league by Football Outsiders.

Wrote Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk this week: “Should the Packers not be willing to get close enough to convince Cobb to sign before free agency opens, the Raiders would be one of the teams with both the cap space and the receiver need to be at the front of the hunt for Cobb’s services.”

However, Cobb wouldn’t come cheap. It’s believed he’s seeking as much as $9 million per season.

The prospect of adding a player such as Cobb in free agency – while also adding a receiver in the draft – could suddenly take the Raiders’ weak wideout corps to much higher levels. In addition, Oakland should get back its No. 1 receiver from 2013, Rod Streater, who missed most of 2014.

 

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<![CDATA[Market Could be Strong for 49ers' Culliver]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 09:21:29 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/181*120/Cculleye.jpg

Cornerback Chris Culliver has had four seasons of promise and disappointment with the 49ers since being drafted in the third round out of South Carolina in 2011.

He showed great progress in 2012 as the nickel corner as the Niners advanced to the Super Bowl, but then lost all of the 2013 season to injury. Then, last season, he worked his way into the starting lineup because of injury and had a decent season. In 14 starts he had four interceptions, forced a fumble, had 15 passes defensed and was in on 38 tackles.

But Culliver, 27 – who also had his share off off-the-field issues as a 49er -- is now an unrestricted free agent, and it appears more and more likely that his days in San Francisco are over.

The 49ers, with salary-cap issues, may decide to let Culliver go elsewhere – and there apparently is high interest in him from several teams.

Culliver is ranked among the best free-agent cornerbacks on the market, behind the Seahawks’ Byron Maxwell, the Chargers’ Brandon Flowers, the Texans’ Kareem Jackson, the Cardinals’ Antonio Cromartie and the Packers’ Davon House and Tramon Williams. But with some of those players expected to be re-signed by their teams, Culliver’s stock has risen.

As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wrote this week, “There could be a very significant market” for Culliver. Pro Football Focus graded Culliver as the third-best free agent corner available.

The Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans and Chicago Bears are reportedly among the teams who might make a run at Culliver.

The 49ers, meanwhile, could have some big holes to fill in the secondary, if both Culliver and Perrish Cox – who started alongside Culliver for much of 2014 – leave in free agency.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Council Rams Through NFL Stadium Proposal]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 07:49:32 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/194*120/2-25-2015-RamsCouncil.JPG

The Inglewood City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve plans for a $2 billion, 80,000-seat stadium proposed by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke.

The move, which is part of the redevelopment of the former Hollywood Park racetrack, could see the franchise relocate to Los Angeles.

Kroenke's stadium proposal had received enough supporting petition signatures to force the council to take action, and rather than opting to hold an election on the issue or another hearing within 10 days, the measure was passed at a noisy meeting, which was so well-attended it had a second room for overspill.

The measure puts Inglewood in the driving seat for bringing professional football back to Los Angeles according to NBC4 sports anchor Fred Roggin.

"Inglewood has pocket aces, so they are in the lead at this point in time," Roggin said. "First shovel in the ground will win the game, and by Inglewood doing what they're doing, they have the opportunity now to start digging."

Development is already underway on a 238-acre retail, office, hotel and residential project at the Hollywood Park site, which is just over 12 miles from Downtown LA, and that effort will continue. The 4 million-square-foot project was approved by the city in 2009.

At the meeting one member of public said the stadium would be an economic boon for the area, with developers estimating it would generate at least $25 million in new revenue annually for the city.

"Think about all the revenue that's going to come, think about Super Bowls, think about the Olympics, think about hotels, shopping, concerts," he said.

There was some dissent however, particularly about the effect increased travel on game days would have on the area.

"To pretend we will have no traffic issues when it will be larger than... Dodger Stadium is slightly ridiculous," one detractor told the council.

Although Kroenke is behind the stadium effort, the Rams have not announced any plans to move to Southern California. 

However city documents noted that approving the stadium "would provide the city with a unique ability to attract a National Football League franchise to Southern California.''

One Rams fan had traveled all the way to attend the meeting, and said he would move to the city if a move goes ahead.

"No, I'm not in Inglewood, but as soon as the Rams relocate and make that announcement, I'll be housed here," he said.

The Rams have been pushing for a new stadium to replace the Edward Jones Dome, where the team has played since 1995. Kroenke's Inglewood plans will likely increase pressure on St. Louis to either strike a deal for a new stadium or watch the team return to Southern California, where it played from 1946 to 1994.

According to the initiative presented to Inglewood, the stadium project "would be funded entirely with private funds provided by the property owner developing the project. Inglewood residents and the city would pay no taxes or subsidies for stadium construction."

In addition to the Rams, Kroenke's company Kroenke Sports Enterprises also owns the NBA's Denver Nuggets, NHL's Colorado Avalanche, the MLS's Colorado Rapids. He is also the largest shareholder of English football club Arsenal.

The announcement follows hot on the heels of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders announcing  they were working together on a possible $1.7 billion shared stadium in Carson.

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<![CDATA[Boston Olympics Criticism OK: Mayor]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 14:02:07 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/Walsh+Olympics.jpg

It's now OK for city workers to criticize Boston's bid for the 2024 Olympics, thanks to a change to the city's deal with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Mayor Marty Walsh announced the change Tuesday, saying that the agreement with the USOC had been revised to remove any language discouraging city employees from criticizing the Olympic bid. Walsh had earlier defended the stipulation, which civil liberties advocates had criticized.

The Boston Globe reported last month that the "joinder agreement" between the city and the USOC banned city employees from badmouthing the 2024 Olympic bid. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts said the agreement was a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.

"This revised agreement is the result of positive negotiations with the United States Olympic Committee to reach a consensus that accurately represents how Boston is moving forward with our Olympic bid," Walsh said in a statement.

"I want to thank those who have already offered their thoughts on Boston's bid and I continue to encourage all residents, including city employees, to share their opinions over the coming months. My top priority is to ensure an open and transparent process, and it is important that any proposal is shaped by the input and ideas of people from every neighborhood in order to offer the greatest benefit to our city," Walsh continued.

Walsh's statement characterized the original ban on employee criticism of the Olympic bid as "boilerplate language that all cities have historically signed regarding city employees and their participation in the Olympic process."

Rich Davey, Boston 2024's CEO, said the new agreement "will strengthen Boston's efforts to work with communities to build a stronger Olympic bid."

The next citywide Olympic discussion is scheduled for Tuesday night at 6:30 at the Condon School Cafeteria in South Boston. 

Additional citywide meetings are scheduled for March 31, April 28, May 19, June 30, July 28, Aug. 25 and Sept. 29.



Photo Credit: FILE - NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Top Sports Photos 2015]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 07:39:18 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/189*120/mlb-22-AP580561729536.jpg Click to see dramatic sports photos from the NFL, to basketball, baseball and more.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Madison Bumgarner Poses as Paul Bunyan With Bull]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:29:22 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*125/madbum2.JPG

World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner is getting some new attention after he posed as Paul Bunyan for a photo shoot.

Yup, that’s him in red suspenders and an ax posing for the cover of the first issue of the Season’s Giants magazine.

MadBum was born in Hickory, North Carolina where he still lives on a farm during the offseason.



Photo Credit: San Francisco Giants]]>