<![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 Fri, 18 Apr 2014 17:06:39 -0700 Fri, 18 Apr 2014 17:06:39 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[WATCH: Golfer Flees Hornet Attack on Course]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:45:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Larrazabal.jpg

A Spanish golfer jumped into a nearby lake to escape a swarm of hornets then continued on despite his stinging injuries.

Pablo Larrazabal was in the fifth hole's fairway during the Maybank Malaysian Open when he swatted away a stray hornet, which then prompted a swarm to attack him. The golfer attempted to fight them off, but had to run to the lake to escape the angry wasps.

“They were huge and like 30 or 40 of them started to attack me big time,” Larrazabal said in a statement to ESPN. “I didn’t know what to do. My caddie told me to run, so I start running like a crazy guy, but the hornets were still there, so the other players told me to jump in the lake.”

The scene could have been reminiscent of Chris Farley's character fleeing a bee attack in the 1995 film "Tommy Boy."

Larrazabal suffered more than 20 stings and had to receive medical attention. He described the encounter as the “scariest moment" of his career.

However, he returned to play his last five holes in a borrowed shirt, reversing his luck by finishing the 14th hole – the same one where he was attacked – with a birdie putt and finishing overall with two under.

He later tweeted out thanks to supporters and joked that golf is a dangerous sport.
 



Photo Credit: Ian Walton/Getty Images)]]>
<![CDATA[Kruk's Son Turned Broadcaster Into "Ballet Groupie"]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:28:48 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/194*120/041814-thumbnail-krukow-and-son.jpg

The son of San Francisco Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow is following in his father’s athletic footsteps… in ballet shoes.

Weston Krukow, the youngest of the five Krukow siblings, recently became one of just eight male dancers in San Francisco’s prestigious Smuin Ballet.

That one of the most famous voices in Bay Area baseball has a son who quit Little League for the big stage is just fine with the elder Krukow.

“You want your children to follow their passions. We tried to expose our kids to a variety of things and dance stuck for him,” Mike Krukow told NBC Bay Area in a phone interview on Friday. “He’s earned the right to be there.”

There’s no question the youngest Krukow is an athlete; one look at his muscular physique wipes any doubt from the mind.

A dancer since the age of 4, Weston displays his versatility in YouTube videos he posted of many of of his past performances at the University of Arizona, where he graduated in 2012. (Make sure to check out his dance reel from 2011 featuring him soloing in a pair of red polka-dotted boxers.

And although there’s certainly a difference between performing a pirouette and pitching, in dad's eyes, ballet and baseball might be more similar than they appear.

“We’ve had lengthy discussions about preparation, injuries," Krukow said. "You have to be able to be consistent. That’s what they pay you for. That’s what’s most important.”

Despite going in different directions athletically, Weston will always be a Giants fan, and his dad will continue to attend as many ballet performances as possible.

“He absolutely loves the Giants," the elder Krukow said. "He’s at the ballpark all the time. And my wife and I are ballet groupies, we try to go as often as we can.”



Photo Credit: Mike Krukow]]>
<![CDATA[Secret Service Threatened to Shoot Mr. Met: Book]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:11:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mr-met-cohen.jpg

A Secret Service agent once threatened to shoot Mr. Met if he approached the president during a baseball game at Shea Stadium, according to a man who once worked as the baseball-headed mascot.

AJ Mass, who was the Mets’ mascot from 1994 to 1997, said a member of former President Bill Clinton’s security detail told him they’d “go for the kill shot” if he tried to pal around with the then-commander-in-chief at a Mets-Dodgers game on April 15, 1997. The account comes from an excerpt of Mass’ new book, “Yes, It’s Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Woolly World of Sports Mascots,” published on Sports Illustrated’s website this week.

Mass wrote that he had planned to make his way to see Clinton, who was at the game commemorating the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first major-league appearance, calling the photo-op "the holy grail for all mascots."

Before he could make it to the president’s box, Mass wrote, he was stopped by an agent in a dark suit and a businesslike demeanor.

“We have snipers all around the stadium, just in case something were to happen,” the agent told Mass. “Like I said, do whatever it is you normally do. Nobody will bother you. But approach the president, and we go for the kill shot. Are we clear?”

Then the agent, who Mass wrote was staring into the mouth of Mr. Met’s head to make eye contact with the man inside, repeated himself.

“Approach the president, and we go for the kill shot,” the agent said to Mass. “ARE-WE-CLEAR?”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McNabb Spends Day in AZ Jail ]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 03:12:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mcnabb+arrested+mugshot+background.jpg

Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has been released from an Arizona jail after serving a one-day sentence for a DUI arrest late last year.

Records released by Maricopa County Justice Court show that 37-year-old McNabb served his time Wednesday and was released Thursday morning.

Court administrator James Vance tells NBC10.com McNabb was stopped on Dec. 15, 2013 in his gray Land Rover LR4 along an Arizona freeway -- Route 101 near East McDowell Road -- on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. He was then arrested for driving under the influence and cited for speeding.

McNabb's blood alcohol content (BAC) was not available for release, but Vance said while the state's legal limit is 0.08, a person could be considered impaired with a BAC of 0.04 or higher.

The former Eagle pleaded guilty on March 27 and nine days of his sentence was suspended in exchange for undergoing alcohol screening and treatment. Vance says that is a pretty standard judgment.

McNabb then reported to the Maricopa County Jail on Wednesday, was booked and served the one day sentence.

Once the alcohol treatment is completed, the sentence will be suspended, Vance says.

NBC10.com reached out to McNabb's attorney, Stephen Benedetto, for comment. We have not heard back.

Our sister station, KPNX in Phoenix, Ariz., obtained a booking mugshot of McNabb from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

McNabb, a six-time Pro Bowler, spent 10 years with the Eagles and took the franchise to five NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl. He currently hosts a show on NBC Sports Radio.

A spokesman for the radio network said, "Donovan has no comment," on the matter.



Photo Credit: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Lights Go Out Before Sharks-Kings Game 1]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 05:16:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-17-2014-sap-center.jpg

The lights went out at SAP Center in San Jose less than 30 minutes before the puck was scheduled to drop for Game 1 of the Sharks first-round playoff game against the Los Angeles Kings.

“Entire SAP Center just lost power,” CSN Bay Area’s Brodie Brazil tweeted about 7 p.m.

The arena was pitch dark for a couple seconds until emergency lights came on, NBC Bay Area’s Geraud Moncure reports.

Power was restored within 10 minutes.

Moncure reports fans inside the arena remained calm during the outage.

Players later took the ice for warmups, but there was none of the usual music blaring over the public address system

One Bay Area sports franchise apparently could empathize with the pre-game situation:

The cause of the outage is unknown, according to the Sharks. A spokesperson for PG&E said the outage did appear to be related to the utility.

“SAP Center Management will continue to work with PG&E to determine a cause for the outage," the team said in a statement released Thursday night.



Photo Credit: Brodie Brazil]]>
<![CDATA[Truckloads of Sod Arrive at Levi's Stadium]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:22:20 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sod.jpg

Six truckloads of sod were delivered before the sun came up Thursday at the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, which will be home turf for the San Francisco 49ers.

In a statement, the 49ers said it will take two days to install 2.5 acres of sod from West Coast's Turf's Bandera Bermuda in Merced. Six more truckloads will be delivered on Friday.

The turf is 42 inches wide and is 100 feet long.

The stadium is on track to open this summer.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[49ers Tied For NFL Lead – In Players Arrested]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:45:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-14-2014-aldon-smith.jpg

Football is still months away, but the San Francisco 49ers are in first place.

For most players arrested in 2014, according to reports.

With linebacker Aldon Smith's bizarre arrest at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday, the 49ers have seen three players taken away in handcuffs by cops. That ties them for first place in player arrests with the Baltimore Ravens, according to the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

Guard Daniel Kilgore (public intoxication) and cornerback Chris Culliver (hit-and-run, possessing brass knuckles) have also been arrested this year.

Of the 49ers' ten arrests since 2010, four of them were notched by Smith. He's had two DUI busts and was also charged with three felonies for possessing an assault weapon.

Ten arrests ties the 49ers with the Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, and the Tennessee Titans.

Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Denver lead the league with 14 busts since 2010. Cincinnatti has 13.

By contrast, the well-behaved Raiders have seen only seven players taken away by police.

]]>
<![CDATA[Niners' Signing of Lloyd Has No Downside]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:42:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/dalloydwr.jpg

Don’t expect the 49ers’ signing of free-agent veteran wideout Brandon Lloyd to impact their draft strategy.

San Francisco will still be looking for a young, fast, playmaking receiver in the draft to team with Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Quinton Patton.

The signing of Lloyd, meanwhile, is a low-risk, possibly high-reward move that could either: 1) pay off in a big way if Lloyd, 32 – who did not play in the NFL last season – flashes the form he showed with New England in 2012 when he had 74 catches; or 2) result in Lloyd failing to make the roster out of training camp.

The odds probably are against Lloyd making a big impact for the Niners in 2014. After sitting out a season, Lloyd doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the wideout head coach Jim Harbaugh says he’s hoping to add, “A third guy who can get open and make plays. … A playmaker.”

As Marc Sessler of NFL.com wrote after the 49ers announced the signing Tuesday, “The 49ers should keep looking. We’d be surprised if a 32-year-old pass-catcher coming off a sabbatical year fills that need.”

But Lloyd – originally a fourth-round pick of the 49ers in 2003 – has surprised teams before with his productivity.

After playing his first three seasons in San Francisco, then bouncing between the Redskins and Bears with no real success, he led the NFL in receiving yards in 2010 with the Broncos at the age of 29, catching 77 passes for 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns. The next season he was traded during the season to the Rams, but still had 70 catches, then had 74 receptions for 911 yards in his one season with the Patriots.

Lloyd reportedly had interest from several teams to sign in 2013, but decided to pursue an acting career instead. He appeared in one movie, “After Effect,” with Daniel Baldwin, but then decided to play again.

If Lloyd shows he’s an effective receiver – and the 49ers also pick up a good pass catcher in the draft – San Francisco would suddenly have a very deep and good group of receivers.

If not, and Lloyd fails to make the roster, the one-year, low-risk deal will be a small price to pay for the possibility of a big reward.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mock Drafts for Raiders Reveal ... Nothing]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:08:48 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/174*120/ssammiey.jpg

With three weeks to go before the Raiders make their first pick in the draft, NFL analysts are all over the yard as to whom Oakland will take. There’s no consensus.

But the interesting thing is that every player penciled in for the Raiders in every mock draft makes sense to some degree.

Among one sampling of 17 mock drafts, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins is tabbed the most, at four times, followed by: Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack (3), Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson (3), Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (3), Central Florida QB Blake Bortles (2), South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (1) and Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater (1).

Unless Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie decides to reveal his thinking – which isn’t going to happen – the Raiders will no doubt keep their fans guessing right up to the moment when commissioner Roger Goodell walks to the podium to announce their selection.

The case for Watkins is perhaps strongest, considering the needs of the teams above the Raiders in the draft order and Watkins’ potential impact. McKenzie says the Raiders need playmakers, and Watson would make an instant impact on Oakland’s ability to score and combine with James Jones, Denarius Moore and Rod Streater to give the team a deep and able receiving corps. Watkins has been touted by some as the best wide receiver prospect since Calvin Johnson, who became Megatron with the Detroit Lions.

Then, there’s quarterback. Though Oakland has veteran Matt Schaub and second-year player Matt McGloin, few believe in either – which means the Raiders are still looking for the franchise quarterback they’ve been missing for years. So, a case can be made for Bortles, Manziel and Bridgewater – though it’s uncertain which of those players the Raiders like best. Even Schaub recently said he wouldn’t be surprised if Oakland selects a quarterback, because of his age (32) and the fact the team needs to look to the future.

And, the selection of an elite defender such as Clowney or Mack also makes perfect sense. If either is as good as billed, he could be the foundation of a new defense for seasons to come.

Robinson, too, is attractive because the consensus is he could be an All-Pro caliber player at his position and dominate for years to come – though with the Raiders investing so heavily in free agency in players such as Donald Penn, Austin Howard and Kevin Boothe, and with Menelik Watson set to get an opportunity to start in his second season, offensive tackle seems to be less of a need position. If the Raiders take Robinson, it would be because he’s the most talented player available.

And that’s one of the things that makes this draft so hard to predict: we don’t know how McKenzie and his staff have evaluated this group at the top. If they go for the best player available,  Oakland’s choice may not be any of these seven players.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Could Draft Another "Redshirt" Player]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:53:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/181*120/cboakkk.jpg

Will the 49ers select more redshirt players in this draft? It’s certainly possible.

Last year, the Niners drafted two highly touted prospects, running back Marcus Lattimore and defensive lineman Tank Carradine, despite the fact each had suffered an injury in his final college season and would be unavailable to play in 2013.

Lattimore and Carradine are healthy and fit now after sitting out a season, and could be big contributors in 2014.

Now the 49ers – with a still-deep roster and 11 picks – might consider doing the same thing again in the draft that begins May 8.

The 49ers have former Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin in for a visit this week. Colvin tore his ACL in January during a practice for the Senior Bowl, and isn’t expected to be able to play in 2014. He had surgery in January and has been rehabbing in Florida, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

Colvin, who is 5-foot-11 and 177 pounds, has long arms – a favorite trait of 49ers GM Trent Baalke – and is reported to be a physical cornerback who is good in coverage and run support. He had 33 career starts for the Sooners, for whom he twice received all-Big 12 honors. The knock on Colvin is a lack of burner-type speed, but he’s a solid pro prospect who could be a late-round pick by a team willing to wait on him to get healthy.  San Francisco certainly fits that description.

“Adding injured players to a loaded roster has become a draft strategy for the 49ers,” wrote Barrows this week. “They are able to obtain a player in a lower round because he is injured and perhaps allow him to ‘redshirt’ his initial years with the team.”

In addition to Colvin, Barrows notes there are several other players available in the draft with ACL injuries who could be redshirt candidates for the 49ers, including: guard Brandon Thomas of Clemson; Florida defensive lineman Dominique Easley; Virginia tech cornerback Antone Exum; Nebraska guard Spencer Long; quarterbacks Aaron Murray of Georgia and Zach Mettenberger of LSU; and safety Vinnie Sunseri of Alabama.

While Colvin is an attractive player, ESPN draft analyst Steve Muench said this week that he may be too much of a risk because of a history of past injuries – he missed all of the 2011 season with a shoulder injury – and the fact he’s dropped about 15 pounds since his season ended.

Still, Muench said Colvin is talented – and the secondary is an area of need for San Francisco. If the 49ers take him, it would be for long-term help. The team also needs immediate help as well – and could use its top overall pick on a cornerback, too.

“He’s got the tools to be an effective No. 3 corner,” Muench said of Colvin on ESPN.com this week. “He’d see the field a lot with how often teams line up with three or more receivers. He’s instinctive, he has above-average cover skills and he tackles well.”

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jackie Robinson Day: Giants Pay Tribute]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:33:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/JACKIERobinson.jpg

The impact of a legend defies time. That is why, 67 years later, we are commemorating the career of baseball great Jackie Robinson.

On April 15, 1947, Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier when he played his first Major League game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. At 28 years old, it was only the beginning of a career marked by World Series appearances, countless awards and finally his induction into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1962.

But Robinson’s talent was not the only thing that made him a star. Off the field, Robinson was a large proponent of the civil rights movement, and hoped to play a role in improving the quality of life for all African-Americans.

Every year on this, day the San Francisco Giants and the baseball community at large remember Robinson in a special way. This year the Giants allowed fans to purchase two tickets for only $42 dollars (tickets are already sold out), a nod to the jersey number 42 that Robinson wore. There will also be a pregame ceremony with special guest on Tuesday, April 15.

The Giants took to Twitter early Tuesday morning at 6:42 a.m. retweeting fans “thank you” tweets to the late legend.

“If it wasn’t for Jackie Robinson I wouldn’t be in this clubhouse. I live comfortably because of Jackie Robinson,” Giants Coach Shawon Dunston said.

Tuesday, every team throughout the league remembers the athlete by wearing the number 42 jersey, including Tuesday night in San Francisco when the Giants’ host Robinson’s former team, the Dodgers.

Check out how people on Twitter are remembering Robinson: 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lemonier Gives 49ers Linebacking Insurance]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 09:21:06 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/1854463thelemonyay76.jpg

At his best, Aldon Smith is one of the NFL’s best pass rushers.

In just three pro seasons, the 49ers’ outside linebacker has given San Francisco’s defense a dynamic element. In his rookie season of 2011, Smith had 14 sacks, then followed up with 19½ in 2012 and 8½ in 2013 while missing five games.

But Smith’s future with the 49ers now is a bit cloudy, following the latest in some troubling off-the-field incidents. The 49ers had been considering a long-term contract extension for Smith, whose initial contract expires at the end of the 2014 season. But this past weekend, Smith was taken into custody after an alleged incident at Los Angeles International Airport, and was booked on charges of making a false bomb threat.

Niners general manager Trent Baalke put out a statement to the media Sunday saying: “We are disappointed to learn of the incident today involving Aldon Smith. As this is a pending legal matter and we are still gathering the pertinent facts, we will have no further comment.”

The 49ers, of course, will let the matter take its legal course. It could be that Smith eventually will face no charges or not be subject to losing any playing time via suspension in 2014 – and that the 49ers will go forward on coming to a longer agreement with No. 99.

But for both the short and long term, the 49ers at least have the luxury of having some depth at outside linebacker.

In fact, with second-year player Corey Lemonier and veteran Dan Skuta, the 49ers have a player who can grow into being a strong NFL starter and another who played very well last season with the team.

Lemonier, a third-round pick of the 49ers in 2013 from Auburn, had 17 sacks in college and NFL scouts loved his potential as an NFL pass rusher.  At 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, Lemonier has both good size and speed, and when Smith was out of the lineup for five games in 2013 for another off-the-field incident, Lemonier teamed with Skuta to fill in ably. In fact, the 49ers went 5-0 over that span.

In playing 16 games – with no starts – Lemonier had 12 tackles, a sack (which resulted in a safety) and a forced fumble.

During one four-game stretch early in the season, when Lemonier recorded his only sack, Lemonier was credited with 17 quarterback hurries. So it’s possible that with more experience and playing time, Lemonier could blossom as a starter and be able to step into perhaps the NFL’s best linebacking corps along with Ahmad Brooks, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman (when he’s expected to return at midseason from injury).

Head coach Jim Harbaugh said he liked what he saw of Lemonier as a rookie.

“Pass rushers are hard to find,” Harbaugh said during the season. “It’s exciting, seeing him do the job he’s doing.”

And former 49ers safety Donte Whitner said during the season that he sees Lemonier as a future standout.

“He has all the mechanics, all the makeup, he has the talent to be a good pass rusher in the National Football League,” Whitner told the media. “He just has to get more experience and he’ll get better and better.”

Of course, if the 49ers do lose Smith for any amount of time in 2014, that would spread them thin; especially with Bowman already out. So, they might consider taking another young outside linebacker in the draft, or bringing in a bargain-priced free agent.

But one thing seems evident: Lemonier will make an impact as a defender over the next few seasons, either as a valuable backup or starter. And he gives the 49ers some very nice insurance.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders May Like Savage as a Late QB Pick]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:54:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/165*120/tmmsavgee.jpg

In early February, it seemed a certainty that quarterback-starved teams such as the Texans, Browns, Jaguars and Raiders would help themselves to a buffet of highly rated passers.

Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles, among others, were considered high first-round picks.

But as the days tick off toward the opening round of the draft on May 8, those teams now seem far less in love with those prospects – especially if they stay in the top five of the draft.

Now, it seems, a number of teams – including the Raiders – may be content to take a top prospect at another position high in the first round, then wait until the second or third round to take a chance on a young quarterback.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback wrote Monday that he’s heard from sources that Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Oakland “are strongly considering passing on quarterbacks with their first picks and waiting until their second or third selections.”

The reason: none of those teams is “in love” with one of the top prospects, but believes it can get value later in the draft among prospects such as Derek Carr, A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenburger, Jimmy Garoppolo or Logan Thomas.

Now, too, other prospects have begun to emerge through recent evaluations that weren’t even on the radar a couple of months ago, such as Tom Savage of Pittsburgh who visited the Raiders this past week.

Savage started at Rutgers, transferred to Arizona (but never played) then moved again, to Pitt, where he started this past season and threw for 2,958 yards, completed 61 percent of his passes and threw for 21 TDs vs. nine interceptions.

Some scouts now say Savage has perhaps the best arm of any quarterback prospect, and he has good size at 6-feet-4 and 228 pounds.

As Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com noted recently, Savage “would seemingly fit the mold for the Raiders, who are going all in with Matt Schaub” as their starter, with Matt McGloin as backup – for now. In other words: a pocket passer.

Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network and NFL.com, calls Savage a “sleeper”  who could be one of the draft’s surprises. Former NFL exec Gil Brandt, also of NFL.com, says Savage reminds him of Hall of Famer Troy Aikman. And Mike Mayock of the NFL Network says Savage is a “wild card” of this quarterback class whose size, arm strength and raw talents could make him a future star.

But with Schaub and McGloin ahead of him, Savage would be able to develop and be coached up to NFL caliber without the pressure of performing immediately. And, says Brooks, that’s a good thing – because he’s not ready to play.

“He is erratic with his accuracy and ball placement,” wrote Brooks. “He needs to work on controlling the velocity of his ball to make it easier for receivers to catch his passes. Additionally, Savage must develop better footwork and mechanics in the pocket to make up for his lack of athleticism and mobility. Given the work Savage needs to do to become a potential starter, he will earn developmental grades (Rounds 4-7) on most boards and enter the league viewed as a probable No. 3 quarterback as a rookie.”

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[49ers' Aldon Smith Arrested For False Bomb Threat]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:59:29 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/10-9-2013-aldon-smith.jpg

San Francisco 49ers star linebacker Aldon Smith was taken into custody by police at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday following an encounter with a TSA agent, police said.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, 25-year-old Smith from San Jose, Calif., was arrested at LAX after making a bomb threat. He was released from custody after posting $20,000 bail Sunday evening and was not charged on Monday, as is standard for out-of-custody defendents, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

According to the police statement, Smith was going through Terminal 1 screening and was randomly selected for a secondary screening at about 2 p.m.. Smith "then became belligerent and uncooperative with the process and with the TSA agent, making a comment indicating that he was in possession of a bomb before proceeding towards the gate area."

Los Angeles Airport Police made contact with Smith at the gate, where he was identified as the person in question. Once again, Smith became uncooperative and was detained and taken into custody by Airport Police and transported to LAPD and booked for California Penal Code 148.1(a) - false report of a bomb threat.

Additional eyewitness accounts support the accusation.

An airport employee said that he witnessed the confrontation at the gate between Smith and police.

"I could hear him saying bomb, and then I looked and noticed who it was," an LAX employee who said his name was "Garet" told NBC Bay Area. "He was taking money out of his pocket and throwing it on the ground saying, ‘It’ll be all right. It’ll be all right.'"

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has confirmed police at the airport said it appeared Smith may have been drunk earlier in the day. He was belligerent, but he was not charged with being drunk in public, police said.

The airport said it did not run or request any blood alcohol tests because alcohol was not a factor in the arrest.

TMZ Sports was first to post footage of police officers at LAX taking Smith into custody. Smith can can be heard in the video saying he did nothing wrong.

San Francisco 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke released a statement saying the team is "disappointed to learn of the incident today involving Aldon Smith." He declined to comment further, citing a "pending legal matter."

This is the fourth criminal case against Smith in the last two years.

Smith had hearings on two separate criminal cases last Friday, including three felony counts of possessing an illegal assault weapon and a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol, according to Deputy District Attorney Brian Buckelew.

Smith wasn't present for the hearing.

The district attorney's office filed the three felony charges against Smith on Oct. 9, after the office's firearms unit examined five rifles recovered by sheriff's deputies from Smith's rented home outside San Jose in 2012. Deputies searched the home after a raucous late-night party where two people were shot and wounded and Smith was stabbed in the leg.

During the crowded party, which was attended by 49ers player Chris Culliver and former 49ers player Delanie Walker, Smith fired a .45 caliber handgun into the air to disburse partygoers before he was stabbed.

The man prosecutors alleged stabbed Smith, Steven Raymond Burba, a reputed gang member, was later arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Authorities have not arrested a suspect in the shootings of the two victims at the party.

When sheriff's deputies arrived at Smith's home to investigate, they found five rifles in his bedroom, including three assault weapons, an Armalite AR-10T and two Bushmaster brand rifles, which Smith bought legally in Arizona in 2011 but are illegal to possess in California, prosecutors said.

Smith's separate DUI case was on the court calendar for a pretrial conference. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession on Sept. 20, after San Jose police said he crashed his car into a tree at about 7 a.m. on Bentley Ridge Drive in San Jose.

Some 49ers fans said they were not surprised Smith has had yet another brush with the law.

"You would think he’d get his act together after getting caught after having that DUI crash in San Jose but he’s young, he’s not learning," 49ers fan TJ Duran said.

"I would be shocked if he has a future with the team," football fan Sean Smith said.


Credit for cell phone video: Clayton Mullaly, USMC combat vet.

 

Information from Bay City News was used in this report.



Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2 Hernandez Associates Indicted on Murder Charge]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:08:20 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/hernandezq.jpg

Two associates of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez were indicted Friday on murder charges, in connection with his alleged fatal shooting of a semi-professional football player last year.

A Massachusetts grand jury charged both Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace with murder in connection with the June 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd in North Attleboro, Mass., NECN reported.

Bristol County District Attorney's Office said Ortiz and Wallace, both of Bristol, Conn., will be arraigned on the new charge in Fall River on a date that has yet to be determined.

Ortiz and Wallace had both pleaded not guilty to their previous charge of accessory to murder after the fact.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murdering 27-year-old Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee.

]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Expected to Draft a Center]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:06:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/dakilllgohr.jpg

By now, every 49ers follower knows the team’s biggest needs in the draft – cornerback and wide receiver.

But over the three-day selection process that begins May 8, the Niners no doubt will select at least one player to challenge for playing time at another position of need: center.

With the departure of veteran Jonathan Goodwin, an unsigned free agent who started the past three seasons in San Francisco, Adam Kilgore is expected to inherit the position.

Kilgore, Goodwin’s primary backup last season, is the front-runner to earn the job, with another veteran, Adam Snyder, capable of backing him up. Snyder can play both guard and center, as can another player on the roster, Joe Looney. Also on the 49ers roster is Ryan Seymour, who also has some experience at the position from his college days at Vanderbilt.

“I feel good about that group competing for that spot,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke recently told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

But with 11 draft choices available, the 49ers are expected to draft at least one player to challenge that group.

In his latest mock draft, Todd McShay, an NFL analyst for ESPN, has the Niners using their No. 1 pick (30th overall) on TCU cornerback Jason Verrett, their No. 2 pick (56th overall) on Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews and their third pick (No. 61 overall) on USC center Marcus Martin.

“Martin has the potential to be a good starting center for a long time, and would be a nice addition to the Niners’ offensive line,” he writes.

Martin, 6-foot-3 and 320 pounds, can play guard or center. He’s ranked by NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock as the No. 1 center in the draft, ahead of Weston Richburg of Colorado State, Travis Swanson of Arkansas, Bryan Stork of Florida State and Gabe Ikard of Oklahoma.

In February, the 49ers gave Kilgore, 26, a three-year contract extension and it seemed to signal the team’s thinking that he’s ready to step into Goodwin’s position.

“We are pleased to extend the contract of a talented young player like Dan,” Baalke said at the time. “This move is another example of our philosophy to extend the contracts of our own young players.”

But the Niners also have a history under Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh, of bringing in players to create competition at all roster spots. So drafting a center – to help now and in the future – makes sense. Kilgore may turn out to be the answer at the position, but the 49ers will want him to compete for it.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Should Bypass Tackle With No. 5 Pick]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:05:45 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/kaymack.jpg

By all accounts, Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews are the best offensive tackles in the upcoming NFL draft.

Both could be taken among the top 10 picks. Both could become Pro Bowl-type players.

And both should be bypassed by the Oakland Raiders when it comes time for them to use the No. 5 overall choice in the first round.

Not because Robinson, of Auburn, or Matthews, of Texas A&M, wouldn’t make a difference on the offensive line. No doubt they would.

As Peter King of Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback pointed out in a story this week on the two players, each has tremendous potential. Robinson, he wrote, has the ability “to become one of the all-time greats at the position.” Matthews, the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame lineman Bruce Matthews, “is without question ready to play in the NFL right now.”

But the Raiders this offseason already have invested heavily in the offensive line – bringing in Donald Penn, Kevin Boothe and Austin Howard – and used their second-round choice last year to take Menelik Watson. Because of that, it’s hard to believe some mock NFL drafts in which the Raiders take either Robinson or Matthews. Though a team can always benefit from investing in its offensive line, the Raiders – with an already-improved front five – need playmakers. They need offensive and defensive stars who can take over a game and create havoc against AFC West opponents.

That means the Raiders, with the fifth pick, need someone such as wideouts Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney or linebacker Khalil Mack – or, if they truly believe a quarterback can be a future star – one of the top-rated players at that position for the future.

As general manager Reggie McKenzie said in January, after a second straight 4-12 season, the Raiders have needs “with an s” – multiple needs. And in particular they need a playmaker with the No. 5 choice.

“When you can add a playmaker to your team, that’s what your shooting for,” said McKenzie.

As good as Robinson and Matthews are and will be, the Raiders with the fifth overall choice need a player who can change games in an instant.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kaepernick: Charges are "Completely Wrong"]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:11:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/461570031.jpg

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick slammed media reports that he is being investigated by Miami police for sexual assault.

In a series of three tweets first sent at 7:30 a.m. Friday morning, Kaepernick wrote:

"The charges made in the TMZ story and other stories I’ve seen are completely wrong," he tweeted.  "They make things up about me that never happened. I take great pride in who I am and what I do, but  I guess sometimes you have to deal with someone who makes things up. I want to thank all of the people who have shared their encouraging sentiments. I assure you that your faith is not misplaced."

TMZ on Thursday first broke the news about Kaepernick, saying in its headline that he was being investigated for a sexual assault.

Later in the day, the Miami police department released a report filed April 3 by a woman who said she is a former lover of Kaepernick's. In the report, the woman said that she partied with him and two other NFL players, passed out at the Miami Viceroy hotel on April 2, and wound up at a hospital later without having any idea how she got there.

The report alleges no specific crime.

According to the police report, the woman -- who, according to the police report, had a previous sexual relationship with Kaepernick -- said she went to visit Ricardo Lockette, 27, at his unit at the luxury residences of the Viceroy in downtown Miami on April 1 about 9 p.m. Kaepernick and 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton, 23, were also there.

The woman said she mixed drinks for the men and gave them shots, according to the report. She said the men told her that if she wanted to drink she had to "hit the bong, which contained marijuana," the report states.

They chatted for a while and watched basketball.

Before midnight, she started to feel "light headed," she told police, and she went to lie down.

She said Kaepernick came behind her in the bedroom and started kissing her, the report states. He started to undress her, and she told police she got naked. They did not have sex at this time, the report states.

Kaepernick left, saying he'd be right back.The Viceroy Hotel & Spa is seen in this image captured Thursday, April 10, 2014.

The Viceroy Hotel & Spa is seen in this image captured Thursday, April 10, 2014. (Photo: NBC 6 South Florida)

When the woman called out that she was in bed naked, Patton and Lockette opened the door and "peeked" inside, the report states. She remembers yelling, "What are you doing? Where is Colin? Get out!" the report states. They closed the door and left.

But the woman cannot remember anything after that.

She woke up in a hospital and can't remember arriving there.

Miami police said they are investigating the report, as is standard when someone files one.

Wisconsin-based XAM Sports, which represents Kaepernick, also issued a statement to CSN Bay Area in support of their client on Friday.

"We stand by Colin 100% and are fully confident that the truth will be evident once the facts come to light regarding this matter. Thank you for supporting Colin."

Agent Scott Smith represents Kaepernick, who is in line for a lucrative contract extension.

General manager Trent Baalke said recently at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., the 49ers hope to have a new deal in place before the opening of training camp. And 49ers CEO Jed York said Kaepernick deserves to be paid like a top quarterback.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Colin Kaepernick Investigated for Miami Hotel Incident]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 03:57:18 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP8942224809.jpg

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being investigated by police in Miami in connection to an incident that allegedly involves a woman who passed out inside a luxury hotel room.

The report released by the Miami Police Department on Thursday does not charge Kaepernick with any specific crime.

A woman told authorities she partied with Kaepernick -- and two other NFL players -- and ended up in a South Florida hospital room without any recollection of how she got there, according to the police report.

The alleged encounter happened at the Viceroy Hotel in downtown Miami the evening of April 1.

Along with 26-year-old Kaepernick, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, 27, and 23-year-old 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton, who is entering his second NFL season, are both mentioned in the incident report. CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco reports Kaepernick and Lockette forged a tight friendship during Lockette's time on the 49ers' practice squad in 2012.

Police in Miami are continuing to investigate whether Kaepernick and the two other NFL players mentioned are responsible for any wrongdoing.

“There is not much we can say about it, other than it is an open investigation for all three of these men,” Miami Police spokeswoman Kenia Reyes said.

The report was taken by Miami police on April 3, when the unnamed woman walked into the department's central station.

According to the police report, the woman said she went to visit Lockette at his unit at the luxury residences of the Viceroy on April 1 about 9 p.m. Patton and Kaepernick were also there.

The woman said she mixed drinks for the men and gave them shots, according to the report. She said the men told her that if she wanted to drink she had to "hit the bong, which contained marijuana," the report states.

They chatted for a while and watched basketball.

Before midnight, she started to feel "light headed," she told police, and she went to lie down.

She said Kaepernick came behind her in the bedroom and started kissing her, the report states. He started to undress her, and she told police she got naked. They did not have sex at this time, the report states.

Kaepernick left, saying he'd be right back.The Viceroy Hotel & Spa is seen in this image captured Thursday, April 10, 2014.

The Viceroy Hotel & Spa is seen in this image captured Thursday, April 10, 2014. (Photo: NBC 6 South Florida)

When the woman called out that she was in bed naked, Patton and Lockette opened the door and "peeked" inside, the report states. She remembers yelling, "What are you doing? Where is Colin? Get out!" the report states. They closed the door and left.

But the woman cannot remember anything after that.

She woke up in a hospital and can't remember arriving there.

The woman told police that she and Kaepernick had a sexual relationship in the past.

San Francisco 49ers’ General Manager Trent Baalke released a statement to the media Thursday morning, which said:

“The 49ers organization is aware of the recent media report regarding Colin Kaepernick and is in the process of gathering the pertinent facts.”

TMZ first broke the news. TMZ's report says any investigation is in the "beginning stages," according to law enforcement sources.

Niners cornerback Tramaine Brock said he thinks the investigation "must be a hoax."

Kaepernick has apparently been training in South Florida during the offseason. Less than week ago, the 49ers QB posted to Instagram a photo of himself hashtagged "#Miami."

Attempts to reach the players named in the report or their attorneys have been unsuccessful.

It's been a rough year for 49ers players off the field.

Chris Culliver is facing one felony charge and two misdemeanor charges after a March 30 hit-and-run involving a bicyclist in San Jose. The 25-year-old cornerback was charged with felony possession of brass knuckles, which carries up to a three-year prison sentence. He also was charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run with injury as well as misdemeanor hit-and-run, which have one-year maximum sentences.

All-Pro linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana in San Jose. In October, the 24-year-old was charged three felony weapons assault charges, stemming from a June 2012 house party he hosted. In September, he was charged with a DUI. In November, Smith pleaded not guilty.

Both Smith and Culliver, who are still under contract with the 49ers, are scheduled to make separate appearances in Santa Clara County court on Friday.
 

NBC Bay Area's Damian Trujillo and NBC 6 South Florida contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lattimore May Provide Instant Impact for 49ers]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 09:28:39 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/170*120/dalattie.jpg

In 2013, Packers running back Eddie Lacy was an instant-impact hit.

He rushed for 1,178 yards, had four games of 100 or more yards, scored 11 touchdowns and broke the Green Bay record for carries by a rookie with 284.

The 5-foot-11, 230-pounder from the University of Alabama proved to be a physical runner – able to withstand the pounding from NFL defenders – with the speed to break off runs of 60, 56 and 37 yards. He was the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2013.

Now, as the 49ers prepare for the 2014 season, one former NFL executive sees a young player just as good on the San Francisco roster, ready to shine in 2014.

Gil Brandt, an NFL Media senior analyst for NFL.com and former longtime leader of the Dallas Cowboys front office, lists 49ers running back Marcus Lattimore among his 10 players primed for a second-year breakout.

“I think he’s even a better running back than Eddie Lacy,” wrote Brandt this week.

Lattimore, just 22, was a standout at South Carolina, but fell to the fourth round last season because of a knee injury in his final season for the Gamecocks. But the 5-foot-11, 221-pounder is now fully recovered and is expected to get a lot of playing time this season behind starter Frank Gore.

“I think San Francisco is about to be rewarded for its patience,” wrote Brandt. “Lattimore is a tough, one-cut runner with great instincts, exactly the type of power back the 49ers like to run with, in the mold of incumbent starter Frank Gore.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lattimore get some crunch-time carries this season and become the starter by 2015, when Gore is set to hit free agency.”

Gore, who will be 31 this coming season, showed no signs of slowing down in 2013 when he rushed for 1,128 yards and carried 276 times.

Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh, in fact, said in March that Gore is far from finished.

“I really think Frank has three more good years,” Harbaugh told reporters. “I truly believe that. But we’re in a game of taking it one year at a time.”

Gore is entering the final year of the contract extension he signed in 2011, and is due to earn $6.45 million in 2014. If Gore has another outstanding season in 2014, it might be hard to part ways with him. After all, he does a lot of things well. He’s perhaps the best-blocking running back in the NFL as a pass protector. In 160 pass-protection situations in 2013, he didn’t allow a single sack and just three quarterback pressures.

But the 49ers are smart with their money and will have a lot of decisions to make soon about long-term contracts for quarterback Colin Kaepernick, linebacker Aldon Smith and guard Mike Iupati, among others. If Lattimore proves to be as good as Brandt believes he will be, it’s possible the 49ers could let Gore walk and establish Lattimore as their lower-cost No. 1 back in 2015.

After injuring his left knee as a sophomore at South Carolina, he came back strong. Then he injured his right knee as a junior.

Now, he says he’s ready to show what he can do.

“The left knee, it feels like nothing ever happened,” Lattimore told the Associated Press recently. “The right knee, it feels great. Both feel balanced. I’ve got my speed and I rarely get any soreness (after workouts).”

He says he “can’t go out there and be Superman the first day,” but is confident.

“Once I get back in the groove and take a few hits, I’ll be OK,” he said.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Still Have Money to Spend]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 08:01:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/181*120/reginaldd.jpg

The Raiders have spent a lot of money this offseason. General manager Reggie McKenzie entered free agency with more than $60 million in his pocket and has brought in a large crew of newcomers.

Yet having dipped into that pocket repeatedly, McKenzie still has plenty left.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, cited by ESPN.com Raiders beat writer Paul Gutierrez recently, the Raiders still have more than $12.5 million in salary-cap space.

Even with the Raiders expected to use about $6.7 million on draft picks, that still leaves more than $5 million for other free-agent acquisitions, says Guiterrez.

That money could lead to signing another “two or even three” veteran free agents this offseason to strengthen the roster, he wrote.

“Of course, the Raiders can always trade down and pick up more draft picks, as well as clear more cap space by cutting players or restructuring deals.” Gutierrez wrote. “It’s all a fluid situation.”

The Raiders of course will bring in a new wave of talent in the three-day draft that begins May 8, but are also in a position to supplement the roster with a couple of veterans at positions of need with the money they still have – perhaps at tight end or the secondary or a couple of proven special-teams players.

Yet the key aspect of all the Raiders’ spending is they haven’t handcuffed themselves to long-term deals. If a lot of these free-agent veterans work out, great. If they don’t, the Raiders can part company with them and have salary-cap space for 2015, 2016 and beyond.

Joel Corry of CBS Sports’ Eye on Football says the Raiders’ spending has created a definite upgrade of the roster, which could result in the team finally playing better in 2014 – he suggests the Raiders may be good enough to get to 8-8, a big improvement from consecutive 4-12 seasons.

“Seven or eight wins seems possible provided a majority of older acquisitions don’t hit the wall simultaneously and depending on how many immediate contributors are found in the draft,” he wrote. “It remains to be seen whether almost doubling Oakland’s 2013 win total will be enough to get McKenzie off the hot seat.”

There is no doubt, however, that McKenzie has been smart with the Raiders’ available money. If he’s as good evaluating talent remains the question.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nike Launches Jerry Rice Tribute Shoe]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 09:33:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/jerry-rice-nike-shoe-940x627q80.jpeg

Wearing them won't make you as fleet of foot as "Flash 80," but for diehard San Francisco 49ers fans Nike's new Jerry Rice tribute shoe is already a hot commodity.

Fittingly, Nike launched the red and gold Jerry Rice Free Trainer 5.0 NRG shoe on 4/9.

"Over 20 seasons in the NFL, no player embodied the evolution of training quite like Jerry Rice. From his famous workouts in the hills of San Francisco to his punishing gym regimen, Rice pushed his own boundaries so he could push the game’s boundaries every Sunday," Nike posted on its website. "His commitment to constant improvement produced the most receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns in NFL history. His drive is the spirit behind the Nike Free Trainer 5.0 NRG inspired by Jerry Rice."


Rice has long been considered by many as the greatest wide receiver of all-time. Just in case you need a reminder of his many great accomplishments, check out the insoles of his tribute shoe which list a few of his jaw-dropping records -- most career touchdown receptions (197), most career receiving yards (22,895) and of course, three Super Bowl titles.

The shoe sells for $110 on the Nike website. But if you're looking to snatch up a pair right away, you're out of luck. It's already out of stock.

Credit: Nike.com

 

 

 

 



Photo Credit: Nike]]>
<![CDATA[Gilroy Boy Finishes 21st in March Madness Bracket Contest]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 08:30:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/photo173.JPG

Kaiden Gonzales was a lucky bounce away from winning $100,000.

The 7-year-old Gilroy boy came in 21st in the Yahoo March Madness NCAA bracket contest out of millions of entrants. If he had come in 20th,  the boy with the gap-toothed smile and a love of basketball and math would have won a runner-up prize of $100,000.

Kaiden correctly predicted UConn, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Florida would all reach the Final Four, but it wasn't enough to finish in the money.

The goal all along wasn’t to win, Kaiden's parents explained. It was to be part of a family game, connecting cousins, uncles, grandparents and aunts stretched between California and Hawaii. Choosing the right teams, or brackets, kept the family talking and emailing for weeks.

“We never did it for the money,” Kaiden’s mom Gena Gonzales said. “We’re such a big sports family. We’ve been doing March Madness brackets for years. The kids picked up on it, and this year, we involved them.”

On Wednesday, after shooting some hoops in the front yard, Kaiden explained his picking strategy.

“I just close my eyes at night,” he said, “and try to pick wisely.”

What does that mean?

Well, Kaiden chose the Florida Gators because he wants to visit the Sunshine State. He picked the Wisconsin Badgers because artist Georgia O’Keeffe was born there and he loves the way her “flowers run off the page.”

He chose the Kentucky Wildcats their state starts with a “K,” the first letter of his name. He picked the winning Connecticut Huskies because he has a stuffed husky named “Happy,” after UConn's mascot.

Still, the Glenview Elementary first grader wasn’t too disappointed when he found out he missed out on a sizeable chunk of change. His mom and his dad, both teachers in Gilroy, and his brother, Bode, 8, still went out to dinner as a family to congratulate Kaiden on a job well done.

"You don’t always have to win,” Kaiden said. “That’s the important thing about every single game.”

 

(Editor's note: Kaiden's uncle, Tim Sakahara, worked at KNTV from 1999 to 2001.)
 



Photo Credit: Lisa Fernandez]]>
<![CDATA[Batkid Throws 1st Pitch, Draws Praise, Criticism ]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:41:23 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/batkid6.jpg

He won the hearts of San Francisco five months ago, when the city morphed into Gotham City to lift the spirits of a 5-year-old battling leukemia.

And Batkid still evoked strong emotions when he took the mound at the Giants home opener at AT&T Park on Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The tiny superhero, aka Miles Scott of Siskyou County, threw the first pitch at the game, where the Giants were victorious, 7-3. An especially poignant image was when the little boy dressed all in black held hands with pitcher Matt Cain on the field.

Some took to social media to criticize all the attention Miles - who is remission from his cancer - is still getting. The city of San Francisco and 12,000 volunteers pitched in on Nov. 15 to make the boy's dream come true: Allowing him to be his favorite superhero for the day. But some believe that the boy's 15 minutes is up.

On NBC Bay Area's Facebook page, some posters were critical of all the attention he was getting. "There are plenty of other kids out there that could use support or even a couple hours of fun," one person wrote.

But it's also safe to say that Miles has become a symbol of hope for many, especially those in the cancer community, who see that the boy battled his disease.

"Omg!," a poster named Dana Hernandez wrote. "This was so cool! It gave me the chills."

And in a Wednesday morning interview on NBC Bay Area, Giants commentator Mike Krukow called the "blanket of love that everyone" threw Batkid's way, was just "amazing."

"It was the start of a perfect day,"Krukow said during his weekly segment "Kruk on Skype." "And Batkid had a lot to do with it."


Miles Scott, left, dressed as Batkid, throws the ceremonial first pitch next to Batman before an opening day baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks in San Francisco, Tuesday, April 8, 2014.  (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, Pool).



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[UMass Basketball Player Announces He's Gay]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 09:30:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ncaa_h3.jpg

UMass guard Derrick Gordon has become the first openly gay player in Division I men's basketball.

Gordon made the announcement in interviews with ESPN and Outsports on Wednesday. Gordon said he gained confidence by seeing an NBA team sign Jason Collins, who became the league's first openly gay player when he joined the Brooklyn Nets this season.

"I want to be myself," Gordon said in the interview televised on ESPN. "I don't want to hide and be someone I'm not."

The sophomore was the Minutemen's fourth-leading scorer with 9.4 points per game last season, when UMass reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998. A transfer from Western Kentucky, Gordon played at high school powerhouse St. Patrick in New Jersey.

In the Outsports interview, Gordon said he considered quitting basketball last fall and isolated himself from teammates because of teasing. Over the summer, he had "liked" a photo on Instagram of him and his then-boyfriend in front of gay bar.

"I just wanted to run and hide somewhere," he said. "I used to go back to my room and I'd just cry."

Gordon was also inspired by spending time with several gay people in the world of sports in March, according to the Outsports article, and decided to come out to his family and then the Minutemen.

Once he opened up to his teammates, they were encouraging. In the ESPN interview, he recalled that they told him: "We're going to support you no matter what."

Coach Derek Kellogg told ESPN that he could already see a newfound happiness in Gordon.

"I haven't felt like this. Ever," Gordon said in the Outsports interview. "It's a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders. I can finally breathe now and live life happily."

On Twitter on Wednesday, he expressed similar levels of relief at his decision, saying he is "the happiest I have ever been in my 22 Years of living."

Collins made a trailblazing announcement last April when he came out in an interview with Sports Illustrated. In February, he became the first openly gay male athlete in the four major North American pro sports leagues.

Michael Sam, an All-American defensive end at Missouri, came out in interviews with ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports in February after his college career ended. He is projected as a middle-round prospect in next month's NFL draft.

Sam tweeted congratulations to Gordon after the announcement: "You have so many in your corner and we're all proud and rooting for you."

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Are Banking on Tank in 2014]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:15:58 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/173*120/thetankkk.jpg

After sitting out his entire rookie season, 49ers defensive lineman Cornelius “Tank” Carradine is eager to make some plays in 2014.

But the former Florida State standout isn’t counting 2013 as a wasted year. Far from it. Though he couldn’t play while recovering from a knee injury in his senior season with the Seminoles, Carradine was able to learn a lot from veterans Justin Smith and Ray McDonald, the 49ers’ defensive ends in San Francisco’s 3-4 scheme.

“I just tried to follow their lead,” Carradine recently told Taylor Price of 49ers.com. “Even though I wasn’t out there playing, I was able to pick it up mentally. I got to see how to be a pro by how they did things. Now I know how to prepare for practice, prepare in the offseason and get ready for camp and things like that.”

The addition of Carradine to the 49ers defense will be one of the team’s biggest additions this coming season. Carradine – who could spell both Smith and McDonald – will help give the 49ers a deep defensive line corps that also could include nose tackles Glenn Dorsey and Ian Williams, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Quinton Dial and Demarcus Dobbs.

Carradine, who had 16½ sacks in two seasons at Florida State, was considered one of the best pass rushers in the nation his senior season – and a probably first-round pick -- until his knee injury.

The 49ers were able to get him in the second round, and now it will be as if the team is getting a first-round pick to add to its defensive line rotation – and a possible successor to Smith whenever Smith decides to retire.

Carradine, who’s 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds, says he’s now fully healthy, and expects that his speed and quickness will allow him to put pressure on quarterbacks, even while rushing from an interior spot.

“I’m going to be able to show I’m a speed guy,” Carradine told Price. “It’s different because you’re taking more of a double (two blockers). It’s a little different but it’s something I can adjust to. I’ll be rushng on the inside more, but it gives me an advantage. You put a speed guy, who is a little bigger now, on a guard, it’s good for him to rush.”

Carradine had minor surgery in February to eliminate scar tissue that developed after his earlier knee surgery. Now, he says he’s completely healthy. And head coach Jim Harbaugh has seen a difference in him and is hoping for big things from Carradine.

 

“He looks like a different guy now since that procedure,” Harbaugh said recently. “Just with what we saw when he did practice with our football team and now this procedure that’s been done. I’m even more excited. I think he’s going to have a great offseason and look forward to his progress very, very much.

“Expectations will be very high.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jones Should Have Big Impact on Raiders' Passing Game]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:16:18 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/jayhjayh.jpg

The Oakland Raiders passing offense was in the bottom tier of NFL teams in 2013, so much of the focus this offseason on improving it – understandably – has been on the quarterback situation.

The Raiders believe veteran Matt Schaub can take the offense to a much higher level than it was last season, when Oakland ranked 24th among 32 NFL teams with 208.8 yards per game passing. The Raiders ranked even worse for touchdown passes (29th), quarterback rating (28th) and completions (27th).

But perhaps almost as important in 2014 will be the team’s receiving corps. This offseason, general manager Reggie McKenzie signed former Packer James Jones to bolster the receiving corps, and Oakland now has three legitimate wideouts in Rod Streater (60 catches, 888 yards in 2013), Denarius Moore (46, 695) and Jones (59, 817). Throw in emerging tight end Mychael Rivera (38, 407) and newly signed running back Maurice Jones-Drew – who’s always been a good receiver out of the backfield – and Schaub will have plenty of targets at his disposal this season.

And, that’s not counting pass catchers who may be picked up in the draft. The No. 1 wide receiver prospect, Sammy Watkins, has been linked to the Raiders in many mock drafts with the team’s fifth overall choice.

But so far, it’s Jones who seems most capable of making the biggest impact on the Raiders passing attack.

In writing about the Raiders’ offseason moves to upgrade, NFL.com analyst Adam Schein praised McKenzie for being able to land Jones, who in 2012 had 14 TD catches and has had 50 or more receptions three of the past four seasons.

“I think James Jones is a very good receiver,” wrote Schein. “It’s nuts that he was available for so long. There will be teams – like the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants – that will regret not signing this guy. He is reliable, scores touchdowns and is a Super Bowl winner. Jones, like Schaub and Jones-Drew, makes the Raiders better and more professional.”

Jones, who just turned 30, likely would have had a 1,000-yard season in 2013 but for a knee injury that knocked him out of three games. He’s a physical receiver (6-foot-1, 208 pounds) who’s good in the red zone, and could wind up being Schaub’s go-to guy around the end zone.

Jones, a third-round pick out of San Jose State in 2007, signed a three-year deal with the Raiders reported to be worth $11.3 million.

After signing Jones, McKenzie told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group that Jones – like many other veterans he’s signed recently – can provide leadership.

“A guy like James Jones, we’ve got a young receiving corps,” said McKenzie. “And James Jones will do wonders for that group.”

And, for whoever is playing quarterback in 2014. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Storms to 9th Title, Routing Notre Dame 79-58]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 20:59:18 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP576312210999.jpg

Geno Auriemma and Connecticut stand alone in women's college basketball, and they reached the top in unprecedented fashion.

The Huskies routed Notre Dame 79-58 Tuesday night in the first championship game featuring undefeated teams, winning their record ninth national title. Auriemma broke a tie with Pat Summitt and Tennessee for most all-time, doing it in her backyard.

Breanna Stewart, who was the AP's player of the year, scored 21 points to lead the Huskies (40-0) while Stefanie Dolson added 17 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists. Auriemma took out his senior center with a minute left, and the pair embraced in a long hug.

The victory also means that UConn is now the center of the college basketball world with both the men's and women's teams winning the championship in the same year again. The men's team beat Kentucky in the title game Monday night. This pair of victories come a decade after the Huskies became the only school to accomplish the feat.

While the names change at UConn, from Rebecca Lobo to Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore and now Stewart, Auriemma has been the constant, winning nine titles in only 20 seasons — including the last two. He's never lost in a national championship game.

"Congratulations to the UConn Huskies for winning the 2014 NCAA National Championship!," Summitt said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. "My compliments also to coach Geno Auriemma for winning his ninth national title. He has accomplished this feat in record time."

It was the fifth unbeaten season for Auriemma and UConn and the first time the Huskies went 40-0 — matching Baylor as the only schools to accomplish that feat. The victory was also Connecticut's 46th straight dating back to last season's NCAA tournament title run. It's the third longest streak in school history — well short of the NCAA record 90 straight they won.

The loss was Notre Dame's third in the title game in the past four years. Kayla McBride finished off her stellar career with 21 points to lead the Irish, who were looking for their first championship since 2001.

After proving to be no challenge for the Huskies during the first 15 years of the rivalry which began in 1995, Notre Dame had owned the series lately, winning seven of the previous nine meetings. UConn though has won the last two, eliminating Notre Dame in the Final Four last season before topping them in the championship game this year.

The two former Big East rivals, who have no love lost for each other, put on a show in a game that women's basketball hoped could transcend the sport. The coaches added to the drama of the game with their verbal sparring on Monday. But it was Auriemma who got the last word again.

Even with the loss, it was a record-setting season for the Irish.

Notre Dame lost Skylar Diggins to graduation and changed conferences to the ACC. Neither mattered as they ran through their opponents, winning by an average of 25.6 points while taking both the conference regular season and tournament championships.

The Irish lost senior Natalie Achonwa to a torn ACL in the regional final win over Baylor. Notre Dame wore warmup shirts with Achonwa's nickname "Ace" below her No. 11.

The team played inspired basketball in the Final Four win over Maryland, outrebounding the Terps by a record margin. The Irish couldn't muster a similar effort against UConn and it's gigantic front line. Stewart, Stefanie Dolson and Kiah Stokes dominated the interior. The Huskies outrebounded the Irish 54-31 and held them to a season-low in points.

After the teams traded shots early on, Stewart fueled a 16-0 run as the Huskies, who have played stellar defense all season, held the Irish without a point for nearly five minutes. Stewart's lay-in with 11:02 left made it 22-8.

A minute later, Dolson had an acrobatic tip to Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis for another layup.

The Irish stayed in the first half by hot 3-point shooting by Michaela Mabrey and Jewell Loyd. Trailing 37-25 with 4:09 left in the first half, the pair sparked a 13-6 run, hitting three 3-pointers which brought the Irish faithful to their feet.

UConn led 45-38 at the half, shooting 57 percent from the field and having 16 assists on their 21 baskets.

The Huskies closed the door on any Irish comeback scoring 18 of the first 22 points in the second half to put the game away. Stewart and Dolson had 10 points during the burst.

 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Fans Feel "Giants Fever" on Home Opener Day]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 17:38:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-08-2014-batkid-front.jpg

Despite the sunny skies and perfect temperatures on Tuesday, many in San Francisco were suffering from an annual springtime ailment: Giants Fever.

The crowd went wild before the game even began: BatKid threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

A few hours before the Giants took on the Arizona Diamondback for their home opener at AT&T Park, fans were already lined up at the gate, champing at the bit.

Many had called in sick or blown off work.

"She called me in sick," a young Joe Broden told NBC Bay Area, pointing to his mom, Julie.

"He's got 'Giants Fever,' so he's going to be here," Julie Broden added.

Gary Daniels, who is normally at work on a regular week day, was not behind a desk on Tuesday. Instead, he was outside enjoying the weather and the crowds before noon, ready to hear the crack of a bat and smell the sweet whiff of cotton candy.

"Maybe this is the year we'll win it all," he said before the game.

Janet Clark brought a Giants-decorated tin filled with cheese and prosciutto. She said she would break out the wine at the fifth inning.

"I've gotta keep my game face on," she said.

The Giants are off to a strong start. The team enters Tuesday's home opener on top of the NL West, with a half-game lead over the Dodgers.

 

]]>
<![CDATA[Niners May Be Fine at Inside Linebacker, Even Without Bowman]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 12:37:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/168*120/willhoytee.jpg

The injury to the 49ers’ NaVorro Bowman puts a big question mark over his position at inside linebacker in 2014.

It’s projected that Bowman, the 49ers’ best defensive player in 2013, may be ready to play by midseason. But until then, how do the 49ers fill his position?

It’s possible that San Francisco will use one of its 11 draft picks to take an inside linebacker. There are plenty to choose from.

The top inside linebackers in the draft – C.J. Mosley of Alabama, Yawin Smallwood of Connecticut and Chris Borland of Wisconsin – will likely be long gone by the time the 49ers turn their attention to the position. With priorities at cornerback and wide receiver, it’s possible San Francisco could use three of its six picks among the top 100 on those positions.

Plus, once Bowman returns, he and Patrick Willis give the 49es the best pair of inside linebackers in the league, so is the position really a long-term priority? It wouldn’t seem to be.

So, the 49ers might eventually take an inside linebacker to use in the short term and groom as a long-term backup to Willis and Bowman. If that’s the case, inside linebackers such as Brock Coyle of Montana and Avery Williamson of Kentucky might still be available in the middle to late rounds.

But the argument could be made that even without Bowman, the 49ers don’t need to use a draft pick to add depth in his absence – and certainly not a high one.

Going into this season, the 49ers have veterans Michael Whilhoite, Dan Skuta and second-year player Nick Moody

Wilhoite filled in very capably for both Bowman and Willis in 2013, and could be a fine short-term fit in Bowman’s absence for the first half of 2014.

Plus, Moody, a sixth-round choice from Florida State in the 2013 draft, has shown promise. He played well on special teams as a rookie, and the former safety – converted to linebacker for his senior season – is known as a very physical tackler at 6-foot-1 and 236 pounds.

The 49ers drafted him in part because of his willingness to play special teams and his ability to make an impact. Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters that Moody is “one of the best (special teams players) we’ve seen at that in college football.”

Wilhoite, 6 feet and 240 pounds, played in all 16 games in 2013 – starting two -- and had 24 tackles. And Skuta, a veteran who can play outside, inside and special teams, has been a starter in his NFL career.

The 49ers may indeed take an inside linebacker in the mid to late rounds, but it’s unlikely that player would start ahead of Wilhoite. And, with Skuta and Moody on board, it’s possible San Francisco could decide to add a veteran free agent rather than draft a rookie. After the draft, there still should be some veterans available on the free-agent market.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bowling at AT&T Park's Gotham Club ]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 09:47:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Giants_Bowling_Alley1.jpg

Sure, it's a no brainer that if you attend AT&T Park you can catch a baseball game.

But how about bowling?

There is now an exclusive two-lane bowling alley inside "The Gotham Club" for season ticket holders or members of a premimum club. Any current or former Giants player is an automatic member of the club.

In addition to the small alley, there will be a game room, arcade and pinball on the Oracle Suite level, too.

]]>
<![CDATA[For Raiders, More of Moore Will be a Good Thing]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 12:36:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/sio2ndyear.jpg

Critics can easily point to the things Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie has done wrong in his tenure in Oakland.

They can question his No. 1 draft pick in 2013 (cornerback D.J. Hayden) and his acquisition of quarterback Matt Flynn, for instance.

But one player McKenzie drafted in 2013, linebacker Sio Moore, has become one of the team’s building blocks. Based on his production as a rookie and the fact he could be surrounded by a much better cast in 2014, Moore could be due for a big second year.

Moore – who goes by the name MrOakTown55 on Twitter – was taken by McKenzie in the third round of the draft out of Connecticut and earned a spot in the starting lineup as the strongside outside linebacker. As a rookie he was the team’s eighth-leading tackler, with 55, and had 4½ sacks.

Though the team’s top two picks, Hayden and tackle Menelik Watson, made few contributions because of injuries, Moore made an impact from Day 1, and head coach Dennis Allen pointed to Moore, tight end Mychal Rivera and defensive tackle Stacy McGee as players who can be part of the foundation of the Raiders’ rebuilding process.

“Rookies generally don’t make a huge impact in their first year,” Allen told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group late in the 2013 season. “But there’s a lot of things we see in these guys that we can develop where they can be the backbone of our team moving forward.”

When the Raiders drafted Moore in the third round – the 66th selection of the 2013 draft – Moore raised some eyebrows my declaring that Oakland struck gold when it picked him.

“The Oakland Raiders got the best linebacker in the draft,” he told reporters. “I don’t care who went before.”

It’s possible the Raiders could draft an outside linebacker with the No. 5 overall pick in next month’s selection process – Khalil Mack of Buffalo has been linked to Oakland in some mock drafts in that spot – which would make the linebacking crew even better in 2014. But the starting trio of Moore and Kevin Burnett on the outside and Nick Roach in the middle will be back this coming season, and should be playing behind a much better defensive line, aided by the free-agent signings of Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Antonio Smith.

So far, Moore has done everything right. He was selected to the Pro Football Writers’ All-Rookie Team, impressed coaches and teammates with his work ethic and athleticism and has made an impact with community appearances.

This week, in fact, he visited a middle school in Fairfield and told students about the value of staying in school to reach their true potential.

“If you’re going to dream, you need to dream big. If you’re going to wish, wish big,” he told students. “Holding yourself back, you’re not allowing yourself to do so.”

Now, heading into his second season, Moore has a chance to fulfill the statement he made about the Raiders picking the best linebacker in the draft last season.

“You could say Moore more than impressed and solidified his standing as a building block for the franchise going forward,” wrote Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com, in evaluating Moore’s rookie season. “You could also make the case that Moore is the best draft pick in two drafts by general manager Reggie McKenzie thus far. Moore’s high motor served him well last season and should continue to do so in the future, so long as he does not get overly aggressive in chasing plays or picking up penalties.

“It will be interesting to see how his skill set translates if the Raiders show more 3-4 looks on defense, outside of their base 4-3 alignment.”

More Moore in 2014 and beyond could be a very good thing for the Raiders.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Ballpark Attractions at AT&T Park]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 23:36:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/bd50bc0ae9b649ab8a22856af789b33a.jpg Photos of new ballpark amenities at AT&T Park for the 2014 season.]]> <![CDATA[UConn Wins NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 22:35:12 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP399579783850.jpg The NCAA tournament is arguably the best stretch of weeks on the sports calendar, filled with great teams, exciting games, star players and, usually, plenty of upsets. Mixed in with all the action are some dramatic photos. Take a look at the best of the NCAA tournament in photos.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[SF Giants Fans Ready for Season Home Opener]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 11:08:29 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0407-SFGiantsOpener.jpg

The San Francisco Giants take on the Arizona Diamondback Tuesday afternoon for their home opener at AT&T Park and fans are more than ready.

"Everybody's starting off like, 'hey it's our year.' So everybody's feeling good except the Diamondbacks," fan Mike Corbitt said laughing.

Corbitt, like many others, paid a pre-opening day visit to the Giants dugout store, where a new orange replica jersey will set fans back $225.

"They're going crazy with the new jackets this year and I have to get one because as a loyal Giants fan you have to get all the new stuff," Neil Dellacava said.

Tuesday's home opener will be Florian Neumann's first baseball game. He is visiting the Bay Area from Germany.

"I'm a Giants fan and watching baseball on TV and now it's my first visit here," he said.

Fans are expected to come by land and gather around the Willie Mays statue, while fans like Sean Greene and his boat, the Torture Towel, will fill McCovey Cove.

"Opening day means camaraderie among the Giants fans," Greene said. "It's all about the San Francisco Giants. The love. The support. Team spirit."

Giants President Larry Baer will also continue his opening-day ritual of walking the bases before anyone is around.

"It's a day everybody feels a sort of renewal," Baer said. "It's the baseball season, it's springtime."

The Giants will kick off their home opener after a successful 5-2 road trip, winning both series in Arizona and Los Angeles. Starting pitcher Tim Hudson gets the call for a 1:35 p.m. first pitch. Giants spokeswoman Shana Daum said in terms of security, all fans will be hand wanded and all bags checked as they enter the park for Tuesday's game. Metal detectors will be phased in throughout the season.

NBC Bay Area's Today in the Bay newscast will have exclusive on-field access beginning at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Parakeet Cheers on UConn ]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 08:41:29 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/219*120/UConnParakeetRazz1200.jpg Talk about a UConn fan! Households across Connecticut are cheering on UConn, but at the DelGrego home in Cheshire, that includes Razz, the parakeet.]]> <![CDATA[It's Hard to Know What Manziel's Visit Means]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 08:02:22 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/jhoneefftt.jpg

What does it mean that former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is visiting the Oakland Raiders?

Well, probably nothing. Or, perhaps, everything.

In the months and weeks leading up to the annual NFL draft, every team tries to hide its true intentions as 32 teams jockey for position to get the players they want.

Since trading for veteran quarterback Matt Schaub recently, the Raiders were thought to be out of the running for taking a quarterback with their first-round selection, the fifth overall pick, in the May 8 draft.

But now Manziell reportedly arrived Sunday night in Oakland and also is at team headquarters Monday as well.

The likely scenario is the Raiders are just doing their due diligence and getting some one-on-one time with one of the top picks in the draft. General manager Reggie McKenzie has said he wants playmkers and difference-makers, and it’s now likely that with Schaub, the Raiders believe they can improve in 2014 with Schaub at the controls.

Plus, by bringing in Manziel, the Raiders are making other teams wonder if Oakland might grab Johnny Football.

As ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner wrote recently in an explanatory story about pre-draft deceit (“NFL draft: Deception is standard fare”): “The most common fake-out is a team expressing interest in a prospect it has no interest in taking. The theory is that someone else might want that player, move up to get him and push a player the original team actually wants further down the board.”

So, perhaps, if the Raiders really want wide receiver Sammy Watkins or linebacker Khalil Mack or offensive tackle Greg Robinson, they use Manziel to put themselves in better position to land the prospect they most covet.

Yet there’s also this: If McKenzie, his staff and head coach Dennis Allen truly believe Manziel is something special, they could indeed take him with the fifth pick, let him sit for awhile to soak up the pro game while Schaub starts and then have the young, franchise quarterback they’ve desired for many years.

Manziel wouldn’t necessarily provide much to the 2014 season, but perhaps the Raiders believe they’ve done enough in free agency – with other additions still coming through free agency and the draft – to be much better in the coming season.

As Michael David Smith wrote Sunday for NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk:

“The Raiders often do things that no one expects. The 32-year-old Schaub is the starter right now, but maybe they’ll fall in love with Manziel and make him their franchise quarterback of the future.”

The fact is, McKenzie isn’t telling anybody what his plans are, and we won’t know until May 8 what he’s thinking.

With a month to go before the draft, scenarios and speculation will only increase.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>