<![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 Sun, 05 Jul 2015 10:30:24 -0700 Sun, 05 Jul 2015 10:30:24 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Packers Player Arrested in Miami]]> Sat, 04 Jul 2015 14:01:42 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/andrew+quarless+green+bay+packers+mug+070415.jpg

Miami Beach Police arrested an NFL player after they say he shot his gun into the air early Saturday morning.

Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless, 26, was charged with discharging a firearm in public around 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

A parking attendant on the 500 block of Lenox Avenue told police he spotted a black Porsche Panamera with two men and two women inside. According to the arrest report, the two men got out of the Porsche and approached a white vehicle with several women inside.

The attendant said the discussion soon became hostile. That's when he told police he spotted Quarless walking up to the white car with a semi-automatic handgun. The witness then told police Quarless pointed the gun in the air and fired off two rounds before taking off in the Porsche.

Another witness told police Quarless "discharged his firearm in an apparent attempt to emphasize his dominance and manhood," according to the police report.

The white vehicle left the scene and was not seen or heard from again, the report stated.

Police put out a "be on the lookout", or BOLO, alert for the Porsche. Officers spotted the vehicle parked on the 400 block of Washington Avenue with its lights on.

According to the report, Quarless was discovered nearby, "attempting to conceal himself and the black firearm in a nearby plant."

It is unclear whether Quarless has an attorney.

A spokesman for the Green Bay Packers issued a statement, saying, "We are aware of the matter involving Andrew Quarless and are in the process of gathering more information. We will withhold further comment."



Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections]]>
<![CDATA[Niners' Tomsula Facing More Skeptics Than Believers]]> Fri, 03 Jul 2015 10:18:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/tomgym.jpg

When Jim Tomsula was promoted to head coach by the 49ers in January, many fans in the Bay Area weren’t happy.

After speculation that the Niners might bring in a veteran, big-name and proven head coach to replace Jim Harbaugh, Tomsula was seen by some as a cheap and unproven alternative.

Even general manager Trent Baalke noted in Tomsula’s introductory news conference that “following in Jim Harbaugh’s footsteps isn’t easy.”

But, said Baalke, “I’m very confident that Jim is the right man for the job.”

Roughly six months later, the jury is still out on Tomsula, and it will be until the 49ers begin to play games that count in September. There’s still no way to know how he’ll prepare his team, how he’ll interact with players and his staff and whether he can motivate his team to overcome injuries and tough times.

Yet there have been some positive signs. Many of his players, through organized team activities (OTAs) and the recent full-squad minicamp, have spoken highly of Tomsula and the staff he’s built. And it’s become obvious that Tomsula will have his team play at a quicker pace in 2015 than it did under Harbaugh’s tenure. 

Said safety Antoine Bethea, to Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group, during OTAs: “I love him. He’s charismatic. He’s one with the players. It’s going to be a good deal for us.”

Yet skeptics remain. This week, for instance, Elliot Harrison of NFL.com put together his annual list of NFL coach power rankings, and there was Tomsula ranked at No. 32 among 32 head coaches.

Yet Harrison noted part of Tomsula’s lowly status is because he’s following a big winner while also dealing with a roster that’s been impacted greatly by free agency and retirements.

“Tomsula is our caboose, mostly because he inherited the worst situation,” wrote Harrison. “It’s not like the 49ers are devoid of talent, but this has been through an offseason of turmoil. Unlike the other rookie head coaches, Tomsula is following a guy in Jim Harbaugh who manifested incredible success. It would help if players quit retiring.”

Baalke has said all along, however, that one of the reasons he believes Tomsula is the right man to follow Harbaugh is because he’s mentally tough and that he can overcome skeptics, retirements, expectations and adversity.

In a few months 49ers fans will know if Baalke’s instincts are correct.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Crabtree Enjoying a Fresh Start With Raiders]]> Fri, 03 Jul 2015 08:42:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/164*120/oakkkrab.jpg

Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree has admitted he has some work to do with his new team.

After playing six seasons for the 49ers, Crabtree has moved across the bay and is trying to re-energize a career that started to go flat last season. Two seasons after an 85-catch, 1,105-yard, nine-touchdown year in 2012, when he averaged 13 yards per reception, Crabtree had just 68 catches and averaged only 10.3 yards. In some games, he seemed absent from the 49ers passing attack.

Now he’s starting fresh with Oakland on a free-agent deal and will get going in earnest when the team opens training camp in late July.

“I have a lot to prove,” Crabtree told the San Francisco Chronicle this spring. “A lot to prove. Ain’t got nothing to lose and have a lot to prove.”

So far, he’s been doing just that with his new teammates and coaches. They like what they’ve seen of Crabtree in offseason practices. He’s penciled in as one starting wideout alongside rookie Amari Cooper.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is a big fan.

“Crabtree has been awesome, not only just on the field, but in the locker room,” Carr said in a recent interview. “He’s such a great teammate. I love the guy.”

Crabtree isn’t the deep-threat receiver that some once envisioned he would be, but he has terrific hands, finds open spots in the secondary and is an exceptional blocker downfield – often a big factor in the 49ers’ running game over the past few seasons. He’s also what Carr calls a “football junkie.”

“We’re always talking about the game,” said Carr. “We’re always talking ball. We’re always talking routes, concepts and what we’re going to do during the game.”

Crabtree says the change of scenery was strange at first, but now he is comfortable and happy in silver and black.

“I can’t wait to go play,” he said.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Contador Eyes 3rd Tour de France Title]]> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:40:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Alberto-Contador-2-July-2015.jpg

Tour de France contender Alberto Contador's serious-looking face cracked into a beaming smile during a lighthearted moment at his pre-race news conference on Thursday, when he was joined by an unexpected guest.

It happened when two Dutch television journalists presented the Spanish rider with a canary in a cage, popping it down on the table right next to him.

Contador used to breed canaries when he was younger, something he says he no longer has time to do since becoming a professional rider, and he sat gazing curiously at the tiny yellow bird as it hopped around.

Yellow will be all Contador has on his mind from this Saturday onward as he tries to win back the famed jersey he won twice before, in 2007 and 2009.

The showcase race starts with an individual time trial around the Dutch city of Utrecht and ends July 26 in Paris.

Contador's 2010 Tour title was stripped from him after a failed doping test for the fat-burning, muscle-building drug clenbuterol, and his 2011 Giro d'Italia title subsequently also scrapped. Following a suspension, Contador looked well set for a podium finish at the 2013 Tour, only to slump late on in the race and finish fourth.

His frustration turned to agony when, on the 2014 Tour, he dropped out on stage 10 after a bone-breaking downhill crash during a mountain stage. Remarkably, he continued to ride for 20 minutes with a fractured left tibia — and with blood gushing from his right knee — before agony overwhelmed him.

Contador, dejected, ruled himself out of the Spanish Vuelta only to recover quicker than expected, change his mind and win the race for the third time.

Now, he has another objective: the Giro-Tour double.

"If I win just another Tour it's not going to change my career, but if I achieve the double this is something people are going to remember," Contador said Thursday. "I take a lot of motivation from this."

After winning his second Giro title in May, he now has the chance to become the first rider since Italian Marco Pantani in 1998 to complete that double the same year.

He has thought about nothing else since the Giro ended.

"I sacrificed everything. Every day, every minute I have been working toward this," he said, looking serious again with his canary friend now removed from the table. "There was no celebration. I put absolute focus on the bike. It's a new challenge for me."

A hugely ambitious one, given the strength of the opposition.

Barring his way are defending champion Vincenzo Nibali and 2013 winner Chris Froome, who also has a burning desire to win after crashing out on the cobblestones in last year's Tour. Colombian climbing specialist Nairo Quintana, runner-up to Froome in 2013, is also a threat.

"I have been training and resting. But I think I'm well recovered physically and also mentally, which is probably more important," Contador said. "There are four favorites everybody talks about but I think there are more riders ... (Romain) Bardet, (Alejandro) Valverde, (Thibault) Pinot."

While Nibali's Astana team and Froome's Team Sky have changed their Giro lineups, Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo team has retained five riders from that race.

"They're experienced and strong," Contador said. "I trust them."

Contador will be nervous, however.

This year's opening nine-day swing from the Low Countries across northern France again features the dreaded cobblestones. Rain and slippery stones are a nightmare for most riders, while some like Nibali glide over them with dismissive ease.

"The first objective is to try and avoid crashes. It's a very complicated start to the Tour," Contador said. "The first nine days there are at least six very intense stages, maybe more. It's going to be a Tour with no rest."

By his own admission, Contador felt in better condition heading into last year's Tour.

"If I had to choose between last year and this year's feeling I'd take last year's," he said. "I come here with a clear objective. I know it's very difficult."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders' Offensive Line May be Team's Undervalued Strength]]> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 09:00:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/thegaber.jpg

Mike Tice has been around the NFL block a few times – and also knows a lot about blocking.

The Raiders’ new offensive line coach is going into his 19th season of coaching in the league, where most of his responsibilities have centered on either the offensive line or tight ends. Before that, Tice was a rugged, 6-foot-7, 253-pound tight end who played 14 seasons in the NFL with the Seahawks, Vikings and Washington, and was primarily used as an extra blocker for the running game.

He was an assistant coach for new Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville, and is respected around the NFL for his work. He was Del Rio’s first hire in Oakland.

So, Tice, 56, is an expert when it comes to assessing offensive line play. When Tice goes out of his way to praise the potential of the Oakland Raiders offensive line, it’s worth noting.

Yes, Tice isn’t about to say anything bad about his group. Coaches always talk up their own players and keep a positive spin on things, especially at this point of the year in the weeks before training camp opens in late July.

But Tice has been especially positive about a group that hasn’t yet achieved anything and needs to work much better than the team’s O-line did in 2014 when the Raiders’ running game wasn’t particularly effective or consistent.

Tice looks at a group that figures to consist of veteran Donald Penn at left tackle, young Gabe Jackson at left guard, free-agent pickup Rodney Hudson at center, Khalif Barnes or free-agent pickup J’Marcus Webb at right guard and either Menelik Watson or Austin Howard at right tackle and sees a unit that could exceed expectations.

In an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio this week, Tice called the unit “the biggest, most athletic group of guys I’ve worked with before.”

“I think the guys on the offensive side are very impressive,” said Tice. “We have a good blend of older and middle-aged and some younger stars that are going to be rising stars in the league.”

He also believes that Jackson, a third-round pick last season, could be a player with a huge impact in his second season.

Last season, the 6-foot-3, 336-pounder from Mississippi State was described by some in the Raiders organization as a “road grader” who was terrific as a run blocker and a work in progress as a pass protector. By the end of the season, Jackson was solid in both areas.

Tice says Jackson has had “the best offseason of everybody.”

“Gabe is big, athletic, strong – great football background,” Tice said in the Sirius interview. “His dad was a high school football coach. I think he’s a rising star. I think he has a chance to be a really good one.”

Tice went on to talk about Penn’s excellent season in 2014 and Hudson’s quickness and explosiveness at center. He believes Webb – whom he worked with in Chicago – can make the switch from tackle to guard and be very good. At right tackle, he believes Watson may finally be set to overcome injuries and assert himself. Barnes and Howard (if they don't win starting jobs) would add depth and versatility.

Said Tice: “I’m pretty excited about the group.”

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dawson: Age, New Holder Won't Be a Problem]]> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 09:00:28 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/dawonpk40.jpg

After a terrific first season with the 49ers in 2013, Phil Dawson had a slight dropoff in 2014.

Yet Dawson – who turned 40 this offseason – goes into training camp in late July confident he’s as good as ever. Though the 49ers may use strong-legged rookie punter Bradley Pinion on kickoffs this coming season to ensure more kicks into the end zone, Dawson has no real challenger to his job as place-kicker.

In fact, he’s told reporters that he also wants to keep his job on kickoffs, as well, noting that his 43.8 percent touchback rate was the best of his career.

Pinion, however, put 92 of 180 kickoffs at Clemson into the end zone, a 51 percent rate, and the 49ers will get a look at what he can do during the exhibition season.

As a field goal kicker, however, Dawson remained strong through his late 30s and says he can be just as effective in 2015 when he’ll be in the final year of his contract with the Niners – even with a new holder.

After the trade of longtime punter and holder Andy Lee, Pinion is expected to take over the holding duties for Dawson.

“When I signed this deal two years ago, I expected to perform at an elite level for the term and then some,” Dawson recently told the media at 49ers workouts. “I’m more encouraged now that I can do that than I was two years ago when I signed it. I feel better, feel stronger. I expect big things.”

After making 88.9 percent of his field goal attempts in 2013, Dawson made just 80.6 percent in 2014. It was his lowest success rate since 2006 and below his career rate of 84.2 percent.

Part of that could be due to a couple of factors, however – neither one being his age.

For one, the 49ers offense wasn’t as good as it was the previous year, and Dawson had five fewer opportunities than he had in 2013. For another, nine of his attempts came from 50 yards or more, the most of his career. Still, he made six.

He made all six of his tries up to 29 yards, missed only one kick (8 of 9) from 30-39 yards and two (5 of 7) from 40-49 yards. Yet Dawson had been almost automatic the two previous seasons, so his lower success rate in 2014 was noticeable. In 2014 he had six misses in 31 attempts – or as many as he had in 2013 and 2012 combined.

Dawson says he’s eager to start working with Pinion during training camp and become as comfortable with him as his holder as he was with Lee.

“It’s going to require a lot of hard work and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Dawson.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowherd: Harbaugh Interview a "Clunker"]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 10:43:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/cowherd-harbaugh.jpg

Jim Harbaugh’s radio “interview” Thursday morning with ESPN’s Colin Cowherd was short on information, to be sure.

Cowherd described it as a “clunker,” and he ended it abruptly as it became obvious things were going nowhere.

It’s so cringe-worthy, it’s worth experiencing here.

Read more from CSN Bay Area.



Photo Credit: Getty/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Some Reports Indicate McGloin Could be Traded]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 08:54:32 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/168*120/Mattymcgthrow.jpg

Matt McGloin has been a survivor – and thriver – wherever he’s been a quarterback.

At Penn State, he was a walk-on who surpassed highly regarded recruits to become the team’s longterm No. 1.

Then, after not being drafted, he made the Raiders roster as a long shot in 2013 and wound up starting six games. Though he was just 1-5 in those games, the team’s offense was better under his command and he threw for eight touchdowns.

He’s also shined in the exhibition season when he’s had a chance to play. In the summer of 2014, he had an 89.7 quarterback rating and threw for four TDs. In 2013 he wasn’t quite as good – a 66.2 rating and three picks vs. two TDs – but made some big plays to make the Raiders roster.

Now, as the days count down to the opening of training camp in late July, McGloin could be the odd man out.

The Raiders have Derek Carr as No. 1 and former Viking Christian Ponder as No. 2, with McGloin No. 3 and undrafted free agent Cody Fajardo from Nevada as No. 4.

One story this week indicates that McGloin could be a late-summer trade candidate, barring any injuries. That scenario certainly seems plausible if Ponder – a former high first-round pick of Minnesota – plays well this summer and Fajardo continues to show promise.

At that point, “McGloin might have more value to another team than he does to the Oakland Raiders,” a story on Fox Sports predicted. “And that’s why the team might consider trading him.”

McGloin, a battler who can throw the deep ball, might bring a late-round draft choice, especially late in the summer if another team suddenly runs into injury problems at quarterback.

Then again, McGloin survives. He could again surprise, by impressing his new coaching staff during training camp and exhibitions. It seems much less likely, however, given that Ponder has a strong arm, some starting experience and a relationship with new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners' Bush Could be Impact Player on Punt Returns]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 08:45:06 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/184*120/saintspreturn.jpg

In 2014, the NFL team average for punt returns was 8.9 yards. The 49ers were far below that line, ranking 29th in the league with just 6.5 yards per return.

So, while some teams such as the Falcons, Rams, Eagles and Chiefs were averaging more than 12 yards per punt return and setting up their offenses in good field position or returning punts for scores – those four teams had six touchdowns off returns – the 49ers were getting very little.

So, going into the team’s summer training camp in late July, is their any hope the 49ers will be better in this area?

Actually, yes.

First, rookie wide receiver Bruce Ellington showed some promise after taking over duties in midseason. He returned 23 punts for an 8.2-yard average. So he could be in the mix. He was injured during spring workouts, but is penciled in to compete for the job returning both kickoffs and punts. He has terrific speed.

Yet for now, according to special teams coach Thomas McGaughey Jr., it appears the frontrunners for the punt return duties are veteran running back Reggie Bush and rookie Jarryd Hayne, the former Australian rugby standout. Those two  fielded all the punts during organized team activities (OTAs) and the recent three-day minicamp.

Though Hayne never has played American football, he’s been working out with the 49ers this entire offseason and McGaughey recently told a writer for the team’s website that he’s a good “fielder of the ball” and that “tracking the ball is real natural to him” because of his rugby experience.

Hayne, 27, has good size (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) and speed and has a knack for running in the open field with a ball – as he did Down Under. But he still hasn’t fielded a punt in a game. What he does during the exhibition season will be crucial to his chances of making the roster – especially because he’s listed as a running back and will be in a crowded competition with a group that includes Bush, Carlos Hyde, Kendall Hunter and rookie Mike Davis.

“Without ever playing the game, there’s a learning curve there,” said McGaughey. “It’s going to be another learning curve when he gets hit in the mouth. That’s a whole different deal.”

Bush, however, has returned plenty of punts – and been very good. He’s returned 98 regular-season punts and has a 7.9-yard average. He last returned punts in 2011 with the Saints, when he averaged 8.7 yards. In 2008 for New Orleans, he averaged 13.3 yards per punt return and took three back for TDs during the regular season, and another in the playoffs.

Though Bush is 30, he’s been eager to get back to being a difference-making return man, and he’s impressed McGaughey with his eagerness, work ethic and ability. According to the 49ers, he's as quick as he's ever been.

“He still has the hunger and the desire to be the best,” McGaughey said. “He doesn’t talk about it, he just shows you. He’s an unbelievable worker. I can’t wait to sit back and watch him catch punts in the regular season.”

McGaughey also says Bush wants to show the rest of the NFL “he has the ability to still be a big playmaker.”

From what McGaughey says, it seems Bush is the man to beat for the punt-return duties. Hayne and Ellington, however, will get their chances.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Manchester vs. Earthquakes Moved to San Jose]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:24:56 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/217*120/avaya_stadium_logo.jpg

The Manchester United vs. San Jose Earthquakes soccer game, originally set for July 21 at Cal Memorial Stadium has been moved to Avaya Stadium in San Jose.

The game was supposed to be played at the University of California Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium, but a statement released by Cal Athletics said they were informed by their partners at Relevant Sports that the match was moved to Avaya Stadium to better accommodate United’s “travel and logistical requirements.”

Although the travel plans will be made easier for the English-based soccer team, thousands of fans won't be able to go, as Avaya Stadium about a third of the size of Memorial Stadium. Memorial Stadium can hold about 60,000 fans, and Avaya has about 18,000 seats.

According to the Daily Mail, United coach Louis Van Gaal wanted to cut down traveling time as much as possible. Since the team is staying in San Jose, they did not want to make a trip across the Bay and tire out the players like their last summer tour.

Cal Athletics stated any fans who bought tickets to the game should expect a full refund within the week. More details will be released on Thursday.

Cal Athletics was informed by the promoter that those who had purchased tickets would be eligible for a pre-sale opportunity to buy seats before they go on sale to the public.
 



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Steph Curry Merchandise Named Most Popular in NBA]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 14:16:30 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/177*120/StephenCurryjersey.jpg

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors are leading the NBA in more than just basketball right now.

Curry's number 30 is the top selling NBA jersey this month, according to a statement released by the NBA. Golden State Warriors also tops the team merchandise category.

Jerseys representing teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were also popular sellers in June; Thompson landed in the number five position for individual jerseys, while Green followed at number 15.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners May Get Boost from Comeback Candidates]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 08:42:45 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/navbowwkumbak.jpg

With the start of the NFL season still more than two months away, projected scenarios for the 49ers are mostly negative.

After so many losses of key players and the promotion of Jim Tomsula to head coach to replace Jim Harbaugh, very few NFL analysts and Niners watchers are predicting big things.

The 49ers, in fact, this week have been given long odds (40-1) to win the Super Bowl and have been selected by a Las Vegas sports book as the team most likely to finish last in the NFC West in 2015.

Aside from losing so many high-performing players – such as Frank Gore, Mike Iupati, Patrick Willis and Chris Borland – the 49ers also have players with big question marks attached to their names. Can inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman come back from injury? Can quarterback Colin Kaepernick and tight end Vernon Davis rebound from disappointing seasons?

What if all three – Bowman, Kaepernick and Davis – play at the levels they did in 2012 and 2013?

That’s actually one scenario put forward by Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, who included all three players this week on his list of Comeback Player of the Year candidates for 2015.

Wrote Wesseling, of Bowman: “After missing the entirety of the 2014 season, Bowman’s status was the great unknown entering the 2015 offseason. His arrow is now pointing up after wrecking the backfield during June practices. Bowman was our pick for Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 prior to shredding his knee in the NFC Championship Game.”

On Kaepernick and Davis: “Kaepernick is too talented to suffer through another season like last year’s, which featured severe growing pains as he was shoehorned into a pocket-passer role. Vernon Davis is another comeback candidate in San Francisco after disappearing over the final three months of the 2014 season.”

Certainly the return of Bowman – one of the NFL’s best inside linebackers -- to top form again would be a huge boost for a defense in transition. Tomsula anticipates that Bowman will be his old self, after watching him this spring.

“It’s great having him back on the field,” Tomsula told reporters. “Then also the road he’s traveled here in the last year and a half. It’s just awesome to have him out there and I think he’s really enjoying himself.”

Kaepernick – who refined his mechanics this offseason – and Davis, who was an energetic and enthusiastic participant in workouts this spring after holding out of some practices in 2014, both seem eager to regain their effectiveness.

There’s still much to prove. But if all three should perform at Comeback Player of the Year levels, the 49ers might be able to prove oddsmakers wrong about 2015.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders' Strength Up the Middle on Defense Should Help]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 08:42:01 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/179*120/deewmsdt.jpg

In 2014, opponents had little trouble running on the Raiders defense.

Oakland gave up 119.4 yards per game on the ground and a 4-yards-per-carry average. Only one team gave up more touchdowns to opposing ballcarriers than the Raiders’ 17.

But when the Raiders report to training camp in late July, they’re betting their defense will be a much tougher unit to run on, thanks in part to three players: defensive tackles Dan Williams and Justin Ellis and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton.

Williams, a five-year veteran, was signed as a free agent from the Arizona Cardinals. The  6-foot-2, 330-pounder is a run stuffer who should be able to plug holes and create problems for opposing interior linemen.

“Williams is one of the rarest things in the NFL,” wrote Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, on the day the Raiders signed both Williams and Lofton in March. “A true run-plugger at nose tackle. He was one of our favorite candidates in free agency, and should improve the Raiders’ front line right away.”

Ellis, too, is in the same mold, a 6-foot-2, 334-pounder who came on strong his rookie season after being taken in the fourth round out of Louisiana Tech. He started 14 games and came on especially strong near the end of the season. His numbers weren’t impressive – he was in on just 21 tackles – but like Williams, Ellis is hard to move and his strength inside allows Raiders linebackers to make tackles.

That’s where Lofton should come in as a big upgrade over Miles Burris, who was pressed into service at middle linebacker last season.

Lofton, 28, has good range and productivity. The 6-foot-2, 238-pounder entering his eighth season out of Oklahoma, was in on 145 tackles for the Saints in 2014.

“If Williams and Ellis can stay healthy, it will set the tone for the defensive line,” wrote Bill Williamson, who covers the Raiders for ESPN.com.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Shark Tank Celebrates Silver Anniversary]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 19:55:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/229*120/shark20.JPG

The San Jose Sharks on Monday unveiled new logos to commemorate the beginning of their 25th National Hockey League (NHL) season, one day after the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking of SAP Center.

The primary anniversary logo features a “swimming” shark with an exposed tail above a diamond encrusted “25” and will be worn as a patch all season long on the team’s game sweaters.

The secondary logo reflects the logo’s evolution from its original form to its current, more 3-D mark.

The third logo features a whole “swimming” shark, complete with a full tail. This logo is a fuller depiction of the current Sharks logo.

In addition to the new logos, a new “Heritage Jersey” will be created and worn by the Sharks for a limited number of games to later be announced. The “Heritage Jersey” was developed by the original jersey creator, Terry Smith.

According to the San Jose media, the San Jose Sharks will honor and fondly recall their proud, teal-toned history throughout the season. Past fan-favorite team members will make guest appearances, there will be various giveaway nights, fan contests and throwback nights

The Sharks new apparel will be available for purchase next Monday.

Stay updated on this historic season at sjsharks.com

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<![CDATA[Raiders' Long, Tall Durham Could be a Red-Zone Threat]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 08:59:10 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*121/kayDurham.jpg

For a few – Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper, Rod Streater – making the Raiders’ wide receiver corps in 2015 isn’t in doubt.

Those three give the Raiders a solid foundation going into training camp that opens in late July.

But following the top trio comes a thundering herd of prospects that includes Andre Holmes, Brice Butler, Kenbrell Thompkins and the likes of Trindon Holliday (also a fine returner), Josh Harper, Austin Willis, Milton Williams and Seth Roberts. It's expected that only six will be on the roster for opening day.

Also, there is Kris Durham.

Durham is an intriguing possibility. At 6-foot-6, the former standout from Georgia  has played parts of four seasons in the NFL since 2011, when he was a fourth-round pick of Seattle. He’s played in 27 games with 16 starts, with 13 of those coming in 2013 with the Detroit Lions. That season – playing with former Georgia teammate and quarterback Matthew Stafford -- he had 38 catches for 490 yards and two touchdowns. He had a handful of strong games that year, including an October victory over Cleveland in which he was targeted 13 times and had eight catches for 83 yards. 

When the Lions signed wide receiver Golden Tate the next season, however, Durham wound up being a late training camp cut, just before Game 1 of the 2014 season. He signed with Tennessee, played four games in 2014 and caught six passes for 54 yards.

Because Durham has a height advantage over defensive backs, it’s possible that the new Raiders coaching staff may take a liking to Durham as a situational receiver in short-yardage and red zone situations.

“One of the questions for the Raiders coaching staff is how specialized each player … is going to be,” wrote Jerry Knaak recently on the Raiders website, in assessing the candidates for making the roster. “Durham could push for a specialized red zone threat-type role.”

With the Lions, Durham became Stafford’s No. 2 option in 2013 behind Calvin Johnson after starter Nate Burleson was injured.

In training camp in 2013, Burleson noted that Durham was a playmaker, particularly in red-zone situations. Like the tall Johnson, who routinely goes over smaller DBs to make catches, Durham also was using his height.

“Kris Durham, the white Calvin Johnson? Oh my gosh,” Burleson told MLive.com. “I’m going to say this: All he does is catch touchdowns.”

Durham said at the time he likes to use his frame to his advantage.

“I’ve tried to go up, be stronger, attack and just don’t back down, continue to fight for every little inch,” Durham told Justin Rogers of MLive.com. “I think it’s part of that and part is my concentration. I’m getting more comfortable in the offense and understanding what I should be able to do and use my size.”

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mangini's Cornerback Corps Will be Flexible and Versatile]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 09:29:25 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/traycorner.jpg

New 49ers defensive coordinator Eric Mangini continues to stress that his unit will be flexible in 2015.

He talked about it recently in relation to the Niners’ defensive line, and how different players will line up in various positions, dictated by situation and strength. Now he’s also talked about being flexible with his cornerbacks.

As noted recently by Matt Barrows, who covers the 49ers for the Sacramento Bee, young cornerback Keith Reaser played a number of positions in the recent full-squad minicamp, rotating from the left side to the right side to the slot in the nickel.

Another young cornerback, Keith Acker, told Barrows that has been the message from Mangini: that versatility will be the norm.

“You’re not gong to play in the same position, not play the same side,” Acker said, explaining that, “We’ve got a lot of different guys that can do a lot of different things. And coach sees that. He’s feeling us out, just like we’re feeling the positions out.”

Barrows wrote that Tramaine Brock, the team’s No. 1 corner, could be assigned a team’s best receiver, no matter where he lines up, left, right or in the slot. A big receiver such as 6-foot-7 Seattle tight end could be assigned to 6-foot-2 corner Dontae Johnson or rookie Jaquiski Tartt, a safety/corner hybrid (like Jimmie Ward) who is stronger. A smaller, quicker slot receiver might get a smaller, quicker defender.

Mangini said earlier this offseason that he’s spending a lot of time and energy learning the strengths and weaknesses of every player on defense. That would include cornerback, where the competition includes Brock, Reaser, Acker, Johnson, Shareece Wright, Chris Cook, Marcus Cromartie, Leon McFadden, Ward and Tartt.

“Every player is different,” Mangini told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. “You can’t just try to have a cookie-cutter approach. You’ve got to give them things that help them specific to their learning style. You have to find the best way to allow them to be successful and put them in position to be successful.”

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UCSF Nurses Protest at New Warriors Arena ]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 20:49:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/N6P+SF+WARRIORS+ARENA+PKG+-+00000000.jpg

Nurses protested Monday over a proposed Warriors arena that they say will have "disastrous impacts," though basketball team representatives say there is no proven impact to emergency services and that other cities have similar situations with no problems.

A group of nurses held a news conference saying existing plans for traffic and parking aren’t good enough, but as NBC Bay Area found out, their objections were hard to pin down. One of the nurses protesting the plan said she was concerned the plan currently in place “is not sufficient,” but wouldn’t say anything specific.

A project hearing regarding the building of a 18,500-seat arena and entertainment center in Mission Bay, right across from UCSF medical centers, is planned for Tuesday.

Healthcare workers say the site will cause traffic and take up parking spaces for patients, and cause "disastrous impacts," according to a news release.

Nurses said in their statement that the new area will impact the ability of healthcare workers to "access Mission Bay hospitals and clinics in gridlock traffic and park their cars when surrounding lots and streets are saturated with event traffic."

City leaders and Warriors officials say that won't be an issue.

Warriors spokesman PJ Johnston said that the team is committed to being good neighbors, and have been hard at work with the city of San Francisco, UCSF and others in the neighborhood to effectively manage traffic and other issues.

He provided a 155-page report, conducted by the team, showing at least 17 other U.S. cities, which have arenas and hospitals located within one mile of each other. "There’s no reason San Francisco can’t manage this as well," he said.

Johnston pointed out that the arena will have fewer than half the seats as AT&T Park and that all events will take place at night or on weekends, with no day games. The average event at the arena will have about 20 percent of the attendance of AT&T Park, he said.

He added that San Francisco found that there will be no disruption of ambulances or other emergency services.

The proposed arena, Johnston said, has a lot of public transportation opportunities as well, with a a Muni light rail stop out front, and a connection to BART nearby.

"While there will obviously be some increased traffic, it can be managed," Johnston said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area chopper]]>
<![CDATA[Ayesha Curry Reveals Gender of 2nd Baby]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 07:26:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/216*120/ayesha.JPG

It's a girl!

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry and his 9-month pregnant wife, Ayesha, are expecting another baby girl. 

Us Weekly revealed the gender of the couple's second child Friday. They are also parents to 2-year-old Riley. 

Ayesha took to her blog to share pictures of a new nursery, which was designed by Pottery Barn Kids.

The pair's home office has been converted into the nursery, Ayesha wrote, adding, "I feel so blessed to be able to bring our new baby home to a beautiful, peaceful and serene environment."

Not only did Pottery Barn Kids make Ayesha's nursery dreams a reality, but the company also completed the room's makeover in three days while the family was in Cleveland for the 2015 NBA finals where the Warriors walked away victors.



Photo Credit: Ayesha Curry
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<![CDATA[Marlins' Stanton Out With Fracture in Hand]]> Sat, 27 Jun 2015 23:59:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-478685206.jpg

The Miami Marlins will be without the services of Giancarlo Stanton for the foreseeable future due to a fracture in his left hand.

Stanton suffered the injury during Friday's loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The slugger grimaced following a strikeout in the ninth inning, and trainers checked his hand in the dugout afterwards.

Stanton is expected to miss four to six weeks with surgery pending. Miami has brought up Cole Gillespie to take Stanton's place on the roster. Ichiro Suzuki figures to be the main beneficiary in terms of playing time.

Stanton currently paces Major League Baseball in home runs and figured to be a lock for participation in the Home Run Derby. The outfielder was also one of the leading vote-getters for starting gig in the All-Star Game itself. But both of those events would now seem to be out of reach for the injured star.

The Marlins gave Stanton a 13-year $325 million contract in the off-season, which represented a major commitment and risk by the team. Stanton is one of the best players in the game, but has struggled to play a full season in his MLB career.

Miami now may turn into sellers and move pieces such as Dan Haren and Mat Latos. Both pitchers are set to be free agents, and the team is 15 games under .500. A playoff appearance is unlikely without Stanton's bat to help an already quiet offense.

The Marlins will take on the Dodgers again on Saturday as they look to end a five-game losing streak.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants' Bumgarner Hits Career Milestone Against Rockies]]> Sun, 28 Jun 2015 15:34:30 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/madbum5.jpg

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner recorded his 1,000th strikeout Sunday against the Colorado Rockies, becoming the youngest pitcher in franchise history to hit the mark in the San Francisco era.

He is 25 years and 331 days old.

Bumgarner struck out Rockies outfielder Brandon Barnes in the second inning.

He entered Sunday's game against Colorado needing one strikeout to achieve the milestone.

The previous youngest pitcher in the team's history to reach 1,000 strikeouts was Matt Cain.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>