<![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 Tue, 01 Dec 2015 01:15:02 -0800 Tue, 01 Dec 2015 01:15:02 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Devon Still: 'No Evidence' of Cancer in Daughter, 5]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 21:06:57 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/487634272.jpg

A lot of pro football was played on Thanksgiving, but last week's biggest win was earned a day earlier by the 5-year-old daughter of former NFL player Devon Still, according to "TODAY."

Doctors found "no evidence of disease" in Leah Still almost a year and a half after she was diagnosed with cancer, the 26-year-old former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle announced Wednesday on Instagram.

"Thanks for all the support and prayers!" reads the caption accompanying an image of the words "Thank you," in cursive. "Just got the phone call that her scans showed NED (no evidence of disease)!"

Since June 2014, when doctors diagnosed Leah with Stage-4 neuroblastoma and gave her a 50/50 chance to survive, it's been a roller-coaster of emotions for everyone involved.

Photo Credit: File -- FilmMagic
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<![CDATA[Gabbert Making Better Use of Tight Ends]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 10:15:09 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/vayncecelebbb.jpg

Midway through this season, the 49ers traded veteran tight end Vernon Davis to the Broncos. 

Then in the first quarter of Sunday’s 19-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the Niners lost tight end Garrett Celek to a high ankle sprain. 

Yet the remaining tight ends on the roster, most notably Vance McDonald and rookie Blake Bell, stepped up to become a big part of the 49ers’ offensive game plan, catching nine passes between them for 138 yards and a touchdown. 

In fact, it’s probably no coincidence that Celek, McDonald and Bell have become a much bigger part of the passing attack since Blaine Gabbert took over at quarterback the past three games. 

In those games, against the Falcons, Seahawks and Cardinals, the trio has a combined 19 catches for 269 yards and four touchdowns. 

Against the Cardinals, Bell played a bigger role with Celek out, catching three passes, including one of 48 yards. McDonald, meanwhile, had six receptions for 71 yards and the 49ers’ only TD, an 8-yard catch in the third quarter. 

McDonald, a second-round pick from Rice in the 2013 draft, had seven catches for 45 yards with Kaepernick as the QB and has 12 for 155 yards and his only two career TDs since Gabbert took over the job. 

When McDonald was asked by reporters after Sunday’s game if that were a coincidence, he said: "I don’t know. You guys can be the judge of that." 

After Sunday’s game, McDonald told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group that several factors have factored into the tight ends becoming more a part of the offense. 

"There are a lot of moving parts," he said. "Blaine and (Kaepernick) are completely different players. Vernon being gone is another huge thing. One-on-one matchups were huge today, and tight ends were easy wins for us. But we’ve got to win the game." 

It’s obvious Gabbert is comfortable using his tight ends. All four of his TD throws have been to players at the position. 

Bell, who was converted from quarterback to tight end at Oklahoma, had the biggest play of his pro career so far, on his 48-yard catch-and-run. Gabbert rolled to his right, then looked back across the field to his left and zinged a pass to a wide-open Bell, who rumbled deep into Arizona territory to set up the 49ers’ only TD. 

"I was just ready for when my time is called," Bell told reporters

The 49ers (3-8) get their next opportunity this coming Sunday in Chicago against the Bears (5-6).

Photo Credit: Getty
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<![CDATA[Raiders' OL Is Unsung Hero in Win Over Titans]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 10:19:20 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/170*120/protekktkahrr.jpg

The Raiders went into Sunday’s game in Tennessee knowing they’d have their hands full against a Titans pass rush that is one of the league’s best.

The Titans ranked fourth in the NFL with 33 sacks, including 12 over their three previous games.

Yet on Sunday, the Raiders offensive line did a terrific job. The Titans sacked quarterback Derek Carr just once and Carr had time throughout the game to throw for 330 yards and three touchdowns in Oakland’s 24-21 victory.

More than halfway through this season, the Raiders (5-6) have shown that their offensive line – even without standout center Rodney Hudson this past weekend – can protect Carr against even the fiercest pass-rushing teams.

In 11 games, the Raiders have given up just 14 sacks, tied with the New York Jets for fewest in the league.

And, with the game on the line Sunday, Carr was able to throw the ball nine straight times on the late game-winning drive – protected by his blockers – and find his receivers, including Seth Roberts for the game-winning, 12-yard catch.

Carr was hit just four times in the game. When he’s given that much time, he’s shown he can find the gifted receivers he has this season, including wideouts Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Roberts.

Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio gave a nod to the offensive line after Sunday’s victory as being a key for the offensive production.

“We have people that can get down the field, (and) we have a quarterback that’s very accurate down the field,” Del Rio told the media. “We’re going to be able to run the ball well. That’s a really physical front, a physical defense that we went against, and our offense was terrific for most of the day.

“I would say that (Sunday) was a little closer to what we’re looking for with the offensive production.”

The Raiders will try to keep things rolling this coming Sunday, with a matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs (6-5) at O.co Coliseum (1:05 p.m. kickoff).


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Banner Urgers 49ers, York to Part Ways]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 09:39:44 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/n8p+banner+vo++-+00000515.jpg

SANTA CLARA – The protests of some 49ers fans directed at CEO Jed York were seen high above the team’s home stadium on Sunday.

A plane circled Levi’s Stadium on Sunday before the 49ers’ game against the Arizona Cardinals that towed a banner that read: "Jed & 49ers Should Mutually Part Ways.”

The banner was the idea of self-described long-time 49ers fan Conor McGuire, according to NinerFans.com. McGuire opened a Go Fund Me campaign that raised $1,059 for the demonstration. The cost for six to eight laps around the stadium was $549, according to the page.

Just moments after the 49ers’ final game of last season — a victory over the Cardinals — the 49ers announced that the team and then-coach Jim Harbaugh had agreed to mutually part ways following an 8-8 season. Harbaugh’s team advanced to the NFC Championship game, with one Super Bowl appearance, in his three previous seasons.

For more, go to CSNBayArea.com

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Late, Questionable Call Helps Cardinals Drive to Win Over 49ers]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 09:59:29 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tomsula.jpg

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer is an MVP candidate this season, and he showed why on Sunday afternoon, taking his team on a long fourth-quarter drive for the go-ahead touchdown in a 19-13 victory over the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.

But what many of 49ers fans will remember from this game is a controversial penalty call against San Francisco that helped Palmer pull off the game-winning drive.

After moving from their own 15 to their 32, the Cardinals faced a second-and-10 when defensive lineman Quinton Dial busted through the offensive line to drive Palmer into the turf for a sack and an 8-yard loss. But the officials ruled unnecessary roughness on Dial for leading with the crown of his helmet into Palmer’s chest.

The 49ers were docked 15 yards and Arizona received a first down at its own 47. Nine plays later, Arizona scored on an 8-yard Palmer scramble.

Perhaps the Cardinals would have earned a first down on their own on a third-and-18 play. But, nobody will ever know. The call proved to be a turning point on the drive and many NFL observers were surprised by what looked like a clean, though hard, sack by Dial.

Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group tweeted, “Terrible call.” Damon Bruce of 95.7 The Game tweeted, “Roughing the passer with a textbook hit? This is the poorest officiated game of the season. That was perfect.” Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee noted that the officials seemingly had taken over the game.

It was one of 13 penalties called against the 49ers on Sunday, resulting in 81 yards and several key changes in momentum. The Cardinals, meanwhile, were flagged just seven times for 47 yards.

And yet, the 49ers still had a chance to win the game. Arizona missed the PAT, meaning the 49ers could win with a touchdown and extra point.

Quarterback Blaine Gabbert moved his team from its own 21 to the Arizona 30 with 1:27 remaining. But then, Gabbert was sacked for a 10-yard loss and on fourth-and-20, he completed a throw to Anquan Boldin, but Boldin was stopped 2 yards short of a first down.

The Cardinals then ran out the clock to lock up the victory, their first in the Bay Area against the Niners since 2008. It improves their NFC West-leading record to 9-2.

The 49ers fell to 3-8, which mathematically eliminates them from an NFC West title – not that anyone expected them to win all of their remaining games, anyway.

The 49ers defense played well, holding high-scoring Arizona to just 19 points and 337 yards and twice forcing Arizona to settle for field goals.

At the half, Arizona led just 6-3. The Cardinals scored a TD in the third quarter, but the 49ers quickly answered with a Vance McDonald touchdown catch from Gabbert and a Phil Dawson field goal late in the third quarter to tie the game 13-13.

Then, aided by the questionable call on Dial, the Cardinals marched to their game-winning score.

Gabbert again played well in his third start since taking over for Colin Kaepernick, completing 25-of-36 passes for 318 yards and a TD, with an interception, posting a quarterback rating of 94.4.

Boldin had eight catches for 93 yards and McDonald had a strong game with six catches for 71 yards. Defensively, linebacker NaVorro Bowman led a fired-up front seven – that put constant pressure on Palmer (though he was sacked just once) – with eight tackles.

The 49ers next play at Chicago against the Bears this coming Sunday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Dear Basketball': Kobe Bryant Announces Retirement]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 01:26:19 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-Madison-Square-Garden.jpg

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers has decided to retire after this season.

The 37-year-old Bryant made the announcement in a post on The Players' Tribune on Sunday. The decision was not totally unexpected, given that Bryant has said many times in recent weeks that he was considering making his 20th NBA season his last.

There's no more wondering now.

After two decades, two Olympic gold medals, five championship rings, 17 All-Star selections, an 81-point game that ranks as the second-best in NBA history and more than 32,000 points, Bryant's career is officially winding down.

"This season is all I have left to give," Bryant said in what he called a letter entitled "Dear Basketball."

Bryant said in an interview on Sirius XM Radio just last week that "if something changes," he would come back and play next season. Only a few days later, that's apparently no longer an option.

"My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it's time to say goodbye," Bryant wrote in the post. "And that's OK. I'm ready to let you go. I want you to know now. So we both can savor every moment we have left together. The good and the bad. We have given each other all that we have."

Bryant ranks third on the NBA's career scoring list, and only 13 players in league history played on more championship teams. Bryant helped the Lakers to titles in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010.

This season has been a struggle for the five-time champion, whose young and rebuilding Lakers are mired at the bottom of the Western Conference standings while he's shooting a career-worst 32 percent. Injuries have dogged him in recent years as well, limiting him to 41 of a possible 164 games in the previous two seasons. And even this season, back issues have kept him from playing as much as he would like.

"It's tough to see one of the absolute greatest competitors go through this," Miami guard Dwyane Wade told The Associated Press on Sunday, prior to Bryant making his announcement. "You can put a team around a guy to help a guy, especially late in his career. They're just not in position right now to do that. He's won five championships, so no one feels bad for him from that standpoint. But from a standpoint of seeing one of this era's greatest players go out in a rebuilding process, it's tough."

The Lakers have 66 games remaining after Sunday and it will likely turn into a adoration tour of sorts for Bryant, who has already gotten long ovations from normally hostile fans on road trips this season, particularly in places like New York and Miami where crowds sensed that they might be seeing him as an opponent for the final time.

The Lakers' next road game is, perhaps not coincidentally given the timing of Bryant's announcement, on Tuesday in Philadelphia -- his hometown.

"Philly is where I grew up," Bryant told AP in an interview in Miami earlier this month. "It's always a different emotion there than anywhere else."

Bryant came into the NBA straight out of high school, won the dunk contest at All-Star weekend as a rookie, played in the All-Star game for the first time the following year and a star was fast born. The 81 points he scored against Toronto on Jan. 22, 2006, are second only to Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in NBA history, and he's the only player to spend 20 consecutive seasons with the same team.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Carr's Late TD Pass to Roberts Breaks Raiders Losing Streak]]> Sun, 29 Nov 2015 14:28:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/raiders+titans1.jpg

With their playoff hopes slipping away Sunday in Tennessee, the Raiders came up big.

Trailing 21-17 late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Derek Carr led Oakland on an 11-play, 90-yard drive, connecting with Seth Roberts on a 12-yard touchdown pass with 1:27 remaining to give the Raiders a 24-21 victory.

After losing three consecutive games to fall to 4-6, the Raiders couldn’t afford another loss and realistically remain in the playoff hunt. But now at 5-6 with five games remaining, Oakland again is in position to make a bid for a wild-card berth with a strong finish.

Earlier this week, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio had said it was nice that the franchise has so many good, young players, particularly on offense, such as Carr and Cooper, but that “potential doesn’t win games.”

“It’s a production-based business,” he said. “We expect to be better than we were (in the three straight losses).”

On Sunday in Tennessee, the Raiders were better.

Carr turned in another strong game, completing 24-of-37 passes for 330 yards and three TDs, while Roberts (six catches, 113 yards) and rookie Amari Cooper (seven for 115) each had big days.

The Titans took a 7-0 first-quarter lead, but Oakland answered with a Michael Crabtree TD catch and a Sebastian Janikowski 24-yard field goal to take a 10-7 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, the teams traded TDs, with Roberts grabbing a 10-yard scoring pass and Tennessee rookie QB Marcus Mariota throwing his second TD pass of the day.

Then, late in the fourth, the Titans took a lead on another Mariota TD pass.

With just 4:34 remaining, the Raiders took over on their 10-yard line after a kickoff and Oakland penalty.

Carr began the drive with a 16-yard strike to Cooper. Three plays later he hit Roberts for 31 yards to the Titans’ 38.

Then, on a fourth-and-8 from the Titans’ 36, the Raiders got a huge gift when Carr’s deep pass intended for Andre Holmes was off target, but Titans defensive back B.W. Webb was called for defensive holding. That gave the Raiders a first down on the Titans’ 31 with 1:50 remaining. Carr then hit tight end Mychal Rivera for 19 yards, setting up his 12-yard, game-winning throw to Roberts.

Nate Allen's interception of Mariota then cemented the victory for Oakland.

It was the Raiders’ third road victory of the season, after getting shut out away from home in 2014.

The Raiders’ next opportunity to keep their momentum going will be this coming Sunday at O.co Coliseum against the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Tom Brady Dresses Up for Turkey Day Surprise]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 15:47:43 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Tom+Brady+102915.jpg

Looks like the New England Patriots' star quarterback couldn't resist having a little bit of fun on Thanksgiving.

Tom Brady posted a funny video of him hiding in a pile of leaves in a turkey costume, and then popping out to surprise his young children.

We can't decide what's more precious: his children's reactions or the fact that Brady goes "gobble gobble." 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Niners Will Give Cardinals a Different Look on Sunday]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 09:26:23 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Kardzrymatchhh.jpg

In the 49ers’ first meeting with the Arizona Cardinals this season, things got ugly fast.

Less than six minutes into the game, the Niners were down 14-0. And, after throwing two interceptions that the Cards returned for touchdowns, quarterback Colin Kaepernick became gun shy and rarely challenged the Arizona secondary.

In the 47-7 loss on Sept. 27 in Arizona, Kaepernick was intercepted four times, San Francisco could muster just 156 total yards and the 49ers defense was defenseless against both the run (Chris Johnson had 110 rushing yards) and pass (Carson Palmer threw for 311).

Now, as the 3-7 49ers prepare to host the 8-2 Cardinals Sunday (1:05 p.m. kickoff), is there any reason to believe the outcome will be any different?

Certainly the NFL oddsmakers don’t think so. They’ve made the visitors 8-point favorites.

The teams are going in opposite directions. Arizona has won four straight. The 49ers have lost three of their past four, including last Sunday’s 29-13 loss to Seattle.

Palmer is having his best season in years. He has 27 TD passes in 10 games and has won 22 of his past 26 starts for the Cards.

The only big difference this time around will be that former backup Blaine Gabbert will start at quarterback for the 49ers, with Kaepernick now out for the remainder of the season.

Gabbert, a bust in Jacksonville, has played relatively well for the 49ers the past two games in a win over Atlanta and the loss to Seattle. In those games he’s completed 37-of-59 throws for 449 yards, three TDs and just one interception. He’s connected on 62.7 percent of his throws. He’s also showed a good presence in the pocket – much better than Kaepernick this season.

In fact, this week Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu told reporters that Gabbert looks like a much more effective passer than Kaeernick.

“That’s not to take anything away from Kaepernick, but it seems like Gabbert, he has a little better grip of what’s going on,” said Mathieu, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “If he gets in a situation, he knows where the ball needs to go. So he’s a hell of a passer. I think he’s underrated when you talk about how well he can throw the football.”

Gabbert, who seems to be comfortable in making the most of his second opportunity in the NFL – and perhaps establishing himself as an option for the 49ers in 2016 – says he’s a smarter, better quarterback than he was in Jacksonville.

“I’m a more mature player,” he told reporters this week. “I know where I want to go with the football. You see the pre-snap looks and you can go off of knowledge that you’ve seen that look in the past and knowing where they’re vulnerable, where your guys are going to pop open. Just from that, just more comfortable in the system.”

Still, beating the Cardinals would be a tremendous upset. Arizona is No. 1 in the NFL in offense, No. 3 in defense and has become a confident, consistent team under head coach Bruce Arians.

The 49ers, meanwhile, are trying to look for any light in what has been a dark season that has many observers speculating that head coach Jim Tomsula could be fired after just one year.

Said Tomsula this week: “We’re in a performance-based business and all of us in it get it. So I don’t think or work that way. (My) long-term goal is Sunday. It’s just where I stay.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A's Pitcher, Girlfriend Host Syrian Refugees for Thanksgiving]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 11:09:51 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/172*120/DSC_15321.jpg

Oakland A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle and his activist girlfriend Eireann Dolan, both natives of Illinois, hosted 17 Syrian refugee families for a Thanksgiving meal in Chicago on Wednesday night with Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a special guest.

The idea of whether to accept Syrian refugees has become controversial as of late, as some critics fear that terrorists could slip in as desperate families seek safe shelter from their war-torn homeland.

But the couple shunned those worries, and instead decided to act how they think all Americans should.

“Chicago is so lucky to have 17 Syrian refugee families now officially calling it home,” Dolan wrote on Instagram. “We thought we'd officially welcome them with one of our greatest American traditions, Thanksgiving.”

Her photo shows women in hijabs and a young boy wearing a Cubs baseball cap seated around a festive table, dotted with Pepsi, flowers and cranberry sauce.

A’s spokesman Ken Pries told NBC Bay Area on Friday the power couple hosted the dinner on Wednesday and have no personal connection with the refugees. The city of Chicago and the mayor helped put them in contact with the group, he said.

“It was obviously a very nice gesture," he said.

The couple has made nice gestures before.

The A’s kicked off LGBT Pride Night in June, which sparked some homophobic reaction, such as season ticket holders indicating they wanted to sell their tickets.

Dolan, who said she has two “super gay” moms, and Doolittle offered to buy any unwanted tickets up to $3,000, and donate the tickets to the Bay Area Youth Center’s Our Space community for LGBTQ youth.

Photo Credit: Walter Mitchell, City of Chicago
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<![CDATA[Raiders Will Need to Protect Carr vs. Titans Fierce Pass Rush]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 08:17:29 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/KahrvsTytanz.jpg

The Raiders need to get back on the winning track, and the 2-8 Tennessee Titans present a nice opportunity Sunday morning (10 a.m. kickoff).

In fact, the Titans, who rank 30th overall in the NFL in offense, have lost 10 straight games at home.

But if the 4-6 Raiders are to break their three-game losing streak, they’ll have to get their offense rolling again, and that won’t be an easy task with an offensive line likely to miss veteran center Rodney Hudson again against a Tennessee front seven that is ranked fourth in the NFL with 33 sacks.

Hudson, still trying to work his way back from an ankle injury that was aggravated in last week’s loss to the Lions, would be replaced by Tony Bergstrom.

Bergstrom and his mates will need to have a strong game to protect Derek Carr and give him time to re-establish a passing game that hasn’t been as crisp as it was for almost a month before the past two disappointing efforts against Detroit and Minnesota.

Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo leads the fierce Titans pass rush with seven sacks. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard and defensive end Jurrell Casey, with five each, also are active.

Oakland offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave told reporters this week that containing the Titans pass rushers will be one of his unit’s prime objectives Sunday.

“Tons of sacks. Tons of them,” he said, when assessing the Tennessee pass rushers. “Twelve in the last three games. A lot of movement. A lot of effort. I’ve known Orakpo over the years when he was with the Redskins. A high-effort fella, just never quits. They look great on film.”

Orakpo, in fact, has six sacks over the past six games for a defense that is solid, ranking No. 6 overall, No. 3 vs. the pass and tied for 17th against the run.

The Raiders defense, meanwhile, will get its first look at the NFL’s No. 2 overall pick from the spring draft, former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota has thrown 13 TD passes and leads all rookie QBs with a 96.1 passer rating. The Titans offensive line has had trouble protecting him, however, giving up 33 sacks.

Mariota loves to connect with tight end Delanie Walker, and that could be trouble. The Raiders have had problems covering opposing tight ends this season, and the former 49er is Tennessee’s No. 1 receiver with 53 catches for 617 yards and three TDs.

Musgave told the media this week that this is an important game for the Raiders to regain their offensive rhythm. Over the past two weeks, the Raiders have scored a total of 27 points after scoring 30 or more in three straight games.

“We want to be a big-play offense with explosives, so we need to do more of that,” said Musgrave. “I think we all know there’s a number of factors that go into each and every play, whether it be what the defense is doing, our protection, trying to get all our guys their opportunities. We want to have a more heavy dose of those explosive plays. We missed that the last two weeks.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Great-Grandma, 102, Plays Baseball]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 11:33:57 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/102-year-old-grandma-baseball.gif

“Keep your eye on the ball.”

A San Diego cul-de-sac has been transformed into a concrete baseball diamond, home to the Zimmer family’s annual Thanksgiving game for about 22 years.

The instruction comes from the team’s oldest and feistiest player, 102-year-old Ann Sellaro.

But she’s not satisfied with acting as batting coach. Putting aside her walker, the great-grandmother steps up to the imaginary plate with a blue, plastic bat in hand.

One, two, three swings at bright yellow wiffle balls and Sellaro strikes out. But for her family, the misses don’t detract from her baseball chops and a love of the game that helped inspire two of her great-grandsons to become Major League Baseball players.

"I taught them everything they know," Sellaro says.

Kyle and Bradley Zimmer, La Jolla High School graduates, were both first-round draft picks out of the University of San Francisco. Kyle now pitches for the Kansas City Royals, and Bradley plays center field for the Cleveland Indians.

But long before they were playing in the big leagues, their training began in a quiet La Jolla cul-de-sac. Sellaro was there dealing out advice “since the first time we picked up a bat, I think,” said Bradley.

“I think that was about two days after we started walking,” quipped Kyle. "It’s been a long time."

Back then, the Zimmers and their friends would keep the wiffle balls within easy reach. However, as they grew, the balls soon started flying across streets, over fences and into neighbor’s yards.

“We've had to extend the home run line,” said Eric Zimmer, the players’ dad. “It used to be the curb, and then it was the sidewalk, then it was the neighbor’s roof.”

The annual Thanksgiving game has become less competitive with fewer rules, but their favorite part remains the same.

“Anytime you can say you have a grandma who's 102 years old and showing you how to hit a wiffle ball in the backyard, it's pretty special,” said Bradley. “So having her down here has been awesome. It's something that we really cherish and look forward to every year."

Sellaro used to travel long distances to watch her great-grandsons play, but as traveling becomes harder, she shows her support by watching their games on TV or online.

In person, though, the batting coach instincts kick back in.

“Keep your eye on the ball,” she says, pointing at Kyle. “And that goes for you, too.”

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Brett Favre’s Number Retired]]> Thu, 26 Nov 2015 19:37:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/179*120/GettyImages-56396130+%281%29.jpg

The Chicago Bears will head into a hostile Lambeau Field Thursday night to face the Green Bay Packers, and even though they won’t have to face Brett Favre, the legendary quarterback’s presence will still be a big part of the evening.

That’s because the Packers are retiring Favre’s jersey at halftime of the Thanksgiving showdown.

The honor has been a long time coming for Favre, who spent the vast majority of his Hall of Fame-caliber career wearing the green and gold, and it’s especially appropriate that he is receiving the distinction during a game against a Bears team that he routinely tortured in his NFL career.

In 36 career starts against the Bears, Favre racked up a 23-13 record and some incredible passing numbers. He threw for 8606 yards in those 36 games, tossing 60 touchdowns and rushing for three more against Chicago during his career. Those 60 touchdowns are the most he threw against any team, and even though he did throw 42 interceptions against the Bears (also the most he’s thrown against any team), he still represented the Bears’ ultimate nemesis during his time in Green Bay.

The list of Favre’s best games against the Bears is a long one, but there are a few that certainly stand out.

Few will forget the masterful performance he had at Soldier Field in a November 1995 game, where he threw five touchdowns and racked up 336 passing yards despite playing the game with a severely sprained ankle.

A 2002 tilt against the Bears in Champaign was another Favre classic as he threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns in an emphatic 34-21 victory.

Unfortunately for Chicago, Favre’s replacement in Green Bay hasn’t been an easier opponent, as Aaron Rodgers holds a 12-3 record and throws for an average of 242.5 yards per game against the Bears in his career. Oh, and he’s thrown 34 touchdowns and just eight interceptions too.

<![CDATA[Top Sports Photos 2015]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 18:18:47 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/topNews-AP_263253371568.jpg Click to see dramatic game action photos from professional football, hockey, basketball, baseball and more.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Julio Cortez]]>
<![CDATA[Niners' Cromartie Wants to Make Most of His Opportunity]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 08:47:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/emmcrow.jpg

Young 49ers cornerback Marcus Cromartie often feels overlooked.

That happens when you go undrafted out of college and have two more acclaimed cousins – Antonio Cromartie and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – who play the same position and have achieved star status in the NFL.

Marcus Cromartie, meanwhile, has bounced from the Chargers to the Browns and then the 49ers since coming into the league in 2013.

“As an undrafted player, your opportunities are smaller than that of a first- or second-rounder,” Marcus Cromartie told a reporter recently. “You’ve got to fit in where you get in and make the most of your opportunity.”

For now, it looks like Cromartie’s opportunity has arrived.

As the 3-7 49ers prepare for Sunday’s game against the 8-2 Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium (1:05 p.m. kickoff), Cromartie is likely to play a big role in the cornerback rotation.

Two weeks ago, Cromartie was promoted from the practice squad and played 59 defensive snaps in a victory over the Falcons and led his team with seven tackles.

Then, against Seattle this past weekend, Cromartie came into the game to replace starter Kenneth Acker – benched after a poor start – and played 47 snaps. While Acker missed a key tackle and gave up two catches on two targets (including a touchdown), Cromartie gave up just one catch on two targets for just 8 yards, reported Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com this week.

In the wake of Acker’s shaky performance and the poor play overall of the 49ers’ secondary against the Seahawks, Cromartie is likely to see plenty of action over the final six games, noted Matt Barrows, who covers the 49ers for the Sacramento Bee.

“The 49ers like his size and aggression, and Cromartie is unafraid to get involved in run defense,” wrote Barrows. “Cromartie has a hunger about him that the 49ers like. It will be interesting to see if his role expands Sunday against the Cardinals.”

Cromartie, a 6-foot, 195-pounder who played at Wisconsin, is eager and always willing to make a name for himself.

“It feels like I need to step up my game,” he said recently. “I play with a chip on my shoulder and be like, ‘When you hear Cromartie, let’s hear Marcus and not so much Dominique and Antonio.’ It lets me play with a little edge.”

Certainly, Cromartie and his secondary mates face a challenge. In the 49ers’ first matchup with the Cards this season, Carson Palmer threw for 311 yards and two TDs and wideout Larry Fitzgerald had nine catches for 134 yards.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Have Faith That Cooper Will Work Through Mini-Slump]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 08:26:52 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/189*120/KooprKetchh.jpg

Just 10 games into his NFL career, wide receiver Amari Cooper already has proven he’s a star.

The rookie from Alabama has 51 catches for 736 yards and four touchdowns, and is averaging 14.4 yards per catch.

The addition of Cooper and veteran Michael Crabtree has given young quarterback Derek Carr a terrific tandem of wideouts and helped raise Carr’s game to a new, higher level in 2015. The two are on pace to each gain more than 1,000 yards receiving.

Cooper already has been labeled one of the NFL’s brightest young stars and the potential NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He had three 100-yard receiving games in his first six, the first time that’s happened since Bears Hall of Fame tight end Mike Ditka did it in 1961, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Coming out of Alabama, the No. 4 overall choice in the draft has shown he’s a terrific route runner who also has the ability to go after the ball. And, once he gets it, he’s dangerous. He ranks 12th in the NFL in yards after catch (330) and has 10 catches of 20 or more yards.

“He’s amazing, he’s awesome and he’s one of the best in this league,” said Carr recently. “Obviously, because he’s a rookie and hasn’t done it for a certain amount of time, people won’t say that, but he’s one of the best.”

But as terrific as Cooper has been, he’s hit a bit of a slump lately.

He had just one catch in the loss to the Lions this past Sunday and had two drops. Plus, Carr threw his way only four times. Cooper had those three 100-yard performances in his first six games but has had none in his past four.

And, there’s this: Though Cooper ranks among the NFL’s top receiving leaders, he also ranks among receivers with the most dropped passes. As Jimmy Durkin of the Bay Area News Group noted this week, Cooper has 10 dropped passes, the second-worst total in the NFL behind Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans (who had six drops in just one game this season).

But Carr this week praised Cooper for his confidence and work ethic, and said he knows Cooper will bounce back. Perhaps one big catch, when the 4-6 Raiders take on the 2-8 Titans on Sunday, will get Cooper rolling again.

Head coach Jack Del Rio, too, didn’t seem worried about Cooper’s performance against the Lions and said the Raiders must find ways to get the ball into his hands.

“He’s a good player,” Del Rio told the media. “He’s been very consistent in his approach. We like the approach he has. We’ll work through whatever things need to be corrected.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Durant's New Sneaker Is Taboo to Some in Prince George's]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 19:09:24 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KD8+PG+County.jpg

With his latest Nike sneaker, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant attempted to pay homage to the Maryland county where his journey to NBA all-star and MVP began, but some find it offensive.

The $180 sneaker, which goes on sale Wednesday, is called the KD8 ‘P.G. County,’ and that abbreviation of “Prince George’s” upsets some in the county. For years, using “PG” has been considered taboo.

“We would certainly prefer that it was ‘Prince George’s County,’” said Barry Hudson, the county executive’s spokesman.

The county reached out to Nike when it learned of the name.

“Actually sent a letter to Nike kind of giving them some idea of the nature of the term ‘Prince George’s County’ versus ‘PG County’ just to let them know that it is, to many in the county, a pejorative,” Hudson said.

Melvin McCray, who once coached Durant at the Seat Pleasant Activity Center, said the name of the shoe makes perfect sense. Durant has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the facility where a room is named in his honor.

“Whether it’s ‘PG County,’ whether it’s ‘Prince George’s County,’ I just think we all should just enjoy the moment and just embrace it,” McCray said.

Photo Credit: Nike]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Beat Lakers, Set Record]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 22:44:18 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/Lakers-lose-to-Warriors-record-nba.jpg

The Golden State Warriors made history against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night. The Warriors went to 16-0 with the 111- 77 win is an old-fashioned game of blowout basketball, which marked the best ever start to an NBA season. Previously, the 1993-94 Houston Rockets held the record at 15-0.

Surprisingly, the Warriors came out shooting cold against the visiting Lakers. Not so surprisingly, the Warriors still managed to take a massive lead on a Lakers team that has the habit of falling flat on its face. For the 12th time in 14 games, the Lakers lost. This time, though, the purple and gold trailed by 19 points before the first quarter was up.

Kobe Bryant had had an awful night. He shot up air balls, he shot up bricks and he even shot up one thud-worthy attempt that stuck in between the backboard and the rim. The 37-year-old shot 1-14 from the field and looked worse than he has all season, and Bryant has not looked good this season.

No Laker scored over 10 points, so Bryant can hardly take all the credit in the loss. Jordan Clarkson went 2-11, Nick Young shot 3-10 and Roy Hibbert went 0-4. This was a game where the Lakers' best punch would possibly give them a chance against the world champs, but the Lakers seemingly slipped and fell as the opening bell rang out.

"They're a better team than we are," Lakers coach Byron Scott said on TWC SportsNet after the game. "It's pretty much that simple."

The Warriors only needed one quarter to decide the outcome, so the game never looked in doubt. However, the Lakers did show positive signs in the second period. Lakers rookie D'Angelo Russell and almost-rookie Julius Randle combined to help cut the 22-point lead down to only 16 points by halftime. Russell hit shots, while Randle bruised his way to buckets. Both players shot 50 percent from the field for the night.

Along with the other starters, Russell and Randle did not play in the fourth quarter because the Warriors led by 34 points after three quarters. Stephen Curry had already received his sendoff ovation at that stage, and the game called for emptying the bench for guys like Tarik Black and Larry Nance Jr. to get extra minutes.

Curry finished with 24 points and nine assists on 10-21 shooting. By his standards, he had a bad night in that the league's Most Valuable Player only hit four of his 12 attempts from beyond the three-point line. However, Curry sat the whole fourth quarter because the game was simply not competitive. The Warriors' largest lead on the night was 41 points.

Draymond Green also had a positive night in more ways than one. Green had a +/- of 36, which tied Curry for the best net-positive players on the team. Green finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks and one steal in 30 active minutes on the court.

"It's just another loss for us, another win for them," Scott said. "That's how I kind of look at it and just go back to the drawing board."

Next, the Warriors look to extend their record to 17 games in Phoenix on Friday night. The Lakers look to snap a four-game losing streak in Portland on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Improve to 16-0, Set NBA Record for Best Season Start]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 05:58:06 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/GettyImages-498642458.jpg

The Golden State Warriors now hold the NBA record for best start to a season.

Tuesday's 111-77 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Oracle Arena in Oakland launched the Warriors into the history books as the first team to open a season with 16 consecutive wins.

With Stephen Curry leading the way with a game-high 24 points and nine assists, the Warriors also became the fifth NBA team to win 20 in a row (including four at the end of last season) while also recording their 27th consecutive victory at Oracle.

The reigning NBA champs will look to continue its win streak on Friday when they face the Phoenix Suns.

Visit NBC Bay Area’s Warriors page for full team coverage.

CSN Bay Area's Monte Poole contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Stephen Curry Buys $3.2M House in East Bay]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 07:08:55 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/199*120/stephcurryhouse16.PNG Stephen Curry Buys $3.2M House in East Bay

Photo Credit: Realtor.com]]>
<![CDATA[Heeney Showing Raiders He Can Contribute]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:06:49 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/177*120/daoakkoch.jpg

Before Sunday, Raiders rookie linebacker Ben Heeney hadn’t made much of an impact.

The former Kansas Jayhawk, taken in the fifth round this spring, mostly had played special teams and had recorded just one tackle in eight previous games.

But in Sunday’s 18-13 loss to the Detroit Lions, Heeney was thrown into the defensive mix, playing a large role as a linebacker with pass-coverage responsibilities on throwing downs.  It was a similar role to that played by fellow rookie linebacker Neiron Ball earlier this season. Ball, currently sidelined by injury, provided solid coverage on opposing tight ends and he figures to regain that role when he’s again healthy.

But against the Lions, Heeney showed that he has potential to play well in the NFL and could be in the team’s long-term mix on defense for head coach Jack Del Rio and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

Heeney played a career-high 38 snaps – 53 percent of all defensive plays – and was in on seven tackles plus had a sack.

Judging by Del Rio’s evaluation to reporters Monday, Raiders fans could see more of Heeney this Sunday when the 4-6 Raiders travel to Tennessee to play the 2-8 Titans (10 a.m. kickoff).

“He plays hard. He makes a lot of tackles,” Del Rio said. “He’s a productive guy. A cople times where he overran the ball, over pursued the ball and allowed some cutbacks, it was effort-filled performance. That’s what we know about Ben. He’s going to fly around. He’s going to be on plays.

“He made a heck of a move to get that sack. For his first extended action, I thought he did pretty well.”

Heeney’s performance is just one more indication that Reggie McKenzie’s draft class of 2015 could be providing benefits for years to come.

No. 1 pick, receiver Amari Cooper, already is a star. No. 2 choice Mario Edwards Jr. is starting at defensive end. Third pick, tight end Clive Walford, is playing a bigger role almost every game. Heeney and Ball have shown quickness and coverage skills as linebackers. Offensive lineman Jon Feliciano, cornerback Dexter McDonald, defensive end Max Valles and return specialist Andre DeBose are on the roster, practice squad or injured reserve and may contribute down the line.

Heeney, a middle linebacker at Kansas who led the Big 12 in tackles as a senior, said earlier this season that he knows he can contribute and play at this level, but knows he has to keep working and learn from his mistakes.

Said Heeney: “I just have to be the type of player that I know I am.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[With Dorsey Out, Armstead to Get Bigger Role]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 08:30:51 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/172*120/arikmotohr.jpg

Glenn Dorsey’s time as a San Francisco 49er hasn’t been easy.

The former first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs signed with San Francisco in 2013 and played all 16 games that season, becoming the starting nose tackle when Ian Williams was lost early in the season.

But Dorsey missed all of 2014 with injury and now has been lost for the remainder of this season when he suffered a ligament tear in his right knee in Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Dorsey, who is signed through 2016, should be able to return to contribute next season. In 10 games this season as part of a rotation on the defensive line, he was in on 18 tackles.

It’s a tough break for Dorsey and the 49ers, who need all the help they can get defensively. The Niners defense has struggled in 2015 and did again Sunday, giving up more than 200 yards rushing to undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls. The analytics website Pro Football Focus, in fact, reported the 49ers missed 10 tackles Sunday.

The only plus for the 49ers concerning Dorsey’s loss may be the extra opportunities for No. 1 draft pick Arik Armstead.

When the 3-7 49ers host the 8-2 Arizona Cardinals Sunday (1:05 p.m. kickoff), Armstead – the team’s top pick in 2015 out of Oregon – figures to get extended playing time. For a team that’s going nowhere, it’s a chance for the 49ers to accelerate Armstead’s playing time to get him better prepared for 2016.

After Dorsey’s injury against the Seahawks, Armstead played a career-best 46 snaps and was in on six tackles and a quarterback hit. In 10 games, Armstead has a sack and has been in on 13 tackles.

Recently, 49ers defensive coordinator Eric Mangini said he believes Armstead has “made a good push” and has made big strides. Now, he’ll get more reps and the 49ers will be better able to see what they have for next season.

Mangini said Armstead should improve at a rapid pace because of his smarts and energy.

“It’s the motor. It’s the motor,” said Mangini. “As he grows into, not just his role, but just in the NFL, he’ll continue to make jumps because of how he’s wired and who he is.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Tickets Sold Out, As Team Hopes to Set 16-0 Starting Record]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 07:58:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/212*120/Lakers-Warriors-preview-11-24-2015.jpg Warriors tickets at o.Co Coliseum are sold out Tuesday, as the Oakland team hopes to beat the LA Lakers and set a 16-0 starting record. Bob Redell reports.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Coach Luke Walton's Car Stolen in Oakland: DA]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 20:05:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/luke-walton-crop_11_10.jpg

One of the cars stolen during an Oakland Hills crime spree belongs to Golden State Warriors coach Luke Walton, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said late Monday.

Walton's Mercedes Benz was stolen Tuesday by two suspects, who police believe are also responsible for a violent attack on a 75-year-old woman outside her home on Thursday. The suspects also took the woman's car during the attack, according to police.

One of the suspects identified in charging documents is Lamonte Campbell.

The series of brazen crimes reported in the city's Montclair neighborhood have left residents rattled.

Officers arrested two people on Friday, but the crimes on the street did not stop. Residents said another family's home was burglarized later that night as they slept.

In the late Friday incident, police said it started with someone breaking into the family's car and stealing their garage door opener.

Another neighbor had her Mercedes stolen from her driveway Friday night. Her surveillance cameras were not activated because her home is being painted.

"I'm angry people feel they can come into the hills and take what's not theirs," said Carolyn Winter, a resident and auto theft victim. "We've had three this week in a period of a few days and so clearly they are surveying the neighborhood, which is also disturbing,"

Meanwhile, police continue to investigate the incidents and are working with area captains, patrol officers and witnesses to help capture the suspects. Police are also looking at any video surveillance in the area as part of the investigation.

<![CDATA[Golden State Warriors Look to Break NBA Record, Ticket Prices Skyrocket]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 17:51:28 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/N5P+WARRIORS+WIN+STREAK+PKG+-+00010021.jpg Golden State Warriors player Jason Thompson, not satisfied with his team about to be the first to start a season 16-0, delivered turkeys to low-income families in Oakland. Scott Budman reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Niners' Lost Season Could Produce Exceptional Draft Position]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:26:03 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/182*120/paxlinchqb.jpg

In recent seasons, the 49ers have had to wait a while to make their first pick in the NFL Draft. Thanks to a resurgence in the Jim Harbaugh era – in which the Niners went to three straight NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl – San Francisco had the 30th overall pick in both 2012 and 2014 and was due to pick 31st in 2013 until it moved up to 18th via trade.

Last season, following a fall to 8-8, the 49ers moved all the way up to 17th.

The upshot, of course, is that it can be hard to come away with a major impact player down low in the draft, and the 49ers’ No. 1 picks since 2012 – A.J. Jenkins, Eric Reid, Jimmie Ward and Arik Armstead – reflect that. Reid has been a terrific safety, but Jenkins was a bust and the jury is still out on Ward and Armstead.

But with failure can come success – or, at least, a small dose of optimism.

At 3-7 following their loss to the Seahawks Sunday, the 49ers rank among the worst teams in the NFL in 2015. That, of course, puts them in the running to earn one of the top picks in the 2016 draft.

As David Fucillo of SB Nation noted Monday, the 49ers moved up to No. 6 overall with Sunday’s loss, based on record and strength of schedule. Only three teams have fewer wins (Browns, Chargers and Titans all at 2-8).

With six games remaining, it’s possible the 49ers could stumble their way up the draft order.

With Colin Kaepernick benched and now out for the remainder of the season and the quarterback duties in the hands of Blaine Gabbert – who will have to prove he deserves a chance to start again next season – that could put the 49ers in position to draft a young quarterback to rebuild the franchise this spring.

There could be a number of potential franchise QBs available (should they choose to enter the draft), including juniors Jared Goff of Cal, Paxton Lynch of Memphis and Christian Hackenberg of Penn State.

Lynch, a 6-foot-6, 230-pounder, may be the best of the bunch, say many evaluators, because of his arm strength, accuracy, ability to throw a variety of passes and his mobility. This season, Lynch has 21 TD passes vs. just three interceptions, has completed 69 percent of his throws and has a 159.2 quarterback rating.

Will the 49ers be high enough in the draft to get a quarterback they believe they can build around? That may be difficult. Over the final six games, the Niners face the 2-8 Browns, 3-7 Lions and 4-6 Bears and Rams. Two or three victories could knock them right out of next year’s top 10 in the draft order.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Janikowski Keeps Kicking His Way Into Record Book]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 09:28:31 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/163*120/daseabassz.jpg

Earlier this season, Sebastian Janikowski surpassed Tim Brown to become the all-time leader for the Raiders in games played.

Now the longtime Oakland place-kicker and career franchise scoring leader is on the verge of setting a league career record for field goals of 50 yards or more.

In Sunday’s disappointing 18-13 loss to the Lions, Janikowski did his part, making both of his field-goal attempts, including one from 56 yards.

That gives Janikowski, in his 16th NFL season, 51 field goals of 50 or more yards, just one behind all-time NFL leader Jason Hanson, who made 52 over 21 pro seasons.

This season, Janikowski has made 3-of-4 from 50 yards or more, and has converted 51-of-91 (56 percent) for his career.

Overall this season, Janikowski has shown no signs of age or regression.  Only four NFL kickers have made more field goals from long range than Janikowski (Brandon McManus with five and Robbie Gould, Stephen Gostkowski and Steven Hauschka with four), and his overall accuracy rate of 83.3 (15-of-18) ranks 21st in the league and is higher than his career rate of 80.3 percent.

At age 37, Janikowski remains one of the NFL’s most accurate and strong-legged kickers and a key part of the Raiders’ offense.

Though he was a controversial first-round pick of Oakland in the 2000 draft, Janikowski – who is signed through 2017 -- long ago proved to be a wise investment.

Plus, he and holder/punter Marquette King are working well together now after their rough 2013 season. Then, in King’s first year as Janikowski’s holder following the departure of Shane Lechler, Janikowski made just 70 percent of his field-goal attempts. Last season that improved to 86.4 percent. With a strong final six games, Janikowski could beat that figure in 2015.

Janikowski, who has missed only four games since coming into the league in 2000, says he’s improved his conditioning and weightlifting program over the years and doesn’t believe he’s taken a step back in any sense.

“I feel great,” he told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group earlier this season. “I’m just going to keep going as long as I can.”

Janikowski and the 4-6 Raiders will take on the 2-8 Titans in Tennessee this Sunday (10 a.m. kickoff).


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Improve to 15-0, Tie NBA Record]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 06:24:40 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-498353780_594_screen.jpg

The Golden State Warriors tied an NBA record for best start to a season with a win Sunday against the Denver Nuggets.

Sunday’s victory improved the team to 15-0 on the season. The 1949 Washington Capitols and 1994 Houston Rockets are the other teams to begin a season 15-0.

The Warriors will look to continue its win streak and break the record against the Los Angeles Lakers, who visit Oracle Arena in Oakland on Tuesday.

Visit NBC Bay Area’s Warriors page for full team coverage.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New 49ers Quarterback, Same Result in Seattle]]> Sun, 22 Nov 2015 17:57:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/seahawks1.jpg

In the week leading up to Sunday’s game against the Seahawks, 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula was asked if he viewed Seattle as a team in decline.

“I do not,” he said. “I think Seattle is really good.”

On Sunday – in a battle of two struggling franchises that recently were the elite of the NFC – the Seahawks certainly showed they have declined far less than the 49ers.

Even without injured running back Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks were an efficient team on offense and defense, beating the 49ers 29-13 to drop San Francisco to 3-7. Seattle gets back to .500 at 5-5.

Russell Wilson completed 24-of-29 throws for 260 yards and three touchdowns and undrafted backup running back Thomas Rawls did a great Beast Mode impersonation, running for a team rookie-record 209 yards and a TD to continue Seattle’s recent dominance of its NFC West rival.

It was just more bad news for a 49ers franchise awash in bad tidings.

But on the same weekend the team announced former starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick is now out for the season because of an injury to his left shoulder that will require surgery, his successor, Blaine Gabbert, gave the franchise a glimmer of hope that perhaps he still has potential to play in the NFL at a high level.

Gabbert, a first-round bust in Jacksonville, completed 22-of-34 throws for 264 yards, a TD and no interceptions and posted a quarterback rating of 98.2. The performance in Seattle – where Kaepernick never played well – follows his first start against the Falcons last week in which he completed 15-of-25 for 185 yards, two TDs and a 76.3 rating in an upset victory.

Though the 49ers never really were in the game at CenturyLink Field Sunday – they trailed 20-0 at one point in the second quarter – Gabbert at times looked sharp. At the end of the second quarter, he led a 92-yard TD drive that ended with tight end Vance McDonald’s 19-yard scoring catch, the first of his pro career. Gabbert later made some nice throws in drives that ended with Phil Dawson field goals of 27 and 25 yards in the third quarter.

After one particularly good stretch, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee tweeted, “Oh, so thhhiiiiisssss is why the Jaguars traded up to draft Blaine Gabbert.”

But Gabbert also nearly threw two interceptions (both dropped by defenders) and has a long track record of coming up short.

Still, Gabbert showed a nice pocket presence Sunday against a strong Seattle front seven that sacked him just twice (Kaepernick was sacked six times in the teams’ previous meeting in October) and at times looked off pirmary targets and threw lasers to secondary receivers.

With all hope of a winning record or playoffs long gone, the 49ers will be looking for any positive rays of sunshine, and that will include Gabbert. If he can play well over the final six games – beginning with next Sunday’s game against the division-leading Cardinals – perhaps he’ll be in the mix for a starting job in 2016.

Then again, this roster and coaching staff may more likely be just playing out the string, waiting for a giant offseason upheaval. 

But for two consecutive weeks, at least, Gabbert has shown flashes of the talent that led him to once be a coveted prospect out of Missouri. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Run Out of Gas in the Motor City]]> Sun, 22 Nov 2015 13:26:27 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/lions5.jpg

On paper, Sunday’s Raiders vs. Lions game favored Oakland.

Detroit was just 2-7, struggling on both sides of the ball and banged up in the secondary. Oddsmakers made the 4-5 Raiders slim favorites to rebound after consecutive losses and get back in the hunt for the AFC wild card.

Yet Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was wary.

“I expect them to come out fired up, playing their tail off,” he told the media this past week. “… They run around, they make plays and they’re passionate about it. Like I said, we have our work cut out for us.”

Unfortunately for the Raiders, Carr was right.

On Sunday in Michigan, the Lions surprised the Raiders, dropping them 18-13 in what was a must-win game for an Oakland team that needed to get back on track. Now 4-6 with six games remaining, it now appears the Raiders’ hopes for breaking their decade-plus playoff drought may be dead.

The Oakland offense, which had turned into an explosive unit in late October/early November – scoring 37, 34 and 35 points in consecutive weeks – again was as flat as it was in last week’s loss to Minnesota.

Against the Lions, Carr completed just 13-of-25 throws for 169 yards and no touchdowns.  As a team, Oakland could muster just 214 total yards on a defense that looked vulnerable coming into the game.

A patchwork Lions secondary – missing two of its top three cornerbacks – allowed super rookie Amari Cooper just one catch for 4 yards (though Carr also dropped at least three throws) and Michael Crabtree six for 50. The Oakland running game, meanwhile, was sluggish, with Latavius Murray getting just 28 yards on 13 carries.

The Lions took a 9-0 lead into halftime on three Matt Prater field goals, but Oakland responded well in the third quarter, driving 80 yards for a TD on Murray’s 1-yard run, then getting two long Sebastian Janikowski field goals of 48 and 56 yards.

But up 13-9, the Raiders couldn’t hold the lead. Detroit went up on Matthew Stafford’s 5-yard run on a quarterback draw, then added a safety for the final margin of victory on tackle Donald Penn’s holding infraction in the end zone.

The Raiders will try to get back on the winning track in Tennessee this coming Sunday against the Titans.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Top NFL Photos: Week 11]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 21:17:01 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_386456190580.jpg Get an up-close look at all the best NFL plays and players from Week 11.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Depleted Lions May Have Trouble Stopping Carr and Co.]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 09:20:39 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/170*120/oakkwwrrdduo.jpg

The Detroit Lions’ pass defense has been shaky all season, and now it goes into Sunday’s game against the Raiders with a depleted secondary.

Two of the Lions’ top three cornerbacks have been lost to injury in recent weeks, forcing the team to “dig deeper into its shallow talent pool,” according to one Lions beat reporter.

What does it all mean? Probably very good news for the Raiders, who go into Sunday’s game in Michigan (10 a.m. kickoff) hoping to break a two-game losing streak.

The 4-5 Raiders can get back into the race for a postseason slot in the AFC with a victory over the 2-7 Lions, and it appears Oakland has just what it needs: a potent passing offense.

Quarterback Derek Carr and his receivers have been clicking in recent weeks. Carr comes into Sunday’s game averaging 306 yards over his past four games with 13 touchdown passes against just three interceptions. And his receiving corps of rookie Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and rookie tight end Clive Walford is becoming a force to be reckoned with by opposing secondaries – and may be too much for a Lions pass defense that ranks 23rd in the NFL.

Oddsmakers have made the Raiders one-point favorites.

One of the key matchups to watch will be Cooper vs. Lions cornerback Darius Slay. Though the Lions secondary as a whole is depleted, Slay has developed into one of the NFL’s top corners and generally is matched against an opponent’s No. 1 pass catcher. That could mean dueling with Cooper for most of Sunday’s game.

According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Slay is ranked as the NFL’s 10th-best pass defender by the analytics website Pro Football Focus and did an outstanding job last week against top Packers receiver Randall Cobb in the Lions upset of Green Bay.

If Slay takes Cooper, that means Carr may be able to target wide receivers such as Crabtree, Andre Holmes and Seth Roberts. Walford, who's come on in recent weeks, could also be a factor, especially in the red zone. 

To Lions coach Jim Caldwell, stopping the Raiders offense – the eighth-ranked unit in the league – will be a challenge.

“Carr is having an unbelievable year,” said Caldwell. “But they can run the ball, too. They’ve got a big and physical offensive line. So yeah, it’s … going to take the entire unit to play well against this group because they can score points on you a number of different ways.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gabbert Leads 49ers Into House of Pain]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 09:18:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/167*120/blainevshawkz.jpg

A week ago the 49ers pulled an upset, beating the Atlanta Falcons 17-16.

Upsetting the Seahawks in Seattle on Sunday (1:25 p.m. kickoff), however, will be a much more difficult task.

Though the 4-5 Seahawks have struggled more than they have in recent years, oddsmakers still make them a whopping 11-point favorite over the 3-6 49ers – and for good reason.

The 49ers offense has been abysmal, ranking last in the NFL in scoring, total offense and yards per play and now the team comes into one of the most hostile environments in the NFL against a defense that ranks No. 2 in the league.

Seattle has won four straight games against the Niners, including a 20-3 victory at Levi’s Stadium in October when the ‘Hawks defense sacked Colin Kaepernick six times. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson also is 4-0 against San Francisco at CenturyLink Field. And, in their past eight regular-season games against the Seahawks, the 49ers have scored no more than a single touchdown, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Now the 49ers must face the Seahawks with quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who has never before played against Seattle.

Gabbert led the 49ers to the win over the Falcons last week, throwing two touchdown passes, but was that just good fortune or a sign that Gabbert – who’s now taken over for Kaepernick – has turned his career around? Never has Gabbert won back-to-back starts in his NFL career.

Plus it doesn’t appear as if Gabbert will have Carlos Hyde back at running back (he has a stress fracture in his left foot), so establishing a running game with Shaun Draughn and Co. may be a tough task.

But this week Gabbert said it will be important for the 49ers to play smart and take what the Seattle defense will allow and not worry about trying to beat individual stars such as cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Kam Chancellor and linebacker Bobby Wagner.

“The thing that we do is we look at the defense as a whole,” Gabbert told the media this week. “You can’t focus on a certain guy. You know who their personnel is, and you know what you have to do to execute vs. that personnel. But at the same time, you can’t let one guy kind of deter or knock your focus off of the big scheme of things.”

Gabbert said he learned some things, too, from watching film of the Arizona Cardinals’ recent victory over Seattle in which they put together two long touchdown drives for a comeback victory.

He knows the key in the passing game will be to get the ball out fast to counter the Seattle pass rush and be patient and content with making steady progress down the field, just as the Cardinals did. He said a quarterback can’t “start pressing and trying to push the ball downfield.”

Said Gabbert: “You just take what the defense is giving you and that way you can string drives together and execute at a higher efficiency.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Levi's Stadium to Host South American Soccer Tournament]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 17:11:16 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Sports-Chile-Argentina-Copa-America-4-July-2015.jpg

Levi's Stadium will host the South American soccer tournament Copa America Centenario in 2016.

The competition will take place in venues throughout the United States from June 3-26, 2016. It will be the first time it has been held in the U.S. in its 100-year history, according to SFGate.

statement by U.S. Soccer reveals that the U.S. team has automatically qualified to compete. Among the South American contingent is Uruguay, a 15-time winner of Copa America.

Register on the event website to receive an alert for when tickets will go on sale, which could be as soon as in a few weeks.

Photo Credit: AP/file]]>
<![CDATA[So Far, Torrey Smith Hasn't Made Big Impact on 49ers]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 09:09:47 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/175*120/smytheteee.jpg

When the 49ers signed wide receiver Torrey Smith to a reported five-year, $40 million deal this offseason, it seemed a perfect match.

The 49ers needed a fast, field-stretching wideout and Smith wanted to come to an organization capable of winning. Finally, strong-armed quarterback Colin Kaepernick would have a pass catcher fast enough to haul in some of his long, downfield bullets.

It was an encouraging move after months of bad news for the franchise.

Wrote NFL.com analyst Marc Sessler in March, at the time of the signing: “Smith will add an element of excitement to an offense and organization suddenly riddled with more questions than answers.”

Yet just past the halfway point of this season – with the 3-6 49ers getting ready to take on the 4-5 Seahawks in Seattle Sunday afternoon – the Torrey Smith signing has mostly been a dud. Smith has just 18 catches for 386 yards and two touchdowns.

Of course, his lack of production isn’t necessarily his fault. Kaepernick was so ineffective he lost his starting job. In a recent game against the Rams, there was Smith, wide open and frantically waving his arms trying to get Kaepernick’s attention, yet he was ignored. A pass his way would have resulted in a long TD.

And the offensive line has protected so poorly that the passing game has been under constant duress, with little time to throw deep balls.

In some games, Smith rarely has been a target. Against the Seahawks in Week 7, only one pass was thrown his way. In three other games he was targeted three times or less. When he has been a part of the offense, he’s made plays. Against the Steelers in Week 2, he caught six of seven balls thrown in his direction for 120 yards. Against the Ravens in Week 6 he had 96 yards on just three catches. His average of 21.4 yards per catch leads the NFL.

Yet this week, Smith was included on NFL.com’s list of the league’s “top 10 free-agent flops” for 2015, at No. 7. Analyst Chris Wesseling wrote that Smith’s signing hasn’t been a benefit to both his old team, the Ravens (who miss his big-play threat) and new team.

“Smith’s field-stretching skills have gone to waste at the wrong end of Colin Kaepernick’s scattershot arm,” he wrote. “At least 50 receivers and tight ends have produced more plays of 20-plus yards than Smith this season.”

Against the Seahawks on Sunday, that’s not likely to improve, with former backup QB Blaine Gabbert now starting against an aggressive Seahawks defense that ranks No. 2 in the league in pass defense. The Seahawks give up just 202.8 yards in the air per game.

Still, the 49ers have to hope that Smith will be valuable in the long term. If quarterback and offensive line problems can be improved in 2016, Smith again will be a valuable contributor. But at this point, that seems like a long way away. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Are Riding Carr Into a New Era]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 09:07:45 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Kahrhr.jpg

The Raiders have lost two straight games, but they remain optimistic that this is the season they can finally get into the playoffs.

Though the consecutive losses have dropped Oakland’s record to 4-5, the Raiders have reasons to be hopeful.

Perhaps the biggest is second-year quarterback Derek Carr, who’s proving to be as good a leader as he is a passer.

This week, coming off losses to the Steelers and Vikings, Carr told the media his team would work its way through the setbacks.

“We can play good football,” he said. “It’s not always going to be pretty. … It’s not always going to be flashy and big plays and all those things. Sometimes we’re going to have to grind them out. …

“There is not a lack of confidence from player to play, player to coach. None of that. That’s how I know we’re a good football team.”

Carr’s outspoken confidence is backed up by his actions. Carr ranks tied for third in the NFL in touchdown passes with 21, behind only Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, and he’s thrown just six interceptions. As Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press wrote this week in previewing the Raiders-Lions matchup, Carr gives the Raiders the young franchise quarterback every team dreams of getting. He is on pace to break the Raiders' single-season marks for TD passes and quarterback rating.

Carr is “keeping the Raiders in the game even when they’ve lost,” wrote Monarrez.

In fact, many NFL observers believe Carr is the best young QB to come out of the past two drafts – above the likes of Marcus Mariotta, Blake Bortles, Jameis Winston and Teddy Bridgewater.

This week Carr was picked by three of six NFL Network evaluators to be the league’s best “young QB to build a franchise around.”

Wrote former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah: “He has elite arm talent, but I’ve been even more impressed with his decision making and poise.”

Added Lance Zierlein: “Carr faced a good deal of adversity last season with limited weapons inside that offense, and he still played with poise and showed improvement as the season progressed. That is a sign of a mentally tough, confident player. He’s got the physical tools and has proven that he knows how to get the ball in the hands of the best receiver this year with Amari Cooper.”

This Sunday’s matchup against the Lions, too, appears to favor the Raiders’ passing game. Detroit, 2-7, ranks 23rd in the NFL in pass defense, allowing just over 260 yards per game. The Lions also have given up 16 TD passes while intercepting just four passes.

Carr, however, says he isn’t interested in any numbers but the number of victories the Raiders have. He says he tunes out both the applause and criticism that come with being a quarterback in the NFL.

“I just continue to stay the same person,” he said this week. “You’re never going to see me too high or too low in my attitude and how I go about my business day to day. I’ll just always stay levelheaded and keep working.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>