<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Sports News, Sports Teams, and Scores for the Sharks, 49ers, Raiders,Giants, Bears and More]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Sat, 25 Oct 2014 15:04:00 -0700 Sat, 25 Oct 2014 15:04:00 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Giants Fans Take in World Series from McCovey Cove]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 23:59:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000008719693_1200x675_347677251518.jpg So if you can’t get in the ballpark, how about getting around the ballpark--and in the coveted splash zone? McCovey Cove was the spot to watch the game Friday night for some bay loving fans. NBC Bay Area’s Ian Cull hopped aboard a ferry.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Mechanic Throws Out First Pitch at World Series Game 3]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 23:20:16 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/world_series_burke_first_pitch.jpg

Despite the bitter ending for the San Francisco Giants in World Series Game 3, there was a celebration for a very special mechanic.

Although disappointed fans left the stadium quietly Friday night after losing to the Kansas City Royals 3-2, they cheered earlier for a new fan favorite.

Frank Burke from Oakdale was at the dugout talking with Travis Ishikawa before the game. Burke took a friend battling cancer to the last game against St. Louis at AT&T Park and caught Ishikawa's NLCS-winning homerun ball--which launched them into the world series.

The die-hard Giants fan gave it back to number 45.

"He thanked me again for getting him that ball back," Burke said. "You guys all know his history. He was almost out of the game. I would have done it for any of them, but to me, it’s like a Cinderella story."

As a thank you to Burke, the Giants handed him a ball. He threw out the first pitch at Friday night's World Series game with Ishikawa catching.

He also got a special jersey and four tickets.

The mechanic is not a celebrity, but for Burke, it is all part of the magic of baseball.

"Things don’t mean as much as people and experiences," Burke said. "Nobody is going to be able to take this experience away from me."

The World Series experience is memorable win or lose. And tonight, Giants fans like Burke are looking past the loss to Game 4

Burke and his wife are sleeping off the loss in style. He said the Handlery hotel in San Francisco put them up in a suite Friday night.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Edged by KC 3-2 in World Series Gm. 3, Down 2-1]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:12:24 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/457810112.jpg

Sparkling defense, a stingy bullpen and just enough timely hitting. That same winning formula of fundamental baseball put the Kansas City Royals on top in the World Series.

The San Francisco Giants were edged by the Kansas City Royals 3-2 in Game 3 of the World Series and are now down 2-1 in the best of seven.

Down 3-0 in the sixth inning, the Giants rallied for two runs on a Michael Morse double and a Buster Posey groundout, but the Royals bullpen shut out the Giants for the final three innings.

But Jeremy Guthrie outpitched fellow Series newcomer Tim Hudson and four Royals relievers combined on four hitless innings, as Kansas City beat the San Francisco.

"This is the way our games have gone all year,'' said Royals manager Ned Yost, who made several lineup changes that paid off. "I'm getting really good at protecting a one-run lead because a lot of times that's exactly what we have to deal with.

"But I have the necessary tools to be able to do that. It's not me doing it. It's the guys that we put out there that are doing it. We have the type of pitchers in our bullpen that can accomplish that,'' he said.

Alex Gordon hit a run-scoring double and Lorenzo Cain made two slick grabs in right field as the Royals backed Guthrie with nifty glove work. All night long, Kansas City looked perfectly comfortable playing in the tricky territory at unfamiliar AT&T Park.

Eric Hosmer had a sixth-inning RBI single on the 11th pitch of his at-bat against lefty Javier Lopez. It was the first World Series hit for Hosmer _ on his 25th birthday.

Cain drove in the first run with a groundout after Alcides Escobar's leadoff double in the first.

Game 4 is Saturday night, with right-hander Ryan Vogelsong scheduled to pitch for the Giants against lefty Jason Vargas.

"We've got to keep grinding. It's going to be a tough series,'' said Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson, added to the starting lineup in Game 3.

Yost moved Cain from center field to right in place of Nori Aoki for a defensive boost in the expansive outfield at AT&T Park. Cain chased down Buster Posey's slicing line drive in the first for a pretty catch from his knees, then snagged Travis Ishikawa's sinking liner in the second.

Gordon was moved up from sixth to second in the lineup and came through with his RBI double following Escobar's single in the sixth.

On a night that began with a remembrance of late Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, Kansas City produced just enough offense even without designated hitter Billy Butler. The Series shifted to AT&T Park and National League rules for three games.

The Giants had their six-game home winning streak in the World Series snapped. The unbeaten run dated to the 2002 wild-card club of Barry Bonds and Co. that lost in seven games to the Angels.

The Royals seemed unfazed by the fanfare and tough conditions in improving to 5-0 on the road this postseason. Of the first 56 times the World Series was tied 1-all, the Game 3 winner went on to win in 37 of those instances and four of the last five.

A cast of Giants Hall of Famers were celebrated on the field in a star-studded pregame featuring a "Play Ball!'' chant by Huey Lewis.

Pinch-hitter Michael Morse hit an RBI double with none out in the sixth to chase Guthrie. Yost turned it over to his fantastic bullpen, and Kelvin Herrera immediately walked Gregor Blanco.

With the hard-throwing Herrera clocking 99-101 mph on the radar gun, Joe Panik had a tough time attempting a sacrifice bunt. His high-bouncing grounder still did the trick to advance both runners, and Buster Posey pulled the Giants to 3-2 on a groundout.

Then, the Royals shut down San Francisco the rest of the way.

"I don't know if there's a better bullpen, because that seventh, eighth and ninth inning, and you get a tough go when you're facing those guys,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Hopefully you get some runs early, but Guthrie did a great job on us.''

Herrera worked 1 1-3 innings, rookie Brandon Finnegan got two outs in his World Series debut, and Wade Davis pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. Greg Holland got three quick outs for the save.

The four hitless innings of relief were the most in the World Series in 22 years.

"Our bullpen's been lights out. We've got 100 percent confidence in (those) guys getting their job done,'' Dyson said. "From an offensive standpoint, we're just trying to put runs on the board and get them in position.''

Guthrie, who attended nearby Stanford, retired 10 straight during one stretch and combined with Hudson to retire 20 in a row. That was the longest Series streak since the Yankees' Don Larsen and the Brooklyn Dodgers' Sal Maglie retired the first 23 batters during Larsen's perfect game in 1956, according to STATS.

"What a gutsy performance,'' Royals teammate James Shields said. ``He went out there and pitched his heart out. He did a phenomenal job.''

As a gorgeous Bay Area afternoon turned into a breezy night along the water, the 39-year-old Hudson left in the sixth to a rousing ovation from the orange towel-twirling sellout crowd.

Hudson waited 16 years for his first World Series chance only to watch Escobar hit the game's first pitch for a double. Escobar scored on Cain's groundout, and Hudson settled in nicely after the second. The right-hander retired 12 in a row before Escobar's one-out single through Hudson's legs in the sixth. Gordon followed with his RBI double.

GUTHRIE'S MARK

In a quirky stat, Guthrie became the fifth starting pitcher in World Series history to not record a walk or a strikeout through five innings and the first since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in Game 2 of the 1996 Series for Atlanta against the Yankees.

UP NEXT

Royals: Vargas, an 11-game winner who pitched the ALCS clincher against Baltimore, attended Game 1 of the Giants' 2010 World Series at AT&T Park against Texas with his wife as a fan.

Giants: Vogelsong is the only pitcher to yield no more than one run in his first five postseason starts. That run ended in the NL Championship Series when Vogelsong allowed four runs in three innings of a no-decision against St. Louis. ... Bochy said he and pitching coach Dave Righetti discussed going with ace lefty Madison Bumgarner in Game 4 on short rest if trailing something they know he can handle physically despite his heavy workload.

The Giants will look to even up the series tomorrow with Ryan Vogelsong taking the hill.

Full Giants coverage here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Larry Baer: "Dream Sequence For Many of Us"]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 09:32:22 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/larry+baer+interview+-+10334211.jpg

San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer is “feeling good" about his team.

Baer talked to NBC Bay Area right before the Giants took on the Kansas City Royals at AT&T Park in San Francisco in Game 3 of the World Series Friday. The two teams are tied 1-1.

“We have a lot of travel and all that — hopefully we all got some sleep, we have a sleep consultant and he advises us on that — so let’s see what happens. We're pretty battle-tested in the post-season,” he said smiling. “Kansas City is a hot team and they are in the zone. I think it’s going to be a great series.”

As for the Giants formula for success, Baer said: “We have 14 guys that have World Series rings — that have won a ring somewhere — either with us or somewhere else … When you have that, when you have guys that are battle-tested that matters."

Baer’s message to fans: “Be loud, be throaty, give the team that 26th man,” He added that a big part of the Giants formula for success this year was their fans.

Baer also addressed the backlash against Fox announcers by some Giants fans.

“It’s a long season so they’re with you 4 or 5-6-7 months, and so when a new guy comes in talking about your team it’s almost like ‘what’s this outsider doing,’” he said. “I think Joe Buck, Harold Reynold and Tom Verducci do a fine job, it’s just that they’re not Kruk and Kuip or John and Dave. And when they are not the people that are your friends, that’s a problem.”

As for what it feels to be in a World Series game after winning two of the last four, Baer described it as a “dream sequence for many of us.”



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Twittersphere: Game 3 of the World Series]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:20:01 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/457803868.jpg

Game 3 of the World Series is here! And we're tracking reaction to the San Francisco Giants' performance from around the Twittersphere in the Storify below.

REFRESH THIS PAGE FOR UPDATES!



Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McCovey Cove Renaming A Hoax, Giants Say]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:48:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mccovey-cove.jpg

The San Francisco Giants are refuting a company's claim that the naming rights to the part of China Basin just beyond AT&T Park's right field wall, popularly known as McCovey Cove, have been sold and officially renamed.

"The claim that naming rights of McCovey Cove have been sold is a hoax and completely false," the team tweeted Friday afternoon.

According to the founder and CEO of Boatbound, a company that helps boat owners rent out their vessels, the name change was to take effect Friday as the Giants host the Kansas City Royals in Game 3 of the World Series, but the Giants said Friday the naming rights were not for sale.

In a telephone interview Friday morning, Boatbound’s director of marketing, Craig Battin, told NBC Bay Area the naming rights would last beyond the World Series, but when contacted, the Giants said the whole thing was a hoax.

"It is also completely disrespectful to one of the greatest #SFGiants of all time," the team said in a follow-up tweet.

The company posted a statement on its website Friday afternoon copping to the hoax, saying, "The public response was overwhelming and we wanted to jump in before it went too far."

Many Giants fan on social media thought the publicity stunt did go too far: "Don't EVER change the name from McCovey Cove!! What a slap in the face to Stretch," Sandi Wendland wrote on NBC Bay Area's Facebook wall.



Photo Credit: Getty/Ezra Shaw]]>
<![CDATA[Niners' Hyde Still Seeking Breakout Game]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:08:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/hydebyewkkk.jpg

Since the day he was drafted, Carlos Hyde has drawn positive reviews from the 49ers.

The former Ohio State running back impressed coaches and teammates throughout training camp, and then made a strong debut in the preseason with three carries for 34 yards against the Baltimore Ravens.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman, in fact, was comparing Hyde to Frank Gore – about the highest compliment possible considering where Gore ranks on the team in respect.

Even in pass protection, running receiving routes and adjusting and learning, Roman has compared Hyde to Gore.

“That’s a Frank Gore-type of trait,” he said in July. “And so far, Carlos has afforded himself very well in that area.”

As the season began, there even was some thought among 49ers observers that Hyde, a 6-foot, 235-pounder, might supplant Gore as the No. 1 running back.

Yet after an impressive Game 1 debut vs. the Cowboys in which he carried the ball just seven times yet ran for 50 yards and a touchdown – a 7.1-yard average per carry – Hyde hasn’t wowed on the stat sheet. In the six games since, he’s carried 41 times for 111 yards – a 2.7 average. For the season, he’s averaging 3.4 yards per carry and run for two scores.

Gore, meanwhile, is still No. 1. He’s had two 100-yard rushing games and has 423 yards rushing and a 4.1-yard average. When the 49ers have given him the ball – as they did in back-to-back victories over the Eagles and Chiefs – Gore has set the tone for the offense.

So has Hyde been disappointing?

Yes and no.

Yes in that he hasn’t yet had a big breakthrough game or outperformed Gore. But no, in that the coaches still like what they see and Hyde has some numbers that may not be noticeable to many fans.

According to Pro Football Focus, Hyde is the best in the league at yards after contact, with 5 or more yards gained after contact on 10 carries.

Plus, the 49ers offensive line hasn’t yet been what it has been the past few seasons. Running lanes have been harder to find this season with guards Alex Boone and Mike Iupati, tackle Anthony Davis and center Daniel Kilgore all missing in action at some point.

After this week’s bye week, it’s possible that the 49ers running attack may soon prosper with Davis, Iupati and Boone back on the field (though Marcus Martin likely will have some growing pains at center to replace Kilgore).

If that happens, it’s very possible that Hyde’s numbers over the final nine games could be much better than in the first seven.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Hope Victory No. 1 is in Ohio]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:08:07 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/184*120/mcfvsbrownz.jpg

The Cleveland Browns stumbled in a big way last week, losing to the winless Jaguars.

That gives Raiders fans hope that their 0-6 team also can come up with its first victory Sunday at Cleveland.

Yet actually getting a win in Cleveland won’t be easy and, outside of the Bay Area, few see the Raiders as having much of a chance.

The 3-3 Browns are 6½-point favorites and all 13 of ESPN’s NFL analysts – from Mike Ditka to Ron Jaworski and Chris Mortensen – are picking the Browns to rebound.

The Raiders have lost 15 straight games in the Eastern time zone and two straight since Tony Sparano took over for fired head coach Dennis Allen. After playing the Chargers tough in a close loss two weeks ago, the Raiders fell to Arizona 24-13 last week. So far, the Raiders have looked a little better offensively since the switch of head coaches, but have still struggled on defense and have been the worst unit in the NFL on third down – a point of emphasis in practice this week.

Though the Browns and quarterback Brian Hoyer struggled last week in the loss to the Jaguars, Hoyer & Co. may fare much better against the Raiders. In fact, this game could be a fairly wide-open offensive duel, because both defenses are vulnerable. Oakland is 22nd overall defensively and 29th against the rush; Cleveland is 29th overall defensively and 32nd against the rush. The fact both teams may be able to move the ball on the ground could open things up for both Hoyer and Oakland QB Derek Carr.

Cleveland running back Isaiah Crowell is the best of a three-man corps of effective running backs. He’s averaging 5 yards per carry and has scored four TDs; Ben Tate and Terrance West, too, have been solid. And Andrew Hawkins (29 catches, 382 yards) has been Hoyer’s steadiest receiver, with wideout Travis Benjamin (just nine catches but three for TDs) being a deep threat.

Yet the Browns will have to find a way to stuff the Oakland running game. They’re allowing a league-worst 155.5 yards per game on the ground, so Darren McFadden could finally have his breakout game Sunday. He rushed for just 48 yards against Arizona, and hasn’t had a 100-yard game yet in 2014. But he had 80 the week before against San Diego, and Sparano’s priority on offense is to get the running game moving. This week, offensive coordinator Greg Olson, when asked about Cleveland’s problems defending the run, acknowledged it’s something they’re aware of.

“Obviously you look at those thigns every time you go in a game as you study your opponents and are looking for an edge or an advantage,” he said. “That’s one we look at.”

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Animals at Six Flags Root on the San Francisco Giants]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:02:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Uquq_Siku_Yes6.jpg Animals at the Six Flags theme park root for their favorite team in the World Series—the San Francisco Giants! ]]> <![CDATA[Walruses, Tiger, Dolphin Root on San Francisco Giants]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:47:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/174*120/Siku_Uquq_sign3.jpg

By now, we're all pretty aware that the animals and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom are sports fanatics.

Remember Siku the Walrus doing pushups with 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh?

Well, now Siku and her furry pals are rooting on - who else? - but the San Francisco Giants, who play just minutes from their Vallejo amusement park. The team takes on the Kansas City Royals Friday at AT&T Park in San Francisco in Game 3 of the World Series. The two teams are tied 1-1.

Siku and Uquq mugged this week for park spokeswoman Nancy Chan, who caught them nuzzling whiskered noses behind a an orange and black sign that reads, "Together We are Giants."

Faruq the tiger clawed up a pole wrapped with rope, reaching for a "Go Orange and Black Sign."

And Liberty the bottlenose dolphin thinks he has a lot in common with Hunter Pence. He held a sign reminiscent of the ones drawn up by opposing teams' fans over the summer that said that both the dolphin and the Giants outfielder can hold their breath underwater for 10 minutes.

Chan said the park animals always get into the spirit of the national sporting stage. They posed for photos each time the Giants have been in the  World Series, and participate in Super Bowl "picks" every time the 49ers are in the game.

And of course, Chan pointed out, the park's new baby giraffe, Brandon, was named after Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, and Posey the penguin is named for Giants catcher Buster Posey - even though she's a female.

]]>
<![CDATA[Gala Welcomes World Series to San Francisco]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 23:31:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1023-2014-OrangeCarpet.jpg The Giants hosted a pregame gala Thursday in preparation for World Series games held at AT&T Park this weekend. Jean Elle reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[A's, SJ Renew Agreement to Continue Working for Ballpark]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 06:51:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/169*120/72542977.jpg

San Jose will keep trying to land the Oakland Athletics and build a Major League Baseball park in Silicon Valley -- even if it takes another seven years.

"The San Jose project is still alive," Mayor Chuck Reed announced to the San Jose Mercury News, after inking a deal to continue negotiating to bring the A's to San Jose for up to seven years.

The A's have signed a 10-year lease extension in Oakland at O.co Coliseum. But they can exit that lease to move to San Jose, the newspaper reported.

San Jose, however, is still San Francisco Giants country. The Giants have "territorial rights" under MLB rules to the South Bay city, and so far, court action by San Jose to get baseball to say if it would approve a move has been unsuccessful.

But San Jose will have another seven years to try to make it happen.

A's owner Lew Wolff called the deal "an option, and we want to keep our options open."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[What's To Like About KC: Water Fountains and BBQ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:36:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bobbbq.jpg

As Bob Redell wakes up early and stays up late to provide the latest news on the World Series first two games in Kansas City, the intrepid NBC Bay Area reporter needs to nourish himself, both culturally and physically, in between his short breaks of baseball coverage.

And as a Bay Area resident, Redell was hoping to show the Bay Area what there is to like about Kansas City - a Midwestern town 1,500 miles away.

Sure, the home of the Royals - which are now tied 1-1 with the Giants in Game 2 of the World Series - doesn't boast the Golden Gate Bridge, or tech giants like Facebook or Google.

But the Missouri city of nearly 500,000 does have two special things to offer: Water fountains and BBQ.

And Redell set off to give Giants fans who didn't make the trip a quick tour.

First, he literally jumped into some of the 200 fountains in Kansas City, telling his story on camera while getting drenched from inside the pool. Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains one nonprofit has defined as "flowing treasures." Kansas City has more fountains than any other city in the word, except Rome.

Next, he took off for the other Kansas City specialty, which is better known to most the world.

So Redell took off for LC's Bar-B-Q, and "Old school spot for traditional barbecue eaten in a bar-bones dining room" as one online reviewer put it.

The owner's grandson and longtime employee Juan Hammett said: ""Best BBQ in town. I'm not being biased. It's the best."

Customer Keven Flaherty agreed. "It's really tender," he said simply in between bites. "The meat just falls off the bone good."

What's the secret? Owner LC Richardson himself wouldn't say. "Only me that knows," Richardson said.

Then Redell had to try for himself.

Watch the video above to see if he liked it.



Photo Credit: Robert Wellington
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Return Home, Ready for World Series Weekend]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 18:35:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000008703975_1200x675_347149379841.jpg The San Francisco Giants returned to the Bay Area on Thursday with a 1-1 split of the first two World Series games in Kansas City. The series continues Friday at AT&T Park. Mark Matthews reports.]]> <![CDATA[Niners' Second-Half Schedule Appears Softer]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:13:26 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/harrrbyeee.jpg

Depending on how it’s viewed, the 49ers' cup is half empty, or half full.

After getting roasted by the Broncos Sunday night in front of a national TV audience – and with so many key players missing in action with injuries – it would be easy to feel shaky about the 49ers future after this bye week.

The Niners are 4-3 and did little right against Denver.

But aside from the fact so many players may soon be back from injury, there’s another reason for optimism: the schedule.

As Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out this week, the final nine games of the 2014 season are a bit less foreboding than the first seven, beginning with the Rams on Sunday, Nov. 2 at Levi’s Stadium.

The cumulative record of the 49ers’ first seven opponents is 29-15. And, the 49ers gave the Cowboys (6-1) and Eagles (5-1) their only losses.

Over the second half of the season, just two opponents have a winning record, and the cumulative record of opponents is 22-29.

After the 2-4 Rams come the Saints (2-4), Giants (3-4), Redskins (2-5), Seahawks (3-3), Raiders (0-6), Seahawks again, Chargers (5-2) and Cardinals (5-1)

Of course, nobody before the season would have pointed to games against the Seahawks and Saints as being easy. Both have struggled but remain very dangerous. The Cardinals, meanwhile, might come back to Earth a bit and the Chargers benefited from a soft early schedule, so they may not be as strong as their record indicates.

After watching his team suffer its first loss in four games Sunday night, head coach Jim Harbaugh believes the 49ers will rebound, as they have so many times the past three seasons.

“Onward, we’ll rally,” he said. “Our team will be good at that.”

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Need More Production From Rivera]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 08:36:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/myrivera.jpg

Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera has his own website, and it’s called touchdownrivera.com.

So far this season, he’s failed to live up to his Web address. His total touchdown catches: zero.

After a strong rookie season in which Rivera emerged to catch 38 passes for 407 yards and four TDs – with 25 of those receptions going for first downs – Rivera has taken a step back.

In six games he’s caught just 13 balls for 101 yards, no scores and only a 7.8-yard average per catch.

After not losing a fumble as a rookie, Rivera has lost one already in 2014, and has been plagued by dropped balls – many of them appearing right on target from quarterback Derek Carr.

In fact, the Raiders – who at 0-6 will go after their first win this Sunday in Cleveland against the 3-3 Browns -- have gotten very little out of the tight end position. Backup Brian Leonardt has just four catches for 26 yards and a TD and David Ausberry – who now is out again with a foot injury – has two catches for 14 yards.

The Raiders still believe in Rivera, who showed a knack for getting open and making key catches during his rookie season. This week, in fact, interim head coach Tony Sparano gave Rivera a vote of confidence.

“I think Mike has done a good job right now,” Sparano said. He did note the drops Rivera has had this season, but sounded as if the Raiders would continue to keep throwing him the ball until he gets back on track.

“We have all the confidence in the world in Mychal Rivera,” said Sparano. “I think he’s an outstanding football player and he is a guy that the quarterback really trusts out there. It’s just a matter of time here before you start to really feel him and he starts to get involved into the mix, too.”

Rivera needs to put together a good second half or risk getting phased out. Going forward, the Raiders offense needs a tight end, and it likely would be a high priority in free agency or the draft if Rivera doesn’t begin playing the way he did in 2013.

Oakland hasn’t gotten good production out of the position since 2012, when Brandon Myers had 79 catches.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Twittersphere: Game 2 of the World Series]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 20:17:50 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/457686258_8.jpg

Game 2 of the World Series is here! And we're tracking reaction to the San Francisco Giants' performance from around the Twittersphere in the Storify below.

>> Check out our Twittesphere recap for Game 1 here

REFRESH THIS PAGE FOR UPDATES!



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Battle Heats Up Between SF, KC Librarians]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:07:42 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Juan+Marichal+and+Dan+by+Jim+Hart.jpg

The war of words is heating up between two public libraries 1,500 miles apart, as dueling librarians do their part to boost their hometown baseball team's quest to win the World Series crown.

Sounding a bit Shakespearean, Liesl Christman, the Twitter czar for the Kansas City Public Library, tweeted on Wednesday morning, hours after the San Francisco Giants crushed the Royals in Game 1 on Tuesday, 7-1: "'Tis but a flesh wound - @Royals will rally! Tonight, #LetsThrowFire!"

If the Giants win it all, Christman promised Wednesday her library will buy and shelve San Rafael author Dan Fost's book, "The Giants Baseball Experience: A Year-by-Year Chronicle from New York to San Francisco."

If the Royals win, Christman hopes the San Francisco Public Library will be forced to stock George Brett's "From Here to Cooperstown," which is about the Royals, on its shelves.

Michelle Jeffers, the digital guru at the library in San Francisco, said she'd consider the request, but from what's she's heard, that book is out of print.

"Even better!" Jeffers joked, adding that under different circumstances she and Christman might be very good friends.

Then Jeffers tweeted: "Guess we'll see what happens tonight when the Giants shhhhhhh-ut you down in Game 2."

No one is happier about the librarian smack talk than Fost, a former San Francisco Chronicle reporter who is now a full-time author and freelance writer. Each time the Giants make it to the World Series – this is third time in five seasons – he is asked to write a new edition. "This is a mutually symbiotic relationship," he said on Wednesday.

As for the baseball book bet, Fost is also genuinely enthralled Kansas City readers may be flipping through pages he wrote.

"What a great idea to promote reading," he said. "I'm so moved."



Photo Credit: Jim Hart
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Despite Loss in Denver, 49ers May be Primed for Strong Second Half]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:40:30 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/Aldonrhetrnsune.jpg

Though the 49ers were pounded Sunday night in Denver, losing 42-17 to the Broncos, veteran running back Frank Gore doesn’t believe the sky is falling.

“We’ve got a great team,” he told reporters this week. “We’ve got a bunch of great guys in the locker room who play hard, and we will bounce back.”

Gore not only has faith in the players on the field with him Sunday night, but in those who weren’t – the long list of key injured or suspended players who should be back for the second half of the season.

Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman, Mike Iupati, Chris Culliver and Jimmie Ward, among others, will either be back after this bye week – for the Nov. 2 game against the Rams at Levi’s Stadium – or in the coming weeks.

“When everybody gets back, we’ll be fine,” Gore said.

And, Gore’s not alone. Even many NFL analysts around the country look at the 49ers as a team still headed toward the playoffs.

In fact, in a four-way discussion on NFL.com this week on the topic of which team from last season’s NFC Championship Game is more likely to miss the playoffs, the 49ers or Seahawks, three of four believe the 49ers are in better position than Seattle.

NFL.com writers Adam Schein, Charley Casserly and Gil Brandt all give the 49ers (4-3) the edge over Seattle (3-3) at this point in the season. Both teams, of course, trail the Cardinals (5-1) in the NFC West race. Arizona still has to face the Seahawks twice this season and the 49ers once more – in the final regular-season game at Levi’s Stadium. Arizona beat the 49ers 23-14 on Sept. 21.

The main reason the analysts favor the 49ers over Seattle is the fact the Niners have so many missing pieces. That should point to San Francisco being a much better team in November and December than it is now.

Casserly, a former NFL executive, noted that the return of Smith should revitalize San Francisco’s dormant ability to rush the passer. Plus, the secondary – which he says “isn’t very strong to begin with” -- will be much stronger with Culliver and Ward back.

But he also points to the offense as primed for a rebound, too.

“The offensive line has battled the injury bug,” he wrote. “Consequently, this unit, which has been a huge key to the 49ers’ success in recent years, has struggled. San Francisco lost center Daniel Kilgore to a broken leg on Sunday – that’s the bad news. The good news? The rest of the O-line should be healthy after a Week 8 bye. Now the group just needs to show more consistency. Alex Boone, for one, has not played as well this year as he has in the past.”

In fact, though the 49ers will miss Kilgore – with rookie Marcus Martin primed to replace him – the loss of Iupati vs. the Broncos was huge. According to Pro Football Focus grading of the offensive line Sunday night, Iupati’s replacement, Joe Looney, allowed six quarterback pressures.

Meanwhile, Anthony Davis is just getting going at right tackle after a long injury and Boone hasn’t regained his form after a long holdout. Yet on Sunday night, Boone had a breakout game, with Pro Football Focus giving him a positive grade for the first time this year.

So yes, the 49ers didn’t look good Sunday night in Denver. They looked awful, in fact. But with nine games remaining, their best days of 2014 might be ahead of them.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Survey Asks LA Residents About NFL Stadium]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:30:24 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/FARMERS+FIELD+-+INTERIOR+-+VIEW+OF+SEATING+BOWL.jpg

A survey sent to thousands of Los Angeles residents asks several questions designed to gauge interest in an NFL team and what kind of features recipients would like to see in a stadium if a team moves to the region.

An email titled "We Need Your Feedback: NFL Franchise in LA" includes a survey that is part of a market feasibility study as the league considers "the potential of an NFL team in the Los Angeles area."

The survey was conducted by a consulting firm on behalf of the NFL, according to the Los Angeles Times. Questions include how likely recipients are to buy luxury seats, clubs seats and season tickets, and what types of amenities potential customers would like to see in a stadium.

The survey was sent by the NFL to 2,000 potential customers, according to the Los Angeles Times, which cited an individual familiar with the survey but not authorized to discuss it publicly.

The market research might indicate heightened interest in a Los Angeles franchise, but the league has not announced plans to relocate a team or a timeline for such a move. Los Angeles has been without an NFL team since the Raiders and Rams left two decades ago.

Their departure has been followed by a 20 years of speculation that gained momentum with development plans around potential stadium sites. The survey sent Tuesday marks the first time the league has conducted a comprehensive survey of the market since the 1990s, the LA Times reported.

The more than 40-question survey includes the following questions:

  • Are you a fan of the National Football League?
  • Do you attend NFL games on an annual basis?
  • If a current NFL team relocated to the Los Angeles area, would the identity of the team change your attitude towards an NFL team in the Los Angeles area?
  • Would you be interested in attending other events at a new NFL stadium in the Los Angeles area?
  • How would you describe your (or your company's) interest in purchasing a loge box at a new NFL stadium in the Los Angeles area?

The survey also asks recipients to pick a favorite NFL team and express their interest other types of tickets and pricing plans.

At NFL meetings earlier this month, the New York Giants co-owner said officials discussed "a little bit" potential stadium sites in the Los Angeles area. Teams on short-term stadium leases include the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders.

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council extended for six months with AEG a deal proposed to bring an NFL team to a stadium that would be built in downtown Los Angeles. The sports-entertainment presenter agreed in 2012 to build the stadium and expand the nearby Convention Center, but that deal was scheduled to expire this month. As part of the extension agreement, AEG will pay for a study to expand the Convention Center with or without the stadium's construction.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week he "wouldn't bet the city on it," but expressed confidence that an NFL team will eventually move to Los Angeles.

Correction: An earlier verson of this article stated the LA City Council extended talks with AEG for six weeks, but the extension was for six months.



Photo Credit: AEG]]>
<![CDATA[San Francisco Bathed in Orange for World Series]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:19:05 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/October_CityHall.JPG

The city of San Francisco is bathed in orange, and it's not because Halloween is right around the corner.

It's because the beloved San Francisco Giants - whose team colors are orange and black - are in the World Series, up one game over the Kansas City Royals with a stunning 7-1 victory during Game 1 on Tuesday night.

As the city has done twice before when the Giants played and won the World Series, key buildings shone bright in orange, and hung flags that showed off Giants pride.

Stop by the San Francisco International Airport, City Hall, Coit Tower, Davies Symphony Hall and the Ferry Building to see for yourself.

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<![CDATA[Twittersphere: Game 1 of the World Series]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:47:29 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/457619978.jpg

Game 1 of the World Series is here! And we're tracking reaction to the San Francisco Giants' performance from around the Twittersphere in the Storify below.



Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Waive Michael Sam]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:37:30 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GERRY_MCCARTHY__1409761483_39578161-620x503.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys have waived defensive end Michael Sam, the NFL's first openly-gay player, from the team's practice squad.

Sam, 24, joined the Cowboys on Sept. 3 after being cut from the Rams. He was drafted by St. Louis in the 7th round and totaled nine tackles and three sacks in three preseason games before being cut by the Rams. 

He never played in a game for the Cowboys and the team has not released a statement on his departure.

After the announcement, Sam tweeted thanks to team owner Jerry Jones for the opportunity, as well as friends, family, teammates and fans.  He added he was disappointed, but looked forward to fight for an opportunity to play every Sunday in the NFL.

According to DallasCowboys.com, the release of Sam makes room for linebacker Troy Davis who worked out with the team Monday.

Sam is a Texas native who played high school football at Hitchcock High School before playing for Missouri.  While at Missouri, he was named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year and had 11 1/2 sacks in the 2013 season.

The 6-1 Cowboys are off to their best start since 2007 when then finished the regular season at 13-3.  Monday night they'll face an NFC East rival, the 2-5 Washington Redskins, in Arlington.



Photo Credit: Gerry McCarthy / Dallas Morning News Staff Photographer
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<![CDATA["Polite" Librarians Talk World Series Smack]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:59:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/lib-th.jpg

You know things are getting intense when public librarians start talking smack about the World Series.

In a series of back-and-forth tweets, the city librarians in San Francisco and Kansas City began taunting each other – with book titles, of course – over which team is going to win Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday, the Giants or the Royals.

"We're polite but fierce!" the San Francisco library tweeted. "Get ready to cry some blue tears for @Royals when @SFGiants take the win tonight."

Michelle Jeffers, the social media guru for the San Francisco library and the mastermind of the tweets, had an obvious answer for why she was dissing the Kansas City library 1,500 miles away.

"Well, they started it," she said with a laugh.

In fact, they did. At 11 a.m., the Kansas City Public Library, tweeted: "Hey @SFPublicLibrary we have a book for you!" The link showed this title: "So, You Think You Know Baseball? A Fan's Guide to the Offical Rules," by Peter E. Meltzer.

"What? They think we don't know the rules?" Jeffers joked.

Liesl Christman, the digital contest specialist at the Kansas City library, happily admitted to "starting it." And she said she chose the baseball rules book while flipping through the catalog, trying decide what bibliophile zinger to fling.

"Yeah, I was hoping to get a response," Christman said from Kansas City by phone. "I just didn't realize it was going to go on so long."

The Twitter tete-a-tete went on for so long, partly, because Jeffers wasn't going to take it lying down.

She shot back: "Thanks, but maybe you should read this." And she sent them a link to Dan Fost's book, "The Giants Baseball Experience: A Year-by-Year Chronicle from New York to San Francisco."

Kansas City took aim again, pointing out that the Giants haven't always been in San Francisco - the team was once a favorite in the Big Apple. Christman tweeted a stack of "fairy tale" books with the hashtag #TaketheCrown.

Jeffers fired off another dig, albeit a courteous one, simply stating that the Giants history has been amazing "coast to coast."

"I didn't want to diss them too bad," Jeffers said. "I was trying to be polite because we're librarians here."


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders' Safety Net at Safety is Ross]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:01:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/brrossssoak.jpg

At the end of this summer’s training camp, the Raiders cut Brandian Ross.

There was a logjam at safety and Ross was odd man out.

Ross then signed with the Dolphins, but in September he was waived by Miami. Suddenly, he was back in silver and black when Oakland re-signed him for backup depth after starting safety Tyvon Branch was injured.

Now Ross will be back in the starting lineup this Sunday in Cleveland when the 0-6 Raiders try to get their first victory, just as he was last year.

In 2013, Ross stepped in for Branch. Now he’s stepping in for Usama Young – lost for the season when injured in this past Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals – who had replaced Branch.

It’s been musical chairs at the safety spot next to veteran Charles Woodson this season, and now it’s Ross’ turn to help turn the troubled Raiders defense around.

“It’s not the scenario I want to be in because I don’t like seeing my boys hurt, with Tyvon and U, but I’m better prepared,” Ross told a reporter this week, comparing 2014 with 2013. “A year under my belt definitely helped, and the things I’ve been able to go through this offseason and during training camp actually helped, so I’m ready to step up.”

Last season, Ross started 13 games and contributed 101 tackles and two sacks.

When the Raiders signed Ross in September, head coach Dennis Allen (since fired) figured Ross would be a solid addition because of his experience.

“What we’re doing defensively isn’t a ton different than what we’ve done,” said Allen, at the time.

Ross, a 6-foot-1, 190-pounder from Youngstown State, will try to do his part to make the Raiders defense more effective, particularly on third down, where they rank dead last in the NFL in stopping opponents.

He says one inspiration he has is Woodson, the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer who’s still flying all over the field making plays. Against the Cardinals, Woodson had a terrific game that included an interception.

Ross told reporters that Woodson is “almost 100,” yet is playing with energy, fire and intelligence.

“If he can do it at this stage, why can’t I,” said Ross. “That’s what I really learned from him last year and then having the opportunity to watch him when I was in Miami, watching him play, I’m like, he’s still doing it, so make sure that when my opportunity comes that I’m playing the same way.”

For Ross, that opportunity has arrived. He gets his chance Sunday against the Browns.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Usually Suffer in Miler's Absence]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 08:10:06 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/171*120/broosmylllar.jpg

While running behind fullback Bruce Miller, Frank Gore has put up three consecutive 1,000-yard-plus seasons.

The former defensive lineman in college has made the transition to NFL fullback in a big way, becoming one of the best in the business as a lead blocker, receiver out of the backfield and ballcarrier when needed.

When No. 49 is blocking for Gore, the Niners have a physical, run-oriented offense unlike most any other in the league, an old-fashioned, power-blocking attack.

But in San Francisco’s lopsided loss to the Broncos in Denver Sunday night, Miller disappeared in the mile-high air.

The 49ers often went with four- and five-receiver sets, keeping Miller on the sideline. As Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee noted, Miller plays just 12 snaps vs. Denver. In fact, the 49ers – who are 4-3 entering their bye week – have kept Miller on the sidelines for much of two other games this season, vs. the Cardinals (just nine snaps) and Bears (24 snaps).

Those represent the 49es’three losses this season. Coincidence? Probably not, says Barrows.

“Right now you’re probably arguing that the 49ers fell behind by such a wide margin in those games that they had no choice but pass the ball,” wrote Barrows. “That’s incorrect. They were up at the half against Chicago and Arizona. And while they fell behind against the Broncos, it was clear that the game plan was to lean heavily on multiple wide-receiver sets and not so much on the running game.”

Barrows points out that Miller was in on just four of the offense’s first 11 plays Sunday night, and only two of those plays were runs, and they trailed just 7-0 at the time.

At 1-2, the 49ers went back to their roots after the Arizona game and reeled off three straight victories. In wins over the Eagles and Chiefs, Gore ran for 119 and 107 yards and had averages of 5.0 and 5.9 yards per carry. The 49ers beat the Rams the following week, but had to come back from an early 14-0 deficit.

Obviously, the Niners are at their best when they run the ball and stay true to their personality of playing physical football.

And Miller gives them that dynamic.

As Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis said before the 49ers game with St. Louis, Miller is a big part of the offense.

“Bruce Miller, the ball follows him a lot,” he said. “They have very good blocking schemes. They change them week to week depending on the looks that they get.”

The 49ers missed Miller big time late last year when a shoulder injury sidelined him. But he worked hard over the offseason and came back strong.

“He’s better than ever,” said offensive coordinator Greg Roman earlier this season.

And yet, against the Broncos he was just an extra, unused piece of the offense instead of being part of the point of attack.

It seems whenever the 49ers stumble, they get back to their roots and run the football.

So, expect to see a lot of No. 49 on the field, blocking defenders, when the 49ers return to action at Levi’s Stadium against the Rams on Sunday, Nov. 2.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants vs. Royals in World Series "Dynasty vs. Destiny"]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:49:29 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/giants-royals-AP75242332121.jpg

The series is being billed as Dynasty vs. Destiny.

The "dynasty" label goes to the San Francisco Giants, who have already won two World Series championships since 2010. A third win would cement their team as a "genuine dynasty" because they would become the first National League team in nearly 70 years to pull off the historic feat.

Destiny is slotted for the Kansas City Royals, who haven't won a World Series championship – or even played in the postseason – since 1985.

Hours before Game 1 in Kansas City, the experts and pundits had all weighed in. SB Nation  offered four reasons why the Giants will win, including the fact that the team has more experience and can hit better fastballs. But Time said the Royals are the "slight favorite," even though the Giants' payroll is 50 percent higher than the Royals.

But it seems like everyone – not just the betting experts – wanted to cash in on the fun, too. Everyone from amusement park operators to mayors began betting on the game.

Mayor Ed Lee told "Murph and Mac" on KNBR radio station, if the Royals lose, Kansas City Mayor Sly James will sing and pass out food at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco. If for some "farfetched" reason the Giants lose, Lee promised on the radio show that he would read to third graders in Kansas City.

He didn't think he'd be making that trip though.

"We're such a lucky city," Lee told KNBR. "I'm such a lucky mayor. Go Giants."

And then, in a nod to Hunter Pence's famous pep chant at the Pittsburgh Pirates game, Lee quipped, "Yes, yes, yes!"

An amusement park bet was in the works, as well. If the Giants win, Frank Wilburn, general manager of Worlds of Fun amusement park in Kansas City said he'd pose in a Giants jersey and send digital proof to Great America in Santa Clara. If the Royals win, Great America general manager Raul Rehnborg will have to do the same in a Royals jersey.

Educators wanted in, too.

University of California at San Francisco chancellor Sam Hawgood  is so sure the Giants will win, he's giving up a selection of Napa Valley wines, Sonoma artisanal cheeses and a gift basket if they don't. And University of Missouri-Kansas City Leo Morton is standing behind his Royals. He'll donate a rack of Kansas City barbequed ribs and an album of the Gates BBQ Suite with saxophone player Bobby  Watson, head of the jazz studies program at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, if they lose.

And just to make sure the Giants have the upper hand, at least two Bay Area radio stations have banned Lorde's "Royals," the 2013 pop hit from being heard through the World Series. In response, a Kansas City station is playing the song over and over again.

Game 1 of the World Series between the Giants and Royals is scheduled for 5:07 p.m. Tuesday at Ewing M. Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The game will be broadcast on Fox.

Bay City News contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Kaepernick's Birth Mom Watched Denver Debacle]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 18:12:01 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/beats1.jpg

Heidi Russo is a mom of two, and persona non grata with one.

Russo gave birth to a boy named Colin on Nov. 3, 1987. Five weeks later, she gave that child to a family who raised him in Turlock with the last name of Kaepernick.

Now, almost 20 years after asking the family to stop sending her updates about the boy's path through life without her, Russo has a second son and is also a co-founder of Three Strands, a nonprofit for birth moms – that is, women who surrender their kids for adoption, the Denver Post reported.

This isn't necessarily sitting well with Kaepernick. The quarterback sees his mother as Teresa Kaepernick, and so devoted is local media to Colin's wishes that the San Francisco Chronicle didn't even see fit to print Russo's name.

According to the Chron, Kap is "angry and offended" when Russo speaks out, and "wants nothing to do with her."

Meanwhile, he has at least two fans in the Denver area,  including a half-brother named Michael, who's also a football player.



Photo Credit: CSN Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[2015 Amgen Tour of California Host Cities Announced]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 06:12:44 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AMGEN_RACE_HEAT_web_1200x675_258122819579.jpg

The largest professional cycling event in the United States is returning next year for its 10th anniversary, but this time only one Bay Area city will be on the route.

The Amgen Tour of California begins May 10, 2015, in Sacramento. Stage 2 will take racers to Nevada City in the Sierra Foothills, then Lodi, before heading to San Jose.

Next year's race marks the first time in four years the East Bay and Mount Diablo won't have a major role in the event.

It also marks the expansion of the women's race to a four-day event.

"We had the women do their finals last year around the downtown,” the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Steve Hammond said. “It was one of the most exciting aspects of the entire day."

The men's race concludes in Pasadena on May 17.

More information about the race is available at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.

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<![CDATA[Martin Back to 49ers Just in Time]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:57:37 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Kyllgohrr.jpg

In August, 49ers rookie center Marcus Martin was injured in an exhibition victory over the Chargers.

It was the second setback for the former USC standout, who lost time early in training camp to an ankle injury and had been playing “catch up,” according to offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

But the dislocated kneecap Martin suffered against the Chargers – forcing him to be carted from the field – turned out not to be season-ending. He returned to practice last week.

His return was just in time.

Martin, the 6-foot-3, 321-pounder taken in the third round, now is in line to step in to replace starting center Daniel Kilgore, who was hurt in Sunday night’s wipeout loss to the Denver Broncos. Kilgore reportedly suffered a broken leg and is likely out for the rest of the season.

Dillon Farrell, an undrafted rookie from New Mexico, finished the game at center for San Francisco, but Martin certainly would seem to have more upside than Farrell – if he can get back to speed quickly. Fortunatley for the 4-3 49ers, they have a bye this coming weekend and don’t play until Sunday, Nov. 2, when the Rams come to Levi’s Stadium.

The 49ers liked Martin for what he did at USC, where he played both center and guard and was an outstanding, physical blocker.

Despite his injury in the preseason, he stayed positive. Just after leaving the Chargers game with his knee injury, he tweeted: “What don’t kill me, will only make me stronger. I’ll be back better than ever before, thank you everyone for the well wishes! Love y’all.”

Martin participated fully in practices last week but wasn’t on the team’s active roster for the Broncos game.

Now, his season begins in earnest, with a chance to start against the Rams after the bye week.

Niners running back Frank Gore says somebody – Farrell or Martin – will be good to go in Kilgore’s spot.

“We wish that (Kilgore) was here, but these things happen,” Gore told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

For the 49ers, a lot of “these things” have been happening, with key players dropping every week with injuries. The bye week has come at a perfect time for the wounded to heal.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kings' Slava Voynov Suspended by NHL]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 20:16:50 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/191*120/10-20-2014-kings-voynov.jpg

The National Hockey League took swift action Monday in response to the arrest of Los Angeles King Slava Voynov, suspending the 24-year-old defenseman indefinitely pending a domestic violence investigation.

Voynov was suspended "indefinitely from all club activities pending a formal investigation by the National Hockey League of an arrest this morning on charges of domestic violence," according to a statement from the NHL.

The league's collective bargaining agreement allows for the suspension of a player during a criminal investigation. Details regarding the arrest and investigation were not immediately available, but the league's action came just hours after Voynov's arrest, which occurred Monday at about 2 a.m. in Redondo Beach, Los Angeles County Jail records show.

Police told NBC4 they arrested Voynov at Little Company of St. Mary Hospital in Torrance after medical personnel contacted authorities regarding a victim who was the subject of a domestic violence call.

"The injury was severe enough that it did require treatment," said Lt Joe Hoffman, of the Redondo Beach Police Department.

Redondo Beach officers intially responded to the neighborhood where Voynov and his family live after a caller reported that a female "could be heard screaming for the past 20 minutes," according to a police department statement. The caller directed officers to the house from which the sounds were heard, but police received no response after attempting to contact the home's occupants.

Torrance police later contacted Redondo Beach police regarding the hospitalized woman.

Voynov posted $50,000 bail around 8 a.m. and his first court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 1 in Torrance.

"We're still investigating with the police," Voynov attorney Craig Renetzky told the Associated Press. "It's very early on in the proceedings. We're just asking everybody to be patient, because arrests don't always lead to charges and convictions."

Voynov, named to the 2014 Russian Olympic hockey team, was drafted by the Kings in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He is in the second of a six-year contract with the 2014 Stanley Cup champions and one of four Kings to play in all 82 games last season.

The team issued a statement Monday morning: "These developments are of great concern to our organization.  We support the NHL's decision to suspend Slava Voynov indefinitely during this process, and we will continue to take appropriate action as the legal proceedings and the investigation by the NHL take their course."

The case follows other recent domestic violence investigations that involved high-profile professional athletes, including NFL running back Ray Rice. The Rice case and video of the assault in a casino elevator led to a new NFL policy regarding domestic violence offenders.

Unlike the NFL and NBA, the NHL and Major League Baseball do not have policies specific to domestic violence. Penalties are usually handed out at the discretion of the commissioner on a case-by-case basis.

The NHL's immediate action in the Voynov case stands in contrast to its handling last season of a domestic violence investigation involving Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, who was not suspended and continued playing with the team during the investigation.

Charges in that case were eventually dropped.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly addressed the two cases in an email Monday to The Hockey News.

"I think the landscape has changed for all of us over the past six months," Daly said in the email. "But that's not the only reason for the difference in treatment. Circumstances were different in Varlamov. I can’t get more specific than that."

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was asked about the league's response to domestic violence issues in a USA Today article published at the start of this season.

"(Domestic violence prevention) is something we've been doing with the Players' Association for more than a decade," Bettman told USA Today in the Oct. 8 article. "As a league, we have more than enough mechanism and authority to punish if necessary in the appropriate case. We haven't seen too many though. We focus on counseling and education with the Players Association. The NHL’s Security Department does that each year in its meetings with each team."

Under Section 18-A.5 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NHL can suspend a player "pending the League's formal review and disposition of the matter where the failure to suspend the Player during this period would create a substantial risk of material harm to the legitimate interests and/or reputation of the League."

Voynov had an assist in the Kings' win Sunday at Staples Center over the Minnesota Wild. The Kings' next game is Thursday at Staples Center against Buffalo.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Now Comes the Hard Part for Winless Raiders]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 06:13:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/oakochsprno.jpg

Late in Sunday’s Raiders game against Arizona, the Cardinals’ Darnell Dockett held up a sign to the Oakland fans who’d been taunting him. 

“Worst team in NFL,” it said. “0-6.” 

Unfortunately, 0-6 might just be the start of the pain for Raiders fans this season. Except for the team’s next opponent, Cleveland – which lost to the previously winless Jaguars this past weekend – there doesn’t seem to be a winnable game on the Raiders’ entire schedule. 

In essence, the Raiders have gotten through the “easy” part of their season. They couldn’t beat the Jets, the Texans or the Dolphins, all of whom appeared vulnerable. And they let two good teams, the Patriots and Chargers, escape with victories when they were on the ropes. 

Now, after the 3-3 Browns this Sunday in Cleveland, come (in order): the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, the 5-1 Broncos who tore apart the 49ers Sunday night, the Chargers in San Diego, the Chiefs, the Rams (who just toppled Seattle), the 49ers, the Chiefs again, the 4-3 Bills and, finally, the Broncos in Denver.

Under new head coach Tony Sparano, the Raiders appear to be playing with more zest than they did under the now-fired Dennis Allen. But how much does zest count for when the defense is often overmatched and can’t come up with big plays in key late-game situations? 

“This is as bad as you’re going to et through the first part of the season,” veteran Raiders safety Charles Woodson told reporters after Sunday’s 24-13 loss to Arizona at O.co Coliseum. “We haven’t won a game. How much worse can it get than that, than not winning a game?” 

After the Raiders started 0-4, one number-crunching website, numberFire.com, gave the Raiders just a 2.14 percent chance of going 0-16. After all, it’s hard to go 0-16. Only the Detroit Lions of 2008 have been able to do it. At that time, the Jaguars (6 percent) were made the more likely winless team. 

But now the Jags are on the winning track and the Raiders are still searching. The website pointed to the Week 13 game in St. Louis as Oakland’s best chance for a win, giving it a 40.5 percent chance of victory.

For now, however, it looks like the Raiders are going to need some huge breaks to get that first victory. 

After watching his team lose for the 12th consecutive week, dating to the 2013 season, Sparano is staying positive. The schedule doesn’t look optimistic, but he is. 

“I’m going to work as long as I have to work to get this thing done the right way,” he said at his postgame news conference. “The team we play next week (Browns) got beat by a team today, to the best of my knowledge, that is in a similar situation. So we just have to work our tails off right now.” 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Buried by Broncos' Scoring Avalanche]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 20:57:56 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/ManningRecTD.jpg

It was still early in the second quarter Sunday night in Denver when the Broncos, already up 14-3, were driving for another touchdown.

“Wow,” said analyst Cris Collinsworth on the NBC TV coverage. “We’re in Colorado, and this has the feel of an avalanche.

He was right.

The Broncos then scored on Peyton Manning’s third touchdown pass of the night – the 509th of his career, breaking Brett Favre’s NFL record – and Denver had a 21-3 lead en route to a Rocky Mountain massacre.

The Broncos won, 42-17 , to break San Francisco’s three-game winning streak and drop San Francisco back to 4-3.

On this night on a nationally televised stage, the 49ers defense was no match for Manning’s mastery. Playing without linebackers Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith and missing defensive backs Chris Culliver and Jimmie Ward, Manning and his excellent receiving corps had a field day. It was the most points allowed by the 49ers defense since Jim Harbaugh became head coach.

Before being relieved after three quarters, Manning was 22-of-26 for 318 yards, four TDs and no interceptions. Eight of those throws went to Demaryius Thomas, who caught eight passes for 171 yards and two scores. The Broncos running game, too, slashed one of the NFL’s best rush defenses.

This was an across-the-board wipeout.

From the start, the 49ers offense couldn’t generate any consistency, meaning Manning and Co. kept getting the ball back quickly, then adding points.

The Niners went three-and-out on their first possession, had a drive stall before missing a field goal and went three-and-out again before finally getting a Phil Dawson field goal when a long drive from their own 13 stalled at the Broncos’ 4. That’s when the Broncos drove for their third score on Manning’s record-breaking TD pass.

In addition to the 49ers’ bad night on both sides of the ball, San Francisco lost cornerback Chris Cook (hamstring) and center Daniel Kilgore. Kilgore had to be carted off the field – so his loss could be long-term.

Fortunately, the beatdown in Denver only counts as one loss. In the NFC West, the 49ers are still in the hunt (behind the 5-1 Cardinals and ahead of the 3-3 Seahawks) and now have a bye week to get a bit healthier and regroup before their next game on Sunday, Nov. 2 against the visiting Rams.

As former NFL scout and ESPN analyst Matt Williamson tweeted late in the game, “Brutal night for the #49ers, but like I said on Friday’s Podcast: Just stay alive and make your run in December when it matters most.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Aldon Smith Could Have Suspension Reduced: Report]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 20:02:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_aldon_smith.jpg

A report out Sunday night said San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith could have his nine-game suspension reduced.

South Bay 49ers fans watched the game against the Denver Broncos Sunday night at the San Jose Bar & Grill--and saw the team could have used him.

According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, the league may reduce his suspension by a game or two due to good behavior. If it is reduced two games, the suspension would be over.

As it stands, he would come back for the game on Nov. 16.

The NFL suspended him last August for violating conduct and substance abuse policies.

But according to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Matt Maiocco, 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke said he has no knowledge of any suspension reduction.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Have Hope, But No Victories]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 17:34:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/StepfanTayy.jpg

After watching his Raiders almost topple the Chargers last week, new head coach Tony Sparano went into Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals with hope.

“If those guys can give me that kind of effort going forward here, this thing is going to turn,” he said.

Well, not this week.

The Raiders lost again, this time by a 24-13 score to visiting Arizona, dropping to 0-6 this season, their 12th consecutive loss. And, after Jacksonville’s victory over Cleveland earlier Sunday, the Raiders now rank as the NFL’s only winless team.

The Raiders spotted Arizona a 14-0 lead, and it proved too much to overcome.

With just over four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, down by just eight points, the Raiders still had a chance to get the ball back if they could make a third-down stop. But on a third-and-8 from their own 41, Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer hit a wide-open John Brown for 22 yards to the Raiders’ 37. Then, just over three minutes left, the Cardinals converted another third-and-8, with Palmer hitting Andre Ellington for 10 yards.

The Cardinals held onto the ball long enough tack on a 41-yard field goal to increase their lead to 24-13 and lock up the game with just 33 seconds remaining.

As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vic Tafur noted, the Raiders had come in dead last in the NFL in third-down defense, with successful stops just 51 percent of the time. Those two conversions by Arizona made them successful on 9-of-14 Sunday. With the game still in reach, the defense didn’t get the job done when it needed to.

After the Cardinals built their 14-0 lead, Oakland came back to make it a game on a short touchdown run by Darren McFadden and two Sebastian Janikowski field goals.

For the second straight game, rookie quarterback Derek Carr showed promise, completed 16-of-28 for 173 yards, including a 55-yard completion to a streaking Brice Butler. But Oakland couldn’t come up with key third-down conversions on the drives that ended in field goals, and the defense couldn’t contain Palmer (22-of-31 for 253 yards and two TDs), or the 1-2 running back duo of Ellington and Stepfan Taylor (128 yards rushing).

As the hopeful Sparano had said before the game, “this thing is a marathon.” He knows it may take time. But, he said, “We’re going to get it right.”

Until then, the 0-6 Raiders are now in the lead for the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft. But, opportunity awaits.

Next Sunday, the Raiders travel to face the Browns – who lost to the Jaguars this week.

If there’s a winnable game on the schedule, this is it.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>