<![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 Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:21:17 -0700 Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:21:17 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Late-Season Matchups vs. Seahawks a Blessing for 49ers]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 08:28:25 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/nbowhealllth.jpg

In the 49ers’ 2014 schedule that was announced Wednesday night, San Francisco’s NFL team received both good and bad news.

But perhaps one of the biggest pluses is the fact the Niners won’t play the Super Bowl-champion Seahawks until Thanksgiving night, Nov. 27, at Levi’s Stadium.

The previous thinking had been that perhaps the NFL would pair the NFC West rivals in an early-season game on national TV. But the fact the 49ers and Seahawks won’t play until Nov. 27 – and then Dec. 14 at Seattle – gives the 49ers a chance to play both games with standout inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

Bowman, injured in the NFC Championship Game loss in Seattle in January, isn’t expected to be ready to play until midseason, which would be late October. If he stays on track, that means Bowman can fully recover, get three or four games under his belt and be ready to help against the Seahawks on Thanksgiving.

There’s no question that to beat the Seahawks, the 49ers will have to be at full strength and with all their weapons.

Last season, the two teams met in the second game of the year in Seattle when San Francisco was without wide receiver Michael Crabtree, and the 49ers not only lost the game, but were put in the position of chasing their rivals in the division race for the remainder of the season. They never caught up.

This time, both teams can muscle through the first two-thirds of their schedules and meet when both could theoretically be at the top of their games. The Thanksgiving game means the 49ers will be playing just four days after playing the Redskins on a Sunday, but the Seahawks also will be playing on short rest – following a game against the Cardinals – and will travel.

By late November, the 49ers would not only have Bowman back, but will have had a chance to let new safety Antoine Bethea get comfortable and work out their cornerback and wide receiver options.

As Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee noted,  meeting the Seahawks twice late in the season might be good for another reason as well.

“If, as expected, star inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman returns from his ACL injury at midseason, it means he would be on hand for both showdowns,” he wrote. “… The same would go for Aldon Smith if, say, he is given an eight-game suspension. That, of course, is pure speculation, but he is expected to sit out at least some games in 2014.”

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Shooting Hoops at Oracle Arena Before Warriors-Clippers Game]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 08:29:32 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/bob11.jpg NBC Bay Area's Bob Redell shoots hoops - and misses a bunch of them - before Thursday night's Warriors-Clippers game at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. It's the first home game of the playoffs.]]> <![CDATA[Raiders Reportedly Like Michigan Tackle Lewan]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 08:07:01 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/171*120/Lewanpik.jpg

Because Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie isn’t talking these days about what he’s planning to do with the No. 5 overall pick in the draft, NFL analysts have resorted to looking for clues.

And one clue surfaced this week when Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group reported on Twitter that, “I’m told the Raiders like Michigan OT Taylor Lewan better than either Greg Robinson (Auburn) or Jake Matthews (Texas A&M).”

If that’s true, the Raiders’ personnel evaluators are going against the grain of most talent scouts, who rate Robinson and Matthews as the top offensive tackles available in the draft, and possible choices at No. 5.

Mike Huguenin, who writes for NFL.com’s College Football 24/7 section, reacted to McDonald’s tweet by writing it could mean a number of things, including that it’s a “smokescreen,” and Oakland has no intention of taking a tackle at No. 5.

That certainly makes sense, in that the Raiders have invested heavily in the position recently by signing free-agent linemen Donald Penn, Austin Howard and Kevin Boothe, and selected Menelik Watson in the second round last year.

Huguenin also suggested the news might mean if the Raiders truly like Lewan, they can trade down out of the fifth position, take Lewan a few spots lower and collect an extra pick or two. That seems a smarter move than taking Lewan fifth overall.

Yet as much as the Raiders may like Lewan, it doesn’t make sense that they would stay at No. 5 and take any of the top-rated tackles. It’s not their biggest area of need, and there certainly are multiple options of very highly-rated players at other positions – wide receiver, linebacker, secondary or quarterback – that could make the Raiders a better team in 2014 or beyond.

As good as Lewan is – and the 6-foot-7, 309-pounder was outstanding at Michigan, where he was the Big Ten’s offensive lineman of the Year for two seasons – taking him with the fifth overall pick would seem a reach with so many other playmakers available.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Announcer Relishes Role as Voice of Kentucky Derby]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 07:39:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/edt-AP639473485249.jpg

From his perch with a panoramic view of the world's most famous racetrack, the new voice of Churchill Downs will sit out one of the most anticipated moments of the tradition-soaked Kentucky Derby.

Larry Collmus will try to tune out "My Old Kentucky Home" while the crowd of 160,000-plus sings along and the thoroughbreds take to the Churchill Downs track. The veteran announcer says it gives him chills, and he wants to avoid being overtaken by emotion.

"I don't want that feeling that I used to get, because it's a distraction," he said. "The last thing I need is that leading up to the race.

"So I'll introduce 'My Old Kentucky Home,' but I won't listen to it."

Collmus, 47, has called the past three Derbys for millions of people watching on NBC Sports, but this will be the first time his voice will be heard by the thousands at the track for the 140th Kentucky Derby on May 3. The previous track announcer stepped aside last year.

Collmus has three decades of experience and his crisp cadence is familiar to many horse racing fans. He will continue as the race caller for the network on its telecasts of the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes and the Breeders' Cup.

He is just the third announcer to call the Derby for both the track crowd and millions watching on TV.

"He will take his place on the brief, but very distinguished and accomplished, roster of announcers that have served as the voice of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks," the race at Churchill for 3-year-old fillies the day before the Derby, said Churchill Downs track President Kevin Flanery.

In his first Derby call for NBC, Collmus excitedly declared that the horse Animal Kingdom was "roaring down the center of the track" en route to victory in 2011.

"It is the most exciting and nerve-wracking two minutes you could ever imagine," he said.

Collmus honed his announcing skills far from the media glare. He started as an assistant announcer on the racing circuit in his native Maryland. By age 20, he was hired as track announcer at Birmingham Turf Club in Alabama, where he called doubleheader race cards on Saturdays — 10 races in the afternoon and 10 more at night.

During his stint at Suffolk Downs in Massachusetts, snow sometimes had to be shoveled off the walkway to the announcer's booth, he said. He went on to call races for 20 years at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and still serves as track announcer during the winter meet at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

At Churchill, he will be a fixture long after the Derby, calling races during the spring, September and fall meets.

But his first stint here was a short one.

Collmus spent a week calling races in 2008, among a handful of announcers who took turns in what was widely seen as tryouts. The job ultimately went to Mark Johnson, a British announcer.

Churchill Downs spokesman John Asher said the split between Johnson and the track was an amicable one.

Like any track announcer, Collmus hopes he's calling the race when the Triple Crown drought finally ends. Affirmed was the last horse to sweep the Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1978.

"The day that that finally happens, to be the guy who gets to call it would be the most incredible thing," he said.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Golden Oldies Bring Senior Swagger]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 07:16:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/golden+oldies1.jpg

The Golden Oldies, the Miami Heat's senior hip hop ensemble, are just as passionate about their booty shaking as they are about their playoff basketball.

The senior citizen dance group has been performing for the Miami Heat for 10 years, but their dance routines for the 2013 to 2014 season have been a little special.

Why? Every time the Oldies have shimmied onto the American Airlines Arena floor, the home team has won the game for a perfect 8-0.

"I think we bring them good luck," says Keith Buehner, a dancer with the 16-person company. "Hopefully they'll hear about that and say, 'Let's dance at every game!"

There's certainly magic in their routines, and in preparation for Miami's White Hot Championship playoff run, NBC 6 Sports Anchor Courtney Fallon decided to pop into one of their practices and learn their moves.

Despite their age, which ranges from 60 to 77, the Golden Oldies have managed to master the latest gyrating dance moves, and do so with a youthful vitality.

Just like the reigning World Champions, the Golden Oldies are in playoff form, ready to put their perfect 8-and-0 record to the test this postseason.



Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida]]>
<![CDATA[Lloyd Eager to Show 49ers He's an Impact Player]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 10:30:17 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/nubrandonn.jpg

Brandon Lloyd is saying all the right things, has a nice resume and appears eager to prove himself once again.

But how much impact can the 49ers’ newest wide receiver – now 32 – have on his new team in 2014?

Lloyd, who recently signed a free-agent contract to re-join the team that drafted him in 2003, sat out last season to pursue his interests in acting and music. Now he’s trying to make the roster of a team that wants to get more production from a third wideout. The hope is that San Francisco will be able to land a field-stretching speed receiver in the draft that begins May 8, with one of its top picks to join starters Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin.

But Lloyd – who had 74 catches for 911 yards, four touchdowns and a 12.3-yard average in 2012 with the New England Patriots – believes he can be an impact player in San Francisco.

This week, Lloyd said in an interview on the “KNBR Morning Show” that, “I’ve improved dramatically as a player and a person” and is eager to contribute to a team that has been just a step or two away from winning an NFL championship the past three seasons.

“Every person wants to say, ‘I want to be on a championship-caliber team,’ ” Lloyd told show host Brian Murphy. “San Francisco, this is the team. They’ve proven that over the last three seasons. The opportunity presented itself for me to return to football and I couldn’t see myself attempting it for any other organization.”

But the question is, how will Lloyd fit in with the 49ers?

The bulk of all offensive snaps will go to Crabtree and Boldin, proven players at the top of their games. The newly drafted wide receiver will certainly get a chance to show he can stretch the field and give the 49ers more quick-strike, deep-ball capabilities. And the Niners like second-year pro Quinton Patton and want to see what he can do with a full, healthy season.

So where does that leave Lloyd, on a team that also likes to run the ball and has a stable of terrific backs in Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Marcus Lattimore?

Realistically, it seems Lloyd’s opportunities to contribute may be limited – unless there is an injury. And after the 49ers signed Lloyd, some fans expressed worry that Lloyd's presence could inhibit the development and use of young players such as Patton and a drafted wideout.

Still, Lloyd will have a chance over this offseason to show his coaching staff and teammates that he’s capable of being the same player who caught 70 or more passes in three of his past four NFL seasons.

Now with the 49ers in their voluntary offseason conditioning program, Lloyd says his desire for football has been rekindled.

“Being around it is bringing the fire out and the passion back,” he told KNBR.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders' New "Old" Guys Hope to Spark Winning Attitude]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:13:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/177*120/nuvetts.jpg

After Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie signed a flurry of veteran free agents earlier this offseason, he took some criticism for spending so much on older players who could be past their prime.

But McKenzie wasn’t looking at just on-field production when he signed players such as Justin Tuck, Tarell Brown and LaMarr Woodley.

“What we’re trying to do is add some veteran leadership,” McKenzie told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group in March. “The bottom line is trying to upgrade the team through production and leadership. We’ve got some young guys, and we want to try and get that good mix, try to build.”

Now that the Raiders have gathered in Oakland for the start of the team’s voluntary offseason program, some of those veteran players are echoing McKenzie’s hopes. They believe they’re not only still at the top of their games, but can instill a new attitude in a team that has gone 8-24 over its past two seasons.

Former Jacksonville Jaguars standout running back Maurice Jones-Drew was one of several new Raiders who told Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com this week that the influx of veterans from winning franchises can be a big boost in 2014.

“We brought the right guys in,” Jones-Drew told Gutierrez.

Tuck, the defensive end who won two Super Bowls with the Giants, said in recent years he saw a Raiders team with talent but without the know-how to win, and he believes he and the other new veterans on the team can change that.

“That’s our mentality,” he said. “A lot of people say you go to Oakland for your career to die. I’m looking at it like this is an opportunity to revive a storied franchise in a city with a great fan base behind this football team.”

And defensive end LaMarr Woodley said a 4-12 season “is not good enough.” He sees the Raiders being good enough in 2014 to get to the playoffs.

“We just have to learn how to close out games, and it’ll be more wins than losses,” Woodley said in an interview on 95.7 The Game.

The attitude of the new veteran Raiders is that the future is now. That they can help turn Oakland into a playoff team. And that fits in exactly with the thinking of Raiders owner Mark Davis, who’s tired of losing.

“This (season) is one that we’ve been building toward the last few years,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle recently. “No question – we have to hit it right now.”

The new/old guys believe they can.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[10 Years Later, Pat Tillman Death Still Inspires Students]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 19:40:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-22-2014-pat-tillman.jpg

Tuesday marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Pat Tillman, the NFL star who passed up a lucrative football contract to serve his country in Afghanistan.

Tillman was killed by friendly fire in 2004 while serving as an Army ranger. He grew up in San Jose, played football at Arizona State, and went on to a celebrated NFL career.

But, following the Sept. 11 attacks, Tillman passed up the big bucks of the NFL to join the military.

Mike Carrozzo, a former football coach at Leland High School, where Tillman played, said that sacrifice still resonates with students.

“As a coach or as a teacher, it’s something you’d never want to forget,” Carrozzo said. “And you constantly want to teach these kids, because there is no greater selfless sacrifice that I could ever think of.”

A foundation created in Tillman’s name has provided scholarships to some 300 military veterans.

This Saturday, there will be Pat Tillman tribute runs in Arizona, San Francisco and San Jose.



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Buffalo Bills Cheerleaders Follow Raiderettes in Wage Suit]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 06:45:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BuffaloBillcheerA.jpg

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Three months after the first Oakland Raiderette sued the Raiders football team, five former "Buffalo Jills" are suing the Bills saying they weren't paid for their time at games or mandatory public appearances that left them open to groping and sexual comments.

One of the claims in the suit alleges that the Jills were subjected to a weekly "Jiggle Test," where their butts, stomachs, arms and hips bodies were scrutinized while they did jumping jacks, Deadspin reported.
 
The lawsuit is the third filed this year against a National Football League team by its cheerleaders.

The Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals also have pending wage battles. The Raiders attorneys in March argued that the cheerleaders should not be able to sue, but rather plead their case to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, rather than a judge.

Two members of the Buffalo Jills cheerealding squad held a news conference Tuesday with their attorney, Frank Dolce (DOHL'-chay). They say they were wrongly classified as independent contractors by Stejon Productions, which manages the Jills and failed to pay them for hundreds of hours of work.

The Jill's lawsuit seeks back pay and "other damages as allowed by law."

A Bills spokesman says the team doesn't comment on pending litigation. Stejon Productions hasn't responded to a request for comment.


 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Marathon Winner's Family Celebrates]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 11:52:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/marathon+winner+204.JPG

Meb Keflezighi’s parents and sister huddled around a small computer screen inside their Chula Vista home.

They watched Meb take a big lead in one of the world’s premiere running events, the Boston Marathon, only to see it dwindle down to a gut-wrenching eight seconds approaching the last mile. The family prayed hard enough to be felt 2,500 miles away from the San Diego County city.

“My heart was beating and oh God, oh God, help him, help him,” said Meb’s father Russom. “I was praying and when he made it, I was excited.”

At his home in Scripps Ranch, Meb’s brother AK also watched and prayed.

“I was kneeling down, praying, sending him positive energy,” said AK Keflezighi. “'God, help him push that last mile because I know he deserves it. I know he wants it. Nobody works harder than he does.'”

Born in Eritrea, Keflezighi became a U.S. citizen in 1998 after his family fled war to establish a new home in San Diego in 1987.

The San Diego High School and UCLA alum has won four NCAA titles, the New York City marathon in 2009, and an Olympic silver medal in 2004

Even with his record of past wins, the family knew very well the symbolic meaning of Monday’s Boston Marathon. It was more than just a race. It was a chance for America to ease the pain of last year’s tragic bombing.

“He’s a humble guy. I’m sure he was thinking of the victims that lost their lives last year,” said AK Keflezighi, Meb’s brother.

AK said that his brother wrote on his bib the names of the three victims who lost their lives near the finish line, and also the name of the security guard killed as police closed in on the bombing suspects.

“It was absolutely a glorious day. He was fantastic. From early on, I knew it was going to be special,” AK said.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[James' Talents Have Been Wasted With 49ers]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 09:31:18 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/167*120/Elemjamess.jpg

When the 49ers drafted former Oregon All-America running back LaMichael James, they gushed about his college career and his potential in the NFL.

After drafting James and Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, Niners GM Trent Baalke said: “What we’ve tried to do is add speed and explosiveness to this offense and to this football team. With these two picks we’ve done that.”

Jenkins never did, but James, the 5-foot-8, 190-pound playmaker, did -- on the rare occasions he was allowed to touch the football.

Although he’s carried the ball just 39 times over 14 regular-season games in two seasons, James has a 4.7-yard average per carry while also averaging 9 yards on just five receptions. He’s also been an explosive returner of both punts (10.9 average) and kickoffs (28.4).

Which is why it will be a shame for both the 49ers and James if the team decides to part ways with the player who was taken in the second round of the 2012 draft.

Seemingly, the coaching staff should have been able to find more opportunities for James to make plays, even with the presence of Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter in the backfield.

Yet now, as the 49ers have begun their offseason conditioning program, James is on the outside looking in.

James’ agent Jeff Sperbeck told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch this week that his client will not participate in the offseason program. Instead, James will continue his own offseason conditioning work in Texas, where he is from. This follows reports by the Sacramento Bee that the 49ers are trying to trade James – and that James would welcome a change of scenery that would allow him to play.

James in the past has expressed frustration about his playing time with the 49ers, particularly about being viewed as insurance in case either Gore or Hunter were lost to injury.

“Some things I just don’t understand at all,” James tweeted last October. “I don’t work at State Farm. I’m not trying to be insurance.”

Now, as the 49ers head toward the draft and a new season, the backfield is even more crowded, with second-year pro Marcus Lattimore healthy and ready to contribute along with Gore, Hunter and James.

Still, it will be a shame to see James thrive elsewhere in the league if the 49ers do find a taker for him.

As he showed down the stretch in 2012 after an injury to Hunter, James can make plays in the NFL. Over the final four regular-season games of that season he made some big contributions, and he continued his solid play as the 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl. Against the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game, he carried five times for 34 yards and a TD. And in 2013 James ranked 10th in the NFL in punt returns, averaging 10.9 yards per return.

If the 49ers can trade James before the draft, they will be able to find a replacement for his kickoff- and punt-return duties.

But even with a solid replacement at those positions, and a healthy and effective Lattimore in the mix for 2014, it seems like a failure on the 49ers’ part that they haven’t been able to use James more effectively since they drafted him.

According to Pro Football Focus, as cited by Bleacher Report, James has played just 137 offensive snaps in two seasons (including playoffs), by far the lowest snap count of any running back taken in the top three rounds of the 2012 draft.

As a Niner, he never really got a chance to show what he can do.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[For Short Term, Raiders Improved in Free Agency]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 08:11:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/jayhhjohnez.jpg

Reggie McKenzie hasn’t always gotten the love from Raiders fans since becoming general manager, and he still has much to prove.

After all, the team has had consecutive 4-12 seasons, has whiffed on its recent quarterback evaluations and is still waiting to see if 2013 draft picks D.J. Hayden and Menelik Watson can be impact NFL players.

And, his trade for veteran quarterback Matt Schaub comes with a giant question mark.

But McKenzie’s moves this offseason have earned him points around the country from some NFL analysts. Several believe the Raiders have helped themselves as much or more than any other team in the league.

Recently, the Around The League section of NFL.com included the Raiders among the league’s best when it evaluated the winning and losing teams in free agency since the end of the 2013 season.

“Mock the Raiders all you want,” wrote Gregg Rosenthal. “They believe in Matt Schaub way too much and they still have a dearth of promising young players. However, there’s no denying that Oakland is much better now than they were to start free agency. The Raiders’ talent-poor roster required that general manager Reggie McKenize sign a raft of ready-made starters in free agency.”

And, notes Rosenthal, they found them on both sides of the ball. Wide receiver James Jones, running back Maurice Jones-Drew and linemen Austin Howard, Donald Penn and Kevin Boothe strengthen the offense; cornerbacks Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown and linemen/pass rushers LaMarr Woodley, Justin Tuck and Antonio Smith solidify the defense.

Even if only half the signings work out, says Rosenthal, the Raiders will be better in 2014.

“That still marks an upgrade for the Raiders starting lineup as they inch toward respectability,” wrote Rosenthal.

The Raiders also get a solid B grade from WalterFootball.com, which noted that though the Raiders spent big money on some older players, McKenzie did so without committing to long-term deals.

“He had a ton of cap room to work with, and almost all of the players he obtained won’t mess around with the fiscal situation in the future,” the website's evaluators wrote.

Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated admits the new players should make an impact, and wrote recently that, “Oakland has gone against the grain, focusing on talent that’s 30-years-and-up. The Raiders should be more competitive in 2014 as a result.”

But, Burke says, the longer-term forecast is cloudy. How many seasons do all those signees have left, he asks.

Because of that, he gave the Raiders just a C-plus in his recent free agency grading.

Nate Davis of USA Today, meanwhile, was much more harsh when grading the Raiders’ free-agent moves, giving them a D-minus because they let two top players (Jared Veldheer and Lamarr Houston) walk while using most of their money on older free agents. And, he says, rebuilding through free agency doesn’t produce winners.

“Try to name a team that’s successfully built through free agency,” he writes.

But, that’s not McKenzie’s goal. The Raiders’ GM hopes to build through the draft. All the free-agent moves this offseason have been to restock the roster, upgrade in key areas and give the team depth.

If McKenzie can score good, productive talent in the draft that begins May 8 to go with the free-agent class, the Raiders should be a much more competitive team in 2014.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Reports: Raiders, Pryor Will Soon Part]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 08:35:05 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/169*120/pryorlastdays.jpg

Depending on your point of view, the Raiders’ drafting of Terrelle Pryor was either a bold and grand experiment, or a mistake from the start.

The end result is the same, however: according to multiple reports, the Pryor era in Oakland will end as soon as Monday – or certainly over the next few days.

Pryor, the Raiders’ starting quarterback in Game 1 of the 2013 season, was being shopped around by the Raiders this past weekend, according to Alex Marvez of FoxSports1, and the team had set Monday – the day before Oakland begins its offseason conditioning program – as its deadline. If no trade partner could be found, Marvez reported the Raiders would release Pryor at some point Monday.

Certainly, the team is going a different direction. Veteran Matt Schaub is now the No. 1 QB after a trade with the Houston Texans, and Oakland has second-year man Matt McGloin as its No. 2 with free-agent veteran Trent Edwards also on the roster and another quarterback expected to be taken in the draft that begins May 8.

Though Pryor flashed amazing potential in his brief time as the team’s starter in 2013, he no longer fits in the Raiders’ plans. It’s obvious GM Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen prefer to go with a more traditional pocket passer than with an athletic quarterback such as Pryor, who’s still developing as a passer.

The question is, where might Pryor land?

Certainly, there will be suitors.  Pryor is too athletic – and has shown such a work ethic and desire to improve – for there not to be interest in him.

Pryor improved markedly as a thrower last season, winning the starting job in training camp.

Over his first four games, Pryor completed 71-of-104 passes (for four TDs vs. two interceptions) in leading the Raiders to wins over the Jaguars and Chargers. But beginning with a lopsided loss to the Chiefs in Game 5, the season went downhill for both Pryor and the Raiders. An injury opened the door for McGloin, who won the No. 1 job, and Pryor was soon a forgotten man.

Now, he’ll be playing for someone else.

“As expected, one way or another, Pryor will not be part of the Raiders when the team opens up offseason workouts on Tuesday,” wrote Kevin Patra of NFL.com. “It previously was reported that the Raiders would try to trade Pryor. However, we suspected it was unlikely that any team would be willing to give up a draft pick for the dynamic but wildly inconsistent quarterback.”

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Field Installed at 49ers' Levi's Stadium]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 20:28:45 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/LeviField1.jpg Crews have installed the grass field at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.

Photo Credit: San Francisco 49ers]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors 2014 Playoffs Highlights]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 22:10:06 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/190*120/485679131_8.jpg Photo highlights of the Golden State Warriors in the 2014 NBA Playoffs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Turf Installed at Levi's Stadium]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 12:50:24 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-21-2014-turf.jpg The 49ers are showing off the new playing surface at the team's new home, Levi's Stadium. Bob Redell reports.]]> <![CDATA[90 mph Fastball Hits Player in Face]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 07:27:29 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/041914+DeShields+Twitter.jpg

A player on the Corpus Christi Hooks, a minor league baseball team in Texas, is nursing a nasty bruise after suffering a serious blow to the face. 

On Friday, Delino DeShields, Jr. was struck on the right side of his face with a fastball traveling 90 mph. 

The ball ended up fracturing his cheek but DeShields insists he will be back on the field soon.

“I can go right now,” said DeShields.
 
The 21-year-old center fielder was up at bat against the Frisco RoughRiders when he got hit with the fastball.
 
“The pitch that hit me got on me kind of quick, and next thing you know I was on the ground,” he added.
 
He said he didn’t feel pain, just swelling. He eventually got up and walked off the field.
 
“I am a very strong individual. I have a football mindset. That is what got me to walk off the field yesterday,” said DeShields, who was a 2010 first round pick for the Houston Astros and is the son of former major leaguer Delino DeShields.  
 
“He is quite a young man. He is quite an individual,” said Keith Bodie, manager of the Corpus Christi Hooks.
 
DeShields even had a message for the pitcher that hit him with the ball.
 
"I said, "Tell the pitcher I am good, no hard feelings.' I know it just kind of got away from him. And just tell him I am all right,” DeShields said.
 
DeShields isn't planning to stay off the field for too long. He said he has no fear of facing a pitcher again.
 
“Whatever it takes to get me back on the field I will be ready to go,” he said.
 
“Knowing Delino he is going to be ready shortly; this is not a 6 to 8 week deal,” Bodie added.


Photo Credit: Delino DeShields, Jr. Twitter page]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Golfer Flees Hornet Attack on Course]]> Sat, 19 Apr 2014 06:35:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Larrazabal.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Power was restored within 10 minutes.

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

The stadium is on track to open this summer.



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

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

For most players arrested in 2014, according to reports.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out how people on Twitter are remembering Robinson: 



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 



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

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

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

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

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

Additional eyewitness accounts support the accusation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smith wasn't present for the hearing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

Information from Bay City News was used in this report.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>