<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Sports News, Sports Teams, and Scores for the Sharks, 49ers, Raiders,Giants, Bears and More]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Tue, 06 Oct 2015 11:30:24 -0700 Tue, 06 Oct 2015 11:30:24 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Niners Are Losing Turnover Battle, Too]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 10:11:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/esseffturnoverzzz.jpg

After four games, the 49ers have some ugly statistics. It starts, of course, with their 1-3 record and the fact they’ve been outscored 110-48.

San Francisco also is giving up 6.2 yards every time the opponent snaps the ball. Plus, quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been sacked 14 times.

Also, there is this: After four games the 49ers rank 30th in the NFL in turnover differential, at minus-5. San Francisco’s defense has taken the ball away just twice on a pair of interceptions. The 49ers have given up the ball seven times already, five times on Kaepernick interceptions.

In the third game, a 47-7 loss to the Cardinals in Arizona, the 49ers turned the ball over four times, including two interceptions thrown by Kaepernick early in the game that were returned for touchdowns.

With the 49ers offense struggling – San Francisco’s passing game ranks dead last in the NFL – losing the takeaway-giveaway battle every game is putting the team in a huge hole it just can’t escape.

The 49ers defense looked as if it made strides against the Packers, holding Green Bay to just 17 points after being torched in consecutive weeks by the Steelers and Cardinals. Perhaps defensive coordinator Eric Mangini’s unit has turned the corner, and it will again make some strides this Sunday against the New York Giants (5:30 p.m. kickoff).

But the Niners also need the defense to change the momentum. San Francisco’s defense needs to create some turnovers for some easy scores to take the pressure of Kaepernick and the offense. Perhaps that can be the spark that gets the 49ers going again.

Two takeaways in four games against seven giveaways is a trend that can’t continue. It’s just one more thing the 49ers need to work on. Head coach Jim Tomsula said as much this week.

“You don’t go around these things,” Tomsula said. “You go through them. So lock your jaw and keep going.”



<![CDATA[Despite Mistakes, Raiders' Murray Still Has Del Rio's Confidence]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 10:11:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*123/EllMooraye.jpg

If the Raiders are to take a big step forward in 2015 and contend for a playoff spot, they’ll need to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way.

But on Sunday in Chicago, the Raiders let a potential victory slip through their grasp.

In losing to the Bears 22-20, Oakland couldn’t protect a late 20-19 lead, allowing a long, late drive for a field goal.

And twice, the Raiders gave the ball to the Bears defense on first-down plays. As head coach Jack Del Rio noted to the Bay Area media Monday, those turnovers could have been the difference in the game.

One came when starting running back Latavius Murray fumbled a pitch from Derek Carr. The other came when a short Carr pass popped out of Murray’s hands and into the arms of a Bears defender.

“Two real, problem turnovers for us really eliminated first-down plays,” Del Rio said. “How many plays in that drive are you taking away? Six, seven, eight, nine? Who knows? Two drives taken off the board with a first-down turnover and just add that in right there … It (the game) might feel a little different, look a little different.”

Despite Murray’s two errors, Del Rio said the running back remains the team’s No. 1 ballcarrier. Though Roy Helu Jr. was in the Raiders’ backfield on the team’s final drive vs. Chicago Sunday, Del Rio said it was just a case of coaches believing Helu gave the team its best chance in the situation.

Del Rio told reporters he’s certain Murray will rebound this coming Sunday when the Raiders (2-2) play host to the 4-0 Denver Broncos (1:25 p.m. kickoff).

“I remain confident,” Del Rio said of Murray. “None of us are perfect. We all are capable of making mistakes. I think the sooner you own up to mistakes, the quicker you can put them behind you and move forward.”

After Sunday’s loss, that’s exactly what Murray did. He blamed himself for the loss, saying Oakland’s problems started “with turnovers.”

“I was the root of those,” he said. “It’s hard to win like that. I think that’s where it starts.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fantasy Sports Companies Dispute Allegations of Unfair Betting]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 09:29:37 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/FanDuel.jpg

Two companies in the booming, unregulated world of online fantasy sports issued statements Monday after recent allegations that employees may have access to insider data that could allow unfair, highly profitable bets. 

In the statement posted on FanDuel's website, the company said that despite "recent attention on industry employees," FanDuel — as well as a second sports site, DraftKings — valued "the integrity of the games we offer to our customers."

"Both companies have strong policies in place to ensure that employees do not misuse any information at their disposal and strictly limit access to company data to only those employees who require it to do their jobs," the statement said.

Photo Credit: File--AP]]>
<![CDATA[Yankees' CC Sabathia Checking Into Alcohol Rehab ]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 01:52:53 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sabathia+rehab+center.jpg

Yankees' CC Sabathia is checking into an alcohol rehabilitation center and will miss the postseason, the pitcher said Monday in a statement released by the team.

In the statement, the 35-year-old Sabathia said he was seeking "the professional care and assistance needed to treat my disease."

He said he wanted to thank the Yankees organization for "their encouragement and understanding."

Sabathia's move comes the day before the Yankees take on the Houston Astros in a critical one-and-done AL Wild Card game. It's the team's first postseason appearance since 2012.

“I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series," the 2007 AL Young Award winner said. "It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player."

Sabathia said it was difficult to publicly share his decision, but he didn't want to "run and hide." He also asked for privacy for him and his family.

“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you," Sabathia added. I want my kids -- and others who may have become fans of mine over the years -- to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do."

Sabathia was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA this year, slowed by his surgically repaired right knee. After returning from the disabled list and using a tighter brace, the portly left-hander was 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA in five starts and got the win against Boston that week that clinched the Yankees' return to the postseason following a rare two-year absence.

Sabathia, who helped New York win the 2009 World Series during his first season in the Bronx, is signed through next season. His deal includes a 2017 club option that would become guaranteed if his left shoulder doesn't get hurt.

"I am looking forward to being out on the field with my team next season playing the game that brings me so much happiness," Sabathia said. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Niners' Offensive Line is the Root of Offensive Struggles]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 09:11:25 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/booneandkapieqb.jpg

After four games, the 49ers offense is in disarray.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been sacked 14 times, and is coming off a loss to the Packers Sunday in which he was sacked six times and hit on seven more plays. That’s 13 sacks or hits, a huge number considering he had 25 pass attempts Sunday.

In addition, the 49ers’ running game – which looked so strong in the season opener when Carlos Hyde rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns – has been handcuffed. Since Game 1, Hyde has had rushing games of 43, 51 and 20 yards. Against the Packers, he carried the ball just eight times.

Though Kaepernick looks shaky, the offensive line has so far been the team’s weak link. Center Marcus Martin, right guard Jordan Devy and right tackle Erik Pears have been below-par performers, allowing a constant stream of pressure on Kaepernick. 

As Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle noted after Sunday’s 17-3 loss to Green Bay, the 49ers may finally be thinking of making some lineup changes. With 25 percent of the season now gone and San Francisco at 1-3 with Sunday’s game against the Giants coming up, the makeup of the offensive line might be the first place to start.

As left guard Alex Boone told the media after the loss to Green Bay, the 49ers still have no consistency of purpose or execution on offense.

“We are still trying to find our identity and that’s a (expletive) place to be,” said Boone. “Whatever it is, we better figure it out by tomorrow.”

Just three seasons ago, the offensive line was the strength of this offense. Left tackle Joe Staley remains the only holdover from that line still in his current position. Boone was moved from right guard to left guard in training camp. Martin is the starter by default, after the injury and long recovery of Daniel Kilgore. Pears was supposed to be a backup but became the starter when Anthony Davis retired this offseason. And Devey emerged late in training camp when other candidates flopped. Going into Sunday's game, Staley and Boone had positive overall grades from Pro Football Focus for their performance in the first three weeks. But Martin, Devey and Pears all had negative grades. 

To date, only Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (18) has been sacked more often than Kaepernick.

Bay Area News Group columnist Marcus Thompson noted that the Niners’ offense so far has been “hard on the eyes,” adding that “the 49ers offensive line couldn’t block a Twitter follower, let alone an actual defensive player.”

Four games into this season, and the offensive line – a problem in training camp and preseason games – is still a big problem. It may be time for a shakeup in the front five. Devey and Pears, especially, should be vulnerable. If not, the same problems are sure to keep occurring, over and over.

“We have to be able to throw the ball,” said head coach Jim Tomsula. “We have to be able to protect. We’ve got to be able to do those things and stay into an offense that is in rhythm.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Need to Tighten Late-Game Defense]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 09:08:17 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/beahrzsakq.jpg

The Raiders would be 3-1 this week, with three consecutive victories, if not for a late defensive lapse Sunday vs. the Bears in Chicago.

The question is, can the defense learn from its mistake so it doesn’t happen again?

The Raiders had just taken a 20-19 lead late in the fourth quarter, thanks to a 41-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal. After a touchback, the Bears began their next possession at their own 20-yard line with just over 2 minutes remaining in the game.

After Bears running back Matt Forte gained 6 yards on first down, Khalil Mack sacked Jay Cutler on second down for a yard loss, before Cutler’s third-down pass went incomplete. Chicago then faced a fourth-and-5 play from its own 25 with 1:30 left. But Cutler connected with tight end Martellus Bennett for 7 yards and a first down to keep the drive alive.

The Bears then picked their way downfield, moving to the Raiders’ 34 in seven plays to set up Robbie Gould’s game-winning 49-yard field goal in a 22-20 Chicago victory.

After the game, the Raiders knew they had let a victory slip away.

Oakland defensive end Justin Tuck told Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle that it was almost a helpless feeling as Cutler used short, quick drops and passes to avoid the Raiders pressure and keep the drive going.

“You try to get your hands up and bat one (pass) down,” he said. “But they dinked it and dunked it and took the defensive line out of it.”

And, the Bears knew where to go when they needed that crucial fourth-and-5 catch: Bennett.

Through four games, the Raiders have been unable to contain opponents’ tight ends. On Sunday, Bennett had a career-high 11 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. It’s the fourth straight game in which the Raiders linebackers have been unable to stop the tight end, and it certainly seems apparent that every opposing offensive coordinator knows that going in.

This Sunday, when the Raiders host the 4-0, AFC West-leading Broncos, tight end Owen Daniels – who has 12 catches for 61 yards and a touchdown so far this season – will likely be a big target for Peyton Manning.

Now, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio knows his team needs to rebound and get better at protecting a lead late in games. He liked his team’s effort in Chicago, but not the result.

“We came in, we played very hard, very gritty,” he told reporters. “We just didn’t make enough plays at the end.”

Especially when it came to covering the tight end on a fourth-and-5 play that could have sealed up victory No. 3.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Top NFL Photos: Week 4]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 21:19:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-491476626.jpg See the top photos from week 4 of the NFL.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners' Offense Goes Flat in Third Straight Defeat]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 07:15:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/paksakkapinsf.jpg

First-year 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula has a saying: “Own it, fix it, move on.”

He’s uttered it a few times already this season, including in the week leading up to the 49ers’ game Sunday against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium.

Certainly there had been a need to address the team’s woes after back-to-back blowout losses to the Steelers and Cardinals in Weeks 2 and 3 of this NFL season.

But as much as the 49ers may be owning their mistakes and moving on to their next challenge, the “fix it” part has been largely ignored.

That was evident Sunday, as the 49ers fell to the undefeated Packers 17-3 and now stand at 1-3, with a cross-country trip next on the agenda to play the New York Giants in Week 5.

Against the Packers, the 49ers’ defense did improve some from the past two weeks. After allowing quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer to carve up the secondary, the Niners’ defense tightened the clamps a little, allowing Aaron Rodgers to throw for "only" 224 yards and a touchdown – though the Eddie Lacy-led running game also did significant damage.

But what definitely hasn’t been fixed is the 49ers’ struggling offense.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, often under pressure (sacked six times and hit seven times), completed just 13-of-25 throws for 160 yards and was intercepted. Wide receiver Torrey Smith – acquired to give Kaepernick a deep threat and open up other routes – had only two catches. The running game was largely ignored, with Carlos Hyde getting just eight carries.

The offense was plagued by dropped passes, penalties and mistakes. Late in the game, the hometown fans were booing a team that only recently went to three consecutive NFC Championships and was considered one of the NFL’s best organizations.

Matt Barrows, who covers the 49ers for the Sacramento Bee, gave the 49ers offense a grade of D-minus Sunday, noting that “until the end, the play calls were conservative and Kaepernick hardly made any attempts downfield.”

Kaepernick was so inaccurate at times that longtime Bay Area columnist Ray Ratto compared him to former major league pitcher Steve Blass, who had to retire because he could no longer throw the ball over the plate.

Kaepernick’s biggest play of the first half, in fact, was a shovel pass of less than a foot that wound up going for 40 yards.

This week, Tomsula no doubt will again take ownership of the mistakes his team is making. Whether those mistakes can be fixed is still the big question.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders' Defense Can't Hold in 22-20 Loss to Bears]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 14:38:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Heluteedeechi.jpg

For the second straight week, it looked as if veteran safety Charles Woodson would be the hero for the Raiders.

After making a late interception a week earlier to preserve a victory in Cleveland, Woodson again came up with a fourth-quarter pick to kill a Bears drive and allow the Raiders to make a long drive for a go-ahead field goal.

It was the 62nd career interception for Woodson, who just recently turned 39.

Sebastian Janikowski’s 41-yard kick with 2:10 remaining gave Oakland a 20-19 lead.

But this time, the Raiders’ defense folded in the clutch.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler drove his team from its own 20 to the Raiders’ 32 with seven seconds left, from where Robbie Gould connected on a 50-yarder to give Chicago a 22-20 victory.

The big play came on fourth-and-5 from Chicago’s own 25, when Cutler connected with tight end Martellus Bennett for 7 yards.

The Bears – who entered the game winless and as underdogs – walked away with their first win of 2015.

Instead of being 3-1 heading into a showdown with AFC West rival Denver next week, the Raiders will have to settle for being 2-2.

The loss was a disappointment for an Oakland team that again produced offensively, yet fell short of winning consecutive road games for the first time since 2011.

Quarterback Derek Carr completed 20-of-33 throws for 196 yards and two touchdowns, with nine of those receptions picked by the combination of Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. Cooper and running back Roy Helu Jr. both scored TDs for Oakland.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[49ers Artifacts to be Displayed at SFO ]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 11:37:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/49ers+ex+2.jpg

Super Bowl 50 might be months away, but the San Francisco International Airport Museum is already gearing up for the game.

The museum recently acquired memorabilia from the 49ers Museum for a new exhibit titled “The Nation’s Game: The NFL from the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” which will be showing at the airport from Sept. 26 through Feb. 28.

A number of artifacts from the team’s history will be on display, including the now iconic helmet-shaped 49ers Field Vehicle, as well as team memorabilia from the 1960s and 1980s.

Non-49ers football fans will also have something to look at during their visit to the airport, museum officials said in a statement. In an effort to honor the NFL’s 95-year history, mementos from each of the league’s 32 teams will be on display. Fans can see Joe Montana’s home jersey, Terry Bradshaw’s cleats, Jim Brown’s shoulder pads and other items on loan from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The San Francisco Airport Museum was established by the Airport Commission in 1980 as part of efforts to humanize the airport environment, according to the museum.

Photo Credit: San Francisco 49ers Museum]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Hunt For Third Straight Victory vs. Struggling Bears]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 09:09:53 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/174*120/DeeKarrbearzz.jpg

For more than a decade the Raiders have been one of the NFL’s least successful teams. But as the 2-1 Raiders prepare to play at Chicago Sunday (10 a.m. kickoff), it’s the 0-3 Bears that now appear overmatched.

Chicago, hoping to avoid its first 0-4 start in 15 years – and coming off a 26-0 loss to the Seahawks -- is expected to be without No. 1 quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Alshon Jeffery, and this week traded defensive end Jared Allen and linebacker Jonathan Bostic.

The Bears’ offense has struggled under backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen and ranks 28th in the league. Clausen was just 9-of-17 for 63 yards last week and has been sacked four times since replacing Cutler in the second game.

Suddenly the Raiders – who broke a long road losing streak last week with a victory in Cleveland – are 3-point favorites on the road and come in with an offense that appears capable of putting up several touchdowns on Chicago, which is giving up a league-worst 35 points per game.

Over the past two games, second-year quarterback Derek Carr has thrown for 665 yards and five touchdowns with just one interception and rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper in that same span has 15 catches for 243 yards. Running back Latavius Murray, too, is on a roll, coming off a game in which he gained 139 yards.

This week, first-year Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said he’s excited about what he’s seen the last couple of weeks from his team, but doesn’t want his players to get complacent.

“There’s a lot of growth in front of us and we absolutely (have) to grind and push and continue to sacrifice, and as coaches we’re going to continue to demand,” he said. “We expect to play a lot better football as we go forward this season, and the only way you can do that is if you put in the work.”

On defense, the Raiders will be tasked with stopping Matt Forte, who gained 141 yards in the season opener against the Packers and is second in the NFL with 276 yards. He’s averaging 4.7 yards per carry and has four runs of 20 or more yards.

Cutler has a hamstring injury and isn’t expected to be ready to play Sunday. But Del Rio said this week he would “be shocked” not to see Cutler back in the lineup.

Certainly, Cutler’s return would give the Bears much more of a chance

“I think there’s a big diference between Jay Cutler and the other guys,” Del Rio said this week, talking about Clausen and No. 3 quarterback David Fales. “That’s not to slight them, but he’s a more accomplished player. Jay’s a good football player. He’s got tremendous arm talent. We want to make sure we’re prepared for him.”

If the Raiders can win Sunday to improve to 3-1, it would mark the first time Oakland has won three straight since 2011. It would also be the first time the Raiders would be over .500 for the first time since 2002 – the last year the franchise reached the postseason.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Slumping 49ers Face Undefeated Packers Sunday ]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 09:08:39 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/sfteamoffvariz.jpg

The 49ers have had good luck against the Green Bay Packers in recent years, and in fact have won the last four games against Aaron Rodgers & Co., including a 23-20 victory in January of 2014 in an NFC wild-card game.

But as the 1-2 49ers get set to host the 3-0 Packers Sunday afternoon (1:25 p.m. kickoff) at Levi’s Stadium, nobody is picking the Niners to come out on top.

Jim Tomsula’s team has been blown out the past two weeks and oddsmakers have made the Pack a whopping 9- to 9½-point favorite.

Right now, with San Francisco’s pass defense providing not much defense at all and quarterback Colin Kaepernick looking totally out of sync, it appears to be one of the week’s biggest NFL mismatches.

The 49ers have been outscored the past two weeks, in losses to Pittsburgh and Arizona, 90-25.

The 49ers defense is ranked 25th overall and 27th against the pass and will be matched against the league’s No. 9 offense and Rodgers, who has a 103.7 passer rating in six starts against San Francisco, including the playoffs.

The 49ers have been working all week to try to patch holes and clean up pass coverages, but Rodgers will be difficult to stop. He moves well in the pocket, buys extra time and is extremely accurate with his throws, even against heavy pressure.

“He’s very efficient,” 49ers defensive coordinator Eric Mangini told the media this week. “It’s one of those things, because even when you disrupt Aaron Rodgers, the plays he can make outside the pocket are different than some other guys.”

The 49ers collapse was a surprise after a season-opening victory over the Minnesota Vikings in which Kaepernick and the offense were efficient, and the defense was aggressive and effective, coming up with five sacks and locking down on opposing receivers.

Mangini this week said he’s been studying tapes of what the 49ers have done defensively in recent meetings with the Packers, in order to pick up ideas about what to do Sunday. He’s also been getting input from Tomsula, the former defensive line coach.

“You look at it from a scheme perspective and then you look at it from a personnel perspective and see where you can do the same things that were done before and where maybe it’s not going to work out quite the same way just because it’s different matchups,” Mangini said. “But you definitely try to draw on that.”

After losing in a big way to the Steelers two weeks ago, the 49ers said they had a lot of work to do – then were crushed in Arizona. This week, they’ve been saying the same things. Is there any reason to believe the 49ers will be a different – and much better – team against the Packers Sunday?

Certainly the NFL oddsmakers don’t think so.



<![CDATA[Golden State Warriors Photos]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 21:11:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/1001-2015-Warriors04.jpg Photo highlights from the 2015-2016 Golden State Warriors season.

Photo Credit: Ariel Nava]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors' Steve Kerr Taking Leave Because of Back Injury]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:35:47 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/186*120/473015512_594_screen.jpg

Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr will take a leave of absence from the team as he continues with rehabilitation and the recovery process of his back, the team announced on Thursday. The length of Kerr’s absence is unknown and will be based on his progress.

Kerr underwent surgery on his back to repair a ruptured disc in late July and a follow-up surgery in early September, the team stated.

“At this point, the most important thing is to make sure Steve is healthy, completely recovered and ready for not only the rigors of a long NBA season, but day-to-day life in general,” Warriors General Manager Bob Myers said in a statement. “We don’t anticipate the recovery process will be long term, but as of today we don’t know the exact timeframe. We’ll evaluate his progress daily and provide updates as necessary.”

Kerr realized he needs more time off.

“After the first two days of training camp, I realized I need to take a step back and focus on my rehabilitation in order to be ready for the grind of another NBA season,” Kerr said in a statement sent out by the team. “As I noted last week, my summer was difficult and no fun due to the multiple back surgeries. At this point, I simply want to get healthy and back to my normal daily routine on and off the court.”

Luke Walton, the team’s lead assistant coach, will serve as interim head coach in Kerr’s absence.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Armstead Beginning to Show Pass-Rushing Skills]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 09:35:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/172*120/arik1stsakk.jpg

There’s a lot wrong with the 49ers right now, and things may get much worse before they get better.

At 1-2, and coming off two consecutive blowout losses, the Niners’ offense is out of sync and the defense – particularly in pass coverage – is regularly giving up huge chunks of yardage while allowing opposing receivers to run free.

Now, the 49ers have a giant hurdle coming up this Sunday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium against the 3-0 Packers of quarterback Aaron Rodgers – an even better quarterback than Carson Palmer or Ben Roethlisberger, who both shredded San Francisco coverage schemes.

But in the midst of all the negative, there is at least one positive: No. 1 draft pick Arik Armstead appears to be improving at a rapid pace, and his emergence on the defensive line could give a big boost to the pass rush and help the shell-shocked secondary.

Armstead, the 3-4 defensive end from Oregon, is getting more playing time each week. In three games, he played 12 snaps against the Vikings in Game 1, 14 the next week against the Steelers and 18 in the loss to the Cardinals in Week 3.

He collected the first sack of his NFL career vs. Arizona, taking down Palmer, while also notching three pressures and two hurries in 13 pass rushes, according to Pro Football Focus, which gave him a plus-1.7 grade, the highest given to any 49ers defensive lineman in the game.

“I’m just getting more and more comfortaqble,” Armstead said this week. “The more and more I play, I’ll get more comfortable and settled in and able to do my job and try to help my team win.”

Armstead says he’s constantly learning in his first pro season. As a 3-4 defensive end, his job as a pass rusher often is to take the inside route, between the tackle and guard. There isn’t much call for finesse.

“It’s being quick,” he said. “It’s tight spaces when you’re inside. When you’re on the edge, you have a little more time to set up moves and things like that. It’s about being physical, violent and quick in those tight spaces.”

The 49ers certainly need sacks from Armstead – or any other defender, for that matter. Armstead’s sack of Palmer was the team’s sixth this season but first since the season opener, when San Francisco got to Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater five times.

The 49ers rank tied for 12th in the NFL with six sacks. Green Bay, meanwhile, is tied for third in the league, already with 11 sacks.

Kickoff for Sunday’s game is set for 1:25 p.m.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Actually Favored This Week on the Road]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 09:32:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/172*120/jahydeear.jpg

It’s starting to feel like this is a new era for the Oakland Raiders.

After three games, these Raiders of new head coach Jack Del Rio are 2-1 and can equal the team’s number of wins from 2014 this Sunday when they play the Bears in Chicago (10 a.m. kickoff).

It’s the first time the Raiders have a winning record in four seasons.

Plus, the new-look Raiders of Derek Carr, Latavius Murray, Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack are starting to get some love from the national media as a team on the rise.

ESPN’s Power Rankings, in fact, put Oakland at No. 16 in the NFL this week, up five sports from last week after a good win at Cleveland.

Elliot Harrison of ESPN wrote that, “These aren’t your pop’s Raiders. They aren’t your older brother’s Raiders, either.”

After praising the team’s young core of talent, Harrison noted it was a “wonderful team win” against the Browns, with a number of great performances.

“These guys still might not reach nine wins (if they did, it’d be for the first time since 2002), but they ain’t going 6-10, either,” he wrote.

Now, there’s another indication the Raiders’ train is picking up believers.

NFL oddsmakers this week have made Oakland a 3-point favorite to beat the 0-3 Bears. Given the Bears seem to be a mess – and Chicago QB Jay Cutler is still a question mark for the game – that may not seem all that special.

But as Bill Williamson of ESPN.com reported, it breaks a streak of 27 games in which the Raiders have been made underdogs by the oddsmakers. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune wrote that the last time the Raiders were favored on the road was for a Sept. 16, 2012 game at Miami – when the Dolphins crushed the Raiders, 35-13.

But Del Rio cautioned his players this week that they have to keep working hard to improve, and they can’t rest on their laurels or overlook the Bears – or any team, for that matter. Some Raiders fans may already be thinking a third victory is in the bag, but Del Rio isn’t.

“No, no,” Del Rio told reporters this week. “We’ve got way too much work to do. We respect everybody. We fear nobody. Certainly we understand (they have) a lot of talented players and coaches that work real hard. We’re going to do our best each and every week to prepare and put together the best active 46 we can and go compete.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Reliever Jeremy Affeldt Will Retire at Season's End]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 19:35:54 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/458060404_8.jpg

Jeremy Affeldt has often been the first one to come out to the dugout before games this season, both at home and on the road. He’ll walk out into the dugout, put his knee brace — one of two he needs to wear — in a safe spot, and then sit and sip coffee as teammates stream out onto the field.

It turns out Affleldt has been saying goodbye.

The 36-year-old left-hander announced his retirement Thursday morning. Affeldt is finishing up his 14th and final season and his seventh with the Giants. He served as a fill-in closer at times and now mostly pitches early relief innings, and in between Affeldt has handled — and handled well — just about every job imaginable in a bullpen. He has a 3.07 ERA in 412 appearances for the Giants.

Affeldt’s greatest accomplishments have come in the postseason. From Game 3 of the 2010 World Series through Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, he did not allow a run. The span of 22 scoreless postseason games totals 23 1/3 innings, includes just 11 hits, and finished with Affeldt being named the winning pitcher in Game 7 of last year’s World Series. He threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings that night before Madison Bumgarner took the Giants to the end, extending a streak surpassed only by Mariano Rivera.

This season has been another injury-marred one for Affeldt and he never got on track. He has a 6.09 ERA and injured his good knee in a lake accident, but that day shows a big reason why Affeldt is retiring. The Washington state native had flown home on an off day to spend a few hours with his three young sons and wife. Affeldt also does as much charity work off the field as any player in the Majors, and that surely will be a focus going forward. The Giants said he would discuss all this during a press conference later Thursday morning.

Affeldt’s contributions go beyond the field of play. He is a regular on ESPN’s season-ending list of strangest injuries and has had so many that the phrase “hamburger stabbing” is not out of place in stories about the left-hander. Teammates have good-naturedly made him a punching bag for years and Affeldt dishes it out just as hard.

It’s become a running gag for teammates to take shots at Affeldt when they take the stage at FanFest. This year, Affeldt was asked which teammate he wouldn’t want to share a room with on the road. He paused for a few seconds.

“Probably myself,” he said, smiling.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kristi Yamaguchi to Be Inducted in CA Hall of Fame]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 19:29:25 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Kristi_Yamaguchi_blurb_1.jpg

Olympic and world ice skating champion Kristi Yamaguchi will soon add a new medal to her extensive collection.

Yamaguchi, who grew up in Fremont, will receive a Spirit of California medal when she is inducted into the California Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the California Museum in Sacramento on Oct. 28.

An exhibit featuring Yamaguchi and other inductees opens on Oct. 29, according to the Sacramento Bee

Yamaguchi is scheduled to co-host an ABC special called "Shall We Dance on Ice" alongside "Dancing With the Stars" dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy in December to air in February, according to The Wrap.

Photo Credit: Cindy Barrymore ]]>
<![CDATA['Deflategate' Appeal Date Set]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 08:28:10 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-486084636.jpg

The "Deflategate" appeal could be heard as early as Super Bowl week, according to an expedited appeal process that was approved this week.

The NFL had asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for an expedited hearing in its appeal of a federal judge's decision to nix New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's "Deflategate" suspension. Brady and the union agreed with the proposed schedule.

The appeals court approved the expedited schedule on Tuesday. The schedule calls for the NFL's opening brief to be filed by Oct. 26, 2015, and Brady and the union's answer to be filed by Dec. 7. The NFL's reply brief is then due by Dec. 21.

The appeal could be heard as early as the week of Feb. 1, 2016. Super Bowl 50 is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 7.

U.S. District Judge Richard Berman lifted Brady's 4-game suspension earlier this month, saying NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell dispensed "his own brand of industrial justice" when Brady was punished for using underinflated footballs in a game during last season's playoffs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SF Giants Eliminated From Playoff Contention]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 22:19:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/GettyImages-490595428.jpg

Madison Bumgarner gave up three homers, while Clayton Kershaw struck out 12 in a one-hitter as the Dodgers won the NL West Tuesday.

Tuesday's loss eliminated the Giants from playoff contention.

Visit NBC Bay Area's Giants page for more team coverage.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Red Sox Manager Meets Obama at Hotel Gym]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 17:49:26 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/165*120/obama+red+sox+mannager.jpg

Just like any other morning on a Boston Red Sox road trip, interim manager Torey Lovullo woke up and headed for the gym at the team hotel.

Only this time, he met a new exercise partner during an unforgettable workout that was anything but routine.

When Lovullo arrived to lift weights, there was President Barack Obama pumping iron in a long-sleeve T-shirt and sweats. Lovullo introduced himself and talked baseball with Obama, who was in New York this week for his annual trip to the United Nations.

Lovullo says they had a great conversation and he asked Obama when he would be leaving town, because all the security in place was making it awfully inconvenient to come and go and even grab a cup of coffee.

After their chat, Lovullo took a photo with the president. 

Photo Credit: Mike Hazen/Boston Red Sox via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Wright's Situation With 49ers is All Wrong]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 08:46:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/shayright.jpg

Back in April, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke was positive he’d made a good move by signing veteran cornerback Shareece Wright.

The former Charger had started 27 games in the previous four seasons in San Diego and was penciled in as a starter opposite holdover Tramaine Brock.

“(I) feel very good about Shareece as a player,” Baalke told reporters. He even compared Wright’s signing to the free-agent signing of Carlos Rogers a few seasons earlier. Rogers, formerly of Washington, came to the 49ers and made an immediate impact as a Pro Bowl cornerback in his first season in San Francisco, and played a big role in the team’s rise and participation in three consecutive NFC Championship Games.

However, nearly six months after the signing of Wright, it appears it will pay no dividends whatsoever.

In training camp and exhibition games, Wright was surpassed by young cornerbacks Kenneth Acker, Dontae Johnson and Keith Reaser.

So far, he hasn’t played a down in San Francisco’s first three regular-season games, having been placed on the inactive list before each. Even though the 49ers’ secondary has been torched the past two games and the team is searching for somebody to step up and make a difference in the secondary, Wright hasn’t been given his opportunity.

Obviously, he’s lost whatever confidence the coaching staff and front office had in him when he was signed this past spring.

Now, the NFL Network, citing sources, is reporting Wright wants to be traded or released – not a surprise, considering his comment on Twitter Sunday after he was told he would be inactive.

Wright tweeted his disappointment, writing: “politics as usual.” He later deleted the tweet, but it was too late.

Niners head coach Jim Tomsula, when asked about Wright’s situation and told about the “politics” tweet, said: “That is an incorrect statement. It had nothing to do with anything. I made the decision to put the guys up that I thought gave us the best chance of winning the football game.”

Now it appears the only question is when the 49ers will part ways with the 28-year-old defensive back. Even though the 49ers will need all the secondary help they can get this Sunday against the undefeated Packers at Levi’s Stadium, it’s hard to see Tomsula and Co. putting Wright out on the field.


<![CDATA[Aldon Smith Starting to Make a Difference for Raiders]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 08:00:42 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/171*120/cleveandaldonsmth.jpg

The Raiders defense had five sacks in Oakland’s 27-20 victory over the Browns this past Sunday, and linebacker/defensive end Aldon Smith had none of them.

Yet the former 49ers pass rushing phenom appears to be starting to make a positive impact on the defense after signing just before Game 1 of the regular season.

Smith had two quarterback hurries, batted down a pass by Josh McCown and had a tackle for a loss while being used primarily as an outside linebacker in the Raiders’ 4-3 scheme.

Since signing with the Raiders, Smith – an outside linebacker in the 49ers’ 3-4 alignment – has played both defensive end and outside linebacker.

The analytics website Pro Football Focus gave Smith an overall negative grade for the game at minus-2.9, but as James Arcellana of SB Nation noted, that negative grade is a bit deceiving.

“He clearly still has some rust to break through after spending the preseason not playing football, but with every week that passes, you see more and more of the Aldon Smith who tore the league up while playing with the San Francisco 49ers,” wrote Arcellana this week. “As the season progresses, Smith should as well, and it will mean a lot to a defense that needs to improve in every way possible.”

If the 2-1 Raiders can get Smith on track, the combination of Smith and Khalil Mack – who had two sacks against the Browns – should give defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. a terrific pair of pass rushers to move around the field to attack offenses and take the pressure off Oakland's secondary.

Before the game against Cleveland, Smith acknowledged he wasn’t quite where he needed to be yet, but was getting closer.

“I’m trying to get a sack on Sunday, so we got to perfect this stuff,” he said. “We got to do the little things right to make it happen in Cleveland.”

That’s exactly what happened, as Mack, Malcolm Smith, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Neiron Ball got to the quarterback.

Now, it may be Smith’s turn this Sunday, when the Raiders take on the Bears in Chicago (10 a.m. kickoff).


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Santa Clara Police Chief Says Levi's Stadium is Safe]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 23:27:53 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Levisfanz.jpg

Violence at Levi's Stadium is raising big concerns about fan safety.

Cell phone video of San Francisco 49ers fans beating a Minnesota Vikings fan at Levi's Stadium that went viral earlier this month has the attention of the Santa Clara Stadium Authority. Members of the stadium authority issued a memo to city leaders asking what can be done to improve safety.

A report presented late Tuesday by Santa Clara Police Chief Michael Sellers insists the stadium is a safe venue.

The chief's report said more than 830,000 fans have attended 13 NFL games at Levi's Stadium. During those games police responded to more than 1,800 calls for service and arrested 319 people.

Most of the arrests were for people being drunk in public, according to the chief's report.

Sellers said focusing on alcohol-related issues will improve safety at the stadium. The chief also said it is important to remind troublemakers they will be prosecuted.

"If they assault, prosecute," Sellers said. "If they're season ticket holders, revoke season tickets."

The chief said three 49ers season ticket holders linked to violence have lost their seats.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kaepernick Memoir Due in 2016]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 18:52:53 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/177*120/no7throws.jpg

The Niners will soon have a new author on the team.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is set to pen his first memoir, "Different." It's scheduled to be released in hardcover and on e-book by HarperOne on June 14, 2016 and is available for pre-order now.

Kaepernick is the first team member of the 49ers to publish a book since Joe Montana, who has four books to his credit. He's already the subject of numerous unauthorized biographies.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Defense is Starting to Gain Momentum]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 11:44:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/chwoodpikvbrownz.jpg

The Raiders offense was the unit receiving most of the applause Sunday in the team’s victory over the Cleveland Browns.

Quarterback Derek Carr, wide receiver Amari Cooper and running back Latavius Murray were electric in the team’s 27-20 victory.

But for the first time this season, the Oakland defense also appeared to be on the verge of big things.

Now, as the Raiders (2-1) prepare to play the Bears this Sunday in Chicago (10 a.m. kickoff), the defensive unit has some momentum from a strong performance in Ohio.

The defense, led by linebacker Khalil Mack's two sacks, had five sacks – after the team had none in its first two games. And, the Raiders’ pass coverage was more effective. Plus, veteran safety Charles Woodson came up with a victory-ensuring interception late in the fourth quarter.

Head coach Jack Del Rio was excited by the strides his defense made Sunday.

“I think the pressure was really strong throughout the day,” said Del Rio. “… It’s getting better. The coverage was good for a long portion. We had a few lapses there and some things that we’ll correct, but all in all I thought it was a really good effort.”

Del Rio also pointed to a goal-line stand made by Oakland late in the second quarter. Cleveland had first-and-goal at the Raiders’ 1 with 2:25 remaining, but had to settle for a field goal. Then the Raiders got the ball right back and drove for a touchdown. Taiwan Jones had a 35-yard kickoff return, Murray ran for 20 yards, Carr hit Seth Roberts for 36 yards and then 10 yards and, after a 1-yard run by Marcel Reece, Carr connected with Roberts again for a 13-yard TD play.

That gave Oakland a 17-3 lead at the half.

“I think getting them to stop and then offensively going down and scoring ourselves was a big turnaround,” Del Rio said. “It was excellent football for our defense to not yield once we let them down there and forcing them to kick the field goal. Offensively, we took that opportunity very efficiently and got seven points.”

The Raiders now have an opportunity to improve to 3-1. The struggling Bears are 0-3, have been outscored 105-46, are without starting quarterback Jay Cutler and are coming off a 26-0 loss to the Seahawks.

Already, the Raiders are listed by oddmakers at 2 to 2½-point favorites.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Offseason Hopes for Kaepernick Crumbled vs. Cardinals]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 11:37:28 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Kappysakkards.jpg

Colin Kaepernick went to school this offseason, hoping to raise his game to a new level.

He worked on his footwork and his delivery. His spent several weeks studying with former NFL MVP Kurt Warner to refine his skills at reading defenses, standing in the pocket and improving his accuracy and quickness in delivery.

And, over the first two weeks of the 2015 NFL season, it appeared he might, indeed, be a more refined quarterback.

And then Sunday happened.

In the 49ers’ embarrassing 47-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Kaepernick threw four interceptions – two that were returned for touchdowns early in the game – and he looked again like the quarterback of 2014 who had seemed so out of rhythm in some of San Francisco’s worst games. The Cardinals' defensive backs even told reporters they knew exactly what the 49ers and Kaepernick would do in the passing game, and called is a "simplified" offense.

As he always does, Kaepernick took the blame for the defeat on himself. He didn’t point fingers. And first-year head coach Jim Tomsula defended Kaepernick.

“Colin is our quarterback,” Tomsula told a writer for the 49ers website. “I think the world of that guy. … He’s a competitive guy. Colin’s a guy that has a tendency to put it all on his back.”

But with the 49ers now 1-2, Kaepernick will have to come out with a sterling performance this Sunday afternoon against the Packers at Levi’s Stadium to regain his confidence and quiet the skeptics, many of whom now believe the QB may not have advanced at all, despite all the offseason work.

After watching Sunday’s debacle, columnist Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group noted that when the 49ers quickly found themselves in a 21-0 hole, San Francisco decided to revert to establishing the run game, a strange occurrence, and suggested the 49ers at that point just didn’t trust their $18 million-a-year QB “to throw a downfield pass.”

Wrote Kawakami: “That is how horrible QBs make a team horrible and yes, I know, it also works the other way: Horrible teams make QBs horrible.”

Added Kawakami: “You think (offiensive coordinator Geep) Chryst and QB coach Steve Logan are going to fix him now?”

Meanwhile, columnist Marcus Thompson III of the Bay Area News Group suggested the 49ers’ disaster Sunday is the result of the larger problems of the entire organization.

“Kaepernick isn’t alone in the mess,” he wrote. “The 49ers have several donkeys on which to pin the tail, and the place to start is at the top. Yes, this is all fruit from a poisonous tree. This is the produce from two years of mismanagement. Trickle-down NFL economics.”

To be sure, there is a lot of time left in this season. Over the next 13 games, perhaps the 49ers will find their stride. The cornerbacks will improve, the offensive line will begin to give Kaepernick some time and the pass rush will develop.

But right now, the 49ers also need to see Kaepernick put up a big game this Sunday against Green Bay.

Wrote Conor Orr of NFL.com: “The walls are closing in on this team very quickly. There’s no true respite for the 49ers until a Dec. 6 matchup against the Bears. In between, games against Green Bay, at the Giants, vs. Baltimore, St. Louis and Atlanta all pose unique problems for a team that can’t seem to find an identity.

“All we know for sure is that for now, whatever identity they’ll find needs to include Colin Kaepernick.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nationals Suspend Papelbon After Scuffle With Harper]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 11:27:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/20150927+Papelbon+Harper.jpg

The Washington Nationals suspended relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon for four games without pay for his dugout fight with outfielder Bryce Harper during Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Papelbon also accepted a three-game suspension from Major League Baseball for appearing to intentionally throw at the Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado Wednesday.

"The behavior exhibited by Papelbon yesterday is not acceptable," Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement. "That is not at all in line with the way our players are expected to conduct themselves, and the Nationals organization will not tolerate it in any way."

Harper will not be in the lineup for Monday's game against the Cincinnati Reds, manager Matt Williams said.

Harper was returning to the dugout after flying out to right field in the eighth inning when Papelbon began yelling at the right fielder. The two exchanged words before Papelbon pushed Harper against the dugout wall and had to be separated by teammates.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Papelbon gave up a two-run home run to give the Phillies the lead.

Williams said he did not see the extent of the fight until after the game. Had he known what had happened, Williams said he would not have sent Papelbon back out to pitch the ninth.

Papelbon was ejected from Wednesday's game after hitting Machado's arm. He initially appealed that suspension.

The suspensions from the league and the team mean Papelbon will not be available to pitch in the seven remaining games of the season. He will not join the team on the road trip starting Tuesday, Williams said.

The Nationals were eliminated from playoff contention in Saturday’s game.

Papelbon joined the Nationals via a trade from the Phillies in the middle of the season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Young Playmakers Carry Raiders Past Browns]]> Sun, 27 Sep 2015 18:07:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/174*120/amaribrownzzz.jpg

In recent years, the Oakland Raiders haven’t had many playmakers. In a decade-plus of dormancy, the silver and black often have lacked the talent to compete with winning franchises.

Now it seems they’re blessed with a half dozen or so young players with the elite talent to change a game at a moment’s notice.

On Sunday in Cleveland, the Raiders beat the Browns 27-20 to improve to 2-1 on this season, and notch their first victory in the Eastern time zone since 2009 at Pittsburgh. The victory broke a 16-game Eastern zone losing streak. They’re also just one win away from tying their total for all of 2014.

And at the heart of the Raiders victory in Cleveland – their first in the city since 1985 -- were young playmakers such as quarterback Derek Carr, wide receiver Amari Cooper, running back Latavius Murray and linebacker Khalil Mack. All loomed large in the decision.

Carr completed 20-of-32 throws for 314 yards and two touchdowns, Cooper – who’s fulfilling all expectations, and more, for his first season – had eight catches for 134 yards, Murray rushed for 139 yards and Mack had two sacks to lead an Oakland D that got to Browns QB Josh McCown four times.

Plus, many of those plays were for big yards. Cooper had a TD catch of 40 yards, and Murray broke loose on one play for 54. Carr, meanwhile, had completions of 55, 40 and 36 yards.

With back-to-back 100-yard games, Cooper is the first Raiders receiver to do that since Randy Moss in 2005. He’s also the first rookie in the NFL to have two 100-yard receiving games since 2008, when DeSean Jackson did it for the Eagles.

Cooper and free-agent acquisition Michael Crabtree (four catches, 36 yards Sunday) have completely opened up the options downfield for Carr.

Tweeted NFL.com’s Around The NFL group during the game: “Amari Cooper after the catch is just crazy. The best possible gift a GM could have gotten a second-year QB.”

The sudden wealth of playmakers also is a testament to general manager Reggie McKenzie’s draft talents the past three seasons. Though McKenzie has whiffed on some free-agent moves, he has struck gold with Cooper (this year), Carr and Mack (2014) and Murray (2013). Each year under his leadership, the talent on the roster has deepened. 

Now, the Raiders will try to keep their momentum rolling next Sunday when they play the Bears in Chicago.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Picked Off and Pounded in the Desert]]> Sun, 27 Sep 2015 18:01:05 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Mathieupikkk.jpg

Long before the 49ers took the field in Arizona Sunday, the Cardinals were excited for the opportunity to let San Francisco know that they are the big dogs in the NFC West now.

The Cardinals, undefeated through their first two games, hoped to jump on the 49ers in a big way and take early control of the NFC West.

“We understand how important this game is,” Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson told reporters in the days leading up to the game. “We’re definitely not looking at this game as another game on the schedule.”

Then they went out and proved it.

In a game that was ugly for the 49ers from start to finish, San Francisco was pounded 47-7 to fall to 1-2. And the past two losses have been convincing decisions that leave 49ers fans wondering if their team can find its way out of a deep, early-season hole. After the 49ers beat Minnesota in Game 1, they’ve now lost to Pittsburgh and Arizona in consecutive weeks by a combined score of 90-25.

It’s the most combined points allowed by the 49ers in consecutive weeks since 1980.

On the 49ers’ first possession, quarterback Colin Kaepernick – who hadn’t been picked off in the first two games – was intercepted by Justin Bethel, who returned the ball 21 yards to give Arizona a 7-0 lead. On the Niners’ next possession, Kaepernick threw another pick-six, this one to Tyrann Mathieu, which was returned 33 yards.

Down 14-0, the 49ers never recovered. The Arizona offense never let up and San Francisco's offense never found consistency. In the second quarter, running back Chris Johnson scored two touchdowns en route to giving Arizona a 31-7 lead at the half. Quarterback Carson Palmer then connected with wideout Larry Fitzgerald for two scores in the second half on the way to the lopsided victory.

Kaepernick, meanwhile, threw four interceptions, was sacked twice and completed just 9-of-19 throws for 67 yards.

About the only offensive highlight for San Francisco was a 37-yard punt return from former Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne in the second quarter that set up the 49ers’ only TD of the game, a 12-yard run by Kaepernick.

Things won’t get easier for the 49ers, though they at least get to come home after two horrible road outings. They will play host to the 2-0 Packers (who play the Chiefs Monday night) this coming Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Harper, Papelbon Scuffle in Nationals Dugout]]> Sun, 27 Sep 2015 17:46:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/20150927+Papelbon+Harper.jpg

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon fought in the dugout during Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Harper was returning to the dugout after flying out to right field in the 8th inning when Papelbon began yelling at the right fielder. The two exchanged words before Papelbon pushed Harper against the dugout wall and had to be separated by teammates.

In the bottom of the 9th, Papelbon gave up a two-run home run to give the Phillies the lead.

The Nationals were eliminated from playoff contention in Saturday’s game.

Papelbon joined the Nationals via a trade from the Phillies in the middle of the season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Top NFL Photos: Week 3]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 08:17:26 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-490376700.jpg See the best photos from professional football during Week 3 of the NFL.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>