<![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 Tue, 30 Sep 2014 04:48:24 -0700 Tue, 30 Sep 2014 04:48:24 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Wrigley Field Renovation Begins]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 02:00:11 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Wrigley_reno_.jpg

Construction on the $575 million Wrigley Field renovation project officially went into high gear Monday.

The Chicago Cubs wasted zero time between the end of the baseball season last week and the start of construction.

Over the next six months, workers will expand the bleachers in both outfields, push the stadium's footprint further onto both Waveland Avenue and Sheffield, and lay the foundation for seven new outfield signs along with a 2,400 square foot video scoreboard in right field. The Red and Purple parking lots will also be excavated to make room for underground players' locker rooms and lounges.

Some fans are excited about the changes but others are worried about losing the historic venue's character.

"I don't want to see it get too doctored up with too much commercial-ness, but I appreciate what they're trying to do. I support the Ricketts," a Cubs fan told NBC 5 near the stadium.

"I just think the neighborhood feel of the ballpark's going to be greatly diluted, or maybe disappear," another fan said.

A pending lawsuit looms over the project. Eight nearby rooftop owners are suing the city claiming the project violates their profit-sharing agreement with the team.

The first phase of renovations is expected to completed by Opening Day 2015.

<![CDATA[Maybe the Raiders Will be Better in England]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:26:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/455871104.jpg

The Raiders have crossed an ocean and landed in another country, yet their situation remains the same as it was in the USA.


At 0-3, Oakland desperately needs a win.


After letting a first potential win slip away in New England in Week 3, the Raiders are searching for something -- anything -- to turn this season around.


“This game is all about momentum and confidence,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen told reporters in England this week, where the Raiders are preparing to play the Miami Dolphins Sunday morning (Bay Area time). “That’s what winning does, it builds momentum and builds confidence. That’s what our primary focus is. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’ll put a good game plan together. Hopefully we’ll go out and perform as well as we can and hopefully we will get that win this week.”


The Raiders’ losing streak is up to nine, dating to 2013, and if they’re going to break it they’ll have to do it with a banged-up linebacking corps. Three of the team’s top linebackers -- Nick Roach, Sio Moore and Miles Burris -- could be out Sunday, putting extra pressure on a defense that finally showed last week that it might be stabilizing.


After giving up big chunks on the ground to the Jets and Texans in the first two games of the season, Oakland’s rushing defense was solid in the loss to the Patriots. Still, Oakland ranks 31st overall in rush defense in the NFL.


Offensively, quarterback Derek Carr will need to continue to improve. The Raiders offense is still searching for some rhythm. It’s converted just over 35 percent of its third-down plays and the Raiders are last in the NFL with just 37 points scored.


Carr told Bill Williamson of ESPN.com that all he’s hoping for Sunday is to do whatever he can to help get the Raiders their first victory.


“Hopefully we’ll get it this week,” he said. He added that with “75 percent of our season still out there,” getting the first win Sunday vs. Miami is crucial to a one-step-at-a-time approach to improvement.


But that will mean beating the Dolphins, who are 1-2 and coming off a 34-15 loss to Kansas City. Though they’ve had their own problems offensively, too, with quarterback Ryan Tannehill in danger of losing his starting job, Miami has been able to run the ball. Running back Lamar Miller rushed for 108 yards vs. the Chiefs last week and Miami is averaging 5.22 yards per carry.


So, no matter who’s playing linebacker for the Raiders Sunday, stopping the run and forcing Tannehill to go to the air will be a key for Oakland to get its first victory.


NFL oddsmakers, however, have made the Raiders 3½-point underdogs.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Unveil New Uniforms on Twitter - at Twitter]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:59:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/2014-09-29_12-58-53.jpg

The Golden State Warriors unveiled the basketball team's new uniform on Twitter - at Twitter.

The alternate uniforms - slate gray - were revealed at an exclusive event at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco on Sunday, the NBA posted on its website. Warriors spokesman Ray Ridder said on Monday that the standard yellow-and-blue jerseys will be worn 95 percent of the time; the alternate outfits are for a small number of other occasions.

Dubbed as an "industry first," the Warriors invited social media "influencers' to join Warriors forward Harrison Barnes to reveal the Adidas-made alternate uniforms, which will be debuted when the team faces the Charlotte Hornets at home on Nov. 15.

Slate, according to the team, "represents not only the technology and innovation synonymous with the Bay Area, but also the body armor for the team on the court."

“We have the best fans in the NBA, and with Twitter and other social media giants being headquartered in our backyard, it made sense for us to allow the power of Twitter and social media, along with our fans, to tell the story of our latest alternate uniform,” said Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts.

The Warriors were also in the news last week when the architectural drawings for a future stadium in San Francisco drew criticism that the plans for the arena looked like a toilet.

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<![CDATA[Niners Go Back to their Future]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 08:27:44 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/gorevphilie.jpg

When the 49ers have been lost, Frank Gore has led them home.

In a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, the veteran running back did it again.

After two consecutive losses, to the Bears and Cardinals in which the Niners seemed to lose their identity, head coach Jim Harbaugh’s team looked like itself again in beating the Eagles and getting back to .500 at 2-2.

And the 49ers did it with a proven formula: Give the ball to Gore on offense while stopping the run on defense.

Nothing fancy, just an old-fashioned, winning, physical formula.

After playing with four- and five-wide receiver sets last week at Arizona, the 49ers went back to basics on offense to beat the Eagles. In the previous two games, Gore had 19 carries. Against Philadelphia he carried the ball 24 times for 119 yards and also took a pass 55 yards for a touchdown.

As quarterback Colin Kaepernick said after the game, “Putting the ball in (number) 21’s hands is a good thing.”

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin said that was the Niners’ plan all week. They wanted to establish the ground game, use two-tight end sets and run straight at the Eagles to control the game and keep Philly’s spread offense off the field.

“That was our mindset, just getting him (Gore) back on the ball and getting him touches, making sure we controlled the line of scrimmage,” Boldin told Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today.

After Sunday’s game, Gore was a happy man, a big difference from Week 3 when he could barely speak after the loss to the Cardinals.

“This was a must-win,” he told San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ann Killion. “We played as one. And I think from this game, moving forward, you’ll see a lot of that.”

This has happened before in the Harbaugh era with the 49ers. Sometimes, Gore gets forgotten. Either San Francisco falls behind early and abandons the running game, or it goes off on a side track with the passing game. When that’s happened, the 49ers have struggled. But when Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman commit to the run – and give the ball to Gore – he delivers.

That’s what happened Sunday, and that’s what opponents may see more often going forward. Expect Gore to again be busy this coming Sunday at Levi’s Stadium against the Chiefs.

Peter King, of Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback, noted that it wasn’t surprising that Harbaugh’s 49ers responded to adversity with a victory. Last season, the 49ers started 1-2 but rebounded to finish 12-4.

Wrote King: “One thing you learn about the Niners under Jim Harbaugh in his three and a quarter seasons as coach: They don’t stay bad for long. The win over Philadelphia proved again that when the 49ers face adversity, they respond pretty well. In 52 regular-season NFL games coached by Harbaugh, he’s never had a three-game losing streak.”

And part of that goes to Harbaugh’s core philosophy: run the ball on offense. Give it to No. 21.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Reece's Invisibility in Offense is a Raiders Failure]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 08:26:58 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/190*120/invisreeceM.jpg

If Dennis Allen is on his way out soon as Raiders head coach -- as some reports have suggested since Sunday’s blowout loss in London -- there will be many reasons.

He has just eight wins in three-plus seasons, the team isn’t making any forward progress and his coaching decisions have often been questionable.

Also, one recurring theme has been the use – or non-use – of versatile Marcel Reece.

Reece is a Pro Bowl fullback, but he’s actually much more than that. He’s a former college wide receiver who can be a mismatch for linebackers trying to cover him downfield in the passing game, plus he can be a quality running back. In times when injuries have depleted Raiders running backs, Reece has filled in and been even more productive than those who regularly carry the ball.

Yet one question has continued to pop up over the past three years: Why don’t the Raiders use Reece more?

Over the first two games this season, Reece had one carry for zero yards and three catches for 12 yards. In a close loss to the Patriots in Week 3 he had a season-high four touches, with one carry for 7 yards and three catches for 19. But on Sunday in Oakland’s fourth straight loss he again was forgotten: zero carries and one reception for 5 yards.

On a team with few elite offensive weapons, the non-use of Reece is a mystery.

The Raiders obviously believe in him from an organizational standpoint, because they re-signed him to a four-year extension in the offseason. But if the Raiders aren’t in their base offense, Reece often is just standing on the sidelines watching.

Recently, offensive coordinator Greg Olson told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group that Reece hasn’t been forgotten. He’s often part of their structured game plan. But when the situation changes during a game – in other words, the Raiders get behind early – the game plan changes.

“It’s still there,” Olson said of Reece’s role. “I’m aware of it. … There were plays that were designed for him but didn’t end up going there.”

For his part, Reece always has said the right things. As long as the team is winning, he’s fine, he says. He doesn’t have to have a starring role.

But what really is getting to Reece is the Raiders’ continuous free fall. At 0-4, Oakland looks incapable of winning a game. After a bye this weekend, the Raiders’ next opportunity will be against the Chargers in Oakland on Sunday, Oct. 12.

After Sunday’s loss in London to the Dolphins, Reece vented.

“It’s embarrassing to us,” Reece told a reporter after the loss. “It’s embarrassing to the owner. It’s embarrassing to our fans, so many of whom came all the way out there and we didn’t give them anything to be proud of.

“We didn’t give them anything to root for. I feel bad for the fans mostly. They’re so loyal and deserving. We’re not giving them anything right now.”

What Allen might give the fans, at least, is more opportunities to see what Reece can do with the football in his hands. He’s proven he can make plays.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jets' Geno Smith Curses at Fan]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 05:33:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Geno-Smith-Lashes-Out-0925.jpg

Geno Smith completely lost his cool — and maybe a bit of his grip on the Jets' starting quarterback job.

Frustrated after a third straight loss and calls for his backup increasing, Smith was caught by a TV camera yelling an expletive at a heckler in the stands as he walked off the MetLife Stadium field following a 24-17 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

"Before we start this off, first of all I want to apologize if any kids saw me saying any negative remarks walking off the field," Smith said to open his postgame news conference. "I kind of let my temper get the best of me in that situation, and it's a part of my learning process."

Smith had two more turnovers as chants of "We Want Vick!" echoed throughout the stadium at times, perhaps none louder than after he was intercepted by Darius Slay in the fourth quarter.

"That stuff, to me, is B.S.," wide receiver Eric Decker said of the chants.

Asked what he thought when he heard the calls for Vick, defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was blunt.

"Shut up," Richardson said. "If that's the case, produce a child who can come and make it to the NFL and let's see what he's got. Other than that, just shut up."

Vick didn't get into this one, and coach Rex Ryan confirmed that Smith will start again for the Jets (1-3) next Sunday at San Diego despite his struggles.

"No, I'm not going to replace him," Ryan said. "I feel good about Geno. I think he will get it turned (around). He's a tough, resilient young man. I think we're going to win. We'll win soon."

Smith was 17 of 33 for 209 yards, including an 11-yard TD pass to Decker, but threw an interception and lost a fumble — giving him seven turnovers in four games.

That's what has many fans frustrated, tired of the mistakes being made by the second-year quarterback.

"He's got to keep his composure, no matter how frustrated he gets," Richardson said. "But it happens."

Despite the skid and the struggles, the Jets players insist they still believe in Smith as the starting quarterback.

"One hundred percent, yeah," Decker said. "It's hard to see him take, really, all the criticism. It's not just him. Everyone is doing this together. ... We've got to make some plays for him, take some pressure off him."

Matthew Stafford got the Lions up and down the field — even without Calvin Johnson being much of a factor.

Stafford threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score and the Lions overcame Johnson being limited by an ankle injury. Jeremy Ross and Eric Ebron caught scoring passes for the Lions, who are off to a 3-1 start for the second straight season. Stafford finished 24 of 34 for 293 yards, and appeared unfazed by his top receiver being in and out of the game.

Johnson was clearly impeded by his injured ankle, which had him questionable for the game. He had just two catches for 12 yards, but Golden Tate picked up for him, catching eight passes for 116 yards.

"We knew Calvin was going to be limited today and we were hoping to not have to use him unless it was an emergency," wide receiver Golden Tate said. "I think we responded well."

The Jets, who made it close on Chris Johnson's 35-yard run with 6:58 left, fell to 1-3 for the first time in Ryan's six seasons as coach.

New York stayed in it by scoring on its first possession of the second half, an 11-yard touchdown from Smith to Decker midway through the third quarter that made it 17-10.

But the Lions reclaimed control on Stafford's 1-yard run for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to give Detroit a 24-10 lead. Stafford's run — upheld by video review — capped a 14-play, 90-yard scoring drive.

"We have the ability," Decker said. "It's about executing the plays. Period."

NOTES: On New York's next possession after Slay's interception, former Jets safety James Ihedigbo had a strip sack of Smith on New York's next possession. The fumble was recovered by Darryl Tapp. ... Jets WR David Nelson (left ankle) and S Calvin Pryor (thigh) left and didn't return. CB Antonio Allen also had a significant limp after the game. Lions RB Joique Bell was being evaluated for a head injury, while running back Theo Riddick and fullback Montell Owens left with hamstring injuries. Neither coach had any updates.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Finally, 49ers are Recognizable]]> Sun, 28 Sep 2014 17:49:10 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/9ersoverIggles.jpg

For the first time since Week 1, the 49ers looked like the 49ers.

The San Francisco defense not only was rock solid but saved the game with a late goal-line stand, Frank Gore was a battering ram and this time Jim Harbaugh’s crew played a full game after two consecutive second-half collapses.

The result was a 26-21 49ers victory over the previously undefeated Philadelphia Eagles, their first regular-season win at Levi’s Stadium, and a return to .500 at 2-2.

The 49ers trailed at halftime, 21-13, but this time came on strong over the final two quarters.

Safety Antoine Bethea gets a huge assist. A couple of plays by the veteran safety may have turned the 49ers season around.

Early in the third quarter, Bethea rocked Eagles tight end Zach Ertz after a reception, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Perrish Cox at the Eagles’ 23-yard line. The 49ers converted that to a touchdown, with Colin Kaepernick connecting with Stevie Johnson on a terrific tiptoe catch in the corner of the end zone.

Later in the quarter, Bethea intercepted a Nick Foles pass and, after the teams traded possessions, the 49ers went on a long, time-consuming march for Phil Dawson’s fourth field goal, a 31-yarder, to take a 26-21 lead.

The Eagles – who had been throttled by the 49ers defense all day – then came to life. The Eagles had scored TDs on a blocked punt recovery, a punt return and an interception return, but the offense had done nothing. In fact, entering the fourth quarter, the 49ers ruled in time of possession, 33:58-11:02.

That’s when the Eagles came to life, driving from their own 9-yard line to the 49ers’ 1-yard line. But Philly couldn’t punch in a score on third- and fourth-down plays just after the 2-minute warning.

After the 49ers couldn’t get a first down, the Eagles had one last desperation chance, but one final long pass attempt by Foles was intercepted by Cox, and the 49ers had the victory.

The victory had some typical 49ers hallmarks, with Gore running for 119 yards and also scoring a TD on a 55-yard catch-and-run. And Kaepernick was 17-of-30 for 218 yards and two TDs.

But it was the defense that had the starring role.

The Eagles came into the game with the most second-half points in the NFL, and scored zero Sunday. The Niners held the high-powered Eagles offense to just 213 total yards, including only 22 on the ground, while plucking four turnovers.

After back-to-back losses to the Bears and Cardinals, the victory may have righted the Niners’ ship. Can they extend the winning streak to two?  Next Sunday, they’ll host the Kansas City Chiefs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A's Clinch Wild Card Berth, Shut Out Rangers 4-0]]> Sun, 28 Sep 2014 17:18:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/187*120/456276696.jpg

The Oakland A's have returned to the postseason for the third-straight year, clinching an American League Wild Card berth after Sonny Gray shut out the Texas Rangers 4-0.

The A's will be heading to Kansas City to face the Royals on Sept. 30 for the right to advance to the American League Division Series. The winner of Tuesday's Wild Card game will be traveling to Anaheim to face the Angels.

Click here for full A's coverage.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Lose Battle of Britain]]> Sun, 28 Sep 2014 13:17:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/daulphinstd.jpg

It’s hard to imagine a worse road trip for the Raiders.

Oakland suffered a  38-14 loss to the Miami Dolphins in London Sunday to drop to 0-4 this season, while also losing quarterback Derek Carr to injury. This, after losing a winnable game to the Patriots last Sunday on the first leg of this New England-to-England trek.

At this point, the Raiders defense appears to be helpless and the only real questions Oakland now faces are:

* When will they secure the right to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft?

* When will Dennis Allen be fired as head coach?

After beginning the game with a beautiful touchdown drive, led by Carr and culminated with the rookie’s 3-yard scoring pass to tight end Brian Leonhardt, it was all downhill for the Raiders in what was certainly not Jolly Old England for the silver-and-black bunch.

Miami pounded out a 24-7 halftime lead, causing Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle to tweet: “This better be the best halftime speech or adjustments of Dennis Allen’s coaching career.”

Judging by the results, Allen’s halftime performance rated an F.

The Dolphins quickly added a TD in the third quarter, then picked up another one shortly after Carr had to leave after suffering what appeared to be a knee or ankle injury while scrambling. On the second play with No. 3 QB Matt McGloin at the controls (No. 2 Matt Schaub stayed in the States because of a family matter), a bad snap led to a 50-yard fumble return for a Dolphins touchdown to allow Miami to take a 38-7 lead entering the fourth quarter.

As of now, it appears the only non-loseable game on the Raiders schedule is next Sunday’s “bye.” After what appeared to be an excellent draft and a re-stocking of the roster with a free-agent spending spree, the Raiders have played worse than they did in 2013 and 2012 when they finished 4-12.

Tweeted one viewer during Sunday’s game: “I think it’s a very real possibility that the Oakland Raiders are going to win 0 games this year. Holy cow are they bad.” Wrote another: “It’s time to fire Allen. This is getting out of hand. This was his year to prove he could coach. He can’t. #FireDennisAllen”

As Josh Dubow of the Associated Press noted, the Raiders now have nine losses of 20 or more points in the 36 games of Allen’s tenure with just eight wins.

If the Raiders decide to make a coaching change, this week might be the time. With a bye week, a new coach would at least get a few extra days to prepare for the team’s next opportunity on Oct. 12th when the Chargers visit O.co Coliseum.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles Coach Sends Gift to Girl]]> Sat, 27 Sep 2014 05:26:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/Devon-Still-and-Daughter.jpg

Chip Kelly may be all-business on the football field, but the Eagles head coach proved to be a true class act off the gridiron after he showed his support for an NFL player and his young daughter who is battling cancer at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Kelly sent a gift basket and flowers to 4-year-old Leah Still Friday after her successful operation. Leah’s father, defensive tackle Devon Still, posted a photo of the gift on his Instagram page, thanking Kelly and the Eagles.

Still and his daughter have captured the hearts of millions of people nationwide as she continues to receive treatment at CHOP. The Delaware native and former Penn State Nittany Lion was cut from the Cincinnati Bengals in August. However, the Bengals re-signed Still to their practice squad in order to help him pay for his daughter’s medical treatment after she was diagnosed with cancer.

After the Bengals decided to donate proceeds from his jersey sales to the Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati and pediatric cancer care and research, Still’s No. 75 jersey quickly became the team’s top seller.

Still has kept his followers updated on his daughter’s progress, posting a video of a pep talk he gave her prior to her surgery.

Still later announced Thursday a surgeon at CHOP was able to remove her tumor, lymph nodes and right adrenal gland where her cancer originated. He also stated however that his daughter’s battle was far from over, as doctors still need to remove the cancer from her bone marrow.


Photo Credit: NBC10.com
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<![CDATA[Report: 49ers' Jim Harbaugh Likely Candidate To Coach Michigan]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 12:39:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_harbaugh1.jpg

Once a Wolverine, always a Wolverine?

While his unique style has made the San Francisco 49ers one of the NFL's top teams over the past two seasons, head coach Jim Harbaugh has yet to deliver Super Bowl glory to the Bay Area.

And with one season left on his contract, he is being linked ever more strongly with an exit, with or without a trophy -- this time, to his alma mater Michigan, according to reports.

Could Harbaugh really exit the professional coaching ranks and return to college, where he made Stanford a powerhouse before moving up the Peninsula -- and then back down again -- to run the 49ers?

Grantland thinks it's possible.

The current Michigan coach, Brady Hoke, is a "dead man walking" after a brutal recent loss. And Harbaugh has come close to walking off the job before, very nearly moving to the Cleveland Browns earlier this year.

What's more, all is not well in 49erland, the Web site notes: Harbaugh has had an uneasy, erratic relationship with general manager Trent Baalke. Plus, there have been injuries, suspensions, and an "average" Colin Kaepernick...all that means that there is less than usual to keep Harbaugh around.

Except the Super Bowl. If Harbaugh is anything, he is competitive, and the chance at hoisting the trophy that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll got his hands on in January could be too much to resist.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Need to Play Both Halves This Time]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 09:08:37 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/455529874.jpg


After two straight losses, the 49ers have learned a few things.


No. 1 on the list might be that finishing strong may be much more important than getting off to a fast start.


As the 1-2 49ers get set to play the 3-0 Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at Levi’s Stadium, the Niners rank as one of the NFL’s most baffling teams. In the first half, they’ve been dominant. In the second half, they’ve been dominated.


According to ESPN.com, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick leads the NFL with a 97.8 total quarterback rating in the first quarter. But that number falls to 34.5 over the final three quarters. The 49ers are the only team in the NFL yet to score a second-half touchdown.


If the 49ers hope to avoid their first three-game losing streak since Jim Harbaugh became head coach in 2011, San Francisco’s offense is going to have to be much more efficient throughout the game, and the secondary is going to have to clamp down on the Eagles’ strong passing game. Eagles QB Nick Foles has had three consecutive 300-yard games, and Philly’s air attack ranks No. 2 in the NFL.


One thing the 49ers need to do Sunday to put the clamps on Foles is to put pressure on him, but so far through three games the Niners’ pass rush has been largely absent. No one has stepped up to replace suspended top pass rusher Aldon Smith. The 49ers have just four sacks in three games, with defensive end Justin Smith having three of them. Second-year outside linebacker Corey Lemonier -- expected to pick up some of that slack -- is still looking for sack No. 1.


Sunday, the Eagles might be vulnerable to pressure, however. Three of Philadelphia’s starting offensive linemen are expected to be out.


In the loss to the Cardinals last week in Arizona, the 49ers tried to put pressure on quarterback Drew Stanton by calling a lot of blitzes, but that just backfired, with Stanton connecting with his wideouts for big plays.


One of the big questions about Sunday’s game is how Kaepernick and Co. will operate on offense. After coming out with four- and five-wideout sets vs. Arizona and going to a pass-first attack, will the 49ers continue on that tack or revert more to a running, ball-control game plan with Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde? With right tackle Anthony Davis -- who has missed all three games in 2014 -- returning to practice this week, the offensive line would finally be back at full strength.


Gore, who had just six carries in the loss to Arizona, says he’s fine with whatever game plan produces a victory.


“Whatever works, I’m with it,” he told reporters. “If it’s passing, it’s passing. We pass the ball. If it’s running, we run the ball. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win and if we have to go out there and do the spread (offense) again, I’m with it.”


Though the 49ers have struggled -- on offense, defense and in the second half of games -- oddsmakers believe they’ll get back on track Sunday. The 49ers are 3½-point favorites.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jeter's Nephew Tips Hat]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:09:46 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-09-26+at+9.59.36+AM.jpg

There were many emotional moments during Derek Jeter’s final home game at Yankee Stadium Thursday night, but the most adorable was a simple tip of the cap from his young nephew.

Little Jalen was there in the stands and watched as his famous uncle hit the walk-off single that would end his reign in the Bronx.

The Captain’s biggest fan grabbed the brim of his Re2pect cap and tipped it to Jeter. It’s a moment you can watch over and over again.

Jeter plans to play three more games, but Thursday night was his last at shortstop.

When the Yankees head to Fenway Park in Boston, Jeter plans to be the designated hitter.

Photo Credit: MLB
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<![CDATA[Derek Jeter Through the Years]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 06:14:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/153334595.jpg A look back at some of the most memorable moments of the Captain's career.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Petition Calls for 49ers to Bench Ray McDonald]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 07:10:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP13080214223.jpg

More pressure is being applied to San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York over the way he is handling the domestic violence investigation of Ray McDonald.

The 49ers defensive lineman was arrested in August and is being investigated for felony domestic violence involving his pregnant fiancée. McDonald continues to suit up for practice and play in games for the team.

Activist group CREDO has launched an online petition in an effort to force the 49ers to comply with the National Football League's newly announced "zero tolerance" policy. The petition claims that by allowing McDonald to play, the NFL is sending a "terrible message that violence against women isn’t as important as winning on the field."

CREDO is requesting that players under investigation for domestic violence be benched until their case is resolved.

The petition is the latest in a string of public reactions to how the 49ers are handling McDonald's domestic violence investigation.

Earlier this month, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters in Washington on that the 49ers, her hometown team, should not have let McDonald play.

“Our coach says innocent until proven guilty, due process and all of that, but the fact is, he shouldn't have played,” Pelosi said.

California Lieutenant Governor and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has also called for the 49ers to "do the right thing -- right now -- and bench Ray McDonald" while San Jose police continue to investigate.

Niners coach Jim Harbaugh, who has said he has zero tolerance for domestic violence, has defended the team’s position of allowing McDonald to play and to afford him the benefit of due process.

"We have two principles at play here. One is respect for due process," Harbaugh recently told Matt Maiocco, NBC Bay Area's 49ers insider. "And we’re not going to flinch, based on public speculation."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Derek Jeter's Last Game at Yankee Stadium]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 23:46:20 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/456108670.jpg As if on cue, the rain let up, a rainbow came out and Derek Jeter began his final home game with one more jolt.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best of NFL: Week 4]]> Sun, 28 Sep 2014 20:23:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/455677434.jpg Don't miss the most dramatic images from the fourth week of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Clinch Post-Season Berth with Brewers Loss]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 15:03:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/181*120/456000576_8.jpg

The San Francisco Giants backed into the post-season Thursday, clinching a National League Wild berth with some help from the Cincinnati Reds, who defeated the Brewers 5-3, officially ending Milwaukee’s playoff chances.

The Giants will likely play the Pittsburgh Pirates on Oct. 1 for the right to advance to the NL Division Series.

It’s still to be determined which NL Wild Card team will have home-field advantage, but Pittsburgh owns the tiebreaker.

Get More at CSN Bay Area.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Secondary May Be Key to 49ers' Rebound]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 10:17:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/191*120/454883138.jpg

There is plenty of blame to go around for the problems of the 49ers the past two weeks.

In losing consecutive games to the Bears and the Cardinals, the 49ers have committed too many penalties and made too few plays -- on offense or defense -- in the second half. 

So far, the 1-2 49ers have been a Jekyll and Hyde group, playing very well in the first half of games and then giving way to their evil twin over the final two quarters. 

Bill Barnwell of ESPN’s Grantland took an in-depth look at the Niners’ woes and pointed out that the offense’s third-down conversion rate has plummeted from almost 70 percent to 45 percent in the second half, while the rushing attack also has been less successful, going from 4.9 yards per rush to 3.5 yards in the third and fourth quarters. 

Head coach Jim Harbaugh, speaking after the loss in Arizona Sunday, said he didn’t yet have an answer for the team’s plummeting play, saying: “We’ve just got to play better.” And quarterback Colin Kaepernick was equally obvious, adding that, “We have to score more.”

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin threw some of the blame for the second-half woes on the officials and the fact they’ve called some crucial penalties on the 49ers in the second halves of the past two losses.

“They wear black and white,” said Boldin of those responsible for his team’s woes.

But Barnwell has a different theory. 

In the second half of both losses, to the Bears and Cardinals, rookie safety-turned-nickel cornerback Jimmie Ward has been victimized. He gave up three touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall in Week 2 and also a TD to rookie wideout John Brown in Week 3. 

Meanwhile, cornerbacks Chris Culliver and Chris Cook “have been bad this year,” Barnwell wrote.

So, when the 49ers have gotten first-half leads the past two games, the Bears and Cardinals have attacked a San Francisco secondary that appears to be far less effective in 2014 than it has been in recent seasons. 

Wrote Barnwell: “Much of the Arizona game plan from last week was simply targeting Ward and those overmatched cornerbacks.” 

As the 49ers prepare to host the 3-0 Eagles Sunday at Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers secondary is going to have to get much better very fast. Ward will have to learn from his mistakes quickly or Chip Kelly’s high-powered spread offense is going to go after Ward, Culliver and Cook without mercy.

A return to the running game and converting third downs in the second half will go a long way toward controlling the football Sunday. It also will keep the ball out of the hands of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who no doubt has been studying the mistakes of Ward & Co. the past two weeks and eagerly awaiting his chances to exploit them the way Jay Cutler and Drew Stanton did the past two weeks. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Will Have to Make Do Without Branch]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 10:21:32 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/454858366.jpg

Tyvon Branch was excited about this new season and eager to contribute.

After missing almost all of last season with an injury, the Raiders’ veteran safety was eager to be a part of what he hoped would be a turnaround season in 2014.

But a foot injury suffered in the team’s loss to the Patriots in Week 3 has ended his season, and now the Raiders are going to have to go to Plan B at safety, beginning this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins in England.

Branch, at least, is taking the news philosophically.

“I’m a big believer in things happening for a reason,” Branch wrote on Twitter Wednesday night. “Doesn’t make it easier but I know it’s all part of God’s plan! #positivevibes”

Both Branch and wide receiver Rod Streater are scheduled for surgery after suffering fractures in their feet in the loss to the Patriots.

“There’s no timeline for either one of those guys,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen told a reporter Wednesday. “Both of them are going to need surgery. We’ll just monitor their situations individually and see what the recovery time is.”

In the meantime, veteran Usama Young will step in for Branch, just as he did last year. There will be some dropoff, but Young showed in 2013 that he’s a capable backup.

As Bill Williamson of ESPN.com wrote: “He is a decent player. He won’t star, but the Raiders should be able to get by with him.”

The Raiders also have claimed safety Brandian Ross off waivers from the Dolphins. Ross was in training camp with Oakland and also with the team last season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Arena Architect Calls "Toilet" Comparison "Silly"]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 07:12:19 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/toilet12.jpg

The potty jokes flowed in from around the country.

The national media couldn't get enough on Tuesday of how the new Golden State Warriors architectural drawings seemed to resemble the top of a toilet lid, and perhaps, should be flushed down the drain. NBC Sports, The Washington Post, DeadSpin, Sports Illustrated, and USA Today all chimed in.

But no one bothered to ask the architect under fire whether he intended the Warriors' future home to look like a loo. In an exclusive interview with NBC Bay Area, lead Warriors arena architect David Manica said he certainly did not.

"Unfortunately, people focused on the silly comments about the toilet," he said in a phone interview on Wednesday . "I'm not angry. Just disappointed. But I'm not too worried about it. When it's done, that's the last thing people will be thinking about."

The public just seemed to be enjoying the bathroom humor: "No one ever called me," he said.

The first draft of plans for the 18,000-seat arena with half a million square feet of office space, nearly 100,000 square feet of retail, and acres of open space were unveiled Tuesday at a public community meeting in San Francisco. Real estate blog Socketsite first posted the drawings online and the comments – and the toilet analogies – started to pour in. So did the headlines.

But the design element that critics pounced on, Manica said, is a 10,000-square-foot ballroom floating above the San Francisco Bay that the architect is sure won't at all resemble a toilet when construction is complete.

This element is new, he said, and wasn't included in previous designs, when the Warriors were supposed to be at Pier 30-21 south of the Bay Bridge along the Embarcadero. That plan was scrapped for thenew location at Mission Bay, south of AT&T Park, near a new UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital For now, the Warriors play in Oakland at the o.Co Coliseum.

"It's going to be wholly spectacular," Manica said. That said, he added that there is still a year more of "intense designs" to be hashed out, and there is a "long road ahead" in terms of changes and edits to the original, early sketches.

Manica's intentions were to evoke a yachting, nautical theme along the waterfront edge, and adhere to his client's "sophisticated aspirations." The arena, he hopes, will have a "blurred" elliptical shape, somewhere between a rectangle and circle. The space, he hopes, will also feature an open-air market, where vendors and local artists can sell their wares, or a place for the public to come and ice skate in the winter and buy pumpkins at Halloween.

The Kansas City-based Manica isn't too focused on the toilet comments anyway. He's too busy designing other sports arenas around the globe, including the VTB Arena Park under construction in Moscow, which features a dual space for both hockey and football, along with a retail mall.

The Warriors arena will be privately financed, and construction is expected to begin in late 2015. The team hopes the arena will be ready in time for the 2018-19 NBA season.

Warriors spokesman PJ Johnston said the team has not announced the price tag to build the new center.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warriors/Manrica Architecture
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<![CDATA[WATCH: Keith Olbermann Rips Derek Jeter in 7-Minute Rant]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 09:52:45 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/jeter+olbermann.jpg

ESPN's Keith Olbermann ripped Derek Jeter in a 7-minute rant Tuesday, saying the future Yankees hall-of-famer is "not the greatest person in human history," much less the best to grace the diamond.

"Contrary to what you have heard, Derek Jeter is not the greatest person in human history. He did not invent baseball, he did not discover electricity, he is not the greatest shortstop who ever lived," Olbermann said at the top of his show Tuesday. "And among all the terrific players in the history of the New York Yankees is his not by any measure, number one."

Olbermann said people younger than 40 never saw the Yankees win a league championship without Jeter and the 40-year-old shortstop has always been at the forefront of their sports worlds. But, "objects in the sideview mirror may actually be smaller than they appear," he said.

Olbermann called Jeter "an excellent long-serving player, but nowhere near an immortal," and blasted the days-long -- even months-long -- send-off the all-star player has received.

The ESPN host also criticized Jeter's offensive and defensive statistics, pointed out he never won an MVP award and said that if Jeter had asked to be moved down in the lineup or benched himself at various points this year, the Yankees might be in the playoffs.

Other outlets have given the Captain a more friendly send-off.

Watch the full Olbermann rant above.  

Photo Credit: AP Images
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<![CDATA[Report: 49ers' Kaepernick Used N-Word]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 14:38:47 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/175*120/455466134_10.jpg

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick launched the N-word against Chicago Bears defensive end Lamarr Houston during the teams' Week 2 game, the Chicago Tribune is reporting.

Initially, Houston said that Kaepernick had said nothing to deserve the flag or the $11,000 levied by the NFL for using inappropriate language.

That story changed after Fox Sports' Jay Glazer first reported last week that Kaepernick had in fact called Houston the N-word. Kap denied that report in turn, but on Monday night,  after the Bears' game against the New York Jets, Houston confirmed the exchange.

"He was just saying inappropriate language," Houston told the newspaper, confirming that profanity as well as the N-word came out of Kaepernick's mouth.

Asked if he was offended, Houston called the exchange "a cultural thing," the newspaper reported.

Houston is black. Kaepernick, a Milwaukee native raised in Turlock by foster parents who are white, is black.

Using the racial slur is now a punishable offense in the predominately-black NFL, though some white players have used it in the past without penalty, most notably Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, who apologized for an N-word-laced tirade launched at a Kenny Chesney concert during the offseason in 2013.

Kaepernick first said he didn't say anything to Houston, then changed his story to say that he didn't use any language that was "racially derogatory."

On Twitter Tuesday, Kaepernick seemed to have as many defenders as critics. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Injured Former USC Player Sues]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 07:04:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/184*120/95394902_10.jpg

Former USC football cornerback Brian Baucham is suing the college and ex-coach Lane Kiffin, alleging he was forced to play despite having had a concussion and being told by doctors that he was in no condition to play.

Baucham, 24, a high school standout in Torrance, suffered a concussion during a game in July 2012.

Two months later, during a game against California, he collapsed and was taken to a hospital where he was put on a ventilator, according to the suit. A CT scan revealed bleeding on the brain. Baucham has no memory of the second half of the game, according to his lawsuit.

"They played him in the third quarter. They played him in the fourth quarter," Bruce M. Brusavich, Baucham's attorney, said. "When he got to the sidelines, he just collapsed.

"He just never fully recovered."

Baucham, a fifth-year senior in 2012, didn't play for the Trojans again and will never be able to pursue a career in the NFL, he alleges.

The lawsuit also claims USC tried to revoke his scholarship after his injury, but Baucham and his family fought the school until he graduated.

USC athletic director Pat Haden declined to comment about the case, but said in a statement: "I will say that I am confident that we provide excellent medical treatment to our student-athletes and that their health is our primary concern ahead of any athletic competition."

Kiffin declined to comment.

Kiffin was fired early on Sept. 29, 2013, hours after a 62-41 loss to Arizona State dropped the Trojans' record to 3-2. He is now Alabama's offensive coordinator.

Former USC tailback Stafon Johnson sued the school and a former assistant strength coach for negligence in 2011, 16 months after Johnson's throat was crushed in a weightlifting accident. The suit was settled in January 2012.

NBC4 Wire Services contributed to this report.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[San Jose Earthquakes Stadium Seats Installed]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:17:17 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/2014-09-23-quakes-seatsjpg.jpg

The new San Jose Earthquakes stadium reached a major milestone Tuesday: The team began installing the stadium's seats, giving some lucky season ticketholders the opportunity to watch their seats being installed.

Then Debbie and Brad Freeman got to sit down and scope out the view.

Construction on the 18,000-seat stadium near San Jose's airport is entering its final stages.

The stadium is set to open in time for the 2015 Major League Soccer season.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>