San Francisco Sports News

Photos: Ex-49er Eric Reid sells Hayward Hills home

Bay Area Mercury News Sports - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 11:26

Former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid has sold his Hayward Hills, Calif. home for $1.81 million, reports the L.A. Times.

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The Pro Bowl safety, who knelt with Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 season to protest social injustice, signed with the Carolina Panthers earlier this month.

The 3,988 square foot home has six bedrooms and 3.5 baths. It features a gourmet kitchen, theater room, a pool and tennis court, among many other amenities. Reid purchased the home in 2013 for $1.25 million, according to public records.Related Articles

Brooke Crossland with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage held the listing.

Reid spent five years with the 49ers, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season in 2013.

Eric Reid takes his social justice advocacy onto the playing field, and it’s a bad look

Bay Area Mercury News Sports - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 10:10

There was a saying on the mean sandlots of suburbia when I was a kid. “Heads I win, tails you lose.”

You’d hear it invariably when the coin was flipped to determine who would receive the opening kickoff in a neighborhood game of football.

I bring it up because Eric Reid, erstwhile 49er, current Carolina Panther and staunch advocate of social justice put himself in a no-win situation Sunday when he got into a hissing match with Philadelphia’s Malcolm Jenkins during, of all things, the pregame coin flip.

#Eagles Malcolm Jenkins and #Panthers Eric Reid had confrontation after the coin toss before the game started.

Reid had major concerns with Malcolm Jenkins' Players Coalition that raised nearly $100 million to causes considered important to African-American communities. pic.twitter.com/qBsfDr4yLi

— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 21, 2018

Once upon a time, Reid and Jenkins were allies in the pregame silent protest movement pioneered by Colin Kaepernick. Then Jenkins, former 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin and other NFL players formed the NFL Players Coalition, an ad hoc group that endeavored to get the NFL to put a price tag on nonviolent protest. According to the NFL Network, the Players Coalition agreed in May to accept a $90 million payment “for efforts and programs combating social inequity” to make the protests go away. (It is unknown if any money has exchanged hands.)

Reid initially was a part of the Players Coalition, but left when Kaepernick was excluded from the group’s meetings. Reid’s current stance is that the Players Coalition is “an NFL-funded subversion group,” and yes we realize this is a dense back story. For the purposes of this treatise, the basis of the Reid-Jenkins contretemps matters little. Though it bears noting that Reid appeared to take out his disdain for Jenkins by pasting a late hit on Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and flipping Philly tight end Zach Ertz.

Reid hits Wentz late. Ertz retaliates lol pic.twitter.com/XMjdlFgCRi

— Billy Marshall (@BillyM_91) October 21, 2018

What matters is that Reid was pushing his advocacy on the field before the game and in the Panthers locker room after the team had staged a riveting fourth-quarter comeback to defeat the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles.

“We believe a lot of players should have stepped up for Colin,” Reid said. “I believe Malcolm capitalized on the situation. He co-opted the movement that was started by Colin to get his organization funded. It’s cowardly. He sold us out.”

Reid and Kaepernick are to be commended for risking their football careers for a cause they feel strongly about. Kaepernick hasn’t played since 2016. He’s radioactive as far as NFL teams are concerned. Reid was in limbo as well until the Panthers signed him before the fifth game of the season. (Both former 49ers are pursuing collusion grievances against the league.) Unlike other teams that expressed interest in Reid, but only if he would cease his kneel-down protests, the Panthers offer was unconditional.

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But Sunday’s optics — a pregame confrontation, and channeling Norma Rae postgame — are not flattering.

Here's the TV replay of the altercation between Eric Reid and Malcolm Jenkins. That look in Reid's eyes says a lot https://t.co/Sy0X8LScZ0

— Marcel Louis-Jacques (@Marcel_LJ) October 21, 2018

Even the most progressive organization would be within its rights to wonder where Reid’s priorities lie, and if it is possible for him to compartmentalize his activism when the coin is flipped on Sunday.

My AP basketball preseason ballot: Duke on top, followed by Gonzaga (absolutely loaded) and the usual suspects

Bay Area Mercury News Sports - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 08:22

The AP preseason poll is expected to be released later today. I’ll update the ballot below with the ranking for each team for comparative purposes.

First in-season basketball poll: Monday, Nov. 12.

Here we go …

Also considered: West Virginia, TCU, Florida State, Minnesota, San Diego State, Mississippi State, Clemson, Florida, USC, Buffalo, Marquette, Alabama and Indiana.

1. Duke: All five starters are gone, but the Blue Devils welcome three of the best — perhaps the three best — freshmen in the country. They’ll need time to coalesce, but once they do, watch out. If Zion Williamson’s eligibility is impacted, that could change … Eh, who are we kidding: No way the NCAA renders a Duke star ineligible.

2. Gonzaga: The most talented team of Mark Few’s tenure features a Lottery lock in forward Rui Hachimura and a slew of playmakers inside and out, from returnees Zach Norvell and Killian Tillie to transfer Brandon Clarke. Senior point guard Josh Perkins is an experienced conductor. Final Four, here they come.

3. Kansas: Loads of attrition, but the Jayhawks add several top prospects and three high-level transfers: The Lawson brothers from Memphis (Dedric and K.J.) and Cal guard Charlie Moore. Given recent developments in the courtroom, however, it’s worth wondering about the NCAA hammer falling on Lawrence prior to March.

4. Virginia: This ranking is not an endorsement of the Cavs’ chances once the Madness begins, but rather a projection of their regular season: No coach does it better than Tony Bennett from November through February. With Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome back, the Cavs are set for another run at the ACC title.

5. Kentucky: Few tasks are more difficult in college basketball than tracking Kentucky’s roster from one year to the next. But this much we know: Stanford transfer Reid Travis will add toughness and interior scoring that should have a ripple effect through the lineup. And yes, the incoming class is loaded.

6. North Carolina: Sure, the Tar Heels lost two key pieces (Joel Berry and Theo Pinson), but I fully expect them to win 24+ games for the ninth consecutive season with the combination of Luke Maye, Kenny Williams and freshman Nassir Little.

7. Tennessee: Five starters return from a team that won 26 games. The group includes Grant Williams, the SEC player of the year. Position represents a significant improvement from my April projections (15th) because the stability in Knoxville contrasts with attrition elsewhere.

8. Virginia Tech: Sleeper pick. Coach Buzz Williams brings back all but one of his top scorers (wing Justin Bibbs) and should have the best team of the ACC’s second tier, which would be the first tier everywhere else.

9. Villanova: Jay Wright’s crew dropped from No. 1 in my April rankings due to departures of Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges, but the Wildcats have a solid returning core with Phil Booth and Eric Paschall (20 pig combined). And crucially: The system won’t change.

10. Syracuse: Tyus Battle’s return is the primary reason for the 12-spot improvement over the Orange’s early-April position. The offense can’t be worse than it was last season, when SU won 23 games.

11. Michigan State: Hit hard by attrition (Jaren Jackson and Miles Bridges) but the backcourt tandem of Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford will lead another run at the Big Ten title. Fewer Lottery Picks could mean better cohesion.

12. UCLA: The return of point guard Jaylen Hands and, more significantly, wing Kris Wilkes makes the Bruins the team to beat in the Pac-12. The arrival of big man Moses Brown makes them a threat for a deep run in March.

13. Auburn: Another representative from a conference known for its basketball, this one in possession of three returning starters from a team that won 26 games. No. 13 in the land but only third-best in the SEC.

14. Nevada: We’re by no means doubting the talent (four returning starters and impact newcomers). But the expectations, internally and externally, are completely different after the Sweet 16 run. How will the Wolf Pack handle the changing dynamics?

15. Kansas State: An Elite Eight team that returns all five starters and its coach (Bruce Weber)? If anything, we’ve got the Wildcats too low. But as we noted with Nevada, the same roster doesn’t guarantee it’s the same team. Chemistry changes.

16. Oregon: One of the best incoming classes in the country (Bol Bol, Louis King) merges with several key returnees (Payton Pritchard, Kenny Wooten, Paul White) to give the Ducks an elite starting five. How quickly will the cohesiveness form? And is there enough quality depth?

17. Louisville: Chris Mack, hired away from Xavier, is one of the nation’s top coaches. If the Cardinals avoid NCAA sanctions during the season, they could be a factor in the postseason.

18. Notre Dame: Another sleeper pick. Bonzie Colson’s departure is a major hit, but the established system under Mike Brey will provide the platform for a bounce-back season.

19. Michigan: The national runner-up lost several key pieces, including big man Moritz Wagner, but there’s more returning that you might think. That list starts with coach John Beilein, who has taken the Wolverines to at least the Elite Eight three of the past six seasons.

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20. Maryland: Three returning starters plus an impact recruit (forward Jalen Smith) make the Terps one of the favorites in the Big Ten. In fact, they might be the best team not from Michigan.

21. Loyola: We’re not sure about another deep run in March, but the Final Four participant warrants more than a morsel of respect with three returning starters.

22. Washington: Everyone of consequence is back from a team that won 21 games, and the group includes several players with NBA potential in guard Jaylen Nowell, wing Matisse Thybulle and big man Noah Dickerson.

23. Texas: Another sleeper pick. The collective returning production should offset the loss of Mo Bamba to the NBA.

24. LSU: Coach Will Wade has been dragged into the corruption scandal, but if AP ballots were based on ethics, they wouldn’t have more than six or seven schools listed.

25. Purdue: Hammered by attrition, the Boilermakers return one starter, guard Carson Edwards, who just might be the top player in the nation.

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Prep football rankings: Week 11 Bay Area News Group Top 25

Bay Area Mercury News Sports - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 08:00

The votes are in, and Pittsburg has fallen after losing over the weekend to second-ranked Liberty 24-21.

But not that far.

The Pirates dropped only one spot in the Bay Area News Group Top 25 poll, to fifth, as their 6-3 record includes a double-overtime loss to No. 3 Clayton Valley Charter, a double-digit loss to Southern California power Centennial-Corona and the Liberty heartbreaker.

St. Francis replaced Pittsburg at No. 4 as the Lancers remained unbeaten in West Catholic Athletic League play with a 28-0 rout of Bellarmine on Friday night.

Sacred Heart Cathedral, which has won three in a row, and undefeated Independence are this week’s newcomers to the Top 25.

As always with our high school poll, first-place votes are worth 25 points, second-place 24, third-place 23 and down the line.

The voters are myself (Darren Sabedra), Mike Lefkow, Phil Jensen, Vytas Mazeika and Curtis Pashelka.

On to the rankings ….

Bay Area News Group Top 25

No. 1 De La Salle (9-0)

Voting points: 125

Last week No. 1: Beat San Ramon Valley 48-14

Up next: Friday at California, 7 p.m.

No. 2 Liberty (9-0)

Voting points: 120

Last week No. 2: Beat Pittsburg 24-21

Up next: Friday vs. Heritage, 7 p.m.

No. 3 Clayton Valley Charter (8-1)

Voting points: 115

Last week No. 3: Beat Alhambra 56-0

Up next: Friday at Northgate, 7 p.m.

No. 4 St. Francis (7-1)

Voting points: 109

Last week No. 5: Beat Bellarmine 28-0

Up next: Friday vs. Mitty, 7 p.m.

No. 5 Pittsburg (6-3)

Voting points: 105

Last week No. 4: Lost to Liberty 24-21

Up next: Saturday at Antioch, 1:30 p.m.

No. 6 Wilcox (9-0)

Voting points: 101

Last week No. 6: Beat Milpitas 28-7

Up next: Nov. 2 vs. Cupertino, 7 p.m.

No. 7 Menlo-Atherton (6-2)

Voting points: 94

Last week No. 7: Beat Sacred Heart Prep 30-0

Up next: Friday vs. Half Moon Bay, 7:30 p.m.

No. 8 Valley Christian (6-2)

Voting points: 90

Last week No. 8: Beat Mitty 27-0

Up next: Friday vs. Bellarmine, 7 p.m.

No. 9 Palo Alto (7-1)

Voting points: 82

Last week No. 9: Bye

Up next: Friday vs. Los Gatos, 7 p.m.

No. 10 Bishop O’Dowd (7-2)

Voting points: 78

Last week No. 10: Beat Castro Valley 49-13

Up next: Friday at Encinal, 7 p.m.

No. 11 Monte Vista (7-2)

Voting points: 73

Last week No. 11 tied: Beat Foothill 42-7

Up next: Friday vs. San Ramon Valley, 7 p.m.

No. 12 Antioch (7-2)

Voting points: 70

Last week No. 11 tied: Beat Deer Valley 28-20

Up next: Saturday vs. Antioch, 1:30 p.m.

No. 13 Serra (5-3)

Voting points: 69

Last week No. 13: Beat St. Ignatius 50-14

Up next: Friday vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral at Kezar Stadium, 7 p.m.

No. 14 Las Lomas (10-0)

Voting points: 60

Last week No. 14: Beat Benicia 35-0

Up next: Bye

No. 15 California (7-2)

Voting points: 55

Last week No. 15 tied: Beat Dublin 45-0

Up next: Friday vs. De La Salle, 7 p.m.

For more Bay Area high school sports coverage follow Bay Area Preps on Flipboard.

No. 16 Freedom (6-3)

Voting points: 54

Last week No. 15 tied: Beat Heritage 49-7

Up next: Friday at Deer Valley, 7 p.m.

No. 17 McClymonds (6-2)

Voting points: 42

Last week No. 17: Beat Skyline 94-0

Up next: Friday vs. Oakland, 7:15 p.m.

No. 18 Campolindo (7-2)

Voting points: 41

Last week No. 18: Beat Northgate 49-0

Up next: Friday at Miramonte, 7 p.m.

No. 19 Moreau Catholic (9-0)

Voting points: 35

Last week No. 19: Beat Kennedy-Fremont 68-0

Up next: Friday at Newark Memorial, 7 p.m.

No. 20 Terra Nova (7-1)

Voting points: 24

Last week No. 22: Beat Menlo School 67-33

Up next: Friday vs. Sacred Heart Prep, 7 p.m.

No. 21 Granada (7-2)

Voting points: 23

Last week No. 24: Beat Dougherty Valley 49-7

Up next: Friday vs. Livermore, 7 p.m.

No. 22 San Ramon Valley (5-4)

Voting points: 18

Last week No. 20: Lost to De La Salle 48-14

Up next: Friday at Monte Vista, 7 p.m.

No. 23 tied Sacred Heart Prep (7-1)

Voting points: 9

Last week No. 21: Lost to Menlo-Atherton 30-0

Up next: Friday at Terra Nova, 7 p.m.

No. 23 tied Sacred Heart Cathedral (5-3)

Voting points: 9

Last week not ranked: Beat Riordan 38-0

Up next: Friday vs. Serra at Kezar Stadium, 7 p.m.

No. 25 Independence (8-0)

Voting points: 7

Last week not ranked: Beat Del Mar 35-0

Up next: Friday at Gunderson, 7 p.m.

Also received voting points: El Cerrito 6, Lincoln-San Jose 6, Amador Valley 3, Pinole Valley 2.

Power ratings: Breaking down the South division race (title paths, tiebreaker scenarios and schedule assessments)

Bay Area Mercury News Sports - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 07:47

It’s Week Nine, not even Halloween, and the South is a mess worthy of a conference with multiple messes.

The division has experienced so many losses, so much mediocre play, so many confounding performances that:

* Every team has multiple conference losses.

* Colorado, which won its first five games, and UCLA, which lost its first five, are tied.

(The Bruins are a half-game out of first place, folks.)

* USC, which just got poleaxed by Utah and has been outscored in its five conference games, remains in solid shape for the division crown.

* One team — just one team! — is positioned to win the title without help:

Utah, the only school that hasn’t won the South, is the only team that controls its own destiny.

Here’s a breakdown of each team’s path, followed by an explanation of the conference tiebreaker formula:

Utah (3-2): Win out, and celebrate.

The Utes are only 3-2 in conference play, but it’s the right three and two for division purposes: They’re 1-2 against the North and 2-0 against the South.

They own the head-to-head tiebreakers with Arizona and USC and haven’t played Colorado, UCLA or ASU.

Win those three, and they might not even need to beat Oregon (depending on USC’s results).

USC (3-2): Help required, but not much.

Awful as they looked in Salt Lake City, precarious as the quarterback situation appears — JT Daniels is in concussion protocol; Matt Fink has broken ribs — the Trojans are still in solid shape.

They have four conference games remaining and will be solid-to-heavy favorites in each (Arizona State, Oregon State, Cal and UCLA).

Win those, and a single Utah loss (anywhere) would hand the division to USC.

Colorado (2-2): Reality arrives.

The Buffaloes were the talk of the conference after their 5-0 start but got unmasked, to a certain degree, by a sharp uptick in schedule difficulty.

Now, CU must not only navigate a November that includes Washington State and Utah but also have the Trojans lose somewhere within their soft finishing stretch.

A multiple-team tie at 6-3 would likely be a precarious position for the Buffs.

UCLA (2-2): Fresno, schmesno.

From 0-5 to the heat of a division race, the Bruins are in this thing — at least for the moment. Their problem: The toughest schedule, by far, of the two-loss teams.

UCLA must face Utah (home/Friday), Arizona State (road), Oregon (road), USC (home) and Stanford (home).

We won’t even consider the possibility of the Bruins running the table, but what if they went 4-1? They would need help in the form of Colorado losing twice.

Arizona (2-3): More than a miracle required.

The loss at UCLA on Saturday night eliminated the Wildcats from contention in any scenario that doesn’t require an alternate reality.

Even if they were to win out — and that would require beating Oregon and Washington State, in addition to Colorado and ASU — the Wildcats would likely fare poorly in any 6-3 tiebreaker scenarios because of head-to-head losses and intra-division record.

Arizona State (1-3): They’ll always have MSU.

The Week Two upset of Michigan State could very well be the highlight of the season for the Sun Devils. Not only are they alone in last place, they also face the toughest finishing stretch for any team save UCLA.

With road games against USC, Oregon and Arizona, plus the Utes and the Bruins at home, ASU has inside position in the race for sixth place.

*** Tiebreaker formula

In the event of a two-team tie, head-to-head rules the day.

In the event of a three-team tie, which could only happen with 6-3 records, here’s the formula:

— Head-to-head results (best record in games between tied teams)

— Record in intra-divisional games

— Record against the next highest placed team in the division (based on the record in all conference games), proceeding through the division

— Record in common conference games

— Highest ranking in SportSource Analytics poll entering the final weekend of the regular season

To the power ratings …

1. Washington (6-2/4-1)
Last week: 2
Result: Beat Colorado 27-13
Next up: at Cal
Comment: The bye is coming, but not until UW gets through the Bay Area back-to-back.

2. Washington State (6-1/3-1)
Last week: 4
Result: Beat Oregon 34-20
Next up: at Stanford
Comment: With each win, WSU turns up the heat on the conference office for the officiating abomination against USC.

3. Oregon (5-2/2-2)
Last week: 1
Result: Lost at Washington State 34-20
Next up: at Arizona
Comment: First trip to Tucson, where the Ducks have suffered a bevy of crushing losses, since the 2013 season.

4. Utah (5-2/3-2)
Last week: 5
Result: Beat USC 41-28
Next up: at UCLA (Friday)
Comment: The short week shouldn’t cause Utah too much trouble given its decisive advantage on the lines of scrimmage. Defense travels, and so does muscle.

5. Stanford (5-2/3-1)
Last week: 8
Result: Won at Arizona State 20-13
Next up: vs. Washington State
Comment: Quietly hanging around, letting the spotlight fall elsewhere, but in control of its fate thanks to a 1-0 record within the division.

6. USC (4-3/3-2)
Last week: 4
Result: Lost at Utah 41-28
Next up: vs. Arizona State
Comment: How many 4-/5-star offensive line recruits does it take to rank 107th in the nation in rushing?

7. Colorado (5-2/2-2)
Last week: 6
Result: Lost at Washington 27-13
Next up: vs. Oregon State
Comment: Good timing for CU: Just when Laviska Shenault’s toe could use more rest, here come the Beavers.

8. UCLA (2-5/2-2)
Last week: 9
Result: Beat Arizona 31-30
Next up: vs. Utah (Friday)
Comment: Wilton Speight practiced with the first team Sunday and a case could be made that, because of experience, he gives the Bruins a better chance to combat Utah’s pass defense. Counter argument: Mobility, or lack thereof.

9. Cal (4-3/1-3)
Last week: 10
Result: Won at Oregon State 49-7
Next up: vs. Washington
Comment: Chase Garbers’ stellar outing helped the Bears snap a three-year losing streak in conference road games … and made the QB shuffle all the more perplexing.

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10. Arizona State (3-4/1-3)
Last week: 7
Result: Lost to Stanford 20-13
Next up: at USC
Comment: Last time the Sun Devils won fewer than five games was 2009, in the mid-Erickson era. Last time they won fewer than four: 1994.

11. Arizona (3-5/2-3)
Last week: 11
Result: Lost at UCLA 31-30
Next up: vs. Oregon
Comment: Speaking of questionable QB management …

12. Oregon State (1-6/0-4)
Last week: 12
Result: Lost to Cal 49-7
Next up: at Colorado
Comment: Loss to Cal was the worst loss of the season, times a multiple of five. Holy Avezzano, OSU.

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49ers report card: Beathard, pass offense flailing and failing

Bay Area Mercury News Sports - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 05:33

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SANTA CLARA – Here is how the 49ers (1-6) graded in their 39-10 home loss Sunday to the Los Angeles Rams (7-0):

PASS OFFENSE: F

C.J. Beathard again proved too slow on the trigger, leading to two interceptions and a career-high seven sacks, the first of which resulted in a lost fumble. He’s yet to have a turnover-free start, and at 1-8 as a starter, his leash is shortening to where he may at most have three losses left before Kyle Shanahan tries Nick Mullens. Six active wide receivers accounted for: 4 receptions, 10 targets, 35 yards. If only all players had the passion and production of George Kittle (five catches, 98 yards, one TD).

RUN OFFENSE: D+

Matt Breida, respected for trying to play through injuries, fumbled on his second carry when Aaron Donald mugged him. Raheem Mostert fared nicely in his encore from Lambeau, not only rushing (seven carries, 59 yards) but receiving (four catches, 19 yards). Alfred Morris’ 2. 8 yards per carry (nine carries) could be expected against a Rams defense offering Donald and Ndamukong Suh.

PASS DEFENSE: D+

Los Angeles Rams starting quarterback Jared Goff (24) throws against the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) 

Safety Jaquiski Tartt blew a potential pick-six in the first quarter, and he aptly noted at his locker it was the kind of play the takeaway-starving defense needed. Another missed opportunity came when Adrian Colbert and Ahkello Witherspoon failed to intercept a deep pass once they collided, and Colbert got injured. Two sacks, neither worth celebrating, although that didn’t stop Cassius Marsh (after a fumbled snap) nor Arik Armstead (trailing by 22 points). Ronald Blair made the 49ers’ best tackle for a 5-yard loss, forcing a field goal.

RUN DEFENSE: D

San Francisco 49ers’ Jaquiski Tartt (29) reacts to a missed interception against the Los Angeles Rams in the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) 

Reuben Foster and Fred Warner are not a formidable linebacker tandem. Not yet, at least. The 49ers allowed a season-high 146 yards, which wasn’t a surprise when the Rams tout NFL-rushing leader Todd Gurley. While Gurley only tallied 63 yards (15 carries), he added 23 receiving yards (four catches) and accounted for three TDs. Backup Malcolm Brown (13 carries, 65 yards) proved as effective on the ground.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D+

Cory Littleton of the Los Angeles Rams blocks a punt by Bradley Pinion of the San Francisco 49ers for a Rams safety in the 1st quarter at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct.21, 2018. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

Four snaps after the Rams took a 10-0 lead, they blocked a Bradley Pinion punt for a safety, signifying the rout was coming. A 36-yard punt return to the 49ers’ 13 set up the Rams’ final TD, and Pinion thus finished with a 24.8-yard net average on four punts. Richie James had a 6-yard punt return, a 21-yard kick return and not enough spark. Robbie Gould: 1-for-1, nailing a 51-yard field goal.Related Articles

COACHING: C-

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan stands on the sidelines during their game against the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth quarter at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) 

Too many mistakes, too little play-making threats. Look, it’s not as if Kyle Shanahan is forgetting to tell his offense to not turn the ball over, or he’s not demanding the 49ers defense force interceptions and fumble recoveries. So, aside from the minus-4 turnover ratio (minus-15 all season), how to evaluate the coaching? By wins and losses, and he’s 1-14 without Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. This freefall must end Sunday at Arizona, or the following Thursday against the Raiders.

 

Warriors’ Draymond Green sees “double standard” in NBA’s punishments for Lakers-Rockets scuffles

Bay Area Mercury News Sports - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 05:00

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DENVER – The Lakers-Rockets scuffle on Saturday entertained Warriors forward Draymond Green so much that he pushed back his bedtime for another 75 minutes. Green expressed annoyance, though, that the NBA handed suspensions to Lakers forward Brandon Ingram (four), Lakers guard Rajon Rondo (three) and Rockets guard Chris Paul (two) in relation to his own punishments.

“It seems like a little bit of a double standard going around this thing,” Green told Bay Area News Group. “That’s just me, though. I could be wrong. I don’t got all the answers.”

Green suggested he would have received a harsher suspension had he been involved in the incident. He cited his one-game suspension in Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals after receiving a Flagrant 1foul in Game 4 for attempting to punch LeBron James in the groin after James stepped over him.

The NBA said in a release that Ingram’s punishment stemmed from “aggressively returning to and escalating the altercation and throwing a punch in the direction of Paul, confronting a game official in a hostile manner, and instigating the overall incident by shoving Rockets guard James Harden.” Rondo’s suspension stemmed from instigating a physical altercation with, spitting and throwing multiple punches at Paul.” Lastly, Paul served a suspension “for poking at” and “making contact” with Rondo’s face, as well as “throwing multiple punches at them.” All of three players will not be paid during their suspensions.

“That was garbage,” Green said. “I’m never in favor of guys losing money. But I got suspended in the NBA Finals for attempting to punch somebody. Guys punching each other are getting two games or three games. I attempted to punch somebody, and not in the face, either.”

Nonetheless, Green said he “was entertained sitting there watching them fight.”

“Guys punching each other — who don’t enjoy watching a fight?” Green said. “It was pretty amazing, honestly.”

Others on the Warriors seemed just as intrigued. Both Warriors forward Andre Iguodala and Jordan Bell tweeted about the fight shortly after it happened.

Fur sure they put cameras in that back lot by now…

— Ai (@andre) October 21, 2018

THIS LAKER GAME GOING UP GHEE!!!

— Jordan Bell (@1jordanbell) October 21, 2018

“I saw it,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, smiling. “I have no comment.”

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Rae Carruth out of prison after 18 years for murder plot

Bay Area Mercury News Sports - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 02:57

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By STEVE REED | The Associated Press

Rae Carruth is a free man.

The former NFL wide receiver was released from prison Monday after serving more than 18 years for conspiring to murder the mother of his unborn child.

The Carolina Panthers’ 1997 first-round draft pick was released from Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton, North Carolina, after completing his sentence of 18 to 24 years.

Carruth did not speak to reporters as he left prison wearing a knit cap and an unzipped jacket on a chilly morning with temperatures in the high 30s. There was a smattering of applause when he got into a white SUV and was whisked away. He was taken to an undisclosed location.

The 44-year-old Carruth will be on a nine-month post-release program, according to North Carolina Department of Public Safety spokesman Jerry Higgins. He would need special permission from a case officer to leave the state or the country during that span but is free to go wherever he pleases after nine months.

Carruth was found guilty of orchestrating a plot to kill Cherica Adams on Nov. 16, 1999, in Charlotte, North Carolina, to avoid paying child support. Adams was shot four times while driving her car but managed to make a 911 call that helped implicate Carruth.

Adams went into a coma and died less than a month later after the shooting.

The child she was carrying, Chancellor Lee Adams, was delivered by emergency cesarean section but suffers from permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy.

Carruth has never admitted guilt in Adams’ murder, but in a complex 15-page letter to WBTV-TV in Charlotte in February he wrote that “I feel responsible for everything that happened. And I just want (Saundra Adams) to know that truly I am sorry for everything.”

Carruth’s former attorney, David Rudolf, did not immediately return phone calls Monday seeking comment about Carruth’s release and plans.

Last week, Carruth told WSOC-TV in Charlotte in a telephone interview, “I just truly want to be forgiven.”

He went on to say he was “somewhat frightened” about his release, adding that “I’m nervous just about how I’ll be received by the public. I still have to work. I still have to live. I have to exist out there and it just seems like there is so much hate and negativity toward me.”

Carruth has repeatedly said he wants to have a relationship with his son, who remains in the custody of his grandmother, Saundra Adams, who has raised him since birth. Adams had previously said she would be there when Carruth got out of prison, but she was not present Monday.

Carruth’s arrest on charges of conspiracy and attempted murder nine days after the shooting sent shockwaves throughout the Panthers organization.

The team released Carruth and the NFL suspended him indefinitely after he fled the Charlotte area after posting $3 million bail and was found by federal authorities hiding in the trunk of a car in Tennessee, about 500 miles from Charlotte.

Panthers center Frank Garcia played with Carruth for more than two seasons. He said players were stunned when they heard the news of Carruth’s possible involvement in the murder, about 20 miles from the team’s downtown stadium in the affluent section of South Charlotte.

“It would be like finding out the guy sitting in the cubicle next to you at work was arrested for murder,” Garcia said. “You just don’t always know people as well as you think you do.”

Garcia said Carruth was a little shy, and mostly kept to himself. But he said Carruth had a passion for helping kids, including reading books to elementary school students.

It was a difficult time in Panthers history.

Some players were called out of football practice to testify at the trial. Those not involved would spend time huddling in the players’ lounge watching the trial on Court TV.

“That is one time where you were actually hiding from the cameras,” Garcia said. “You just wanted to stay low and not be involved. All along you’re asking yourself, ‘Did I miss any signs? How is somebody capable of this?’”

While in jail Carruth worked as a barber, making about $1 per hour, the Department of Public Safety said.

That’s a far cry from the four-year, $3.7 million contract Carruth signed with the Panthers after being drafted — although he never collected all of that money since he was released in the third year of his deal.

___

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Warriors report: Warriors struggling with fouls, turnovers and shooting in loss to Denver

Bay Area Mercury News Sports - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 00:27

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DENVER – The Warriors arrived here wondering if they would have the stamina to handle the altitude. Instead, they realized their issues extend beyond early-season conditioning.

Even though the Warriors boast Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, they suddenly cannot make 3-pointers. Just like last season, the Warriors also have issues with collecting fouls and turnovers.

Mix those ingredients up, and the Warriors’ 100-98 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday provided an ugly snapshot of the beginning of the 2018-19 season.

“We can’t expect to win the game on emotion,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We got to be able to win on execution and intelligence. We’ll get there. But we’re not there yet.”

Yes, the Warriors (2-1) will likely rectify things with Monday’s game against the Phoenix Suns (1-1) at Oracle Arena. Yes, Curry still provided brilliance with 30 points, while shooting 10-of-23 from the field, 6-of-16 from 3-point range and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. Yes, the Warriors pay little attention to games in October compared to ones in April, May and June.

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Yet, the Warriors have plenty of things to fix. They went 7-of-29 from 3-point range, including poor outside shooting nights from Durant (0-of-4) and Thompson (1-of-6). They collected 29 fouls. They logged as many turnovers (18) as assists (22).

“Some of the fouls we have are dumb as hell,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “Some of them are a bit questionable. Then some of them are on us and are just ridiculous. We have to be smarter and not sit there and act like every foul call on us is wrong through the course of the game.”

The Warriors did not execute in the final moments.

Despite all of those issues, the Warriors still had a chance to win the game. They squandered those chances, though.

With the Warriors trailing, 98-87, with 1:18 left, Green bobbled a pass inside from Warriors forward Andre Iguodala. With Green facing a double team, the Nuggets soon forced a turnover. Thompson then grabbed a rebound off of Gary Harris’ ensuing missed 26-foot 3-pointer, but Curry missed a step-back 24-foot 3-pointer with 42.4 seconds left.

The Nuggets held the ball for the last shot. After Denver guard Jamal Murray missed a left-handed layup with 11.8 seconds left, Nuggets forward Paul Millsap grabbed the rebound. Green had no choice but to foul him.

After Millsap split a pair of foul shots to increase the Nuggets’ lead to 99-98 with 11.1 seconds left, the Warriors called timeout. Warriors forward Jonas Jerebko, who made a game-winning putback on Friday in Utah, substituted for Iguodala. Shortly after Curry inbounded the ball to Green, he drew a foul on Murray with 9.6 seconds left. Green made the first free-throw, but he missed the second attempt. The Warriors trailed, 99-98.

“If I’m going to beat myself up over the missed one, then I may as well beat myself up over the missed one in the first half,” said Green, who had four points on 1-of-4 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from the free-throw line along with five rebounds and four assists. “That point still counts. So many times we try to look at ‘I missed that free throw [at the end]’. I missed one in the first half. So if I’m going to slap myself on this side of the face for that one, I should slap myself on this side of the face for the one in the first half. It’s part of the game.”

It also became part of the game that the calls did not go their way. Warriors center Damian Jones, who substituted for Jerebko before the second foul shot, tried to rebound the ball over Harris and Nuggets center Nikola Jokcic, but the ball went out of bounds. After reviewing the play, officials determined the ball went off of Jones. The Nuggets had the ball with 8.4 seconds left.

“I don’t know what contact is anymore,” Jones said. “I thought I got fouled after Draymond missed a free throw. I thought I got fouled there. So who knows.”

Thompson immediately fouled Murray when he received the ball off an inbounds pass with 7.7 seconds left. He missed the first foul shot, but he made the second. The Warriors did not call timeout. Instead, Green inbounded the ball to Curry. He raced down the court and maintained he did not think once about attempting a potential game-winning 3-pointer.

“You can go for the dagger shot, but the lane opened up,” Curry said. “I tried to make the right play.”

So, Curry drove toward the basket. When he met a double team, Curry dumped the ball off to Jones.

“I could’ve dunked it,” Jones said, “but I thought that was easier to block it.”

Instead, Jones attempted a layup. But Nuggets center Juancho Hernangomez blocked the shot from behind as time expired.

“Damian played great. What else could he do in that moment, but go up?” Durant said. “That was a great play. Steph made a huge play and dropped it off. You can’t ask for anything better.”

After all, Jones initially had an open layup without any time for the Nuggets to respond.

“Getting into overtime, I’d like our chances from there,” Curry said. “But it didn’t work out that way.”

Steve Kerr doesn’t like the team’s shot selection, turnovers and its emotions. Other than that, all is well pic.twitter.com/IXo4LCvo5x

— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 22, 2018

Warriors made it a close game because of the Death Lineup.

Incidentally, the Warriors appeared capable of closing the game out since they already spent the final quarter rectifying their previous mistakes. With the Warriors trailing, 80-70, to open the fourth quarter, Kerr started Green at center along with Jerebko, Durant, Thompson and Curry. Not only does that move further reflect Kerr’s lack of trust in second-year forward Jordan Bell, who played only three minutes. It also highlighted Kerr’s trust in Green, whom he said “really picked it up in the fourth with his fire and energy. “

“Our guys have so much competitive juice and spirit,” Kerr said. “Every night they want to win. I wanted to give them the best chance to win.”

During that final period, the Warriors held Denver scoreless from 3-point range (0-of-5). When Jones collected his fifth foul as the Warriors trailed, 95-89 with 4:49 left, Iguodala subbed in. Iguodala, who missed Friday’s game with tightness in his left calf, quickly made a difference en route to a 7-2 run. He threw down a one-handed dunk in transition to tie the game at 97-97 with 1:29 left.

“That really changed the whole game,” Kerr said. “But it shouldn’t have come to that.”

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)  The Warriors are struggling adjusting to the officiating.

Kerr did not find much use microanalyzing the final moments after he saw his team “playing some of the worst basketball I’ve seen here” since 2015. Then, the Warriors continued a season-long trend with sparking a whistle almost every time they defend. The Warriors have averaged 26 fouls through three games, which ranks 26th out of 30 NBA teams.

“We have to correct it. We talk about it all the time,” Kerr said. “We drill it all the time. We drill defensive drills without reaching and without grabbing and so you got to keep drilling it. It has to become something that becomes a habit with our team. But we haven’t gotten there yet obviously.”

The reasons appear both self-inflicted and unavoidable.

Jones collected five fouls, including three by the 4:50 mark in the first quarter. Green also had five fouls. Curry (four), Thompson (three), Looney (three) and Iguodala (three) did not fare much better.

Though Durant noticed Jones being called for “ticky-tack fouls,” Kerr observed that some of those stemmed from Jones failing to follow the so-called “verticality” rule. That concept entails big men jumping with their arms straight up to avoid any contact when a player attacks the rim.

“There’s plays he’s in perfect position and has his hands up. But he reaches down,” Kerr said of Jones. “If you reach down instead of staying vertical, it’s an automatic foul. That’s how the officials are taught to call it. He’s doing that. He also sometimes has a hand riding a guy’s hip. He’s just a young guy and learning about the NBA and learning about the officiating, what he can get away with and what he can’t. So he’ll learn.”

Jones also learned what it was like to match up with Jokic, who had 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting, 11 rebounds and five assists. This week alone, Jones competed against Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams (17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, 11 rebounds, four assists) and Utah’s Rudy Gobert (16 points on 4-of-6 shooting, 11 rebounds). Through those games, Jones has averaged half as many fouls (four) as points (eight). He has also averaged more fouls than rebounds (3.5).

“It’s kind of different. I don’t really know what they’re looking for. But I’m learning it game-by-game,” Jones said. “I try to make sure I do that every time someone drives to the rim. Sometimes I get a little antsy and reach for a block. But for the most part, I try to stay vertical and stay square with the defender.”

Jones’ learning curves aside, the Warriors are finding something else that has contributed to the frequent whistles. With the NBA’s points of emphasis scrutinizing screens and post-ups, the Warriors have been called for fouls both on offense and defense.

“It’s been called pretty tight. We were told that. Defense isn’t really an emphasis anymore in this league,” Green said. “You’re seeing it all around the league with these high scores.”

Case in point, the lowly Sacramento Kings beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, 131-120. Is that good for the game?

“It depends on who you’re asking,” Green said. “For defense lovers, nah. For offensive minded people, yeah. It depends on who you ask. I like to play defense. So I don’t know.”

One prominent Warriors player privately argued this trend illustrates the league’s want to have higher scoring games to boost its ratings and highlight reels. Incidentally, though, that reality has not helped the Warriors cause. Curry absorbed contact on two 3-point attempts that cause him to foul. No whistle. Durant drove to the basket at the end of the first half and drew contact. Nothing. When Durant attacked the basket with 7:14 left in the third quarter, Harris grabbed his right forearm. No call. Durant pleaded with the official and said that Harris “grabbed my arm!” While Durant was given a technical, Harris smiled as if he knew he got away with a foul.

Gary Harris reaches into the cookie jar, KD angry pic.twitter.com/PZZB3RRI8z

— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) October 22, 2018

“Obviously with the freedom of movement stuff, we have to be a little bit more cautious before the play,” Durant said. “What makes a good defense is you do your work early before the play starts. Sometimes we’re a little too physical. We have to calm that down a bit and still try to play aggressive and find that balance.”

How can the Warriors find that balance when they are not getting calls?

“You have to finish stronger through the contact and keep going at the rim,” Durant said. “Eventually you’ll get one to fall. But the refs are doing their best. Obviously we would love some of those back, but I wish I could’ve made a few jump shots.”

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)  Why aren’t the Warriors making and taking 3’s?

The Warriors wished they could make more than a few jump shots. They have shot a combined 24-of-74 from beyond the arc in three regular-season games (32.4 percent). Thompson has averaged 10 percent, while Durant has shot 16.7 percent. Those numbers overshadowed Curry (2,145) passing former NBA player Paul Pierce (2,143) on Sunday for sixth place on the league’s all-time 3-pointers list.

“I don’t like the looks we’ve been getting at all,” Kerr said. “We’ve not been executing.”

Thompson did not speak to reporters, but Durant argued the team’s foul trouble has played a heavier role than poor shot selection.

“We’re getting great looks,” Durant said. “I like that we’re shooting them. We just need to get a couple more up just for the flow of the game.”

The Warriors have not had the flow they wanted because of the early foul trouble. Still, it has been weird seeing the Warriors’ other Splash Brother experiencing a drought. After all, Thompson shot 55.1 percent from 3-point range in five preseason games.

“Nothing I’m worried abut. Nothing Klay is worried about,” Kerr said. “Sometimes you go through preseason, especially if you go through a great preseason. And psychologically, you’re like none of those count? So it’s a fresh slate. A bad game or two is demoralizing and you settle in. He’ll settle in.”

Will the Warriors settle in? It seems absurd to wonder given that Curry, Durant and Thompson are on their team. But as Kerr said, “we’re top heavy with our 3-point shooting.” Meanwhile, the Warriors do not have definitive 3-point shooters on a second unit that has fluctuated.

“We don’t really have a formula or scold guys for making rhythm 17 footers,” Kerr said. “We actually pat them on the back. We’re different than some teams.”

Kerr scolded his team about its shooting after Sunday’s game, though.

“For the most part, they’re good. They can get better, though in terms of executing, moving the ball and setting each other up,” Curry said. “That will definitely get better. Overall we haven’t created as many open looks in the flow of the game like we would like to.”

Related Articles Nuggets coach Mike Malone has fond memories coaching DeMarcus Cousins.

After coaching the Sacramento Kings for just over a season (2013-14), Malone quickly recognized that DeMarcus Cousins’ volatile reputation did not come as advertised.

“DeMarcus Cousins, I think, is very misunderstood,” Malone said. “Those who know him know how smart he is and how competitive he is and how much he wants to win.”

Malone coached the Kings during the 2014-15 season and an additional 24 games in the 2015-16 campaign before the Kings fired him. “Cut way too soon,” Malone added. Since then, Malone has maintained there is “nothing but love between me and [DeMarcus].”

“If the jump ball went up, I never had to worry about if he was going to be ready to play,” Malone said. “My challenge to him was to get him to be the best version of himself.”

Malone added that Cousins will benefit from “being around greatness every day.” Though the Warriors have no idea when Cousins will return, they like how he has mentored the team’s younger players, most notably Jones.

“It’s also good to have him engaged in the game,” Kerr said. “He’s been out for a long time and he’s dying to be back. But at this point, all he can do is continue his work and his rehab and engage himself in the game emotionally and mentally. He’s doing the best he can.”

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Kurtenbach: The 49ers’ embarrassing loss to the Rams raises serious questions

Bay Area Mercury News Sports - Sun, 10/21/2018 - 21:22

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SANTA CLARA — Under normal circumstances, 49ers second-year head coach Kyle Shanahan would be on the hot seat after his team was embarrassed by the Rams Sunday.

Under normal circumstances, quarterback C.J. Beathard — a player Shanahan hand-picked and has backed up, full-throat, time and time again — wouldn’t start next week’s game, either.

Under normal circumstances, there would be plenty of outspoken concern about the direction of this 49ers franchise, which now sits at 1-6 this season.

But these are anything but normal circumstances.

The second Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in Kansas City last month, the 49ers’ season — and all of the hopes and dreams of making the playoffs that accompanied it — went out the window.

From that point on, Shanahan had plausible deniability for his team’s poor play this season.

But even amid these strange times, the question must be asked: at what point is Shanahan culpable for this team’s failures?

At what point does the plausible deniability for the Niners’ at-times-abysmal play expire?

Luckily, I think we’re going to get an answer to those questions in the 49ers’ next three games.

Less than a week after choking away a road win in Green Bay, the Niners were downright manhandled by the Rams Sunday.

Shanahan’s team didn’t look like a few high draft picks and a healthy Garoppolo away from competing with L.A. — it looked like a laughingstock.

Perhaps Sunday’s blowout loss was an outlier. The Niners have been competitive for most of this season — racking up moral victories — but on Sunday, they went up against arguably the best team in the NFL and they turned the ball over four times. It was bound to look ugly.

But the Niners will be playing anything but juggernauts in the coming weeks. And if the Niners can’t get a win or two in the next three games — all coming against teams that, like them, have one win to their name — Sunday’s loss will be retroactively seen as a forewarning, not an abnormality.

It will be an indictment on Shanahan and his time in Santa Clara.

Yes, we need to keep in mind the big picture with these Niners — it’s all about developing players for 2019 and beyond and getting a good draft pick — but at some point, the results on the field need to matter.

This is that point.

The Niners play the Cardinals (1-6) in Arizona next Sunday, host the Raiders (1-5) the following Thursday, and then get a super bye week (a full weekend off, plus a day) before hosting the Giants (1-5) on Monday Night Football.

If the Niners don’t look as good (or better) than three teams that have unquestionably bottomed out, what does that say about the state of Shanahan’s rebuild?

It would say that two years in, it hasn’t gone anywhere.

And that would be unacceptable.

Because while Garoppolo is good — we saw that last year — he cannot be the only thing separating this Niners team being the worst squad in pro football. He’s not that good.

And as Shanahan said Sunday in defense of Beathard — who turned the ball over three times and is averaging three turnovers a game this season: “It’s not just C.J., it’s everyone”

Success can’t just be Jimmy, either.

At the same time, you could have fooled me.

Beathard is Shanahan’s guy. The Niners coach advocated to trade up to take him in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, despite the fact that he wasn’t seen as a draftable prospect by some teams. Why? Because he was seen as a fit in Shanahan’s system.

Are you seeing much of a fit?

Beathard has been better this year — we’ve seen glimpses of progression — but he’s 1-8 as a starter and is yet to have a turnover-free game in his NFL career.

He’s simply not the answer — even as a backup — but Shanahan seems content to ride him to the end of the year, defending the quarterback at every turn.

“C.J. is the best quarterback we have in our building,” Shanahan tersely said after Sunday’s loss.

That might be true — Nick Mullens is probably not the answer — but if that’s the case, what does that say about Shanahan’s judgment? Remember, he — whether he wants to admit it or not — has final say on the Niners’ roster.

And what does that defensiveness — that manifested stubbornness — say about Shanahan’s temperament?

(Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) 

Beathard might be the best quarterback in the building, but Shanahan didn’t have to stick in the building. (It’s probably too late and a bit counterproductive to sign a street free agent now.) Remember, when it was announced that Garoppolo was going to miss the rest of the season, NFL officials reportedly asked the 49ers to trade for a more high-profile quarterback because of the team’s number of prime-time games.

(Luckily, Sunday’s game was flexed out of the prime-time Sunday Night Football slot.)

At the time, Shanahan responded to a question about that report with condescension.

”It’s very comical,” Shanahan said. “I wish we could worry about that stuff and help people out. That’s definitely the last of our worries.”

He’s made a big bet on Beathard, and this season is him doubling down on that bet.

At least he’ll get a high draft pick out of it.

But the quarterback’s play is enough to make you question if Shanahan should be holding all of the 49ers’ chips.

Remember, the Rams didn’t need a multi-year rebuild to get to where they are now. They hired Sean McVay a month before the Niners hired Shanahan. McVay took over a 4-12 team, Shanahan a 2-14 squad.

And last year, the Rams won the division behind the NFL’s best offense. The Niners — who were admittedly in a more difficult spot — started 0-9 before Garoppolo showed up and rattled off five garbage-time wins.

This year, the Niners were supposed to close the gap on L.A. — or at least be a good rival to them in the NFC West.

Is it a fair standard? No. But that’s the standard.

And right now, the franchises couldn’t look further apart.

Again, all of this hand-wringing is wiped away if the Niners win two of their next three games. Perhaps even just one win will get the Niners back on track (so long as all three games are close).

This team can be bad — the Garoppolo-is-injured excuse can stretch pretty far — it just can’t be the worst.

That’s not a high bar. In year two — with Garoppolo at quarterback or not — Shanahan’s team needs to be able to clear it.

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A’s fall 6-4 at Minnesota, Cahill gives up five runs

San Francisco Chronicle Sports - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 22:27
MINNEAPOLIS — Over their previous 57 games, the A’s lost back-to-back games just twice, in consecutive games at Denver last month. Thursday at Target Field, the Twins made it two rare Ls in a row for Oakland, which had dropped the series finale against Texas the previous day. Trevor Cahill continued his good at home, bad on the road trend, allowing five runs in Minnesota’s 6-4 victory. “We’ll use it as motivation, I don’t think there’s any other way to take it,” catcher Jonathan Lucroy said of the consecutive losses. “We’ll come back out here tomorrow, refocus, regather ourselves and take it out on whoever’s pitching for them. We’ll be ready to roll and hopefully do some damage.

Gil Brandt, Pat Bowlen nominated for Pro Football Hall of Fame

San Francisco Chronicle Sports - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 22:27
Gil Brandt and Pat Bowlen have been nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, as contributors to the game. Brandt, a consultant to the NFL and one of the key figures in the staging of the draft, was one of the key contributors to the building of the Dallas Cowboys. As vice president of player personnel from 1960 through ’89, he helped Dallas grow into one of the most powerful and popular sports franchises in America. Bowlen, 74, a longtime owner of the Denver Broncos who has Alzheimer’s disease, is the only owner in NFL history with 300 overall victories during his first 30 seasons. Under his leadership, the Broncos have won three Super Bowls and seven conference titles.

49ers trade linebacker Eli Harold to Lions

San Francisco Chronicle Sports - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 22:27
The 49ers keep saying goodbye to Trent Baalke’s draft picks. On Thursday, the 49ers traded outside linebacker Eli Harold to the Lions. In the deal, the 49ers will receive a conditional 2020 seventh-round pick, MLive.com reported. Harold, a 2015 third-round pick, has five sacks in a career that includes 25 starts. Last year, Harold had 34 tackles and two sacks in 11 starts. General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan inherited 31 of ex-GM Baalke’s draft picks in February 2017 and they have shed 23 from the roster. Only 12 players remain who were part of a 2-14 season in 2016.

Back in Minnesota, Fernando Rodney says A’s will ‘go to the World Series’

San Francisco Chronicle Sports - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 22:27
MINNEAPOLIS — Fernando Rodney, the Twins’ closer less than three weeks ago, was a big attraction for reporters at Target Field on Thursday, and he took the opportunity to make a bold prediction. Asked how far the A’s could go this year, Rodney said, “We go to the World Series, man! We have a good team. From what I’ve seen of these guys, they’re relaxed, they go outside, they play baseball and have fun. That’s really important.” Rodney, who had 25 saves with Minnesota before going to Oakland in a waiver-claim deal, is working mostly in the seventh inning, with Jeurys Familia and Blake Treinen pitching in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. All three men have been All-Stars.

Three share Northern Trust lead; Tiger Woods 5 shots off pace

San Francisco Chronicle Sports - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 22:27
Back in the FedEx Cup playoffs for the first time in five years, Tiger Woods was stuck in neutral. Kevin Tway, Jamie Lovemark and Vaughn Taylor each opened with a 5-under-par 66 and shared the lead Thursday at the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust in Paramus, N.J. Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka were among those one shot behind. Woods had two birdies, two bogeys, 14 pars and a 71 that left him in the middle of the pack. Woods, who on Wednesday agreed to a $9 million winner-take-all match with Phil Mickelson to be played in Las Vegas on Thanksgiving weekend, might have expected better Thursday after hitting nine of 14 fairways. He just didn’t give himself many chances.

Giants’ Brian Sabean: ‘Total rebuild’ unlikely despite disappointing season

San Francisco Chronicle Sports - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 22:27
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Matt Holliday makes return to Rockies

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The 38-year-old All-Star outfielder sauntered into the Colorado clubhouse at Coors Field and instantly felt like a rookie again. Matt Holliday was back at home. The Rockies selected the contract of Holliday from Triple-A Albuquerque on Thursday after he signed a minor-league deal last month. A seventh-round pick in 1998 by Colorado, Holliday played the first five seasons of his 14-year career with the Rockies, hitting .290 as a rookie in 2004 and helping lead Colorado to its only World Series appearance in 2007. He’s hoping to reprise a similar role this season with a Rockies team in the thick of the playoff chase.

Raiders tight end Jared Cook feels at home in Jon Gruden’s system

San Francisco Chronicle Sports - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 22:27
Let go by the Packers, a pass-catcher joins the Raiders and leads the team in receiving in his first season in Oakland. In a few months, that could be Jordy Nelson’s story line. Currently, it applies to Jared Cook. Cook, a 31-year-old tight end, departed Green Bay in free agency after the 2016 season and signed with the Raiders, for whom he quickly became a reliable target for quarterback Derek Carr. He had a team-leading 688 receiving yards last year and was second to Michael Crabtree with 54 catches. This season has reunited Cook and Nelson, the longtime Green Bay receiver who was cut by the team in March.

Gerran Brown’s medical retirement leaves Cal seeking inside-linebacker depth

San Francisco Chronicle Sports - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 22:27
Cal’s inside linebackers refer to themselves as the “Tone Setters.” The group found themselves trying to alter a subdued setting Wednesday night, when head coach Justin Wilcox announced that junior inside linebacker Gerran Brown had been forced into a medical retirement. “He could have been a key to our team this year,” junior inside linebacker Evan Weaver said of Brown, who was fourth on the team with 61 tackles last season. “It just creates opportunities for the younger guys. … It’s going to create an opportunity for those guys to show up before they even thought they might have touched the field.

Golden Gate Fields’ first summer race a big payday

San Francisco Chronicle Sports - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 22:27
The summer racing season at Golden Gate Fields got off to a surprising — and for some, quite profitable — start Thursday when 25-1 longshot Senorita Cometa won the day’s opening race. Ridden by Victor Flores, Senorita Cometa won the one-mile $13,000 maiden claimer for 3-year-olds and up in 1:39.73 and paid a stout $59.40. Sweet Congrats was second and Mal’s Harbor third.