49ers’ list of problems grow in loss to the Colts

iBy Morris Phillips

Unlike their trip to Seattle, getting pushed around for four quarters was just one of the 49ers’ problems on Sunday.

Losing troubled, defensive standout Aldon Smith indefinitely, scoring just 10 points in their last eight quarters, and the growing distance between the team and a return trip to the Super Bowl would be other major issues the reigning NFC Champs didn’t see themselves dealing with following a 27-7 loss to the Colts, and the first ever back-to-back losses under Coach Jim Harbaugh.

But deal with them they must with another critical football game coming up Thursday night in St. Louis.

“Haven’t been getting those drives, making those big plays. Too many three-and-outs,” Frank Gore said of the 49ers. “We aren’t getting those types of rhythms.”

“There wasn’t enough opportunity to make plays,” Harbaugh said. “It was a combination of that. Not having, the players not having the opportunity to make them and not making them.”

In fact, encouraging signs following the thrashing at Candlestick may total just one: Gore looked like his old self, gaining 82 yards on 11 carries. Given that, the 49ers managed just six first downs via the run, and quarterback Colin Kaepernick looked anything but poised, completing less than half of his 27 pass attempts and getting sacked three times.

If the evaluation of a Super Bowl team starts with a roll call of its super players, then the 49ers are going to have to get their bull horn fixed: Vernon Davis has an injured hamstring and didn’t play, Patrick Willis looked ordinary coming in and left in the third quarter with a groin injury, Gore was present, but not a difference maker, Justin Smith needed help, Kaepernick couldn’t make plays downfield, and Aldon Smith could miss at least a month to deal with substance abuse issues.

Worse yet, coming in all the performance-inhibiting issues seemed to be saddling the Colts. The AFC South champs were without six starters, hadn’t protected franchise quarterback Andrew Luck in either of the first two games, and were attempting to break in newly acquired running back Trent Richardson on the fly.

But after the 49ers’ defense committed penalties on the first two plays of the afternoon, Indianapolis marched right down the field and Richardson found himself in the end zone on his first carry as a Colt less than four minutes in.

By the fourth quarter, the 49ers’ defense caved in, allowing two Indianapolis touchdowns in a game that was still winnable with the team trailing just 13-7. Ahmad Bradshaw—the guy the Colts thought they had to replace with Richardson—tore up the 49ers with 95 yards rushing on 19 carries, even better than his performance against the supposedly staunch San Francisco run defense in the NFC Championship game two seasons ago.

Maybe most telling, the 49ers have won just five of their last nine games—after winning 23 of 32 under Harbaugh—and don’t look nearly as imposing as they did in Week 1 against Green Bay or as dominant as they did last year near mid-season. The seven turnovers surrendered over the last two weeks have been an issue, but maybe not as a big an issue as the team’s mediocre play.

Think things don’t change overnight in the NFL? Think again: the Redskins and Steelers are 0-3, Giants, Falcons and Packers are 1-2 and the Dolphins are undefeated at 3-0. If you’re the 49ers, change is bad and not making plays is worse.

The ball is still in the 49ers court, but they’ll need to find answers before challenging the Rams on Thursday in St. Louis.

Youngsters spoil big day at the Stadium

iBy Jeremy Kahn

NEW YORK–This was supposed to be the day that the New York Yankees honored one of their legends, but it was the San Francisco Giants youngsters that spoiled the party.

Ehire Adrianza broke up Andy Pettite’s no-hit bid and shutout with one swing of the bat in the top of the sixth, and Tony Abreu won it with a run-scoring double in the top of the eighth inning and the Giants came back to defeat the Yankees 2-1 at Yankee Stadium.

Pettite, who announced he was retiring at the end of the season, pitched into the eighth inning and was pulled after giving up a double to Pablo Sandoval and given a standing ovation by the Yankee faithful.

David Robertson gave up the eventual game-winning hit to Abreu, and was replaced by the hero of the day, Mariano Rivera.

The all-time saves leader, who announced in spring training that he would be retiring at the end of the year came out to a rousing ovation.

Rivera was treated to a 50-minute ceremony, which included a rocking chair from the Yankees and a live performance from legendary Bay Area band Metallica, who performed Rivera’s theme song, “Enter Sandman.”

Javier Lopez picked up the victory, and Sergio Romo notched his 36th save of the season in 41 opportunities.

Jeremy Kahn covers Giants baseball for Sportstalk Radio

Back to back AL West Champions!

By Emily Zahner

 

OAKLAND, CA—The Oakland Athletics (93-63) didn’t need 9 innings for a reason to celebrate, all it took was three. With their magic number down to one, Oakland needed to either defeat the Minnesota Twins (65-90) this afternoon, or see Texas lose. Halfway through the top of the third, cheers started to erupt throughout the stadium, and yet the out of town scoreboard still read the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals were locked in a 0-0 tie in the 10th. After Sonny Gray surrendered a 3-run homerun by Oswaldo Arcia, the A’s finally got out of the inning. That was when a replay was shown of KC’s Justin Maxwell, with two outs in the 10th, crushing a grand slam that instantly sent the A’s into the post season. Once again, at the expense of the Texas Rangers, the A’s would be crowned the American League West Champions.

Not that the A’s needed the Royals help anyway… Oakland erupted for six runs in the 2nd inning, and then added one more in each of the next five innings. The A’s celebrated their division title on the back of a four-game sweep by means of an 11-7 rout of the Twins. Oakland starter Sonny Gray became the youngest pitcher in A’s history to win a division clinching game at the young age of 23. Gray was elated, “this is the best baseball day of my life… today is a very exciting day.” Even though they all knew their fate in the third, Sonny was determined, saying he knew something had happened in the Texas game, but still had a game to win.  Gray did struggle a bit, giving up four earned runs on seven hits through five innings pitched, but with the offensive tear his team appears to be on lately, it didn’t even matter. Gray isn’t worried about where he will land on the post season roster, just as long as he is a part of the team.

After tonight’s game, the A’s finish off the regular season with a three game series in Anaheim, followed by a three game set in Seattle. From here on out, the A’s will be focused on the post season. A’s manager Bob Melvin is ready, saying “we’ve got some unfinished business going forward… we’re going to enjoy today and look forward to tomorrow”. He has extreme confidence in his squad, “this is an unselfish group that just wants to win.” The players themselves are ready, Australian closer Grant Balfour said “we know how to play and we know how to win”.

Not only did the A’s clinch the West today, but Coco Crisp made history as well. In the 6th inning, after Eric Sogard reached first on a single, Coco walked. The two initiated a double steal, and Coco became only the 10th player in Oakland history to have a 20 homerun-20 stolen base year. Players all through the lineup stepped up huge today. In the 7th spot, Daric Barton went 3-3 with a walk; just a triple short of the cycle. Homeruns were a plenty today, and Oakland saw bombs from Crisp, Barton, and Jed Lowrie. Barton has made a huge impact since being called up from Triple A Sacramento on August 24th, and Melvin is taking notice, “I don’t see how Barton could not be on the post season roster”.

This marks the second consecutive and 16th overall AL West Division title for the Oakland Athletics. If the standings hold, the A’s will most likely face the Detroit Tigers once again in the ALDS. With the way this team has been playing, they’re ready for anyone.

 

Game Notes: Josh Donaldson has reached base safely via hit or walk in 27 consecutive games. Oakland has reached a season high of 30 games over .500. Josh Reddick had two outfield assists today, doubling off Brian Dozier in the 7th and Oswaldo Arcia in the 9th.

Michelle Richardson on the NCAA

CFBMapIIIby Michelle Richardson

Florida (2-1, 1-0) 31 vs. Tennessee (2-2, 0-1) 17: Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel who broke his leg Saturday will be out for the rest of the season. Injuries are tough and that’s college football and you have to be prepared for that and it was a win for Florida 31-17 over the Tennessee Vols. Tennessee didn’t look horrible especially for playing on the road and Vols quarterback Justin Worely threw one interception but a tough loss for the Vols. It was tough for Florida quarterback Driskel who went down and was replaced by the rarely used back up Tyler Murphy who threw for 8-14, 134 yards and one touchdown.

I would give Murphy the season for him to fully understand what he’s doing because Murphy hasn’t taken a snap this season and this will be interesting in the least and for Murphy you can only go up. For Driskel this is part of football and it’s part of the game and it’s unfortunate and he was in the game and he was really out to make this happen this time. It was a good FCC match up and we’ll learn more about these two teams as the season progresses on the schedule.

Right now were just too early in the season and we just completed week four and their just now starting their conference schedule so when they have to play Georgia, Alabama, LSU, South Carolina and we’ll definitely know by the time the schedule gets harder how they’ve progressed

Michigan (4-0) 24 vs. UConn (0-3) 21: To be honest if the Wolverines lost this game this might not have been an embarrassing loss and when you have to throw a coin up and you have to meet Ohio State and your in the Big 10 and you have to face the Buckeyes in the final game of the season on November 30th that will be a true test for Michigan. Michigan’s embarrassment would be if they lost to Akron two weeks ago in a close game they won by four points.

I would not say that Michigan was the better team because obviously they weren’t, you got these young men at Akron who gave them a run for their money in that game and they came in prepared to play. The Wolves didn’t win in a blow out money game. For Michigan your number 18 in the AP polls and your in the Big 10 and your allowing teams like UConn and Akron to come into your house and give you a really bad beating.

In this game you saw Michigan fumble twice and they can’t hold onto the ball and Wolves quarterback Devin Gardner threw two interceptions and UConn was able to take advantage of that not so much in the win but UConn came within three points and it’s going to give UConn a lot of confidence in the future playing a lot of teams and UConn is home for the Big East or for the American Conference.

Cincinnati mourns the loss of Ben Flick: Cincinnati offensive lineman Ben Flick died in an auto accident right after the Bearcats win 14-0 on Saturday. He and two others receivers Mark Barr and Javon Harrison were airlifted with an unnamed driver in critical condition to the University of Cincinnati Medical Hospital. Flick became the second student athlete to die in September, UCLA’s Nick Pasquale was killed on September 8th when he was crossing the street when he was ran over and killed in San Clemente and his jersey now hangs in the school gym.

Flick will more than likely be honored at the Bearcats next home game the three were redshirting for the team and did not travel with the team and were in the accident 25 miles north of Cincinnati at the time. I tell young people be careful I know people at the University where I work at that are 18, 21, 22, 24, you think your bullet proof but your not and whatever your doing when your not on campus please be careful.

NCAA players make statement about getting paid will there be a revolution? This argument started years ago but more recently a former UCLA athlete said to AP that all players should stand united. This is something that’s been going on for years Ed O’Bannon a former UCLA basketball player said that the players should be paid and O’Bannon has filed a suit and demanded that their should be a fairer system the lawsuit now is in class action status. O’Bannon saw his likeness on a video game that the maker and the NCAA was making money from and O’Bannon was not receiving any royalties from it. O’Bannon was in the NCAA Championship game in 1995 and had his number 31 retired by the school.

You can say that the NCAA is corrupt but please understand what the NCAA is made of it’s made up of members of institutions and the NCAA two way committee. Look to your NCAA University presidents they are the NCAA. It’s not the NCAA president Mark Emmert he’s the fall guy, he’s kind of passing to the NCAA members and institutions. It’s the University presidents that sit on the board of the NCAA that have to tell Emmert to make legislation or make this rule.

So the players shouldn’t blame the NCAA, blame your university trustees and demand more from your university administration. For people who don’t understand this I’m glad that people or the student athletes are speaking up for themselves and most of the time you have a players who don’t say anything they go through their four years and they don’t get involved in student government and they don’t get involved in anything that would possibly jeopardize their college scholarship because coaches have told these athletes that if they do anything like that they will be cut.

These scholarships are one year renewables so every year by a certain day of the year they would have to tell the player whether they’re bringing the player back or not. I’m telling the students to watch yourself out there because these contracts are not renewable and there has to be a reason not to renew your contract and this is what the general public understands the athletes are not contract workers the coaches are.

So to the student athletes don’t go and yell at Emmert he is a patsy, the responsibility of change in a matter like this lies within your university presidents.

Michelle Richardson does NCAA commentary each week

A’s a cinch to clinch after smashing the Twins

Twins Athletics Baseball.JPEG-0a1baby Morris Phillips

With their magic number reduced to one, the A’s won’t be doing a whole lot of scoreboard watching on Sunday.
 
In fact, if the burdened Rangers lose or the A’s top Minnesota for the fourth straight day, all eyes will be on uncanny, unlikely back-to-back division winners in Oakland.  The A’s set up the comfy scenario on Saturday, by routing the Twins at the Coliseum, 9-1.
 
“Right now we got to do what we do,” Jarrod Parker said of capturing the AL West title.  “We know it’s right there.  If we handle what we do and we win games, it’s going to happen.”
 
So self assured were the A’s on Saturday that they shook off a two-hour rain delay and more clubhouse sewage issues only to smash the Twins in basically two acts—inning number one and number two.   Alberto Callaspo’s two-run shot capped Oakland’s five-run second inning and basically ended the afternoon for Minnesota starter Pedro Hernandez.  The A’s led 6-0 at that point and Parker did his part, shutting down the Twins through six innings.
 
Afterwards, the A’s watched intently in their clubhouse—as did a smattering of fans in the stadium—as the Rangers closed out the Royals in Kansas City, 3-1, to keep their divisional hopes alive.  Earlier, Cleveland also won, 4-1 over the Astros, to keep the A’s from clinching a wild card playoff berth.
 
But none of that seemed to matter to the A’s even as the attendants removed the plastic covering the lockers, if only for one more day.  Now the best case scenario would be the A’s clinching the division title while they’re on the field Sunday, if Texas loses their game that starts approximately two hours prior to the A’s game at 1:05pm.
 
“We’re going to continue to go out there and try to play our kind of baseball,” Josh Donaldson said.  “We’re going to try and win tomorrow even if (Texas losing) comes about.  I’m sure if we’re playing they’ll do something on the loudspeaker or something.”
 
Since trailing the Rangers on August 30 by three games, the A’s have won 17 of 22, the best run in the major leagues since that date.  With 92 wins under their belt, the A’s are just two short of their 2012 total of 94 with seven games yet to play.  And the Twins will be happy to see the A’s go away:  in the last two weeks, Minnesota has dropped games to the A’s by 15 runs (18-3), 11 runs (11-0) and six runs (8-2) prior to Saturday’s eight-run difference.
 
Callaspo, Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes each homered on Saturday to support the A’s 16-hit attack.  Parker picked up his 12th win of the season and Jerry Blevins pitched two scoreless innings to end it. 
 
On Sunday, the A’s have rookie Sonny Gray slated to throw the first pitch of the afternoon with Minnesota’s Cole De Vries as his opposition.

Cardinal enjoy big first half, routs Sun Devils

Arizona St Stanford Football.JPEG-0b778By Daniel Dullum
Saturday, September 21, 2013

No. 5-ranked Stanford built a huge halftime lead, then held off a late Arizona State challenge in the second half Saturday in the Cardinal’s 42-28 victory in the Pac-12 opener for both schools at Stanford Stadium.

Tyler Gaffney gained 95 yards while scoring two touchdowns for Stanford (3-0 overall, 1-0 Pac-12) and Anthony Wilkerson chipped in with 68 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Kevin Hogan completed 11 of 17 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns – both to Ty Montgomery – leading the Cardinal to their 11th consecutive victory. Montgomery, slowed last season by a knee injury, caught four catches for 62 yards.

The Cardinal defense played a key role in the nationally-televised win, forcing two turnovers, blocking two punts, plus three sacks and 10 tackles for loss of yardage.

Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly completed 30 of 55 passes for 367 yards and three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. One of Kelly’s picks was in the end zone as time expired.

Jaelen Strong caught 12 passes for 168 yards and a TD in a disappointing loss for ASU following a win last week over Wisconsin.

ASU’s fourth quarter touchdown passes to Chris Coyle, Strong and Marion Grice made the score look cosmetically closer than it really was.

Stanford extended its streak of forcing a turnover to 27 games early in the contest. Defensive end Josh Mauro kick-started the Cardinal’s defensive contributions when he intercepted a Kelly pass deep in Sun Devil territory, setting up Montgomery’s first TD catch in the first quarter.

From there, Stanford built its 29-0 halftime lead on a Gaffney running touchdown, a 13-yard scoring pass to Wilkerson and a 30-yard TD run by Mongomery. Adding insult to injury to the Sun Devils, Blake Lueders blocked an ASU upback into the punter, who booted the ball over the end line for a safety.

In the third quarter, Ben Gardner blocked a quick kick by Kelly, setting up a 16-yard TD by Gaffney that put Stanford up 39-7 late in the third quarter.

The undefeated Cardinal travels to Washington State next week. Game time has yet to be determined.

(subject Stanford football)

(tags,Stanford,football,Arizona State,Pac-12)

Sharks win in overtime over Phoenix

Andrew+Desjardins+San+Jose+Sharks+v+Phoenix+0MHZ12HgSDilBy: Phillip Torres

September 21, 2013

SAN JOSE- The San Jose Sharks defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 in Overtime on Saturday night at the SAP Center in San Jose. The Sharks bounced right back after a 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks just one night ago.

San Jose trailed early in the contest as Phoenix was the first and only team to score in the opening period. Oliver Ekman-Larsson put the Coyotes on top with assists from Tim Kennedy and Chris Brown midway through the period. Phoenix played strong on the ice early and held San Jose scoreless.

The Sharks were resilient after the first intermission. San Jose came out strong in the second period scoring just 52 seconds into the frame. Freddie Hamilton found the net on the play. The assists were earned by Logan Couture and assistant captain Patrick Marleau on the goal. The second period was the highest scoring period of the night as there were three goals scored in total, two of which by San Jose.

The Sharks gained their first lead of the night after a goal from Jason Demers at 11:37. The goal was scored on a power play after a penalty committed by the Coyotes. Joe Pavelski earned the assist on the play to help the take the 2-1 advantage. With less than one minutes to play in the second period, the Sharks gave up a frustrating goal that tied the game up at two goals apiece.

The third period went scoreless as both the Coyotes and Sharks played tough defense to keep the score at 2-2 at the end of regulation. For the second night in a row the San Jose Sharks played extra hockey as their last two games went into overtime. But, unlike last night, they were on the winning side of a 3-2 score.

Couture nailed the game winner with a goal that he slipped into the net from behind the Phoenix goaltender. The goal was assisted by Demers and Pavelski to end the contest with 1:32 remaining in the overtime period.

Phillip Torres covers the San Jose Sharks for Sportsradioservice.com

Quakes win big in Salt Lake City

By Ivan Makarov

San Jose Earthquakes are not going down without a fight this season.

With only five games remaining in the regular season before the Quakes played on the road against Real Salt Lake, they knew they needed to win at least once on the road, if they were to have a chance to content for the MLS Cup in playoffs. The win was needed even more so after the Quakes failed to secure a victory against Vancouver last Saturday.

That win was earned on a good defensive effort and a pair of headers from Steven Lenhart, as Quakes won that game in Salt Lake and greatly improved their standings.

Rio Tinto Stadium, the home of Real Salt Lake, has always been a hard place to play for any visiting team, with its stands close to the field, and passionate fans filling up the stands all contributing to Real’s dominance in SLC. They only lost two games at home this season, while the Quakes won just once on the road, where they struggled all season.

While the Quakes looked good in many road games but not seeing that translate on the scoreboard and in the standings, the scenario reversed itself on Saturday. This much was also obvious on the stats sheet, where Real dominated in just about every category – shots on goal (17 vs 8), passing accuracy (83% vs 71%), and ball possession (70% vs 30% for Real). Well, except in one category that matters most – the goals.

Quakes got the great start to the game they always want with an early goal from one of their forwards Steven Lenhart. Cordell Cado got the ball on the right wing, and crossed it high and long towards the penalty mark. Lenhart won the position and put a great header straight into the net, only 18 minutes into the game.

Real responded a minute later, as Javier Morales was left wide open on the far side of the net after Kyle Beckerman’s cross off the corner, making it 1-1 on the 19th minute.

But Lenhart put the Quakes ahead only two minutes later, once again from a powerful header. Shea Salinas took the free kick 40 or so yards away on the left side of the field, and his cross was to the similar spot where Lenhart scored earlier. Quakes tall forward won another challenge in the air, scoring his fourth goal of the season.

Quakes could have put themselves one more goal ahead in the second half on the 66th minute when Rafael Baka took off on a 2-on-1 breakaway with Chris Wondolowski on his left side, but he fired it off early, and straight into Real’s goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

Other than that, it was all Real with chances the rest of the game. Solid play by Quakes defense and their goalkeeper Jon Busch kept the home team off the scoreboard, and gave San Jose much needed three points. The win may have come with a price, as their defender Clarance Goodson left the game early with what looked like an injury.

A strong defensive effort, and offensive production means the Quakes earned their second victory on the road against a very good opponent.

The Quakes are still outside the playoffs picture, but should they win both remaining home games and grab a point on the road either against Chivas USA or LA Galaxy, they could end up in the fifth spot in the West, giving them a playoffs berth.

Their quest for that continues in LA on Sunday, September 29th, when they take on Chivas USA.

Bears open Pac-12 against Ducks

By George Devine, Sr.

The Pac12 conference season for Cal begins on the road against the Ducks of Oregon on Saturday, September 28. New coach Sonny Dykes and his charges — including true freshman quarterback Jared Goff — will be up against a team ranked as high as #2 in the nation’s polls. Cal’s defense has been suspect this year, and will be up against a team that racked up 687 total yards against Tennessee.

The Bears will need to contain.sophomore Marcus Mariota, who against Tennessee threw for a career-high 456 yards including four touchdowns in a 59-14 win. Mariota went 23/33 and was the first Oregon quarterback to pass for more than 400 yards since Kellen Clemens, who did likewise in 2005. Also challenging the Cal defense will be Johnny Mundt, a freshman tight end who had five receptions for two TDs, and a total of 121 yards, against the Vols. Josh Huff also caught six passes for a total of 125 yards, and scored another touchdown for Oregon. Mundt had replaced Colt Lyeria, who had five catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

After Oregon, Cal’s remaining games for the season will be as follows, with kickoff times to be announced:

October 5 Washington State

October 12 @ UCLA

October 19 Oregon State

October 26 @ Washington

November 2 Arizona

November 9 USC (Joe Roth Game)

November 16 @ Colorado

November 23 @ Stanford

Nova goes distance, shuts out Giants 6-0

By George Devine, Sr.

On an interleague visit to Yankee Stadium, the San Francisco Giants were haunted by the ghosts of the pinstripers and shut out by curveballer Ivan Nova, who went a full nine innings (6 h, 1 w, 7 k; 9-5) and did not allow a visiting player past second base. Ryan Vogelsong took the loss (3-6; 5 ip, 5 h, 5 er, 1 w, 1 k, 1 hr). The Bronx Bombers came into the game three games out in the hunt for a wild card spot and advanced half a game in the quest.

Mark Reynolds began the Yanks’ scoring spree in the third with a single past short, advancing to third on Brendan Ryan’s base hit to left. When Chris Stewart walked, Ryan took second. Reynolds came home on Ichiro Suzuki’s sacrifice fly to center field, at which point Ryan and Stewart each advanced a base. Alex Rodriguez grounded out, 6-3, and Ryan scored with Stewart taking third, coming home on Robinson Cano’s single to left.

In the following inning Curtis Granderson singled to right and came home on Eduardo Nunez’ second home run of the year, to left. Another homer to left, by Alfonso Soriano in the sixth – his 34th — put the icing on the New York cake.

The two teams meet again at 10:05 a.m. PDT on Sunday, September 22, with Yusmeiro Petit (4-0) facing legendary Yankee southpaw Andy Pettitte (10-10) who is reportedly making his last appearance in the Bronx.