San Francisco 49ers podcast with Joe Lami: 49ers on track, can they take out the Mighty Bears this Sunday at Levi’s?

Photo credit:

On the 49ers podcast with Joe:

#1 Joe, the 49ers have worked hard for their victories in their last two games both home games against Denver and Seattle. Taking the Denver game first, George Kittle’s record setting first half certainly set the tone, didn’t it?

#2 Nick Mullens has been throwing for yards and touchdowns and helping keep the scoring ahead of the opponents.

#3 Against Seattle, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman has been all things anti-Seahawks and how much of an impact has Sherman been in stopping the Seahawks last Sunday?

#4 After getting these two key victories at home at Levi’s Stadium, how much does that set the tone going into next season?

#5 This Sunday, it’s Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears the NFC’s North Division first place team at 10-4.

Joe Lami does the 49ers podcasts each Friday at

49ers hope to keep win streak going vs. Bears

Photo credit:

By Jeremy Harness

This is a familiar trend for the 49ers.

They have long been out of the playoff picture, but they are hoping to get some carryover effect going for next season by going on a winning streak toward the end of this year.

The big difference here is that Jimmy Garoppolo is not under center for the 49ers at this point of the season, having been lost for the season with an ACL tear. Rather, it is undrafted Nick Mullens, who has opened eyes around the league with his surprising play.

That continued as the team scored an upset win over the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday, the first time since 2013 they have done so. Mullens will have a tougher defense to face this Sunday, as the Khalil Mack-led Chicago Bears will visit Levi’s Stadium.

As for the injury report, the 49ers are getting healthier. Running back Matt Breida has been limited in practice this week with the ankle injury he suffered weeks ago and is expected to play Sunday. Meanwhile, safety Jaquiski Tartt, who is nursing a shoulder injury, was also limited in practice this week but is expected to see the field against Chicago.

Linebacker Malcolm Smith has also been limited due to soreness in his Achilles tendon, while cornerback K’Waun Williams has been limited while nursing a knee ailment.

For the Bears, former 49er Aaron Lynch has been on the injury report with an elbow ailment, which has limited him in this week’s practices. The same goes for safety Eddie Jackson, who has an ankle injury, but is expected to play Sunday.

Headline Sports podcast with London Marq: Raiders open up regular season on MNF; The shock waves of the Khalil Mack trade; plus more

Photo credit: @steverosenbloom

On the Headline Sports podcast with London:

#1 The Oakland Raiders open up their regular season this Monday night September 10th at the Oakland Coliseum. There are lots of expectations for the Raiders on the primetime show.

#2 The talk throughout the NFL is the Khalil Mack trade to the Chicago Bears and getting a record $114 million deal. London discusses how this will work out for the Bears.

#3 Trump says that Nike is sending a “terrible message” with the Colin Kaepernick ad. Trump still doesn’t see unequal treatment and police brutality going on in the African American and Latino/Hispanic communities.

#4 The San Jose Earthquakes, who took a tough 2-1 loss last Saturday in Vancouver, have another two months worth of soccer left with only three wins for the season. Can they make the best of it or will they just go through the motions and suffer through it?

#5 After former Sacramento Kings player DeMarcus Cousins left Sacramento, who will carry the Kings this season? Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Bogdan Bogdanovic, D’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, or another player to be named later?

London Marq does the Headline Sports each Wednesday at

Jimmy Garoppolo is Difference Maker in 49ers’ 15-14 Victory over Bears

San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) looks for an open man against the Chicago Bears in an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. (Mark Black/Daily Herald via AP)

By: Joe Lami

It came down to the last play of the game, but Jimmy Garoppolo’s debut start for the San Francisco 49ers was victorious as the hapless team defeated the Chicago Bears 15-14 on Sunday afternoon.

“I thought it was a real good first start. He handled the offense well. [He] definitely moved the chains and the ball for us. It’ll be fun to get back and watch the tape and be able to coach him through what he did good and did bad,” said coach Kyle Shanahan.

Robbie Gould’s return to Chicago was perfect, as he nailed five field goals all within 35 yards in the victory.

Although the 49ers didn’t get into the end zone, Garoppolo was the difference as he was able to get San Francisco’s offense moving, throwing the ball down the field and reaching the red zone five times. He finished the day 26-of-37 for 293 yards and one interception, which had a completion stolen out of the hands from Louis Murphy Jr.

This season, San Francisco had five losses all decided by three points or less, but the difference on Sunday was Garoppolo and his ability to move the offense.

The biggest difference Garoppolo made came on third down, as the 49ers’ nearly doubled their efficiency with him on the field, converting 58% of their third downs.

Most impressively, he led the 49ers on their drive, going 86 yards on 14 plays in the last 5:23, setting up Gould’s 24-yard game-winning field goal.

The Bears’ offense was held to only one touchdown and 147 net yards as the 49ers’ defense showed up to play. Chicago’s first touchdown came out of the hands of rookie quarterback, Mitch Trubisky, who finished the day throwing just 102 yards.

Their second score came on special teams when Tarik Cohen returned a 62-yard punt return to the house.

The 49ers’ earn Shanahan’s second career win and up their record to 2-10 as Garoppolo makes this team look a lot better down the stretch of the season with four games to go.

Bears fall again in the “Battle of the Bad”

By Morris Phillips

Cal saw its opportunity to finally grab a win blowing in the wind on Saturday.  The Bears traveled to Boulder, Colorado and the gusty winds during the game blew so fierce that simply completing a pass became a chore for quarterback Jared Goff and his receivers.

But the same couldn’t be said for Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau and the Buffs.

Liufau threw for a career-best 364 yards and Colorado posted a big second quarter in a 41-24 win over Cal.  The Bears were in the contest briefly tied at 10  in the second quarter, but fell to 1-10 with one game at Stanford remaining in what has been a dismal season in Berkeley.

Described by the Denver Post’s John Henderson as the “Game of the Weak” and “The Battle of the Bad,” the Cal-CU game matched one team with 14-game conference losing streak against a team that hadn’t beaten a Division I opponent in well over a year.  But the Bears blinked first, allowing the true freshman to complete 23 of 36 passes, including three touchdowns, in miserable conditions.

Liufau didn’t need much help outside Paul Richardson and Nelson Spruce, who combined for 19 catches and 280 yards in offense.  Neither receiver were the recipient of Luifau’s touchdown passes, but Spruce sealed the deal when he scooped Cal’s onside kick in the fourth quarter and raced into the end zone to put Colorado up 41-17.

“That was the first time the University of Colorado has seen a Pac-12 win at home.  So I think that’s a stepping block for us,” Coach Mike MacIntyre said.

Goff struggled to throw the ball in the wind, completing just 23 of his 45 attempts, while getting picked once.  Coach Sonny Dykes briefly replaced Goff with Zach Kline, but went back to Goff, who engineered a couple of cosmetically-enhancing touchdowns late.

With passing difficult, the Bears found space running the ball with Khalfani Muhammad and Brendan Bigelow.  Bigelow rushed for 107 yards and a score, and Muhammad’s 54-yard touchdown run in the second quarter brought the Bears even, if only briefly.

Colorado responded with 24 straight points and midway through the fourth quarter, the outcome was assured.

The Bears dropped their 13th consecutive game against Pac-12 competition and probably won’t see much improve in the remainder of 2013.  Not only have the Bears dealt with the losses, they’ve performed poorly in the classroom, causing Athletic Director Sandy Barbour to address the issue and promise academic improvement.  And then this week, an unspecified member of the team was suspended indefinitely for his role in a locker room fight that saw freshman running back Fabiano Hale end up in a local hospital.

Cal dusts Denver, moves to 2-0


By Morris Phillips

Mike Montgomery’s carefully crafted non-conference schedule led to big doings on the court as the Bears blew past Denver on Monday, 77-50.

Cal improved to 2-0 on the season and they’ve won 35 of 41 non-conference games under Montgomery in the veteran coaches’ five-plus seasons in Berkeley.

The Bears started fast against the smaller, outmanned Pioneers, establishing a 24-5 lead twelve minutes into the first half.  David Kravish ignited the offense early and finished with 15 points.  Tyrone Wallace led with 16 points and Richard Solomon grabbed a career-best 16 rebounds.

Cal’s 40-20 advantage on the glass and the Pioneers 20 percent shooting in the first half jump off the stat sheet, but both appeared to be a byproduct of the Bears’ coaches’ familiarity with Denver’s sneaky backdoor cuts after playing the Pioneers in each of the last two seasons.

“The main thing you have to do against Denver is maintain your concentration,” Montgomery warned.  “They kind of lull you to sleep.”

The Bears beat Denver by 21 at Haas in 20011.  Last year’s game was competitive for a half in Denver then the Bears pulled away in the second half behind the Crabbe-Cobbs duo.  Because of the experience in Denver, Montgomery knew his defense had to disrupt Chris Udofia and Brett Olson, the Pioneers’ leading scorers.  And his Bears adhered, holding the duo to 16 combined after they got 33 in 2012.

“We didn’t get off to a good start, our shooting, obviously was non-existent, I mean for all intents and purposes.  I mean in general obviously it was a very tough assignment right out of the gate, against a veteran older team,” Denver coach Joe Scott said, touching on the fact that Cal had a game under their belt while the Pioneers were playing their opener.

The Bears shot 59 percent in the opening half, led by 17 at the break, and were actually outshot (50 percent to 44 percent) in the second half, but still outscored Denver by 10.  But Scott’s group was more than obliging in their lack of desire to shoot inside the arc—more than half their shot attempts came from three—rebound at either end, or take care of the ball (committing 14 turnovers).

Denver’s lack of aggression or firepower kept Solomon and Kravish on the floor for ample minutes without worry of foul trouble and the pair came up big most often on put backs and feeds from Justin Cobbs who had six assists.  After just two games, it’s apparent that the two starters will be the only real size in Cal’s nine-deep rotation making it imperative that the two not only stay on the floor, but stay on the floor together.

“When we get going we can be pretty good,” Solomon said.  “We’re long athletic, we can jump, we like to rebound, and we like to get the ball too.”

The Bears opening stretch includes Oakland (of suburban Michigan) on Friday and Southern Utah on Monday.  Of the opening quartet, the SUU Jaguars currently rank as the juggernaut of the group, ranking 212 in the current 351-team labyrinth of Division I.  So the Bears won’t garner any much-needed NCAA style points early, but they do seem to be gaining an identity as a typically-unselfish offensive team with some real potential along with depth on the wings.

Accordingly, all eyes are on 6’6” Jabari Byrd, Cal’s highest-ranking recruit.  The Richmond native seems eager to please, but hasn’t really put it together in either of the first two games.

“He’s going to be really good,” Montgomery said of Bird.  “He was probably a little bit nervous.  He wants to be good.  You just have to keep working.  He’ll be fine when he gets his feet under him and more comfortable with the offense and more comfortable with where his shots are going to come from.”

EARLY OBSERVATIONS:  All of the Pac-12 teams have a game or two under their belts and clear vision doesn’t require a prescription.  Arizona is really good, maybe even a Final Four capable team with the addition of San Jose’s Aaron Gordon and others, likely well ahead of Oregon and UCLA.  Cal is either the best of the next group of four–depending on whether you trust AP, USA Today or the conference media pre-season poll—or not in that group at all.   Cal’s lack of size and overall youth suggest they’ll need the smoothest of rides.  But if that happens, it’s possible that one or more of Arizona State, Colorado, Stanford or Washington could falter pushing the Bears into NCAA consideration in what appears to be a robust three-to-five bid league.

Stanford—picked by most to finish ahead of Cal despite the differences in recent pedigree–looked to be a prime candidate to disappoint on Monday when they fell at Maples Pavilion to BYU in a wild shootout 112-103.  The West Coast conference contender shot 53 percent against the Cardinal and incredibly missed 15 free throws while scoring 112 points.  Stanford looked ragged tactically and lacking defensively allowing the starting BYU backcourt to combine for 57 points.

Michelle Richardson on the NCAA


by Michelle Richardson

USC considers Lovie Smith: It’s good move that the USC Trojans would consider hiring ex Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith. I was really surprised before the Chiefs hired Andy Reid that he was able to get another professional job. Smith did a good job with the Bears he took them to a Super Bowl. He lost in the playoffs and ran into a string of bad luck with player injuries.

I never thought he did a bad job at Chicago and I was surprised when they let him go and a few times prior I thought they might let him go. It’s a good move if he gets on with USC. He can be as good as former SC coach Pete Carroll and Lovie was successful as a pro coach with the Bears coming out of that Tony Dungy camp.

So this is a good move the only thing is he’s really going to have to surround himself with good consistent coaches that go out and help him recruit because he doesn’t know anything about recruiting players so he’s going to have to find some coaches around him that can help him produce this school. Smith is from Southern California he’s at the University of Southern California he going to be able to go after some of the best and brightest players if hired.

Crimson Tide going into week 10 perfect: Alabama and Oregon are one and two in the BCS poll ratings the red headed step child of the SCC was brutalized by Missouri and came off a heartbreaking loss to South Carolina where South Carolina was able to get the win as much as Missouri lost the game. The holder didn’t turn the laces on the ball therefore Florida State people always think wide right and he meant wide left.

It was not a good day for the University of Tennessee but hopefully the new coach will turn things around in the next year or two because it’s a shame that Tennessee is really not in the hunt this year for anything when it come to college football after they play their last game at the end of November that it’s literally over for them that’s really a shame.

NCAA Basketball season opened this week: This going to be an interesting year even though Kentucky is predicted to be number one I don’t see any clear cut number one. Kentucky lost a whole squad and they got up there with a entirely new squad but their still freshman. I’m going to go for the team that’s been together for more than a year will be the winner.

Kentucky probably won’t do it like they did two years ago that was an anomaly of course everybody is looking for one man out of Kansas Andrew Williams if this year goes like it’s expected to do this young man is going to be one and done. I hear so much about him and how great he is can’t wait to really see him play on the big stage.

Don’t forget about the young man out of Duke forward Jabari Parker he’s been touted as the next Benji Watson and for any old schoolers who remember Watson out of Chicago the young man was tragically killed in his senior year and really never got to play on the whole next level but if your from Chicago or if your from the midwest and your of a certain age you’ll know about Benji Watson and know what he could have been.

Michelle Richardson does commentary on the NCAA each week

D.J. Hayden to start Friday vs. Bears; Offensive line woes

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

August 21, 2013

OAKLAND, Calif – The wait to see what D.J. Hayden can do on a professional football field is finally over.

Hayden, who is coming off a gruesome injury where he tore a vein in his heart, finally participated in practice Monday after not participating for most of training camp. It was Hayden’s first full contact practice since he sustained the injury last November while at the University of Houston. The type of injury that Hayden suffered has a 95 percent fatality rate and normally happens only in car accidents.

Raiders head coach Dennis Allen confirmed Monday that the No. 12 overall pick will make his debut Friday night against the Chicago Bears in Oakland’s final home game of the exhibition season. Hayden will start in place of the injured Tracy Porter, who is out with a groin injury.

As much as the spotlight will be on Hayden, the spotlight will also hover over the offensive line Friday night.

In last week’s 28-20 loss in New Orleans, Oakland’s offensive line couldn’t pick up the Saints’ blitzes and gave up seven sacks (quarterback Matt Flynn was sacked five times).

“It was just a lack of communication and execution and we just can’t let that happen,” said Flynn, who finished 12-of-16 for 124 yards passing, including an 18-yard touchdown to Denarius Moore in the second quarter.

With the devastating loss of anchor left tackle, Jared Veldheer, Oakland will be playing musical chairs along the offensive line.

Former St. Louis Rams’ first-rounder Alex Barron steps in for Veldheer and will get first crack at filling his shoes at left tackle. Barron has 74 starts in 76 career games.

Oakland signed veteran offensive tackle Tony Hills Tuesday, but Hills is just expected to help the Raiders get through training camp.

The Bears defeated the San Diego Chargers, 33-28 last Thursday in Chicago. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler completed 4-of-5 passes for 38 yards, including a touchdown to his go-to target, Brandon Marshall.

Extra Points:

• Per Raiders Insider for Scott Bair, backup quarterback Terrelle Pryor switched his No. 6 jersey for No. 2 on Wednesday. Pryor wore No. 2 in college at Ohio St., but No. 2 for Oakland was last worn by former first-round bust JaMarcus Russell. Only two quarterbacks have ever worn No. 2 in Raiders’ history, Russell and Aaron Brooks. Both quarterbacks are a combined 7-26, with Brooks 0-8.

• Raiders’ legend Ray Guy has been named a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame by the Hall of Fame’s Senior Selection committee Wednesday. Guy, who spent his entire 14-year career with the Silver and Black, was a seven-time Pro Bowler, a six-time All-Pro and a three-time Super Bowl champion.