Pryor further proving himself with 93 yard keeper

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by David Zizmor

ALAMEDA–Every win is kind of kind of unexpected the way the Raiders started this season nobody thought the Raiders were going to be any good in fact a lot of us including myself thought the Raiders were going to be among the worst teams in the league and while their not amongst the best teams in the league they are not among the worst either.

We were wrong on that this is actually a pretty feisty squad it’s actually the Pittsburgh Steelers who are among the worst teams in the NFL their not the worst that honor goes to the Jacksonville Jaguars. This game between the Raiders and the Steelers was not a battle of titans, it certainly has a lot of history locked up in it the Raiders and the Steelers were among the two best teams in the 1970s and battled each other on a regular basis in the some of the most famous games in NFL history.

This game last Sunday was not necessarily one those all time memorable games although it did have a historic play involved the Steelers are just in a down cycle it’s pretty rare for Pittsburgh to be in such a rare situation but they have had a couple of lousy drafts and suffered through some bad injuries and had some misfires and now their sitting with a lousy team record at 2-5.

The Steelers have had some misfires and it all means their all bottoming out right now, the Raiders already bottomed out that was already that kind of last season with the Carson Palmer deal and just everything going on in the off season when they cleaned house and they got rid of everybody the Raiders while their not a great team they have a lot of young feisty players and their in that rebuild process.

So what ends up happening is you get all these young players who are really fighting and clawing and scratching and trying to get themselves into the league and try to get themselves on the roster and get a job and it makes for desperate play and sometimes these guys are playing some desperate football end up playing decent football and that’s what the Raiders have done they have found a decent mix of players who really want to be there who are really receptive to coaching and learning.

Then the Raiders have found a quarterback who knew that former owner Al Davis’ last draft pick quarterback Terrelle Pryor would end up being such a solid player. He has a deficiency and you don’t look on this guy the same way you look at 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick when he broke on the scene last year and Pryor can play.

That 93 yard touchdown run by Pryor last Sunday shows why you want this guy on the field that threat of a guy who can make that kind of a play is something defenses have to respect and it makes you play the game differently if your a defensive coordinator you just have to prepare differently. You see it now with the 49ers now that Colin Kaepernick is 100 percent healthy.

It’s the same thing when you have a quarterback who can run in such a way that he can break a long run just as easily as any running back you have to devote extra resources to cover that guy. You have to have a spy on him and simply having that one guy on him and follow the quarterback around can open things up elsewhere.

David Zizmor covers the NFL for Sportstalk Radio

Kaepernick key to win

Photo by Bob Martin

By Pearl Allison Lo

LONDON– San Francisco 49ers’ (6-2) quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a season-high two rushing touchdowns in a 42-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8), who were playing in their inaugural International Series game at Wembley Stadium Sunday evening.

The final count of 83,559 fans marked the 4th best attendance of the eight NFL games played here so far, outranked by the two New England Patriots games and the other San Francisco game. It was the third lopsided scoring margin at Wembley Stadium, with the two other games New England games. It was a mainly red jersey crowd, but the fans were equally supportive of their “home” team until 2016. Dan Skuta thought, “It seemed pretty split to me,” and “they cheered for things that I don’t think Americans usually cheer for. They were fired up for extra points and stuff like that, which is pretty cool.”

Both teams had a number of drops, including miscues returning the football for the first time. The 49ers’ Kyle Williams fumbled off the kickoff reception but retained possession. Josh Scobee dropped the ball on his return, but was able to recover the ball before the players reached him.

San Francisco scored during their first four drives and Kaepernick scrambled during them as well, overall running seven times for 54 yards. Coach Jim Harbaugh commented, “He used his legs on third down to pick up valuable first downs.”

During the 49ers’ opening drive, Kaepernick found Bruce Miller wide open on the far right for 43 yards. Teammate Frank Gore found a hole up the middle later, to give San Francisco the opening touchdown with 19 yards and 11:48 left in the first quarter.

Kaepernick looked like he was going to run a third time before he connected with Anquan Boldin for 21 yards. It was Kaepernick’s fourth rush that brought him into the end zone the first time as he went to the far left, knocking over the orange cone in the process. It was Kaepernick’s longest rush of the game at the time, 12 yards with 2:36 left in the quarter.

The 21-0 first score of the second quarter, almost mirrored the time of the first score in the first quarter, with 11:52 left. Kaepernick had his longest rush of 17 yards and eventually found Vernon Davis, just before Davis went out of bounds at the back of the end zone.

The first play of the 49ers’ fourth drive was a 32-yard pass to Davis. Jacksonville cornerback Alan Ball got a hand on the ball in the end zone to prevent the third pass of the drive to Davis. However, this was followed by Kaepernick’s second rushing touchdown as he traveled nine yards to make the score 28-0. This was the first drive Kaepernick did not run in any of the plays before the score.

The Jaguars’ Jordan Todman returned the ball 40 yards after muffing a catch, but the drive ended quickly, with Williams muffing a catch on the other end.

San Francisco finally went scoreless on their fifth drive. It was also a drive in which Kaepernick’s scramble was taken back by a holding penalty.

Jacksonville followed their defensive performance with their first journey into enemy territory and score. Cecil Shorts, who was the main target during the drive, made a nice break from one of the tackles. Josh Scobee kicked a 38-yard field goal to make the score 28-3 at halftime.

The Jaguars received the ball again to start off the third quarter, but had several battles, including two penalties. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 30 yards. On fourth down and less than a yard, they converted. Shorts dropped the ball in the end zone, leading to fourth down again. This time,the pass was incomplete to Mike Brown.

Just under three minutes later though, Jacksonville got the ball back as Frank Gore fumbled on his own 34 yard line and Russell Allen recovered the football. The Jaguars were able to turn the fumble into their first touchdown eventually, when Chad Henne passed to Mike Brown for 29 yards.

The 49ers wasted no time getting the score back afterwards. Kendall Hunter had a 41-yard rush and Gore made up for his fumble with a two-yard score with less than a minute left in the quarter.

In the fourth, Jacksonville went for their third fourth down conversion and were successful. Marcedes Lewis fumbled, however, and Dan Skuta turned the game’s first straight fumble into a score, with a run of 43 yards.

Regarding keeping morale high, Jones-Drew replied, “We’re competitors. We’re never going to let anyone break our will. Some guys are saying, ‘Why are you still playing?’ I say, ‘Why are you talking to me about that? We’re trying to get our job done, play football, and play it at a high level.’ We’re going to continue to work and do what we have to do…we can make a change and we will.”

Notes: The most special of the four honororary captains of the game was Brandon Bell from Scotland, who has been a fan since receiving brain tumor treatment in Jacksonville. His “Make-A-Wish” was to see the play in Wembley Stadium. It was Henne’s third straight start at quarterback in place of Blaine Gabbert. The Jaguars’ Will Rackley received a blow to the head during the game and did not return. San Francisco next gets a bye week and then plays the Carolina Panthers November 10th. Jacksonville also gets a bye next week and will aim to get their first win again against the Tennessee Titants. The Jaguars’ next game at Wembley will be against the Dallas Cowboys and will also feature four other teams, as 2014-2015 will mark the first season three NFL games will be played in London, a step in a bigger direction.

Niners take on the Jaguars in London

By Pearl Allison Lo

London – The San Francisco 49ers will be playing their third international game, second at historic Wembley Stadium, while the host Jacksonville Jaguars will be playing their first, when the two teams meet on the field Sunday, October 27th at 5pm London Time. This is a part of the NFL’s International Series with the help of the Mayor of London.

Re the scene before the game for the public, I haven’t seen much besides the Fan Rally, but there were glimpses. I’ve seen ads in the subway, on street vehicles and banners hanging between buildings. There were multiple going-ones during the week though.

Yet to be back in San Francisco, after arriving in London Monday, the team got together with the famed Tottenham Hotspurs for a community event encouraging young ones to be more active. Both sporting teams got to indulge in each others’ respective sport.

NikeTown hosted an evening on Tuesday that centered around Jacksonville Jaguars’ players.

After 49ers practice on Friday, re the yet to win Jaguars, coach Jim Harbaugh said his players “respect the team…They play with great effort, very physical, so I’ll just say that. I haven’t had to say anything along those lines. They’ve seen it on the tape.” Re his own 5-2 team, Harbaugh expressed, “hopefully we play our best football. That’s what we’re looking for. We’ve played good football, but I think we could do better…”

When asked about plans for London, Harbaugh pulled out a list that included Marble Arch, Park Lane, Buckingham Palace and Parliament Square to received laughter. He grinned while inquiring afterward; “think we’re hitting the right spots?”

NFL jerseys started popping up Saturday on the day of the fan rally on the train, before the Commisioner’s Fan Forum and after the rally elsewhere. They were most prominent, however, with the 49ers heavily supported, decorating the invited fans at the forum who were to be bused to the rally after Q&A. Commissioner Roger Goodell, 49er quarterback legend Joe Montana and former Jacksonville Jaguars’ offensive Tony Boselli, who sat in a circle in the middle of the fans, were the other components of the equation.

Eager questions surrounded the possibilities of Monday and Thursday night games, 2015, women in the NFL and the Super Bowl to a collective intake of inhaled breaths and gasps. When asked if a Los Angeles franchise or a U.K. franchise would be first, Goodell stated, “it doesn’t matter to me. I would like to be able to continue to expand our game,” but moreover, emphasized “success” and “doing things right…Ultimately, I would love to see us doing both.” Goodell also mentioned the possibility of women in the NFL as referees.

Bare chested young men sported painted letters, numbers and symbols during the off part of off and on rain at the rally, with a message that read, ‘U.K. Franchise in 5 years? Odds 8/1.’

We’ll see Sunday if the game can help with the “success” Goodell emphasized during the forum, thereby improving the odds and the possibility of more burgeoning American football fans not only in the U.K., but Europe.

NOTES: My experience being in London so far is that people are pretty nice, friendly and helpful. The roads being reversed and other oddities like the light switches being the opposite way, cell phone stores being called car phone warehouses, a lot of hookah bars, the European smoke and free wifi in telephone booths provide additional interest. The UK accents are quintessential.

49ers travel to London to take on the hapless Jaguars

By Gabe Schapiro

This Sunday at 10:00 AM the San Francisco 49ers (5-2) will be coming to you from across the pond in London, England where they will be facing off with the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-7) at Wembley Stadium. The 49ers are on a roll having won four straight contests. They sit in second place in the NFC West behind the Seattle Seahawks. The Jaguars are a team still trying to find their way, and have yet to win a game this season. They are in last place in the AFC South.

Last week the San Diego Chargers beat Jacksonville with relative ease, 24-6. The Chargers grabbed a lead in the first quarter and never looked back. All the Jaguars offense could muster was two field goals. That has been Jacksonville’s season in a nutshell, as they have struggled in every facet of the game in what is clearly a rebuilding year.

San Francisco had slightly better luck with the Tennessee Titans, running away with a 31-17 victory in a game that wasn’t as close as the score makes it appear. The 49ers were pitching a 24-0 shutout heading into the fourth quarter before the Titans found the scoreboard for 17 points during garbage time. Frank Gore continued his strong production, running for 70 yards and two scores on 24 carries. In addition, Colin Kaepernick had possibly his best game since week 1, finding some success through the air and with his feet. He completed 13-of-21 passes for 199 yards, and ran for another 68 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Most importantly he didn’t turn the ball over once. On the defensive side Justin Smith recorded two sacks and Tramaine Brock grabbed his third interception of the season.

Despite the Jaguars problems, they do have some talented players that San Francisco will have to account for. They have a good receiving corps headlined by the young duo of Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for the 49ers, they haven’t had a quarterback who can reliably get the ball to them. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew isn’t the player he once was, and doesn’t have much of an offensive line to run behind, but still presents a threat. On the defensive side of the ball things don’t look much better for them, but Paul Posluszny is a very good linebacker to try and build around.

As a whole Jacksonville is the worst team that the NFL has to offer. They have scored the least amount of points in the league, and they’ve given up the most. While playing in London is a bit of an X-factor, this still isn’t a game that the 49ers should have any trouble with. Expect them to lean on the running game as they have been over their last four victories, but look for Kaepernick to find more openings to air it out as well.

On the injury front there is no bad news to report this week. Wideout Mario Manningham, who resumed practicing with the team last week, is nearing his return. Coach Jim Harbaugh has yet to rule him out for Sunday’s contest. It may take him some time to be a real contributor again, however. Michael Crabtree’s rehab is going according to plan, and is expected back in about a month.

On a similar note, Aldon Smith, who had to leave the team in Week 3 because of the much-reported on personal issues, could re-join the team within the next couple of weeks.

Raiders face tough test in Denver

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — Looking to build off the 19-9 victory in their home opener Sunday over the pathetic Jacksonville Jaguars, the Oakland Raiders head into Denver to face the Broncos on ESPN’s Monday Night Football to wrap up Week 3 in the NFL. Oakland picked up their first win of the season behind a stellar rushing attack, racking up 226 yards.

Running back Darren McFadden was a monster, rushing for 129 yards, including three runs of 20-or-more yards. Terrelle Pryor added in 50 rushing yards, while finishing 15-of-24 for 126 yards passing. Fullback Marcel Reese scored Oakland’s (1-1) only touchdown, on a 11-yard run in the first quarter of Sunday’s game.

What does that say?

Oakland will need more from Pryor and Co. but if Oakland has any chance of winning Monday night, it’s fifth-ranked defense will have to answer the bell against Denver’s third-ranked offense. Oakland leads the NFL with nine sacks on the season after sacking Jaguars quarterback, Chad Henne five times Sunday.  With the news of stellar Broncos’ All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady being lost for the season with a Lis-franc sprain, Oakland’s defensive line could be the difference.

Manning and the Broncos (2-0) return home after beating the New York Giants 41-23 at MetLife Stadium Sunday. After passing for a career-high seven touchdowns in Week 1, Manning was virtually flawless completing 30-of-43 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns in the road win. Denver’s offense totaled 416 yards.

Believe me after seeing that performance, Oakland will have it’s hands full against one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, but Raiders head coach welcomes the challenge.

“This will be the best team we’ve faced and they’re very talented,” Allen said Monday, “so we’re going to have to do a good job of changing things up and mixing some things up, mixing up some looks and be able to play a good, team game.”

Players to Watch for Oakland:

  • No. 2) Terrelle Pryor (QB) — Pryor picked up his first home win (and first win of his career) against Jacksonville and will look to pick up his first road win of his career on national television Monday night. Pryor leads all quarterbacks with 162 rushing yards.
  • No. 24) Charles Woodson (FS) — The Raiders’ veteran starting free safety will be the one who will have to get Oakland’s secondary in place to defend a bevy of Broncos pass-catchers. Woodson finished with six tackles against Jacksonville Sunday.
  • No. 25) D.J. Hayden (CB) — Manning loves testing rookies and Hayden will see a lot of Broncos’ sensational wide receiver, Demaryius Thomas. Good luck.

Players to Watch for Denver:

  • No. 83) Wes Welker (WR) — You think that Tom Brady wishes he had the reliable Welker now?
  • No. 80) Julian Thomas (TE) — Looks like a younger version of San Diego Chargers standout, Antonio Gates. Thomas played power forward at Portland St. In his first start, Thomas recorded five catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
  • No. 11) Trindon Holliday (KR) — The reigning AFC Player of the Week  was a blur on his 81-yard punt return for a touchdown that put the final dagger in the Giants’ hearts. The return highlighted Holliday’s day, where he saw four punts and returning them for a 30.3 yards per return. Through two weeks, Holliday is averaging a league-high 19.6 yards per return.