As much as the 49ers are rightfully proud of their unexpected ascension into the ranks of the NFL’s elite, the best is yet to come if they heed the lessons of the 2011 season.
In their two playoff games, San Francisco’s much-ballyhooed defense was torched for 778 yards passing and six touchdowns by Drew Brees and Eli Manning. Admittedly, you don’t face Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks very often, but defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s insistence on keeping safeties Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner in a cover 2 formation made the 49ers too conservative and predictable. Read More
Now that 49ers fans have recovered from Alex Smith’s stirring final act against the New Orleans Saints, which turned an eerily quiet Candlestick Park crowd into a bedlam of unexpected elation, the bigger story can be told. San Francisco’s Super Bowl hopes are alive and well because the trenches are once again their favorite playground. Sure, Alex’s impersonations of Steve Young and Joe Montana with the season hanging in the balance prompted teammate Justin Smith to say, “He’s no game manager, he’s a baller.” Read More
If new Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie had any doubts about whether Hue Jackson was moving the Raiders in the right direction, the former Packers director of football operations got the definitive answer last month at Lambeau Field watching Green Bay manhandle Oakland 46-16. Read More
Watching Andrew Luck pick apart Oklahoma State’s ball-hawking pass defense in the Fiesta Bowl without star receiver Chris Owusu and tight end Coby Fleener had to secure his position as the all-but-certain No. 1 pick in April’s NFL draft. Read More
Remember when Coliseum Arena fans donned hard hats to celebrate the physical play of forward Larry Smith? It may have taken 25 years to recapture Oakland’s working-class spirit, but the new-look Warriors actually now have a host of tough guys and reason to smile, if not dance in the aisle.
Equally significant, Golden State finally has depth and size to complement its gifted backcourt. Read More
Forty-Niners Faithful, you are now free to think the heretofore unthinkable. The Niners could very well be playing in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis.
Fresh off their most impressive and important victory in nearly a decade, San Francisco once again holds the NFC’s coveted No. 2 seed, owning a tiebreaker over the New Orleans Saints. Maintaining that slot guarantees that ever important week off in January — and at least one home playoff game. Read More
Footage of the game’s nastiest hits may be buried deep in the archives of NFL Films, but every week there are vivid reminders that the league still hasn’t reconciled how to effectively deal with excessive violence. Try as they may to eliminate blind-side shots against “defenseless players,” players continue to be punished for doing exactly what they are trained and instructed to do. Read More
Forget the San Andreas and Hayward faults, it’s the candor quotient of Bay Area coaches and general managers that’s keeping sports fans on shaky ground. Read More
Only in college football can the words, “you’re fired!” actually mean, “don’t go just yet.” Three outgoing coaches are being allowed one last hurrah, not because school officials had a sudden burst of sentiment, but more to ease the shock of a regime change with their prized incoming recruits. Read More
The NFL sure knows how to ruin a holiday family reunion.
Jackie and Jack Harbaugh, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on Friday, will be leaving the stadium before kickoff Thursday so they can privately agonize over their sons’ Thanksgiving coaching duel.
Meanwhile, most every other football fan will be choosing sides in this fascinating spectacle of big bro’ meets kid bro’. Read More
Tailgating by flashlight and candles are hardly in keeping with the great tradition of the Big Game. But don’t blame ESPN for Saturday’s 7:15 p.m. kickoff at Stanford Stadium.
According to Pac-12 associate commissioner Duane Lindberg, Cal and Stanford both chose the prime-time national TV appearance over a regionally televised 12:30 p.m. start, which would have been seen by only 20 percent of the country.
“We want the best games in the best times to the largest audience,” Lindberg said. Read More
After reading the 23-page Pennsylvania state grand jury report outlining 40 counts of felony sexual abuse against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, I don’t know if I am more outraged by the allegations that he assaulted eight boys over a 15-year period or the subsequent behavior of university officials. Read More
Critics take note: As the Alex Smith redemption tour makes its way to the nation’s capital Sunday for the 49ers-Redskins game, San Francisco’s once favorite whipping boy is now the NFL’s eighth-rated passer. Who’da thunk it? Read More
I was super excited to get a call from David Stern. But it was so noisy in the newsroom, I thought the NBA commissioner said, "I will end the lockout if the players support my hard-cap plan," when he actually said, "I will wear a dunce cap before giving in to the players’ demands."
As the NBA labor dispute threatens to wipe out an entire season, the union’s arguments are being received about as well as Tony La Russa’s World Series bullpen phone flap: They’re falling on deaf ears. Read More
So much for Jason Campbell being the next Jim Plunkett. While Campbell was undergoing surgery for a broken collarbone Monday, the Raiders were plotting a future without the quarterback who won 11 of 18 starts in silver and black. No room for sentiment. No time to waiver. Read More