PEBBLE BEACH — It is a week as much for nostalgia as for sport, a time to walk the fairways of the present and wake up echoes of the past, to watch Tiger Woods and Bill Murray and remember Arnold Palmer and Dean Martin.
Old ballparks come down, old athletes pass on. But the golf tournament Bing Crosby started in the late 1930s that became the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in the 1980s continues on, tugging us backward as it pulls us forward. Read More
Somehow it all seemed natural, Tiger Woods back at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, upbeat, expansive. Maybe it’s because he feels comfortable in Northern California, having gone to school at Stanford.
Maybe it’s because he believes he’s back to being Tiger Woods.
He has changed. The sport has changed.
Tiger’s grown older. He turned 36 a month and a half ago, and finally, after the pain, mental and physical, he appears healthy once more. Read More
Tom Brady didn’t catch the man whom as a kid he idolized. It could have been because a couple of his best receivers didn’t catch the ball. But ever the team player, Brady was philosophical, not angry.
Another Super Bowl for Brady — the fifth in 10 years — and after three victories, a second straight loss. This time to the same team, the New York Giants, who beat him four years ago. Sunday, in Super Bowl XLVI, those Giants defeated Brady’s New England Patriots 21-17. Read More
How to figure this one, Super Bowl XLVI, between the New England Patriots, who haven’t lost in 11 games, and the New York Giants, who in November were the last team to beat the Patriots, if only by a 24-20 score?
It’s between a Patriots defense, which wasn’t very intimidating, and a Giants rushing offense, which has come up small.
It’s between Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who didn’t throw a touchdown pass in the AFC Championship Game, and Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who didn’t throw an interception in the NFC Championship Game. Read More
They didn’t, in the poignant phrasing of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, “know what the [bleep]” they were going to do with Julian Edelman. But they knew on the day of the 2009 NFL draft they were going to do something.“We drafted you as a football player,” apparently is what Belichick, in his arrogance and brilliance, told Edelman. “We’re going to have you on the field somewhere.”Maybe, in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, everywhere. Read More
INDIANAPOLIS — It could be better for Tom Brady. He could be playing for the 49ers, his team when he was a kid. Such a Niners fan. “I’d run around the parking lot at Candlestick in my Joe Montana jersey or Steve Young jersey,” Brady said. “Throwing the ball. There were some great times.”These aren’t bad times. On Sunday, for a fifth time, Brady — the one known as “Tommy” when he was growing up in San Mateo — will be playing in a Super Bowl. That it will be for the New England Patriots is perhaps the only part of the story he would amend. Read More
The man understands how the 49ers feel. The team for which he played 30 years ago also came within a game of the Super Bowl.
"We were one dropped pass away," he said.
The man, who needs to remain anonymous, watched that Niner-Giants game with an expert’s eye, if not an unbiased one.
He feels for Kyle Williams. He understands the disenchantment with Alex Smith, but he also says, "The play-calling in the fourth quarter wasn’t sharp the way it was earlier." Read More
What can we say? What should we say?
Remember that Adlai Stevenson remark, that “it hurts too much to laugh, but I’m too old to cry”?
It’s hard to hold back the tears after this one. As hard as it was for star-crossed Kyle Williams to hold the football.
It couldn’t happen again, against the same team, the New York Giants, in the same place, decrepit Candlestick Park, under the same circumstances.
But it did happen again.
Twenty-two years and a day since then. Now the memories return. Read More
Now it’s not an issue of redemption. Alex Smith has made it through the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, made it past the New Orleans Saints. Now it’s not a matter of words, of arguing his worth.
Now it’s getting to the Super Bowl.
He knows he’s endured, knows he’s survived, knows he’s been called a bust, knows his family recommended against returning to the 49ers when his contract expired at the end of last season and, most importantly, knows in these magical past few months what he has accomplished. Read More
Think he managed that one well enough? You want to compare Alex Smith to Joe Montana or Steve Young? Well compare away. Alex is the new miracle worker by the Bay. What he managed to do on Saturday at the ’Stick was turn logic and inevitability upside down.This was one for the ages, and for the Niners. This one was redemption for Alex Smith — the quarterback who was the first-overall pick in 2005 NFL draft, but then turned into a tragic figure instead of a hero. Read More
They get one shot. That was the reminder from the man who has helped enable them to gain that shot, Jim Harbaugh.
“It’s special being in the playoffs,” said Harbaugh, the 49ers rookie coach.
Special because they haven’t been there for years. Special because six months ago, when the lockout ended and the Harbaugh regime started, few believed the playoffs were possible.
But here they are, in a game that is a chess match, a wrestling match, a delightful contrast in styles. Read More
This is what makes it appear hopeless for the 49ers in the NFC divisional playoff game Saturday at the ’Stick. Their opponent, the New Orleans Saints, scored 45 points each of their past three games, including Saturday’s wild-card win over the Detroit Lions.
This is what makes it appear less than hopeless for the Niners: The Saints never have won a road playoff game.
On ESPN, Merrill Hoge called it a classic, "offense against defense." Read More
The 49ers have gone beyond expectations and predictions. Who imagined, after eight consecutive losing seasons, they’d finish the regular season with the second-best record in the NFL? Who dared think they would have the top defense against the rush?
A bye in the first round of the playoffs? That’s for teams like the old Niners or the new Packers, except these Niners reached that pinnacle — and it is a pinnacle as well as an advantage — while the Saints and Steelers, Super Bowl entrants the previous two years, did not. Read More
Oh, those Raiders. So many penalties. “After the flags, guys come up to me on the sidelines, and say, that’s what happens when you play for the Raiders,” mused quarterback Carson Palmer.
Oh those Raiders, blown out by Green Bay, giving up a late lead to Detroit, ranked fourth-worst in the NFL in total defense.
Oh those Raiders, still capable for the first time in nine seasons to both finish with a winning record and make the playoffs. Read More
What’s made this 49ers season, this delightful journey, even more fulfilling is no one saw this coming. In a way, it’s similar to 1981, the year that changed the way the Bay Area, really the entire country, judged the franchise.
There were no expectations back then, other than the fact that somehow the Niners wouldn’t win. But as we know, they did win, and San Francisco, beside itself with joy, celebrated as it never did again. The first time never can be repeated. Read More