In reaching the NFC Championship Game two years running, the 49ers have had to topple two of the best quarterbacks in recent years.
But if San Francisco is to be Super Bowl-bound for the first time in 18 years, they’ll have to down one more today.
“He fits right in with that group, the elite ones,” 49ers defensive end Justin Smith said of Atlanta’s fifth-year quarterback, Matt Ryan. “And he’s playing awesome football right now.”
His teammates agree. Almost. Read More
Justin Smith, a veteran of 12 NFL seasons, may not be willing to give his left arm in the quest for professional football’s greatest prize. But he’s willing to put a brace on it.
“It’s a love-hate relationship right now,” San Francisco’s premier defensive end said of the brace holding his partially torn left triceps together, as he and the 49ers head into Sunday’s NFC Championship Game in Atlanta.
“But it’s one of those things and it’s doing its job.” Read More
Oakland native Tammy Brawner was merely 11 years old when a schoolyard punk flung a basketball at her in the form of a taunting challenge.
“I’m like, ‘Hey! What was that about?’” Brawner remembered. “He was pretty much saying, ‘Hey, I wanna beat up on somebody. I wanna win. So come on.’”
Brawner obliged. And held her own.
“I’d love to play him again,” she said.
Come this weekend, Brawner will play — but not on the schoolyard, and definitely not against the boy who essentially sparked her passion for the hardwood. Read More
He caught six passes, including one for a score, the night he emphatically declared quarterback Colin Kaepernick “the man.”
But since his 83-yard receiving night in the 32-7 route against the Chicago Bears in mid-November — a team that was then projected to be in the postseason — Vernon Davis hasn’t been the preferred target of his precocious passer.
Six games and six Kaepernick starts removed from one of his best performances of the season, Davis hasn’t scored since. And he’s only amassed six receptions since. Read More
There have been days — recent days — when the drive has abandoned Nonito Donaire.
And admittedly so.
“With [Toshiaki] Nishioka, I’d get up, I’d train,” said Donaire, who lives and trains on the Peninsula. “This time, I just don’t feel that motivation. I just need to spar, because I can’t even hit the mitts without feeling bored, or feeling tired.” Read More
It was Jeff Chudy’s — and Bakersfield’s — first state title. And the coach opposite the Bakersfield sideline — whom Chudy vanquished — congratulated him.
“I just said, ‘Enjoy it. You don’t know when this is gonna happen again,’” City College of San Francisco coach George Rush told Chudy after losing Saturday’s California Community College Athletic Association football championship 35-14. “We’re spoiled. The guy is happy. He ought to be happy.”
Spoiled? Perhaps. Read More
Walk all the way down Mission Street and don’t stop until you see a beer-bellied, masked luchador downing a bottle of some feel-good. At that point, you will run into The Knockout. The spacious, lively tavern is famed for its Thursday night bingo, along with its diverse selection of bands and DJs. Bingo rules are simple: buy a drink, get a bingo card. Bartender Josh Yule doesn’t measure his ratios when making drinks — he eyeballs them. Read More
On a trainer’s table, Nina Watkins lay, attempting to defy both the physical and emotional pain. She could not lift her right leg.
“I was definitely heart-broken,” said the Stanford women’s soccer defensive midfielder, recalling the demoralizing MRI results from this spring.
It was her senior season, and her hip labrum had torn all the way through. Her hopes of finishing her collegiate career on the soccer field were nearly in tatters. Nearly. Read More
For 15 long seasons, the drought endured.
The Cincinnati Bengals, since their last playoff appearance and winning season in 1990, had toiled in football hell.
Then Carson Palmer arrived. And come today in Cincy, Palmer will arrive again.
“I have a pretty good feeling how that’s gonna go,” Palmer said, smirking, of the reception he’ll receive when he takes on his former team — a team he quarterbacked to two postseasons in 2005 and 2009. Read More
Not since their opening round win in the Puerto Rico Shootout a dozen years ago, has the Stanford men’s basketball team won a game on Thanksgiving Day. They handled Old Dominion 84-60 that day.
And today, the Cardinal return to the Caribbean. But No. 13 Missouri isn’t Old Dominion. Read More
“I’m sure he’ll give me some crap,” Cal guard Ricky Kreklow said of his father, Wayne.
Wayne, after all, was a 1980 All-American basketball player at Drake. And come today, after missing all of last season, Ricky will hold court against his father’s alma mater.
“But I’m sure he’ll be cheering for Cal,” Ricky said. Read More
He has seen six of them from the coaching sideline, and Bret Pollack has won them all.
“I told the team we’ve never lost a Bulldog Bowl ... period,” the College of San Mateo football coach said, who enters his seventh bowl game Saturday against Sierra College.
It’s a game he doesn’t plan on losing.
“That’s why I let them know about it,” Pollack said. Read More
Aiming for the opposition’s head during a free kick — a trainer once told San Jose Earthquakes defender Victor Bernárdez in his native Honduras — increases one’s chance to score.
But usually, the opponent moves for cover.
Sunday in the final moments of stoppage time in the opening leg of the Western Conference semifinals in Los Angeles, Bernárdez took a free kick.
And Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, likewise, moved for cover. Read More
Not since the inaugural season — when Roy Lassiter did it 16 years ago — had an MLS player found the back of the opposing net 27 times.
But that changed late October.
“It means a lot,” said Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski, who tied Lassiter’s single-season scoring record this year while helping his team rumble to the best record in the league. “But it doesn’t mean much if you’re not holding that MLS Cup championship at the end.”
That quest for said coveted Cup kicks off Sunday. Read More
This narrow and dimly lit tavern in Hayes Valley offers bibliophiles and connoisseurs of classic cocktails a chance to chat about literature over drinks. Its monthly book club, which meets the last Wednesday of every month, revolves around novels relating to either San Francisco or booze. And if you want access to the $5 specialty cocktail associated with said book club, you had best bring the book. You do that, and Michael Cecconi will serve you a cocktail with a twist — a drink you aren’t likely to get anywhere else. Oh, and they cater, too. Read More