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What do the 49ers have to do to win a championship this year? (1 comment)

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49ers Fan

49ers win thriller against the Saints breathes New Life into team. posted by 49ers Fan

 The niners came into this game on the brink of a demoralizing season. Jim Harbaugh's job status became a daily talking point, and people questioned the direction of the franchise.

Yet, Harbaugh and the 49ers shut everyone up by winning themselves back into the playoff race with a 27-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints Sunday.

Although unconventional, Colin Kaepernick led the Niners on a 50 yard two minute drill drive that resulted in a a 45-yard Dawson field goal to tie the game at 24-24 and send the game into overtime, after the Niners defense was able to hold off the Saints Hail Mary throw on a questionable offensive PI call on Jimmy Graham.

With the win, the Niners have breathed new life into their season. From the opening snap, the Niners look determined to win. Antoine Bethea picked Brees off on New Orleans' opening possession, helping set up a four-yard Frank Gore touchdown to give the 49ers' their first of two first-quarter scores.

And while the win was a good step in the right direction for the team, there is still a lot of work left to be done in San Francisco. The Niners are behind the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West and one of many teams, stuck in a dog fight for a wild card spot. It'll be interesting to see how this team responds with a little bit of swagger and momentum as it travels to New York to take on the Giants next week.

Given the controversy surrounding the franchise, players, and head coach heading into this game, the 49ers are just happy to enjoy a win and the relative silence from their fan base and critics that comes after a big win. 

Continue reading "49ers win thriller against the Saints ..."


49ers Fan

The 2014 San Francisco 49ers posted by 49ers Fan

The 49ers are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl after falling short last year. It all begins with quarterback Colin Kaepernick who struggled in the first half of the season but torched opposing teams in December 2014. He even totaled 130 rushing yards versus the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship, but was one tipped pass away from leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

The first order of business for the front office was to upgrade Kaepernick’s supporting cast. So they acquired Stevie Johnson from Buffalo for their 2015 draft pick. While Johnson is injury prone, he should perform well as the tertiary receiver this time around. The team also signed Brandon Lloyd and drafted Bruce Ellington.

The franchise also boosted the running back corps by drafting Ohio State standout Carlos Hyde. The team will still rely on Frank Gore but he’s slowing down at 31 and will become a free agent next offseason.

The 49ers will still have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Four of their starters are back on the roster, with center Jonathan Goodwin the only exception. They did draft center Marcus Martin who’ll probably replace Goodwin or compete against Daniel Kilgore.

Defense will not be a problem for the 49ers as they have one of the best  defensive units in the league.  Although the team lost Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers who both left for Oakland, the team did draft rookie Jimmie Ward. He could back-up sophomore Eric Reid and new acquisition Antone Betha. Going forward, expect Ward to start alongside Reid perhaps as early as next season.

Continue reading "The 2014 San Francisco 49ers"


Joe Anello

2013 NFL Draft: Rounds Two - Seven Recap posted by Joe Anello

It was an eventful and unpredictable NFL Draft, even after the craziness that ensued in round one Thursday night. Friday night showcased rounds two and three, while Sunday wrapped up the draft with rounds four through seven. Let’s run through the major storylines that came out of the 2013 NFL Draft!

*Pardon for the delay. This is what happens when life throws the draft, C2E2, and the impetus to change jobs all in one weekend.

 

-After slipping through the first round despite several reported landing spots, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o became a San Diego Charger. The Chargers traded picks 45 and 110 to the Cardinals for pick number 38, allowing them to move up for Te’o. At that point in the draft, the drama-laden linebacker had great value. The Chargers run a 3-4 scheme, but he can still be a valuable inside presence for them.

 

-On the very next pick after Te’o was selected, the New York Jets saw a “franchise” quarterback fall right into their laps at number 39 overall with Geno Smith. Smith increases the QB count on the Jets roster all the way up to six, which includes Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy, and David Garrard. Yeah… someone’s gonna get cut. The obvious cut is Tebow. But then who? Do you cut the veteran Garrard, whom you just brought in? Or do you take the massive cap hit and release Sanchez? Or are you giving up on the idea that McElroy can be anything? The drama is ratcheted up in New York, and I’m gonna love every minute of it.

Continue reading "2013 NFL Draft: Rounds Two - Seven Recap"


Joe Anello

2013 NFL Offseason: Quarterback Craze! posted by Joe Anello

Aside from a few relatively noteworthy transactions in NFL free agency, the past few days have been all about the quarterbacks. There’s been news aplenty regarding some premiere and not-so-premiere signal-callers across the league and the ramifications of their movements. Let’s get through all the news!

Dallas Cowboys extend QB Tony Romo with a six-year, $108 million deal ($55M gtd.)

So we’ve all heard about the basic numbers here, but there’s definitely some “fine print” to this contract. The extension does give Romo $55 million in guaranteed money, but that includes the $11.5M he was scheduled to make next season. He did get a $25M signing bonus, which is pro-rated over the life of the deal (which technically ends after the 2019 season).

This is the contract the Cowboys needed to get done. Through an odd contract loophole, Romo could have become a free agent after the 2013 season… but also after the franchising period ended. So he would have been able to simply walk out on Dallas and get into the free agent market directly, without fear of being franchised. So without a better plan in place or being in any sort of position to draft a quarterback, Dallas made the right, sensible move here. They locked up their franchise quarterback for the long-term.

QB Kevin Kolb signs a 2-year, $13 million deal with the Buffalo Bills

WHOAH. Did NOT see this coming. Can I still get partial credit for saying he’d land in the AFC East? Kolb somehow skirts the sideshow that is the Jets quarterback competition and lands in Buffalo, where he currently only has to beat out Tarvaris Jackson, who isn’t exactly Jim Kelly. Don’t expect this move to stop the Bills from taking a quarterback somewhere in the first two rounds. Kolb might be better than Ryan Fitzpatrick. But at least he’s not making a ludicrous amount of cash.

Continue reading "2013 NFL Offseason: Quarterback Craze!"


Joe Anello

The Final Drive: Super Bowl XLVII posted by Joe Anello

So you watched the game, right? I don’t need to talk about it at all, right?

Ugh. Fine. Here’s The Final Drive of Super Bowl 47. You owe me.

(14-6) Baltimore Ravens 34
(13-5-1) San Francisco 49ers 31

After an illegal formation penalty killed a 20 yard pass play on the Niners’ first drive, the Ravens came out and took advantage of a short field. A 20-yarder to Torrey Smith and an offsides penalty on Aldon Smith put the ball at the ‘Frisco 13, where Flacco threw a dart to Anquan Boldin, who made a leaping grab to come down with it in the endzone. All of a sudden the Niner defense was on their heels and Phil Simms was already calling the game over at 7-0.

Kaepernick had a few exciting scrambles on San Francisco’s ensuing drive. A 24 yard pass to Vernon Davis found Dannell Ellerbee way out of position and gave my prediction of Davis for MVP with an early surge. But a poor scramble on a misfire to Crabtree and a 10 yard loss on a sack by Paul Kruger led to a David Akers field goal. Hey, he MADE one! That’s a good sign, right?

San Francisco finally got the read option going on their next drive, feeding Frank Gore and LaMichael James. But then James went and coughed up the ball, draining any and all momentum garnered from the few plays they managed to run. Kaepernick never really got into a groove, seeing more pressure than he had in recent weeks. The Ravens were obviously sending a rusher his way if he handed it off to the running back or not. So many times Terrell Suggs would finish a play by contacting Kaepernick in an attempt to get physical with the QB. They were sending a message early and often.

Continue reading "The Final Drive: Super Bowl XLVII"


Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: Super Bowl XLVII posted by Joe Anello

The time for talk is over. (Well, almost.) The time for football is now. (Well, a bit later.) The time for beet and food is now? (Yes. That is accurate.) After taking apart the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens earlier in the week, we are now ready for The Opening Drive of Super Bowl 47!

 

Super Bowl XLVII

(13-6) Baltimore Ravens at
(15-4-1) San Francisco 49ers
6:30 PM ET, CBS 

San Francisco’s Offense vs. Baltimore’s Defense

After seeing Colin Kaepernick tear apart a hapless Green Bay front seven for 181 rushing yards, the Atlanta Falcons overcompensated and kept the QB in the pocket the entire game. Unfortunately, that left Frank Gore in the clear on read-option plays, on which he scored two touchdowns. Kaepernick picked the Atlanta secondary apart in the second half of that contest, proving he has accuracy to go with the arm strength and mobility. The Raven defense excels at maintaining their edges, meaning they don’t let the ball-carrier get outside of them to the sidelines. They like funneling the ball back inside so Ray Lewis can get inflated tackle numbers. (Which he does.) But what do they do against the read-option? Crash the corners and use the safeties to cover? Assign a defensive end to lay out the QB while a linebacker fills in against the running back? The Ravens have had two weeks to prepare for this mobile QB, so I’d be surprised if he busted too many long runs against them. Instead, we’re probably going to see a lot of Frank Gore and LaMichael James used to test Lewis as the game wears on.

Continue reading "The Opening Drive: Super Bowl XLVII"


Joe Anello

Super Bowl 47 Preview: San Francisco 49ers posted by Joe Anello

In my first preview of the teams facing off in the Super Bowl, I’m going to take an in-depth look at the team representing the National Football Conference, the San Francisco 49ers. Having barely won the NFC West with a regular season record of 11-4-1 over the Seattle Seahawks (11-5), the Niners had their issues and drama during the regular season. Injuries to key contributors and a swap at quarterback highlight a season of significance for Jim Harbaugh’s squad. Let’s break them down as they head for their sixth Super Bowl title!

 

NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers

The Offense

Had this game been taking place ten weeks ago, I would have been describing to you how the Niners were going to be held back by Alex Smith’s inability to consistently find targets down the field. Instead, Smith was concussed during the season, giving way to former second round pick Colin Kaepernick. The second year pro came into the league with lofty expectations, fronting a team that was dealing with expectations of its own. Colin quickly demonstrated his athletic prowess, becoming one of the most dynamic players in the league. He can run as quick and as effective as any other QB as he showed in their playoff win against Green Bay, but his accuracy isn’t to be laughed at, as he showed when the Niners took down the Falcons. Behind Kaepernick, the Niners won five of their last seven regular season games and stormed through the playoffs.

Continue reading "Super Bowl 47 Preview: San Francisco 49ers"


Joe Anello

The Final Drive: 2013 Conference Championships posted by Joe Anello

Conference Championship Sunday left two teams in sheer jubilation while two other squads will be left at home for the Super Bowl. Let’s take a look at how two road teams pulled out the win in The Final Drive!

(13-4-1) San Francisco 49ers 28

(14-4) Atlanta Falcons 24

The first quarter of this game looked almost exactly the same as the Falcons’ last game, with a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. San Francisco mounted a whopping -2 yards on offense in the opening frame, stifled by a Falcon defense that had a surprisingly decent pass rush in the quarter.

Julio Jones came out ready to play for keeps, racking up over 100 yards in the first quarter. He was held relatively in check for the rest of the game, totaling “only” 182 yards. Matt Ryan seemed to be able to expose the Niner secondary all day, especially safety Dashon Goldson, who was torched by Jones on his first score. A second crazy catch by Jones to start the second quarter made the score 17-0 in favor of Atlanta. Luckily the Niner offense figured it out eventually, getting two touchdowns in the second period to make the game competitive again. But after the Falcons drove right back down in the two minute drill to pull away at 24-14, I was left to wonder: where was that vaunted Niner defense everyone kept telling me about? I think they forgot that this was an elimination game. Someone must have told them at halftime, because San Fran’s defense came out and utterly shut down the dirty birds.

As their Niner defense tightened, recovering a fumbled snap to Ryan, Colin Kaepernick and the offense thrived. Kaep continued to make key passes from inside the pocket. The read-option plays became deadly, especially at the goal line, where Frank Gore scored two rushing touchdowns. The Niners went up 28-24 in the middle of the fourth quarter and never looked back.

Continue reading "The Final Drive: 2013 Conference Championships"


Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: 2013 Conference Championships posted by Joe Anello

Okay everybody, Conference Championship Sunday is here and I could not be any more excited. Aside from the drama that is surrounding each of these fantastic games (you know, because whoever wins plays in that little Super Bowl), I’m also 3-5 on my picks going into the day, meaning the only way I get above .500 for the postseason is if I get everything right from here on out. No pressure. There’s been some movement on these lines (San Fran got a lot of juice and is now a four point favorite. Baltimore saw some action while the line was at 9 points, whittling it down to 7.5), so as an FYI I’m picking against the spread as the odds are currently, not where they began. Let’s stop prattling on and get into The Opening Drive!

*As always, lines pulled from VegasInsider.com. 

 

(12-4-1) San Francisco 49ers at

(14-3) Atlanta Falcons

3:00 PM ET, FOX

You’re going to be hard-pressed to find any unit in this game that favors the Falcons. The Niner offensive line is playing the best of any unit still in the playoffs, as they’ve been utterly dominating defensive fronts at the line of scrimmage. There’s a reason Colin Kaepernick ran utterly untouched against the Packers. Even as he gets a bit older, Frank Gore is the best running back in this game. Michael Crabtree has been stepping up as of late, looking at times like the number one receiver he was always supposed to be. Randy Moss is a somewhat credible threat on the outside, but this team really suffers from the loss of Mario Manningham. But Kaepernick might be able to reproduce a similar performance from last week with the benefit of a dome and faster turf. Without a fully healthy John Abraham (ankle), are the Falcons

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Joe Anello

Joe's 2012 Gameday Review: 49ers 32, Bears 7 posted by Joe Anello

In case your various social media timelines didn’t tell you, the Chicago Bears played the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. It did not go well. Specifically, it was one of the most embarrassing performances of football I’ve ever seen. With that in mind, it’s time for the Gameday Review.

  

(7-2-1) San Francisco 49ers 32

(7-3) Chicago Bears 7 

The opening drive Monday night gave a small preview of what was to come, as Colin Kaepernick completed four passes en route to a David Akers field goal to gain the lead. A sack of Jason Campbell on third and short led to a punt back to San Fran. Kaepernick took that possession, and found Kyle Williams streaking down the sidelines 57 yards, setting up a 3 yard pass to Vernon Davis for the score. That put the Niners up 10-0. And I was worried. Chicago moved the ball 24 yards following the kickoff, but was forced to punt yet again after a third and long. Then came the continued dominance of the ‘Frisco ground game. It wasn’t overwhelming yardage-wise, but it routinely moved the chains and kept the offense on the field. A 14-yard Kendall Hunter run put the Niners up 17-0. And that was all I needed to know that game was over.

If you needed statistical examples of Chicago’s inability to move the ball, let me educate. The Bears garnered 66 passing yards and 85 rushing yards on 28 attempts. That’s 151 total yards, in case you were wondering. They were 3 for 12 on third down and turned the ball over twice (in the form of two interceptions.)

Continue reading "Joe's 2012 Gameday Review: 49ers 32, Bears 7"

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NFL draft watch: Needs that teams should pass on in Round 1 (Shutdown Corner)

It’s time to revive the need-vs.-BPA (best player available) debate, with an eye on this year’s draft. I was stunned at how many comments, Twitter remarks and emails I got after my post-combine mock draft that were something along the lines of “[insert their favorite team] won’t do that … they have bigger needs.” Knowing that my mock will be torn to shreds after the first round of free agency, I won’t defend the picks — but rather my method. Think of it this way: If you were to go back and do a redraft from three, four, seven, heck, 10 years ago, what are you going to do? You’re going to look at the best players and not even think about need. It’s not the most scientific way to approach it, but the point is this: Talent trumps all, and need should only be a tiebreaker. [All Draft News, All The Time: Follow Shutdown Draft 365 on Tumblr ] So let’s take a look at the first-round draft order and examine some teams’ big, pressing needs — and implore them to wait on filling them if the right player isn’t available. 1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What don’t they need? Well, certainly most of the free world believes that Jameis Winston will be their choice at No. 1 overall, so we’ll assume that the Bucs go that direction and know that they can come back and address their needs for a pass rusher or an offensive lineman (or two) later on, starting with the second pick of the second round. 2. Tennessee Titans: Do they draft Marcus Mariota? I had the Titans taking him second, but I am starting to get the idea that they’ll listen to offers from desperate teams such as the Cleveland Browns or Philadelphia Eagles, if for no other reason than to see what they might fork over. That makes this tough to project, but we can say this: There is no offensive lineman — and they still need some — or defensive back worth taking at No. 2. 3. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags are in a great spot here, able to let the top two picks play out and still likely get either Leonard Williams or a pass rusher. The need they can wait on is an offensive tackle, which could come later on. 4. Oakland Raiders: It’s looking like it is coming down to a receiver or a pass rusher, depending on what happens in free agency; Williams wouldn’t be bad, either. But as badly as they need another cornerback or an offensive lineman, this too can wait. 5. Washington Redskins: A bulldog guard with some size and grit would really help spur this run game. But you’re not drafting guards with the fifth pick too often and hitting home runs. This year is no exception. They can get their guy in Round 2 and still find a starter. 6. New York Jets: Broken record here. Cornerback and offensive tackle are two spots they’d love to fill in the draft. But taking D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s eventual replacement shouldn’t come with the sixth pick, no matter what happens in the top five. 7. Chicago Bears: For all of their defensive needs (and they have plenty), the Bears also have a sneaky shortcoming at wide receiver — especially if Brandon Marshall doesn’t figure into their plans. But with this draft class, some good receivers will be pushed down, maybe even into Rounds 3 and 4. 8. Atlanta Falcons: With the way the Falcons are cutting veterans left and right, their needs grow — proportionally to the speculation that they might be players in free agency. So it’s tricky to say which needs will be filled in late April and which won’t. But based on our best speculation, it would be unlikely for the Falcons to go the veteran free-agent route to add a running back, which they need, and more likely they’ll mine one from the draft. And we know it won’t be at No. 8. Could they steal Melvin Gordon at No. 41 overall? Get lucky to land Jay Ajayi near the top of Round 3? They might. 9. New York Giants: Is this too high to take an offensive tackle? We would understand the thinking if they went that route. A pass rusher? That we certainly can get on board with, assuming there’s still one worth taking (Vic Beasley? Bud Dupree?) still on the board. But we would implore the Giants to resist their defensive back need here, even if you’re talking Landon Collins or Trae Waynes or whomever. It just feels a bit too high for that position. 10. St. Louis Rams: Tricky spot to forecast here. They might need a receiver, and what if, say, either Kevin White or Amari Cooper slip? They might have to pounce. Offensive line looms as a sore spot still, and it wouldn’t be offensive to start (or continue) the run at that position for the right player. But a tight end? A cornerback? A quarterback? We say pass here. 11. Minnesota Vikings: This all changes if Adrian Peterson isn’t back, but we’re still not on board — yet — with Todd Gurley going at this point, even though, boy, what a potential replacement he might be. The beautiful thing seems to be that most of the team’s main needs (offensive line, cornerback, receiver) have players who could fit into this range. But linebacker, especially the kind they need, shouldn’t be the choice here. They can find one or two later on. 12. Cleveland Browns: Predicting Browns behavior is risky business, and we don’t recommend it for the faint of heart. But one thing is for certain: Taking a quarterback — assuming Marcus Mariota doesn’t embark on an Aaron Rodgers-esque slide — doesn’t feel wise. We’ll stop there for now, with the Browns back on the clock seven picks down the chain. 13. New Orleans Saints: You might be surprised to read how much we think the Saints need to consider a quarterback, and perhaps relatively high, too. But not here. No way. They can land a good pass rusher or cornerback at this spot and wait on QB. Maybe Garrett Grayson in the third? 14. Miami Dolphins: Our thinking here is that they could address the receiver position if someone like DeVante Parker remains undrafted, or perhaps nabbing a cornerback, although we’re bearish on the top-end talent. Same with linebacker. And they drafted an offensive lineman in Round 1 a year ago — would they go back and take another one this high? 15. San Francisco 49ers: I believe they’ll draft a quarterback. Boy, they’d rock the boat with a Brett Hundley pick, wouldn’t they? It’s not likely, but it’s fun to ponder. They also need receivers, offensive and defensive linemen, cornerbacks and a tight end. That last position can be filled down the line. 16. Houston Texans: Yes, we’d love to see long-term clarity at the QB spot, but Hundley and Bryce Petty are no-nos here. Solve the cornerback/wide receiver/offensive line issue instead. A sleeper first-round position could be nose tackle, unless they suddenly feel better about Louis Nix III. 17. San Diego Chargers: If a pass rusher fell here, they could grab him and help fill the veteran voids of Dwight Freeney and/or Jarrett Johnson, even with Jeremiah Attaochu in the wings. An offensive or defensive lineman could work here, too. But a running back — even if Ryan Mathews leaves — can wait. This draft is loaded at the position. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/post-nfl-combine-two-round-mock-draft-155706803.html 18. Kansas City Chiefs: No, we’re not going to further alienate our Chiefs readers by suggesting they pass on a wide receiver here (as we did in our most recent mock draft). An offensive lineman makes perfect sense as well. A corner would be OK if the right-sized and skilled player is here. But a linebacker can wait for later on in the draft. 19. Browns (from the Buffalo Bills): It all depends on what happens at 12. Heck, they could trade these two picks for Mariota for all we know. The only positions we’d urge them to wait on would be a linebacker or a tight end (if Jordan Cameron is gone). 20. Philadelphia Eagles: Like the Browns, we’re not super keen on them going quarterback here, short of finding a way to get up for Mariota. Corner and offensive line, if they stay here, would be two areas to consider. But safety would be a reach, even with Landon Collins fitting the Brian Dawkins-like physical mold. This Eagles defense relies on range, which might not be Collins’ forte. 21. Cincinnati Bengals: No kickers here, please! We’re only half kidding. Same with quarterback, even though we’d love to provide some Andy Dalton alternatives for the future. We feel confident they can find a linebacker, pass rusher, defensive back or receiver here whose value makes more sense. 22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Will there be a pass rusher worth taking at 22? Too early to tell. We think there will be a corner or a defensive lineman they like in this spot if not. Certainly, there’s zero need to add a running back now, even with Le’Veon Bell’s looming two-game suspension and zero reliable depth behind him. That can wait — perhaps even until Day 3 of the draft. 23. Detroit Lions: Releasing Reggie Bush means they could use another running back. But please, for all that is right, don’t start projecting them to take Gurley or Gordon. It’s not happening here. We’d love them to help out the offensive line, or the defensive line if they can’t keep Ndamukong Suh and/or Nick Fairley. 24. Arizona Cardinals: Funny to say for an offensively limited team by season’s end, but there might actually be more tangible needs on the defensive side of the ball — perhaps with all three levels needing some help. The inside linebacker can wait. We actually would be on board with taking Gurley here, too; that might be a fantastic move. 25. Carolina Panthers: Doesn’t this have to be an offensive tackle here? If not, maybe a receiver, but they did take Kelvin Benjamin in Round 1 last year, making it less likely in our minds. A cornerback would be better addressed later, we think, but the top ones will go quickly in this range. 26. Baltimore Ravens: This is a team that stands to lose some players for monetary reasons, and of their clear needs right now, we think they might be forced to wait on an outside rusher until later in the draft. It’s unlikely the right fit will be here at this spot, and there are plenty of other spots they can address nicely with the talent expected to be available here. 27. Dallas Cowboys: They could use another tight end to replace Jason Witten one day, and as much as Maxx Williams reminds us of Witten, we say pass here. There are a surprising number of areas that could improve on this 12-4 squad. 28. Denver Broncos: Like we’ve said above, the linebacker crop is not chock full of top-end talent, so this is a position they might be able to hit the snooze bar on for a round unless a top talent such as Shaq Thompson slides unexpectedly. 29. Indianapolis Colts: They need a safety, but if Collins is gone … we say wait. There might only be another one or two worth taking in the first 75 picks of the draft or so. We also think drafting a running back this high might not be the wisest move. Get another offensive lineman or a pass rusher instead. 30. Green Bay Packers: Why is everyone panicking about inside linebacker? Yes, Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk are gone, but that’s not a first-round position in this defense, we don’t believe. Ted Thompson is among the strictest best-player-available drafters in the game. We think he’ll look elsewhere. 31. Seattle Seahawks: Wide receiver is tempting, but the depth of this class suggests they might be able to be patient and wait; besides, they traded down and made Paul Richardson their top pick a year ago, even if he is coming off a torn ACL. 32. New England Patriots: Why does everyone want them to draft a receiver so high? They never have used a first-rounder on one under Bill Belichick, and they likely won’t start now. The offensive and defensive lines make more sense to address. The receiver can wait. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


AP source: 49ers to bid to host college football title game (Yahoo Sports)

The San Francisco 49ers will bid to host the college football playoff championship game at Levi's Stadium. While the semifinal games in the four-team playoff have been awarded to existing bowl games, playoff officials have opened up the championship game to all cities. AT&T Stadium in the Dallas area hosted the first college championship game last month between Ohio State and Oregon. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


York family ties to hockey run deep (Yahoo Sports)

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From Yahoo Sports


Check out 4-year-old Tom Brady at 'The Catch' game at Candlestick (Shutdown Corner)

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has mastered the whole social media thing, much like he has mastered everything else. Nobody has done better posting throwback photos on Facebook (or, whoever runs Brady's Facebook page posts them), and the latest one is a huge hit. A crying 4-year-old Brady in the final moments of one of the most famous games ever, the NFC championship game at the end of the 1981 season. That was "The Catch," or Dwight Clark's touchdown way back on Jan. 10, 1982, that pushed the San Francisco 49ers to their first Super Bowl. It appears Tom Brady saw "The Catch" in person... #FarewellCandlestick pic.twitter.com/CPZPlUf9mH —San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) February 12, 2015 Brady's childhood love for the 49ers has been well chronicled, as has his admiration for 49ers legendary quarterback Joe Montana. But to be at "The Catch"? It has to be that game too, because no other San Francisco-Dallas game had that score during Brady's early childhood. Quite a convergence of NFL history. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Draft prospects endure rigorous NFL combine preparation at EXOS facility (Shutdown Corner)

While the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks were prepping for Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona two weeks ago, there was a different kind of NFL prep happening a few miles north. NFL draft hopefuls of all shapes and sizes were training — and are continuing to train — alongside current NFL players, professional baseball players and athletes from various other sports at EXOS (formerly Athletes’ Performance), one of seven facilities around the country that are geared to get their clients into ideal shape and maximize their conditioning, streamline their workouts, rehabilitate their injuries, clean up their diets and challenge them in ways they haven’t been before. More than 100 athletes find themselves at EXOS’ 31,000-square foot one-stop-shop facility in Phoenix that becomes a home away from home for dozens of NFL draft prospects, who have relocated and given their lives over for the next several weeks (and even beyond) to prepare them for next week’s NFL combine, their schools’ pro days and, eventually, the rigors of the league itself. It’s late morning on a Monday, and the athletes are hard at work at EXOS’ indoor-outdoor facility. In one line of drills, two first-round possibilities — highly touted receivers Kevin White and Dorial Green-Beckham — are performing dynamic workouts that are designed to warm their bodies up for the day’s work. A few feet away, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is dripping sweat and working (right next to Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly) like the 2015 NFL season is starting tomorrow, as is New York Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who is running sprints with baseball’s spring training just around the corner. Over in the rehab area, Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Bennett is getting treatment on a pesky groin injury that has lingered from the end of his national-championship season with the Buckeyes, shortening his window to prepare for pro workouts. All told, there are nearly three dozen draft prospects here, and there could be as many as six eventual first-round picks at this facility alone. Since being founded in 1999, EXOS has trained seven No. 1 overall picks, 105 first-rounders and 523 total draft selections. The workouts start early in the morning and end in the early evening. In the time you go to work, an eight-hour day, these players are prepping for the biggest job interviews of their lives. They want to be in the best shape of their lives when the NFL puts them in the crosshairs. The program is built on a four-pillar foundation — mindset, nutrition, movement and recovery. In many cases, the athletes are engaging in a new approach to training and living then they ever had before, even with the advanced staffs and facilities some of them had in college. “When I first got into it, it was a great grind. I didn’t know what to expect,” said USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams, a possible top-five selection . “I didn’t know what to expect. I was here from like 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and it was the most intense workouts I have been through. “I like it, though. Everyone’s here to just work and get better.” A typical Monday-Wednesday-Friday program pings back and forth with the Tuesday-Thursday routine, putting more of an emphasis on movement on the odd days, for instance, and more on lifting on the even days. They even put in work on Saturdays, too, taking Sundays off for a little R&R. (The golf range and Call Of Duty appear to be the relaxation method of choice among the players.) For the draft prospects, much of the focus is on the combine workouts — the 40-yard dash, the short and long shuttles, the 3-cone drill, broad and high jumps and the 225-pound bench press. They also work with positional coaches on football technique and the position-specific movement drills that are tested in Indy with all 32 teams in attendance. “I’m here to get better at all of them,” said White, who could be the first wide receiver drafted. “There’s stuff I can work on with all of them.” [read full article]

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