Friday, November 30, 2012

After disappointing tie, 49ers are primed for Rams rematch

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: In their first meeting, the 49ers and Rams settled for a 24-24 tie, and the San Francisco players remember St. Louis was the more motivated team at the start. In Sunday's scheduled rematch, the Niners are saying they'll be ready.

Perhaps Browns will be cure for Raiders' losing streak?

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: In a battle of two 3-8 teams, the Raiders -- stuck in a four-game losing skid -- will take on the 3-8 Browns in Oakland.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

McClain's Raider tenure coming to an end

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: It's expected that linebacker Rolando McClain, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, will be released, ending what was hoped to be a bright career in Oakland.

Akers now banged up, but should continue to kick

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The 49ers this week brought in two free-agent, veteran kickers for a tryout, just in case David Akers can't kick vs. the Rams Sunday.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Raiders may begin Terrelle Pryor experiment

Raiders daily blog for NBC Bay Area website: Terrelle Pryor, the former Ohio State quarterback who hasn't appeared in a game this season, may soon be incorporated into the Raiders offense.

Injuries may open door of opportunity for 49ers' rookies

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins and running back LaMichael James may finally get a chance to play this weekend for the 49ers vs. the Rams because of injuries to Kyle Williams, Kendall Hunter and Ted Ginn Jr.

Coaches sometimes go to great lengths to schedule games for their players back in front of hometown friends and family

In college basketball, they're sometimes called "homecoming games," and many coaches believe in them. At BYU, for instance, head coach Dave Rose tries to set up a game in the home area of every one of his players during his time at the school, to give him a chance to play in front of friends and family. And Rose isn't alone. Coaches go to great lengths, all over the country, to allow their players one last game in front of a home crowd. My story for's Playbook section:

Monday, November 26, 2012

By picking Kaepernick over Smith, Harbaugh has boldly moved his team into the future

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The conventional move would have been for Jim Harbaugh to stick with Alex Smith, a proven winner and solid quarterback. By boldly making Colin Kaepernick his starter, however, Harbaugh has made a move for future success with a player with more upside.

Raiders are hoping for best ... but getting worse

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Each week, Raiders coaches and players vow to make needed improvements, but each week the team seems to slide a bit deeper.

49ers defense outshines Kaepernick in win over Saints

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: It may not have mattered who started at QB for the 49ers vs. the Saints Sunday, with Ahmad Brooks and Donte Whitner each returning interceptions for TDs in a victory at New Orleans.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Energetic and curious Escondido entrepreneur says he's really a mushroom farmer at heart

Roberto Ramirez is a classic tale of success, the son of an immigrant woman from Mexico who worked hard to provide for her children. Ramirez went to college, worked hard at an Escondido mushroom farm ... and now owns the business -- along with a lot of other ventures. My story on Ramirez for the U-T's North County editon's "On the Job" series:

Kaepernick or Smith? Only Harbaugh knows

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Kaepernick or Smith? The question still has no answer (at least publicly). But the 49ers-Saints matchup should be interesting no matter what.

Raiders' defense needs to show up vs. Bengals

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: The focus has been on Carson Palmer's return to Cincinnati, but the real story is whether the Oakland defense can stop the Bengals.

Kaepernick reportedly will start for 49ers

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: It not appears as if Colin Kaepernick will start at QB for the 49ers vs. the Saints.
Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Oakland Raiders, hurting on defense, still couldn't use linebacker Aaron Curry.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

49ers' Aldon Smith is a defensive force

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Linebacker Aldon Smith now leads the NFL in sacks after his 5 1/2-sack effort vs. the Bears.

For Raiders, Marcel Reece is off and running

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: One bright spot in a dark stretch of 2012 has been the performance of Marcel Reece at running back for the Raiders:

Kaepernick ignites QB controversy in brilliant debut

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: In his first NFL start, Colin Kaepernick -- playing for the concussed Alex Smith -- is almost perfect in the 49ers 32-7 victory over the Bears, igniting a quarterback controversy in the Bay Area.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Smith out, Kaepernick in at QB for Monday night vs. Bears

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Alex Smith can't get clearance to play after suffering a concussion last week, so second-year QB Colin Kaepernick will get his first NFL start.

Raiders' owner Mark Davis calls season 'embarrassing'

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: After his team lost for a third straight game to fall to 3-7, owner Mark Davis said he is angry and frustrated.

Saints march right through holes in Raiders defense

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: It looked like it would be a problem, and it was: The Raiders, with a leaky defense, were no match for the Saints.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Author's tale of the Amistad and the men who were enslaved is much more complete than the movie

"The Amistad Rebellion" is a rich, complete story of the Africans aboard the slave ship that became one of the biggest news stories in the United States in 1839-40. In Marcus Rediker's book, the 53 people who were captured take center stage, and their rebellion aboard the slave ship is the turning point in their lives -- not the courtroom drama featured so prominently in Steven Spielberg's movie about the incident. My review of the book for U-T San Diego:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Addition of Olympic star Missy Franklin to Cal swimming program makes Bears extra golden

Teri McKeever has won three out of the last four NCAA women's swimming championships, so it's not like her Cal program needed to get the best swimmer available this year. And yet, the Bears landed Missy Franklin, who won five medals, including four gold, at the London Olympics. It's just one more good thing to happen to McKeever this year. My story for

49ers, Bears get ready for Monday clash

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Will Alex Smith be ready to play against Bears Monday night? Will Jim Harbaugh be on the sidelines after undergoing a minor heart procedure Thursday?

Limping Raiders will have their hands full with Saints

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: How will the reeling Raiders cope with a hot Saints team? It's a difficult task, made even harder by a slew of injuries.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sienna the 'Brewhouse Dog' is part of the dog-friendly culture at the Coronado Brewing Company

Wherever Kyle Chapman goes, his 7-year-old golden retriever, Sienna, is sure to follow. She's the designated "Brewhouse Dog" at the Coronado Brewing Company where he serves as manager, and holds court each day, greeting customers. These days, too, the CBC serves more than just suds; special dog treats, made from the spent grain of the brewing process, are available for guests to buy or share with their four-legged friends. My story for the Union-Tribune's pets page:

This accidental DJ has hit the right chords

Dennis Bergstrom fell in love with playing the guitar at an early age, but never thought about making a living with it. He had a good job as a bartender at a great spot, and was happy in his work. But when some friends suggested he start playing weddings, it opened up a whole new line of work. Now he plays weddings and special events, while also serving as a DJ and entertainer at weddings, parties and business gatherings for his one-man B'Entertained business in North County San Diego. My profile of Bergstrom for the "On the Job" series in the Union-Tribune's North County edition.

For Akers, career as a kicker is a roller coaster ride

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: David Akers this season hasn't been Mr. Automatic, the way he was last season, but he vows to get back on track.

Raiders are hurtin' for certain

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Not only are the Raiders in free-fall mode, but the team is having more than its share of injury problems.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Success of Paralympic skier Danelle Umstead is based in large part on trust in her husband Rob, her guide

Skier Danelle Umstead won two bronze medals at the Paralympics in Vancouver in 2010, and is aiming toward earning more medals at Sochi. She's had some setbacks since Vancouver, having to deal with the complications of multiple sclerosis, but she's not holding back. Every day in training, her husband Rob pushes her to be better, and she has ultimate faith in him to guide her down the mountain in every race. "That's my husband," she says. "He's going to take care of me." My story for

Do the 49ers have a quarterback controversy?

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The concussion to Alex Smith and the strong play of backup Colin Kaepernick in last week's tie with the Rams has sparked discussion of a QB controversy in the Bay Area.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The ice hasn't always been smooth for short-track speedskater J.R. Celski, but he always comes back strong

J.R. Celski is off to a terrific start in World Cup action this season, after breaking an ankle last December. The short-track speedskater has set a world record and won four medals in his first two stops on the circuit, and he has his eyes on the prize of making another Olympic team. My story for

U-T San Diego nonprofit guide

U-T San Diego published a guide to nonprofit organizations in the area on Nov. 11, 2012. Included were five of my stories on various aspects of donating or volunteering for charitable groups and causes:

What happened to once-reliable 49ers kicker David Akers?

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Once, he was Mr. Automatic. But Niners kicker David Akers has had some misses this season, including a 41-yarder in overtime of a 24-24 tie with the Rams Sunday. Is he in a slump?

To Allen, Raiders' performance is 'unacceptable'

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Some observers say the Raiders don't have any talent on their roster, but Oakland head coach Dennis Allen simply says the team's performance is 'unacceptable.'

Monday, November 12, 2012

After 52 straight losses, the longest losing streak in Div. II history, Lock Haven (Pa.) wins a game ... five years to the date of its last victory

What does it feel like to lose 52 straight games? Obviously, not good. But quarterback Jarrett Kratzer can tell you first-hand how sweet it was to have watched his Lock Haven football team lose 52 consecutive games, starting in his redshirt freshman season. But in the last game of his college career, the Bald Eagles killed the streak and Lock Haven walks away a winner. My story for, following up on a larger story I did a year ago:

Any hopes of a quick-fix for Raiders in 2012 have faded

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: When he took over, GM Reggie McKenzie said he was focused on the long term but hoped to win this season, too. After a 55-20 loss to Baltimore Sunday to drop the Raiders to 3-6, it's obvious the victory total this season won't be very good.

Kaepernick performs well in emergency role

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: With Alex Smith on the sidelines with a concussion, second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick played well in his first extended playing time an an NFL regular-season game. But the 49ers are hoping Smith is back soon.

For 49ers, it's a wild game with the Rams, overtime and ... a tie?

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The 49ers very well could have lost Sunday's game against the Rams. Both teams had their chances to win it. In the end, the Niners and Rams settled for a tie.

Ravens pound Raiders in almost every way

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Oakland Raiders went into Baltimore hoping to get back on the winning track, but didn't come close, losing 55-20.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Niners eager to get back to business vs. Rams

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: At 6-2, the 49ers open the second half of the season Sunday vs. a struggling Rams team that has lost three straight.

After loss to Bucs, Raiders now face tough Ravens

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Oakland knows it needs to rebound after loss to Bucs, but it's going to be tough to beat the Ravens in Baltimore.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Raiders' Taiwan Jones may finally get his chance

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: With injuries to Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson making them doubtful for Sunday's game, second-year speed back Taiwan Jones may finally get his chance to show what he can do.

Niners' ground game reaches new heights

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: As opponents see it, the 49ers' rushing attack is a sophisticated, powerful weapon that is unlike that of any team in the NFL.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

For skiers and snowboarders, USSA's Team Academy is one cool school

As more Olympic sports were added to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association lineup, officials noticed that more younger athletes were becoming members of elite U.S. national teams, and that those athletes were challenged in trying to balance school and training. So, this year the USSA's Team Academy opened, a school designed around training schedules. My story for

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Raiders trying to plug holes left by Bucs' offense

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: After three strong defensive games, the Raiders were blown apart by Tampa Bay. Now, what can head coach Dennis Allen do to plug the leaks?

Always-eager Harbaugh ready to start second half

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Jim Harbaugh, after a brief rest, is eager to get his players rolling again into the second half of the NFL season.

Monday, November 5, 2012

At midway point, 49ers are in a good spot

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: At 6-2, 49ers are just a tick behind last year's midpoint record of 7-1. Plus, the Niners may be even playing more solid football -- especially when you consider their takeaway ratio isn't nearly as high as it was last season at this time.

Raiders are limping after loss to Tampa Bay

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Oakland not only lost 42-32 to the Bucs, but the Raiders came out of the game with some serious injury concerns.