Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Raiders happy to get cornerback back on field

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Starting corner Chris Johnson is back sooner than expected and will be ready to play in season opener vs. Denver.

Finally, 49ers get some positive news

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Running back Frank Gore and team agree to a new, three-year extension and WR Michael Crabtree finally is back on the field.

Good things come in small (or not-so-small) packages

Rosalina Ascolini and her three sisters followed their mother's recipes and their own instincts to build their own business, the Coronado Cupcakery, which produces amazing (and giant) cupcakes. My story on Rosalina & her sisters , for Coronado Patch:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Did 49ers make a costly mistake with Crabtree?

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: This preseason camp took another strange twist for the Niners when injured wide receiver Michael Crabtree started catching passes from Alex Smith Monday ... an apparent violation of NFL rules. What else can go wrong for this team?

Wisniewski has helped shape Raiders O-Line

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Rookie Stefen Wisniewski, drafted as a center but now entrenched at left guard, has helped transform a unit that had many question marks entering camp.

This former sailor is still steaming ahead

Phil Simon, at 64, has no retirement plans yet. As the owner/operator of his own carpet-cleaning business in Santee, he's intent on working at least into his 70s. His father, after all, was still tilling fields on his Michigan farm at age 86. Simon's profile, for the On the Job in Santee series:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Raiders' secondary failures a primary concern

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Drew Brees picked apart the Oakland secondary -- and specifically targeted rookie DeMarcus Van Dyke -- leaving the Raiders with the knowledge they better start improving.

49ers offensive line 'violated,' says Harbaugh

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: In the wake of a rough preseason, including a lopsided loss to the Houston Texans in which 49ers QBs again were constantly under pressure, coach Jim Harbaugh says the offensive line must get better, fast.

Defense had holes, but offense showed some lightning

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: In Oakland's third exhibition game, rookie Taiwan Jones and free-agent wide receiver Derek Hagan gave coaches a glimpse of what they can bring to a Raiders already-potent offense.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The line on this game? Pretty ugly

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: San Francisco's offensive line was ineffective and had some lapses in exhibition loss to Houston, 30-7.

Another shaky night for Niners

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: In third exhibition game, 49ers look lost (again) on offense in lopsided loss to Houston Texans.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Raiders get some cornerback insurance

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Signing of Lito Sheppard, a former Pro Bowler, gives team more depth and experience going into the season:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ten years later, they're just fine

In 2001, a Little League team from Oceanside made it all the way to the U.S. semifinals of the Little League World Series, only to have the bad luck to run up against Danny Almonte, an over-age pitching phenom from the Bronx who beat them, 1-0. The Almonte scandal turned into one of the biggest in the history of youth sports, and the kids from Oceanside were disappointed by their sudden exit. But 10 years later, they recall the experience as positive, not negative. My story for's Page 2:

Jeopardy for Aug. 26 on

Who's that funny guy wearing the Mets' hat (with the rag arm)?

Raiders have been holey vs. the run

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Year after year, the Oakland defense has failed to stop opponents' rushing games. So far this preseason, the problem has persisted. Is there a cure?

Gore rushing ahead for new deal

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Running back Frank Gore wants to stay a 49er, and the team wants him to be a "49er for life." But somewhere, there's a mis-connect.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Montana preaches patience about new-look 49ers

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Former 49ers great Joe Montana says Jim Harbaugh's West Coast offense needs to be given time to be absorbed by team.

Raiders couldn't avoid Pryor restraint

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Al Davis couldn't resist gambling on the selection of athletic-but-raw QB Terrelle Pryor. Can he make it in the NFL?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Raiders get their playmakers back

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Darren McFadden and Jacoby Ford, after early-camp injuries, have returned to practice and returned a smile to the face of coach Hue Jackson:

49ers end the Taylor Mays experiment

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: When Taylor Mays was chosen in the second round by San Francisco in 2010, he came billed as a difference-maker with great size and speed. Just a year later, however, Mays was no longer in the team's plans, traded to the Bengals.

She's at home among the books

When she was a girl, Penny Taylor thought being a librarian would be a perfect career. Then, as she got older, she went off in other directions. Eventually, however, her passion for books and desire for a change in career brought her full circle. My profile of her for the "On the Job in Santee" series:

Monday, August 22, 2011

He can talk the talk ... and coach the kids

John Neill teaches history at Grossmont High School. He also tries to teach young men and women about responsibility and accountability, having come from private business for almost 25 years. He loves the impact he can have on students' lives, and has been a longtime coach of soccer, lacrosse and golf at the school. His profile for the "A Living in La Mesa" series:

Jeopardy for Aug. 19 on's Page 2

This team is a monster ... sort of. My Jeopardy for's Page 2 for Aug. 19th:

Helping visitors find their way

Katherine Matlack doesn't live in Coronado, but she adores the city and has enjoyed it for years with her family. For the past year, however, as the city's new vistior center manager, she's been sharing the city with visitors. Her profile for the "On the Job in Coronado" series:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Framing her career around art

Larisse Robinson always has had an artistic bent, and discovered what she wanted to do early in life. Today she runs a pair of art schools in San Diego County, with plans to open another. Her profile for the "On the Job in Santee" series:

Niners hoping Crabtree will soon return

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Michael Crabtree has shed his protective boot, meaning the dynamic third-year wide receiver may be close to getting back on the practice field:

Raiders looking for special teams help

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Raiders rookie has a good game, good name

Daily Raiders blog post for NBC Bay Area website: Stefen Wisniewski, a rookie out of Penn State, is playing so well that coach Hue Jackson says he has to find a spot for him in the starting lineup.

Niners look for answers to line leaks

Daily blog on 49ers for NBC Bay Area website: Offensive line, coaching staff regroup after getting blitzed by the Saints defense in exhibition opener:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What's silver & black and yellow all over?

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: You know it's a Raiders game if there are yellow flags on the field. So, after committing 10 penalties in their exhibition opener, coach Hue Jackson tries to get his team's attention:

Are you ready for a quarterback controversy?

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Jim Harbaugh lets loose the hounds of the media by saying there's no clear-cut starter yet at QB.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mr. Smith comes to San Francisco

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Aldon Smith, a quarterback-sacking terror at Missouri, was the seventh overall pick in the 2011 draft by San Francisco, and showed his coaches, teammates and fans what he's capable of in Friday's exhibition loss to New Orleans:

Two experienced QBs battle for Raiders backup job

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Kyle Boller and Trent Edwards each looked good in opening exhibition game, which may signal that the race for the backup job behind Jason Campbell may be hard to pick:

She's hoping to make her business bloom

Crystal Redfern is the newest -- and one of the youngest -- store owners in La Mesa's Village, having bought Homeland Florist earlier this year. She's had to take a crash course in just about everything, but believes she can keep the longtime shop going strong. Her profile for the "A Living in La Mesa" column:

49ers blitzed in the Big Easy

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick are chased, sacked and battered in Niners' exhibition opener in New Orleans:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Raiders have early concerns about cornerbacks

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Exhibition opener shows some weaknesses in the Raiders' secondary:

Jeopardy for Aug. 12 on's Page 2

His father said, "Son, if you don't take extra batting practice, I'm going to make you play the piano." Guess it worked, because the outfielder's an All-Star. Who is he?

Nice debut for Raiders rookie Denarius Moore

Daily blog for NBC Bay Area website: Oakland loses its exhibition opener, but rookie wideout Denarius Moore -- who'd been making waves in training camp -- looked just as good against live competition.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's time for Kaepernick to show his stuff

Daily 49ers blog for the NBC Bay Area website: Rookie QB Colin Kaepernick should get plenty of playing time in team's preseason opener vs. Saints:

A witness to history

Elizabeth Ferguson, 98 years young, can remember the days with Naval aviation was new and unusual, and the days when Coronado was just a little beach town with vacant lots in the 1920s. She can also talk about her noted uncle, Admiral Marc Mitscher, a pioneer of Naval aviation and a hero of World War II. My feature about her for the Coronado Patch website:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A knight's quest in the modern world

Scott Farrell looks to the past and sees the future. What if chivalry were a part of today's world? The former magazine editor and history buff takes his message all over San Diego, speaking to kids and adults about the days of yore, knights, King Arthur and the code of honor. My profile of Farrell for "On the Job in Santee":

Braylon Edwards brings his talent to Bay Area

Daily blog post on 49ers for NBC Bay Area website: Braylon Edwards chose to come to San Francisco instead of Arizona because of potential to do big things:

Raiders rookie is making a splash

Daily blog post on NBC Bay Area website: Fifth-round draft pick Denarius Moore gives Raiders hope they've found a diamond in the rough:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A surprise career: helping animals

Amanda Pittman was into cars, not cats and dogs. But when she landed a job at the Humane Society -- on a day when she just showed up to volunteer -- her goals changed. My profile of her for the "On the Job" series in the San Diego Union-Tribune's North County section:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

In Coronado, a day at the beach

His given name is William, but to everyone he's been Pepper. Now, Pepper Lang is an acting sergeant in his 10th year as a lifeguard. As he works at Coronado beach, his days are a constant stream of vigilance and multitasking. My profile of him for the first installment of my "On the Job" series for Coronado Patch: