Monday, October 31, 2011

After years of non-winning, Frank Gore ecstatic about 49ers' season

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: For the fourth straight game, Frank Gore rushed for more than 125 yards and a touchdown, while also passing Roger Craig to become the second-most prolific rusher in 49ers history. Yet what Gore was most happy about is San Francisco's 6-1 record and chance to go to the playoffs for the first time since he was drafted in 2005.

Raiders may sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Coming off a bye week, the Raiders -- who have gone through so much change  in recent weeks -- may bring in another former player, former Bengals wideout T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

49ers beat the Browns in a big way

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Linemen Joe Staley and Isaac Sopoaga both caught passes as eligible receivers to help the 49ers beat Cleveland 20-10 and improve to 6-1. San Francisco, which was coming off its bye week, now has won five straight games.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Playing his part in a family operation

Falon Tablas is the service manager, and does sales at Don Keating Used Cars in La Mesa. But, as he says, when you're part of a five-person, mainly family operation, "you wear a lot of hats." His story for the A Living in La Mesa series:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Jeopardy for Oct. 28 on ESPN

Who the heck are the Virginia Destroyers, and who's that old guy coaching them? My Jeopardy for's Page 2:

Raiders' Palmer in full-study mode

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Carson Palmer is spending extra days studying and working out with several wide receivers while the rest of his team takes four days off during Oakland's bye week.

49ers say bye-bye to bye week, hello to Browns

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Niners, at 5-1, hope to have Braylon Edwards back -- and to continue their momentum from the season's first six weeks -- when they play host to Cleveland on Sunday.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Curry's career is being revived in Oakland

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Aaron Curry, the former fourth-overall NFL draft choice, had lost his job as a starting linebacker in Seattle, but he seems re-energized since being acquired by the Raiders almost three weeks ago.

"Mississippi Miracle" ranks as one of college football's greatest endings

In 2007, Trinity was trailing Millsaps with just seconds to go in its game, but pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in college football history with an amazing 15-lateral play after a pass completion. Though the game matched two Div. III schools who didn't play on national TV, the video of Trinity's miraculous lateral-fest went viral and launched the two schools into the national spotlight for at least a while. Now, four years later, the players and coaches involved in the play still have trouble believing it all came together. Trinity's coach, in fact, said it would have been hard to complete 15 laterals "against air." My story on the play for's "Behind the Highlights" series for Page 2:

49ers are NFL's most efficient team, analyst says

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Sports Illustrated analyst shows that San Francisco is incredibly efficient on both offense and defense, a reason for its 5-1 start.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Will Raiders' personality change with Carson Palmer?

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Before Carson Palmer, the Raiders knew what they were, a down-and-dirty team that wanted to set the tone with a powerful running game. Now that Palmer is on board, will the team transform into a pass-first offense and lose its character?

This duo has given El Cordova Garage a tuneup

Four years ago, Rock and Tracey Walton bought the El Cordova Garage, a landmark art deco-style business in the heart of Coronado. It's a team operation, with Rock -- who's been there 21 years -- the master mechanic, and Tracey running the administrative side. My profile of them for Coronado Patch:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

She has a salon with its own special style

Michelle Smith always has had her own, special sense of style and flair, and it's evident in the hair salon she opened in Santee this year called Hot Rodz & Betties Hair Garage. Her profile, for the On the Job in Santee series:

49ers ready to welcome back Braylon Edwards

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Receiver Braylon Edwards, out since the second game of the season, is due to practice today and may be ready to play Sunday vs. the Browns.

Raiders hope McFadden can recover during bye week

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Darren McFadden, who had to come out of Sunday's game vs. the Chiefs with a foot injury, is on crutches this week. But Oakland hopes its star running back can recover during the bye week and be ready to play vs. the Broncos Nov. 6.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Palmer vows to improve quickly for Raiders

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Quarterback Carson Palmer, after a rough debut for the Raiders in loss to the Chiefs, says he'll go into "grinding" mode to get better in time for team's next game -- after a bye week -- Nov. 6 vs. Denver.

That special feeling for 49ers involves their special teams

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The acquisition of special teams coach Brad Seely may be one of the Niners' best moves of the offseason. San Francisco ranks among the best special teams units in the NFL, a key component of the team's surprising 5-1 start.

Raiders get picked clean in Palmer's rusty debut

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Kyle Boller started the game against the Chiefs and was intercepted three times in the first half, one which was returned for a TD. Then, newly acquired Carson Palmer entered the game down 21-0 and threw three more interceptions as the Raiders were shut out by Kansas City, 28-0, in the first game after starting QB Jason Campbell was lost for the season.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Call him a winemaker, but know that he's a beer guy

Justin Mund grew up in the wine country of Healdsburg, and eventually came to be fascinated by all aspects of making wine, from planting to harvesting to bottling. Today, Mund is the winemaker at Orfila Vineyards in Escondido, and is responsible for running the county's second largest winery. My story on Mund for the On the Job series in the North County section of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chiefs know they have to stop Oakland run game

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Carson Palmer or Kyle Boller? To the Chiefs, who play the Raiders Sunday, it doesn't really matter. No matter the QB, Kansas City will have to stop the Oakland running game, or they don't stand a chance.

Yes, he's 5-1 and improved, but can Smith be The Man for Niners?

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: San Francisco's formula for success has been to play great defense, run the ball and make few mistakes. But if the Niners get into a position where their QB has to win a game in a shootout situation, is Alex Smith the guy to do it?

Jeopardy for Oct. 21 on ESPN

The daughter of the King of Pop wants to play what? My Jeopardy for's Page 2 for Oct. 21st:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Who needs practice? Palmer likely to start at QB for Raiders

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Raiders, who traded for Carson Palmer Tuesday, appear ready to throw him into the starting lineup at QB Sunday vs. the Chiefs, apparently believing that even a rusty Palmer is better than backup QB Kyle Boller.

History and numbers aligned on 49ers' side

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: At 5-1, the San Francisco 49ers are through the the toughest part of their schedule and already have a good lead in the NFC West, meaning their chances of going to the playoffs already look very good:

They jumped through hoops into the NFL

What do Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez have in common? Each great NFL tight end played a little roundball before coming to the NFL. My piece for

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

49ers' Aldon Smith is coming on in a rush

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Former Missouri star Aldon Smith has had four sacks in his past two games and has been a key piece of the Niners' emerging defense this season.

He didn't know it, but his future was in the cards

Jerry Mudra grew up collecting baseball and other sports cards, but put them aside as he went off to the working world. Eventually, however, he opened up All Star Cards in Santee in the mid-1980s and has been immersed in the collectible card world ever since. My story on him for the On the Job in Santee series:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Raiders pay heavy price for Palmer, but hope he's the answer

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Raiders needed to make a bold move after the injury to Jason Campbell, and did, trading two high picks to Cincinnati for Carson Palmer. Is Palmer really the guy who can step in and lead this team to the playoffs? Or did the Raiders overpay to get him?

49ers hope to improve during bye week

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Jim Harbaugh calls the upcoming bye week "improvement week," and hopes to work on some areas his Niners need to make better.

Monday, October 17, 2011

49ers defense has become one of league's best

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: As San Francisco showed in its victory over the previously unbeaten Lions, its defensive unit -- led by athletic, active linebackers -- is one of the NFL's best.

Expect the Raiders to make a bold move for a QB

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: With Jason Campbell out for the season, expect the Raiders to move boldly for a new QB. David Garrard, Carson Palmer or Kyle Orton could be soon wearing silver and black.

For Raiders, loss of Campbell throws dark shadow over victory

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Jason Campbell was having his best pro season as QB, and his loss in a win over the Browns -- probably for the season -- will have a big impact on the Raiders' bid to win the AFC West.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

49ers' victory over Lions reflects Harbaugh's personality

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Jim Harbaugh's players seem to swear by him; his opponents seem to be irritated by him. On Sunday, in a game against the 5-0 Lions, Harbaugh's 49ers reflected his fiery nature. Then, Harbaugh irritated Lions coach Jim Schwartz.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

He's been on the right tracks for years

Steve Bovee, owner of Reed's Hobby Shop in La Mesa, is a lifelong train buff who took over the shop a few years ago. The former Naval officer and civil engineer loves getting people set up in the same hobby he's loved his whole life. His profile for the "A Living in La Mesa" series:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Will this be 'Apocalypse Now" in Detroit?

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The 4-1 49ers travel to Michigan to play the 5-0 Lions at Ford Field, knowing they must control the Ndamukong Suh-led defensive line of the Lions, that's now being called the "Apocalypse Now" line.

"The Haven" is going through hard times

Little Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania has lost 37 straight football games, the longest losing streak in the nation. And, if not for an overtime victory back in 2007, the Bald Eagles would be on a 50-game winless slide. At one point the outlook was so bleak, the school was thinking about dropping football, but decided to regroup. With a new coach and a new fund-raising drive (for more scholarships), the attitude off the field is optimistic, even if the results -- 0-5 this season -- have been the same. But, there is hope at "The Haven" as players, coaches and fans look forward to that very first win. My story for's Page 2:

Jeopardy for Oct. 14 on

So what teams let Nelson Cruz slip through their fingers? My Jeopardy for's Page 2:

Raiders say they'll avoid 'trap game' vs. Browns

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: After coming off an emotional win last week, the Raiders say they're not focusing on anything but the Browns this week, even though Cleveland looks ripe for the plucking.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

49ers add pair of receivers to fill void

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: With Joshua Morgan now out for the year, 49ers sign Brett Swain to roster and Kerry Taylor to practice squad. Meanwhile, QB Alex Smith and WR Ted Ginn Jr. say the rest of the wide receivers on the roster just need to step up now.

Raiders make a typical Al Davis-style move

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Picking up linebacker Aaron Curry is the type of move Al Davis was known for, a low-risk, high-reward gamble.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Working with youth is her calling

Aliah Brozowski had no intention of working with youth, until she was asked as a high school student to volunteer for a program in which she would be a mentor to younger students. Since that time, she's wanted to devote her career to it. Now, the city of Santee's recreation program supervisor is responsible for the Teen Center and many other programs for the city and enjoys the difference she can make for her community. Her story, for the On the Job in Santee series:

She'll give you a hand -- or whatever help you need

Jennifer Leonardelli always has liked pitching in for others, so when she decided to start her own business, she started Coronado Chic. Now, she's a personal assistant, doing everything from picking up mail to driving people to the airport to dog sitting. It gives her the flexibility she loves. My story on her for the On the Job in Coronado series:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Schedule may favor Raiders in AFC West race

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Oakland Raiders have come through a tough part of their scheduled with a 3-2 record, which means the team has the chance to be 6-2 at the halfway point, going into a matchup with the Chargers.

Niners can't catch a break at wide receiver

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: With injury to Joshua Morgan, the 49ers are suddenly very thin in their receiving corps, especially with Braylon Edwards still out, so it looks like the team will have to make a move.

For some athletes, 'There's no excuse for getting old'

Jerry Sullivan has had cancer, quadruple bypass and nine stents placed in his arteries, yet every week he plays basketball with his buddies. And, at 75, he and his teammates played in the San Diego Senior Olympics this past month.  His advice: just keep moving, stay active and live life. My story for the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Former Navy SEAL JP Bolwahnn pursues dream

Former Navy SEAL JP Bolwahnn, who served 13 years in the elite force, thought his chance to play college football was long gone. But when he discovered he still had eligibility remaining, he decided to get back on a football field, where he hadn't played since he was a senior in high school in 1994. Now, he's a 34-year-old running back at the University of San Diego, enjoying every minute of his long-delayed experience. My story for Coronado Patch (slightly longer and revised  than the story that ran in the Albuquerque Journal):

Monday, October 10, 2011

Raiders finally shut down a running game

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Oakland has had one of the worst rushing defenses in the league, so it was a point of concern going into its game vs. Texas, which has one of the best backs in the NFL in Arian Foster. For at least this game, the Raiders stepped up and shut down the Texans.

Just call him 'the Gore of Yore'

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Frank Gore had a horrible start to the 2011 season, which had some wondering if his best days were behind him. The past two weeks, however, the Niners running back has looked like his old self.

With big win over Bucs, 49ers are on a roll

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The offense was working, the defense was working and San Francisco was cruising in a 48-3 victory over the previously 3-1 Tampa Bay Bucs, giving the 49ers a 4-1 record, their best start in almost a decade.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Raiders get emotional win in remembrance of Davis

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: A day after Al Davis' death, the Raiders put together a series of minor miracles to beat Houston 25-20, leaving coach Hue Jackson in tears.