Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Niners played their cards right with Alex Smith

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The way the 49ers marketed Alex Smith to create the most demand -- and return -- was brilliant.

Holmgren to Raiders? That would be a smart move

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: News that the Raiders may be courting Mike Holmgren for a front-office position is a sign that Mark Davis was serious about creating a 21st-century organizational structure.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

49ers secondary makeover may be severe

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: This offseason, it's possible the 49ers may part with both Dashon Goldson and Carlos Rogers. If they do, it will be part of a major move to upgrade a secondary that was exposed in the postseason.

Taiwan Jones may help Raiders with switch

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: For two years, Taiwan Jones has been with the Raiders, but hasn't made much of an impact as a running back. Now, he's switching to cornerback.

Boston University star Poulin is healthy once more and hopes to take Terriers to Frozen Four

Marie-Philip Poulin, who helped the Canadian women's team win the hockey gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, is healthy again after missing much of last season with an injury. Now the Boston University standout is helping the Terriers make a run at the national championship. My story on Poulin for the Kaz Watch series on the USA Hockey site:

Phil Robertson hardly looks the part, but in the 1960s the "Duck Dynasty" star was a starting college QB ... good enough to keep Terry Bradshaw on the bench

Phil Robertson looks a bit like a mountain man who came in from the woods. The patriarch of a Louisiana duck hunting family and a millionaire who developed the best duck call in the nation, Robertson has a big, gray beard, wild hair and wears a bandana and camo clothes. But back in the 1960s at Louisiana Tech, Robertson was a big-armed quarterback good enough to keep Terry Bradshaw on the bench. Eventually, Robertson gave up football to pursue his first love -- hunting -- and leave football to Bradshaw. My story for's Playbook section:

Monday, February 25, 2013

If Smith steps out, does Tolzien step up for 49ers?

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Scott Tolzien is inexperienced, but the 49ers have said nothing but good things about their No. 3 QB for two years. Now, with Alex Smith apparently on the way out, will Tolzien be the backup for Colin Kaepernick next season?

Raiders have eyes on Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Jarvis Jones led the nation in sacks this season, and the Raiders need pass-rush help. But will his medical history scare Oakland?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Niners' GM Baalke has faith in Jenkins' future

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: A.J. Jenkins may not have caught a single pass in his rookie season, but at the NFL Combine, 49ers GM Trent Baalke says he still is a believer in Jenkins' talents and work ethic and believes the former Illinois wide receiver can make an impact for the team in 2013.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snowboarder Hannah Teter has come a long way since grabbing a gold medal as a teen in Torino

Hannah Teter at 26 has non-profit groups that raise money for water projects in Africa and hunger around the globe. She's a businesswoman, a model and an advocate for the Special Olympics. But she also knows the foundation for all she's achieved has come through her prowess in the halfpipe, so the snowboarder from Vermont is working on some new tricks as she gears up to make the U.S. Olympic team for Sochi in 2014. My story on Teter for the U.S. Olympic website,

Outlining Niners' biggest needs going into NFL Combine

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The San Francisco braintrust is now in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine, doing its homework for the draft in April. Here's a look at the team's five biggest needs in the draft:

Matt Flynn might be enticing to Raiders' McKenzie

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie was in Green Bay at the same time Matt Flynn was a backup QB. Might the two reconnect in Oakland?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ticked-off Texas fan campaigning to give ex-Rangers star Hamilton the silent treatment in 2013

When Josh Hamilton said in an interview that the Rangers don't play in a baseball town, the folks down Texas way got in a huff. Now a 15-year-old high school student has started a campaign through Twitter and Facebook called Silence4Josh, hoping that all fans at the Rangers home opener vs. the Angels this year will be completely silent when Hamilton comes to the plate. My story for's Playbook:

Looney may pay delayed dividends for 49ers line in 2013

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Niners will need depth on the offensive line in 2013, but a key addition is already on the roster, 2012 draft pick Joe Looney, who never really got a chance to contribute after an injury suffered at the Senior Bowl.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Former Olympic hockey star Angela Ruggiero feels compelled to 'pay it forward' in post-athlete career

Now that her competitive hockey career is over, Harvard grad Angela Ruggiero is putting her talents to use in other avenues to open doors for young women and athletes the same way earlier pioneers did for her. Now president of the Women's Sports Foundation and on the boards of the U.S. and International Olympic Committees, Ruggiero has a busy schedule and a busy agenda. My story on her for the U.S. Olympic website,

Niners' GM Baalke is man in spotlight this offseason

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Will Trent Baalke repeat his terrific year of 2011, when all he touched was gold? Or will it be a repeat of 2012, when his draft proved disappointing?

For Raiders, pool of defensive tackles is deep

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Oakland is likely to need defensive tackles in this draft, and there are plenty to choose from.

Cornell's Kyle Dake, a three-time NCAA champion in three different weight classes, has done what no other wrestler ever has done

Kyle Dake is going after his fourth straight NCAA championship in a fourth different weight class, something no one else has ever done. The Cornell senior already has three titles and sticks with a formula that works -- rituals and routines in every aspect of his life. Just don't call them
"superstitions." My story on Dake for's Playbook section:

On a team of stars, Megan Bozek of Minnesota is a rock on defense and a talented scorer

The defending national-champion Minnesota women's hockey team is ranked No. 1 and undefeated this season, and boasts All-Americans all over its lineup. One player who often gets overlooked is defenseman Megan Bozek -- who shouldn't be. She might be the best defenseman in the nation. My story on Bozek for the Kaz Watch series for USA Hockey, leading up to the Patty Kazmaier Award in March:

Most sports fans know about TDs, home runs and dunks; Tommy Barone, a bobsled super fan, can talk tracks, drivers and Olympic history

To all who meet him, Tommy Barone is just a regular guy, an airline pilot from Rhode Island who is amiable and can talk about the Patriots and Red Sox. But deep down, he has a secret. He's a bobsled fan, and a BIG bobsled fan at that. He got hooked on bobsledding the first time he saw it on TV, and soon was building his own sled to roll down his driveway. My story on bobsled's biggest fan for the U.S. Olympic website,

Monday, February 18, 2013

49ers' Aldon Smith hoping to punch up his game

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Aldon Smith is already working to improve himself for 2013, working out with a mixed martial arts instructor.

Raiders aim to improve special teams play

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: New coach Bobby April is no newcomer to special teams, having coached 21 years in the NFL. The new Raiders assistant has had both highs and lows in his long career, but hopes to turn things around for Oakland's special units in 2013.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

'The Golden Shore' is a captivating, enlightening book about the history, culture and allure of the California coast

Yes, California has some issues. The most populous state in the union has its critics. But as a new book, 'The Golden Shore," reminds us, the geographic wonder of its long coastline -- from San Diego to Crescent City -- is a marvel, the magnet that has attracted millions of people from all over the globe. David Helvarg's new publication is part history book, part travelogue, part environmental study and part love letter to one of the world's most beautiful places. My review for U-T San Diego:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Stanford TE Ertz might be just right for 49ers

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: If the Niners allow tight end Delanie Walker to leave in free agency, Stanford tight end Zach Ertz might be the perfect replacement.

Would Raiders gamble and make Pryor starting QB?

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: It would be a huge gamble, but you have to believe some in the Raiders' braintrust are thinking it this offseason: Why not just cut ties with Carson Palmer and make Terrelle Pryor the No. 1 QB?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Raiders' Olson will play to McFadden's strengths

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: New offensive coordinator Greg Olson will return the offense to a power-blocking scheme to fit the talents of running back Darren McFadden.

Niners lose key front office executive

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Tom Gamble, the 49ers' director of player personnel, becomes the first key piece of the franchise's leadership group to leave in two seasons. He'll be returning to the Eagles, where he began his career.

In Houston, many longtime fans of the Astros still upset about the team's forced move to the AL ... and the use of the (gasp!) DH

For more than 90 years, baseball fans in Houston have had a team in or affiliated with the National League. So when Major League Baseball in 2011 decreed that new Astros owner Jim Crane move his team to the American League, most fans were furious at Crane, MLB and commissioner Bud Selig. They didn't want to play the Angels and A's, use the DH or break their rivalries with teams such as the Cardinals and Cubs. Now, with the Astros starting play this year in the AL, much of that ire has been replaced by resignation. My story for's Playbook section:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Roman proclamation: He's eager to improve 49ers offense

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Offensive coordinator Greg Roman says the Super Bowl loss stung, but now has him more motivated than ever to make 2013 even better.

Free-agent corner could boost Raiders' defense

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Aqib Talib did wonders for the Patriots' defense in 2012, but he could be headed for free agency. Acquiring a cornerback such as Talib, and then using a first-round pick on a pass rusher could go a long way to improving the Raiders defense.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

49ers' Crabtree now counts among NFL's best receivers

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: As the 49ers begin pondering offseason roster moves, free agency and the draft, one thing has changed from last offseason: the Niners now have an elite-level wide receiver in Michael Crabtree, a clear No. 1. Now, they just need some complementary help.

North Dakota's scoring wiz, Jocelyne Lamoureux, hopes for special finale

In her junior season, North Dakota forward Jocelyne Lamoureux led the nation in scoring and was a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, given to the nation's best collegiate female hockey player. Yet despite her multiple individual awards, Lamoureux felt there was something missing because the team didn't reach the postseason. This season she's concentrating on doing the little things to give her team a better chance in her senior season. Her profile, for the "Kaz Watch" series for USA Hockey;

Monday, February 11, 2013

A hair-raising thought: the Raiders' D without Wheeler

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Linebacker Philip Wheeler was perhaps the Raiders' best acquisition last season. Now, after leading the team in tackles in 2012, Wheeler is a free agent and Oakland must decide if he's worth bringing back.

Can Niners afford to keep nose tackle Sopoaga?

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Isaac Sopoaga has been an anchor on the defensive line at nose tackle, but as he enters free agency there are questions about whether the 49ers can -- or should -- re-sign him.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Raiders' schedule in 2013 among easiest in NFL

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Oakland, which may need all the help it can get in 2013, has the fourth-easiest schedule in the NFL, based on opponents' winning percentage:

49ers may keep Smith for insurance, keep him from Cards

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Although the odds are that QB Alex Smith will leave, it's not a certainty. Some suggest the team can afford him, plus by keeping him on roster, 49ers wouldn't allow him to go to division-rival Cardinals.

Providing in-home care for elderly is her calling

Gabriela Brown knows she provides a service everyone hopes they never need. Her Constant Companions gives in-home care for the elderly, and she has trained care-givers in homes across San Diego's North County, down to Chula Vista and into Riverside County. Yet as much as nobody really plans for using her services, she feels good knowing that she's there to help people when they need it. Since she was a teenager, she's known she's wanted to help people. My story on her for U-T San Diego's "On the Job" series:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Akers' price may be too step for 49ers

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Is kicker David Akers worth more than $3 million against the 49ers' salary cap next season? Probably not. The team can release him, renegotiate his deal to a lower price or keep him as is and hope the problems of 2012 were a result of injury.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

49ers' Jenkins vows to crack receiving rotation in 2013

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area: Niners' No. 1 pick A.J. Jenkins didn't catch a single pass in 2012. Now he vows to work hard over the offseason to become better and fight his way into becoming a playmaker for the team in 2013.

Raiders face a costly question with Carson Palmer

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area: QB Carson Palmer is due to make $13 million in 2013. With the Raiders exceeding the salary cap, does that mean they'll have to ask him to take a pay cut... or release him?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Harvard standout Jillian Dempsey is 'living the dream' playing for a Crimson program she watched as a kid

In the sixth grade, Jillian Dempsey decided she would one day play hockey at Harvard. Now a senior for the Crimson, Dempsey is one of the nation's top goal scorers on a team ranked in the nation's top five and says she's "living the dream" playing for a school she loves so much. My story on Dempsey for USA Hockey's Kaz Watch series.

Raiders' defensive line targeted for remaking

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Once, Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly where the anchors of a strong defensive line in Oakland. Now that line is overpaid and underperforming. This offseason it's likely the target of a big improvement project.

Goldson, Moss, Walker among 49ers' free-agents to be

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Niners have most of their key players signed to contacts beyond 2013, but a handful of starters and key contributors -- including Dashon Goldson, Randy Moss, Delanie Walker and Isaac Sapoaga -- will be unrestricted free agents.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The day after: 49ers still primed for long-term success

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The day after a Super Bowl loss can be tough. There's never a guarantee that a team will return to the big game. Yet the 49ers showed over the course of the past two seasons under Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke that they have what it takes to stay in the Super Bowl hunt for many years to come.

Despite loss, 49ers have a winning hand for future in Kaepernick

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Colin Kaepernick was sloppy in the first half, then electric in the second as the 49ers lost to the Ravens 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII. Though the 49ers lost, Kaepernick proved again that the Niners will have an elite QB for years to come.

After lights come back on, so do 49ers

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Sunday's Super Bowl XLVII was a tale of two halves, before and after a 34-minute power outage. After the lights came back on, the 49ers finally began to play the way they can, but it proved too late in a 34-31 loss to Baltimore.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Baalke is the superstar behind 49ers' Super Bowl team

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: For years, the 49ers struggled to regain their elite status from the Joe Montana-Steve Young years. Now that the Niners are back, who deserves the most credit? Trent Baalke, who went after Jim Harbaugh and has brought in so much talent.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Can shaky Akers be steady in Super Bowl XLVII?

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Going into Sunday's Super Bowl, the 49ers appear to have few question marks. Solid offense, solid defense. But kicker David Akers' inconsistency is a major concern. What if the game comes down to a late Akers' kick?

Niners getting a boost from LaMichael James

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Rookie running back LaMichael James had to sit and wait...and wait and wait. But since he finally got a chance to play in the Niners' final four regular-season games and the playoffs, he's given them a fresh pair of legs and a dangerous, multipurpose weapon on offense.