Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Harbaugh loves rookie Patton's competitive streak

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: After making several big plays against the Cardinals, Quinton Patton has again caught the attention of Jim Harbaugh. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Receiver-Patton-Now-Poised-to-Contribute-to-49ers-238263481.html

Raiders admit they need to find a quarterback

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Head coach Dennis Allen, who apparently will be back in 2014, says Raiders likely don't have next season's No. 1 quarterback on their roster right now. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Allen-Raiders-Need-to-Find-a-Quarterback-238250501.html

Monday, December 30, 2013

49ers should be wary of leaky pass defense in playoffs

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are capable of putting up big numbers against the 49ers pass defense that has stumbled the past two games. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Suddenly-49ers-Pass-Defense-Looks-Vulnerable-237978581.html

Raiders' Allen deserves a third season as head coach

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Dennis Allen is 8-24 in two seasons as head coach of the Raiders, but his hands have been tied. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Allen-Deserves-Another-Year-in-Oakland-237972321.html

Niners' Patton, Dawson help pull out a final victory

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Little-used wideout Quinton Patton made a terrific catch to set up a last-second field goal by Phil Dawson to secure a victory over Arizona and the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Patton-Dawson-Come-Through-for-49ers-237909091.html

Raiders end season in typical fashion

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: A blowout loss to Broncos is Raiders' farewell to a 4-12 season in 2013. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/With-Loss-Raiders-Live-Down-to-Expectations-237906881.html

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Davis gives 49ers offense an edge vs. Cardinals

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: As they showed in first matchup vs. 49ers this season, the Cardinals can't cover Vernon Davis. He may give the team a big edge in Sunday's season finale. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Cardinals-May-Have-Trouble-Stopping-Vernon-Davis-237314731.html

Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera blossoming

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Mychal Rivera has shown over the second half of this season that the Raiders may have found a fine receiving tight end for their future. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Riveras-Development-at-Tight-End-a-Raiders-Bright-Spot-237309471.html

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Crabtree opens door to 49ers offense vs. Falcons

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Receiver Michael Crabtree's presence again was felt Monday night when he helped San Francisco's offense get on track after halftime. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Crabtree-a-Catalyst-for-49ers-in-Victory-over-Falcons-237163771.html

McFadden about to say goodbye to Raiders

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Darren McFadden is expected to play his last game for the Raiders this Sunday. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/McFadden-Facing-His-Raiders-Finale-237159611.html

After battling cancer, Alli DeFrancesco swam the English Channel to prove to herself that her life was again in her hands

Alli DeFrancesco was a college student and swimmer in New York City when her life was turned upside down by a diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma. For nearly two years she was in and out of hospitals and undergoing extensive treatments. Then, when doctors told her she was OK again, she felt lost. That's when she set her sights on swimming the English Channel, to put herself back on a high-energy, directed track once more. My story, for the U-T San Diego continuing series on "Courage through Cancer." http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/dec/24/tp-swimming-back-to-normalcy-getting-back-on-her/

Niners' final Candlestick victory is a memorable one

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: One final, all-ground-attack drive for a touchdown and a dynamic defensive play elevate 49ers to the playoffs in the last regular-season NFL game for Candlestick Park. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Niners-Say-Goodbye-to-Stick-With-a-Victory-237112171.html

Monday, December 23, 2013

Annual Savage Seven marathon series -- seven races in seven days in Florida between Christmas and New Year's -- is just a nice "vacation" for some diehard runners

Seven marathons over seven days isn't a dream vacation for most people, but for some dedicated distance runners, the annual Savage Sevens series in Florida is a nice way to spend the holidays ... and certainly an effective way to keep off the holiday pounds. My story for ESPN.com's Endurance Sports section: http://espn.go.com/sports/endurance/story/_/id/10171212/endurance-sports-savage-seven-marathons-bring-holiday-fun-florida

Dennis Allen says Raiders must "play smarter"

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Raiders head coach Dennis Allen laments 12 penalties his team committed in loss to Chargers and says his team must play "smarter" football. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Raiders-Say-Penalties-a-Result-of-Pressing-237029301.html

Sloppiness, lack of discipline doom Raiders

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Raiders commit 12 penalties, many of them giving the Chargers extra chances, in 26-13 loss in San Diego. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Raiders-Suffer-Ugly-Loss-in-San-Diego-236960231.html

Friday, December 20, 2013

49ers may be too strong for Falcons in Candlestick finale

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Atlanta, which has tumbled to 4-10 this season, may have too many holes on defense to stop the 49ers Monday night in Candlestick Park's final regular-season NFL game. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/49ers-Motivated-for-Candlestick-Finale-vs-Falcons-236740921.html

Raiders struggling 'D' will be challenged by Chargers

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Chargers have been on a roll lately with Philip Rivers and Ryan Mathews, and they may be too strong for a weak Oakland defensive unit. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Raiders-May-Have-Trouble-Stopping-Chargers-Offense-236732491.html

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Even without Miller, 49ers intend to run the ball

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The 49ers will miss fullback Bruce Miller, but quarterback Colin Kaepernick vows the team's personality won't change and it will continue to run the football. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Niners-Will-Continue-to-Run-the-Football-Even-Without-Miller-236572991.html

Charles Woodson wants to be a Raider in 2014, too

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Veteran safety Charles Woodson, at 37, wants to return to the Raiders next year. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Banged-up-Woodson-Hoping-to-Play-Sunday-236567821.html

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Brock and Wright have strengthened 49ers at corner

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The 49ers wanted to get stronger at cornerback this season, but the players that helped them get there are a bit of a surprise. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Niners-Appear-Much-Stronger-at-Cornerback-236390831.html

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Loss of fullback Bruce Miller is a big one for 49ers

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Bruce Miller has been lost for the season with a shoulder-blade injury, meaning the 49ers may turn to Anthony Dixon to step in at fullback, or shift toward alignments without a fullback. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Dixon-May-Get-Chance-to-Play-With-Miller-Out-236221871.html#comments

Does Raiders GM McKenzie have trouble judging QBs?

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Raiders appear to need a quarterback, but with Reggie McKenzie's recent track record as Oakland GM, can he be counted on to find a good one? http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Raiders-Recent-History-with-QBs-a-Cause-for-Concern-236215101.html

Monday, December 16, 2013

49ers' Vernon Davis gaining accolades across the NFL

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Vernon Davis' performance this season is causing some to call him the NFL's best tight end, even though other players at his position have better stats. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/49ers-Vernon-Davis-is-Having-a-Special-Season-236040601.html

Latest loss bound to turn up heat on Allen

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Losing 56-31 to the Chiefs is bound to turn up the heat on Raiders braintrust to fire Dennis Allen. It already has. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/After-Wipeout-Loss-Focus-is-on-Allen-236031631.html

Niners avoid 'trap," beat Bucs and march toward playoffs

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The 49ers swept the Bucs aside for their fourth straight win to help strengthen playoff bid. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Niners-Charge-Toward-Playoffs-With-Fourth-Straight-Win-235945451.html

Chiefs run roughshod over overmatched Raiders

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Raiders' slide into NFL oblivion picked up speed in a crushing loss to Kansas City. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Raiders-are-Defenseless-in-Loss-to-Chiefs-235955251.html

Sunday, December 15, 2013

American rugby team at South African tournament last week felt the spirit and impact of Nelson Mandela

When the U.S. rugby sevens team arrived in South Africa for an international tournament, it had no idea what was in store. Former president Nelson Mandela died the day after their arrival, but the tournament went on. Yet the scenes and interactions inside and outside the stadium will stay with the American players forever. My story for TeamUSA.org: http://www.teamusa.org/News/2013/December/14/Mandelas-Spirit-Alive-At-Rugby-Sevens-Tournament

Friday, December 13, 2013

For 49ers, mistakes could be costly vs. Bucs

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Niners QB Colin Kaepernick says Tampa Bay has a "high-pressure" defense that can force teams into mistakes. And, with San Francisco fighting for the playoffs, mistakes aren't an option.

Can Raiders' slumping defense stop Jamaal Charles?

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Oakland's defense has given up big chunks of yardage on the ground lately and now faces one of the NFL's top back in Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Raiders-Worn-Down-Defense-Will-be-Tested-235742821.html

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fantasy has become reality for San Diego blacksmith and artist, who makes ancient armor, weapons and other items for movies and TV

James "Jay" Secord wanted to be a knight when he was a boy. He was fascinated by fantasy. While he never actually became a knight, he became a blacksmith and artist and learned to make the weapons, armor and other items from the time of the Romans, Vikings and the imagination of authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien. Now Secord -- who operates his own gardening service -- is also contributing items to Hollywood productions. My story on Secord for U-T San Diego: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/dec/12/love-of-fantasy-becomes-metalworkers-reality/

Niners now control destiny, but must avoid traps

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Yes, the win over the Seahawks was big. But the 49ers, now tied for the lead in wild-card race, have to avoid stumbling over Bucs this Sunday. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Niners-Control-Destiny-but-Must-be-Aware-of-Bucs-235591031.html

Jennings showing Raiders he's worth another year

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Rashad Jennings has been cleared to play vs. the Chiefs after a concussion, which is good news for the Raiders, who've gotten a good season out of the veteran pick-up. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Raiders-Jennings-Cleared-to-Play-vs-Chiefs-235583311.html

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dual-QB system can be dicey, as Raiders' McGloin knows

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: At Penn State, Matt McGloin had to share quarterback duties for two years. Now with the Raiders and giving way to Terrelle Pryor for some series, McGloin knows the pitfalls. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Raiders-Plan-for-McGloin-Pryor-to-Share-Time-is-Dicey-235243391.html

Crabtree's impact for 49ers goes beyond catch totals

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The presence of Michael Crabtree in the lineup has been a boon to the San Francisco offense the past two games. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Michael-Crabtree-Return-Has-Helped-49ers-235249661.html

Ex-Marine Clay Treska has survived war and cancer; now he's determined to help others negotiate through the battles he had to fight

Clay Treska never wanted to be a Marine. But when he made a mistake as an 18-year-old, he was forced to enlist in the Corps, launching him on a journey through war, two battles with cancer and a struggle to train for the Ironman triathlon while considered a terminal patient. Now in remission, the iron-willed Treska is determined to spend his life helping others who had to go through what he did. My story on Treska for U-T San Diego's Health section, as part of a new series on "triumph stories." http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/dec/10/tp-terminal-diagnosis-inspires-iron-will/

Monday, December 9, 2013

Niners getting big results from special teams

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Kassim Osgood, Phil Dawson, Bubba Ventrone and Co. are big hits this season. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Osgood-and-Special-Teams-Have-Been-Winners-for-49ers-235081441.html

Raiders' defense continues its late-season slide

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: The Oakland defense collapses yet again, and could be a sign of things to come. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Raiders-Defense-Continues-to-Crumble-235071151.html

Can you hear us now? 49ers make loud statement

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The 49ers proved they still belong in the NFC playoff conversation with a rugged win over the Seahawks at Candlestick Park. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Niners-Indeed-Make-a-Statement-in-Win-over-Seahawks-234983771.html

Raiders fall to sinking Jets on East Coast

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Instead of getting Win No. 5, the Raiders play horribly in a loss to the Jets, their 13th straight loss in the Eastern time zone. http://espn.go.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/105698/woodson-were-like-the-bad-news-bears

Friday, December 6, 2013

Niners face huge task in beating Seahawks in rematch

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Niners safety Donte Whitner says his team was "embarrassed" in first go-round with Seattle. So how do 49ers turn things around? http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/49ers-Embarrassed-by-Seattle-in-Week-2-Hope-for-Turnaround-234762141.html

Sinking Jets present good opportunity for Raiders

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: In their quest for Win No. 5, Raiders have a good opportunity in Jets and struggling Geno Smith this Sunday. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Raiders-Have-Good-Opportunity-vs-Sinking-Jets-234753031.html

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

As an ultra runner in his 40s, Mike Morton -- an Army Green Beret -- shows a resolve and toughness that is unique even among the die-hard ultra-running community

From the very first time he ran an ultra marathon, Mike Morton showed a relentless resolve to keep churning and to keep pushing himself to his limits. Now in his 40s after having to take several years off from distance running because of multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as one of the Army's Green Berets, Morton has been a dominant force in races of 100 miles and longer. My story for ESPN.com's Endurance Sports section: http://espn.go.com/sports/endurance/story/_/id/10072374/endurance-sports-combat-lessons-transfer-ultra-running-green-beret-mike-morton

Division race is over, but 49ers need win vs. Seahawks

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The 49ers won't catch the 11-1 Seahawks in the NFC West, but a San Francisco win over their rivals Sunday could go a long way in their quest for the playoffs. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/49ers-Win-Over-Seattle-Would-be-Huge-234253501.html

Will Raiders bring back Dennis Allen in 2014?

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Will Dennis Allen be given a third year as head coach? The final four games of 2013 may play a big part in the decision. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Dennis-Allen-Raiders-Future-Uncertain-234246591.html

Monday, December 2, 2013

Staley injury adds to cracks in 49ers' offensive line

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: The 49ers' offensive line, once so stable, now only has two players at the positions where they started the 2013 season, and the extent of the injury to LT Joe Staley is still to be determined. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Niners-Once-Durable-Offensive-Line-Falling-Apart-234085161.html

Raiders' Veldheer survives return game, feels good

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Left tackle Jared Veldheer feels great after playing the entire game vs. the Cowboys in first game of 2013 season. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Veldheers-Healthy-Return-a-Boost-for-Raiders-234078651.html

Return of Crabtree, Davis and defense highlight 49ers win

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Defense is dominating in win over Rams, and Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree give Colin Kaepernick reason to smile. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Niners-234011511.html

Sunday, December 1, 2013

New book "The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams," is a splendid look at one of baseball's greatest hitters and a very complex personality

Ben Bradlee Jr. has done a masterful job with his new book, "The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams." Through more than 600 interviews and 10 years of research -- getting access to Williams' private papers for the first time -- Bradlee has written the definitive biography of perhaps the greatest hitter ever. Sometimes, though, the picture Bradlee paints of Williams isn't always pretty. My review of the book for U-T San Diego: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/dec/01/tp-a-truly-splendid-biography/