Tag Archive | "49ers"

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Super Bowl memories couldn’t feel more distant for Ravens, 49ers

Posted on 15 October 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Walking through the Ravens’ training facility in Owings Mills on Wednesday, Joe Flacco noticed a televised replay of Super Bowl XLVII on NFL Network.

But the eighth-year quarterback and Most Valuable Player of that game says he doesn’t reminisce about the pinnacle of his career that night in New Orleans less than three years ago. These days, he and the Ravens are simply trying to turn around the worst start in the 20-year history of the franchise.

Sunday’s regular-season meeting with their opponent in that championship game, the San Francisco 49ers, isn’t creating much nostalgia, mostly because of the dramatic roster turnover since then. Just nine of the 46 Baltimore players active for Super Bowl XLVII are currently on the 53-man roster and only four were Super Bowl starters. In total, only 14 players remain who were with the organization then.

“It feels like so long ago,” Flacco said. “It’s disrespectful to even talk about it, because you have so many guys on this team that weren’t a part of it, and they’re trying to be a part of something great in the moment. I am, too. It doesn’t really cross my mind too often, and I think I like it that way.”

Of course, the dominant narrative leading into that Super Bowl was the meeting between John and Jim Harbaugh, but the latter is no longer in San Francisco despite leading the 49ers to three NFC championship games in his first three seasons. Jim Harbaugh now roams the sideline coaching the University of Michigan as the 49ers have slipped into a 1-4 hole under new head coach Jim Tomsula.

The Ravens coach dismissed any notion of it being personal against San Francisco and said he doesn’t have time to think back. Harbaugh and his staff are more consumed with trying to overcome a slew of injuries while also fixing the league’s 25th-ranked pass defense.

“It really doesn’t cross your mind,” said Harbaugh, who added that he hasn’t talked much with his brother as Jim prepares for his own big game against Michigan State this Saturday. “It’s a new challenge, new team, new year. That’s what you focus on.”

This season has also been a great challenge for the 1-4 49ers as they’ve looked even worse than the Ravens, owning the worst point differential (minus-65) in the NFL and losing three games by double-digit margins. Unlike the Ravens who have remained consistent at the top, the 49ers changed their infrastructure with Jim Harbaugh’s departure while experiencing a mass exodus of players this offseason that included abrupt retirements as well as free-agent departures.

Those wholesale changes have resulted in San Francisco having the league’s 29th-ranked offense and 31st-ranked defense through the first five weeks.

The most familiarity from Super Bowl XLVII that the Ravens will experience with the opposing side will be the two who used to be their own: wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. For a passing game lacking weapons and desperately hoping that the 36-year-old Steve Smith is ready to return, the former Ravens wideouts would sure look good in purple now.

But life goes on and the Ravens can at least take solace in knowing they came out on top on that memorable day.

“We had a lot of vets on both teams, too, so you’re always going to have to deal with [change] as well,” said Smith, who admitted he “cried like a baby” leaving the Ravens this past offseason. “I’m not surprised. Being on the other side, the other team, it’s different. It’s weird. We were walking out for the walk-through and they were playing the Super Bowl on the TV. And [49ers left tackle] Joe Staley, we were in the huddle, and he looks at me and was like, ‘You didn’t deserve that.’ We kind of talk trash about it every once in a while, but it’s definitely a sensitive subject.

“I’m still glad that I was on the winning side of that. But I think that change happens, and it’s about what you do next.”

“What’s next?” is the question for the Ravens as only six of the 121 NFL teams — just under five percent — to start 1-4 since 1990 have rebounded to make the playoffs. Regardless of how the next 11 regular-season games play out, Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome must identify which players will be key pieces moving forward.

The results haven’t been there in 2015, but the process of building the next championship team never stops. The Ravens made a difficult task look so easy over the first seven years of Harbaugh’s tenure, making the start of this season so surprising.

Stability at the top gives Baltimore the edge in rebounding more quickly than the team they’ll be playing Sunday as the 49ers were a laughingstock for much of the offseason. For now, both teams appear to be chasing ghosts.

“It’s tough to stay at that level. I think you see that consistently across the board,” Flacco said. “It’s just tough from year to year to keep that same team together and keep injuries down and all those things. It’s unfortunate that we’re both in the same situation right now, because I think we feel as though we have a better team. I’m sure they feel the same way.”

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Ted Robinson previews Ravens-49ers pivotal Week 6 matchup

Posted on 14 October 2015 by WNST Staff

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Ron Barr reminisces on 49ers history

Posted on 14 October 2015 by WNST Staff

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S. Smith, Gillmore return while nine other Ravens absent on Wednesday

Posted on 14 October 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Wednesday’s practice brought some good news and more bad news for the Ravens as they continued preparations for a trip to San Francisco this weekend.

Wide receiver Steve Smith (back) and tight end Crockett Gillmore (calf) returned to practice on a limited basis, but nine others were absent as the Ravens try to climb out of a 1-4 hole to begin the 2015 season. Linebacker Elvis Dumervil (groin), running back Justin Forsett (ankle), guard Marshal Yanda (ankle), cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring), defensive end Chris Canty (calf), safety Terrence Brooks (thumb), and wide receivers Breshad Perriman (knee), Darren Waller (concussion), and Chris Givens (ankle) were not present for Wednesday’s workout.

Smith was on the field and running routes less than two weeks after suffering microfractures in his back in the Week 4 win over Pittsburgh. The 36-year-old missed Sunday’s game against Cleveland, but the Ravens have remained hopeful that he can return as early as this week against the 49ers.

Gillmore’s return to practice was anticipated after he was moving around well in a pre-game workout on Sunday. The second-year tight end missed the last two games after injuring his calf in the first half of the Week 3 loss to Cincinnati.

Dumervil injured his groin in the first half of Sunday’s loss to Browns and did not return to the game. The Ravens’ decision to release veteran Jason Babin on Tuesday was viewed by some as a positive sign regarding Dumervil’s status, but his absence was not an encouraging sign to support that.

Turning 30 on Wednesday, Forsett injured his ankle on the final drive of regulation on Sunday and was unavailable in overtime. Head coach John Harbaugh said Monday that the veteran back is not dealing with a high ankle sprain, leaving the door open for him to possibly play against the 49ers. Backup running back Lorenzo Taliaferro was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury on Wednesday, further depleting depth at the position.

Needless to say, the Ravens are very thin at running back, wide receiver, and outside linebacker at the moment as injuries have told a major part of the 2015 story so far. Current practice-squad running back Terrence Magee and outside linebacker Brennen Beyer are names to remember as potential candidates to be promoted to the 53-man roster later in the week.

The newly-signed Shareece Wright and the newly-promoted Asa Jackson and Charles James were all taking part in Wednesday’s practice as part of a revamped secondary. Wright will wear No. 35, Jackson No. 27, and James No. 32 as the Ravens try to improve the league’s 25th-ranked pass defense.

Meanwhile, the 49ers were without five starters during Wednesday’s practice as starting running back Carlos Hyde (foot) and left tackle Joe Staley (knee) were among the absentees.

Below is Wednesday’s injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: S Terrence Brooks (thumb), DE Chris Canty (calf), LB Elvis Dumervil (thigh), RB Justin Forsett (ankle), WR Chris Givens (ankle), WR Breshad Perriman (knee), WR Darren Waller (concussion), CB Lardarius Webb (thigh), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Crockett Gillmore (calf), WR Steve Smith (back)

SAN FRANCISCO
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Alex Boone (shoulder), LB Navarro Bowman (non-injury), LB Ahmad Brooks (non-injury, shoulder), RB Reggie Bush (calf), RB Carlos Hyde (foot), T Joe Staley (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Vernon Davis (knee), TE Vance McDonald (chest)

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Dennis O’Donnell: “San Francisco’s front office failing miserably”

Posted on 13 October 2015 by WNST Staff

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Joe Fortenbaugh previews Ravens Week 6 matchup in San Francisco

Posted on 13 October 2015 by WNST Staff

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Rich Walcoff discusses the inconsistencies of the 49ers offense

Posted on 13 October 2015 by WNST Staff

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Ravens hope to have Forsett, S. Smith back against San Francisco

Posted on 13 October 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Already 1-4 and dealing with an extensive injury report, Ravens coach John Harbaugh hopes to have at least two of his banged-up stars available against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 6.

After injuring his ankle late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s defeat to Cleveland, running back Justin Forsett did not return in overtime as the Browns won in Baltimore for the first time since 2007. The 2014 Pro Bowl selection had rushed for 121 yards on 21 carries and scored his first touchdown of the 2015 season.

Forsett was able to walk without any noticeable limp in the locker room after the game.

“It’s not a high ankle [sprain], I can tell you that,” Harbaugh said. “That’s a good sign, and it gives him a chance, certainly, for this week.”

Backup running back Lorenzo Taliaferro was already dealing with a foot injury that kept him out of Sunday’s game, leaving the Ravens just one healthy running back (rookie Buck Allen) by the end of the contest. Rookie Terrence Magee remains on the practice squad should the Ravens need another healthy back.

Harbaugh remains cautiously optimistic about the status of No. 1 receiver Steve Smith, who missed his first game since the 2013 season and only his second game in the last five seasons. Smith suffered microfractures in his back in the Week 4 win at Pittsburgh and was listed as doubtful on the final Week 5 injury report last week before being deactivated on Sunday morning.

Smith’s absence has left a major void at wide receiver that’s currently being filled by former undrafted free agents, late-round picks, practice-squad members, and castoffs. Kamar Aiken led all Ravens wide receivers with four catches for 78 yards against the Browns, but Joe Flacco completed only one pass to a wideout in the second half, a fourth-quarter connection to Marlon Brown for no gain.

Getting Smith back would be a major shot in the arm for the struggling Ravens.

“We’ll see. I don’t know,” Harbaugh said. “He was in here training hard [on Monday], so that’s a good sign. I’m hopeful.”

The Ravens also remain hopeful that starting tight end Crockett Gillmore can return this week after missing the last two games with a calf injury. He moved around well during a pre-game workout on Sunday morning.

Linebacker Elvis Dumervil (groin), cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring), and wide receiver Darren Waller (concussion) are also dealing with injuries that forced them out of Sunday’s game. Cornerback Will Davis suffered a torn ACL against the Browns, prompting the Ravens to add veteran cornerback Shareece Wright on Monday.

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Ravens sign veteran cornerback Shareece Wright

Posted on 13 October 2015 by Luke Jones

Wasting no time trying to fill the void left by the injured Will Davis, the Ravens agreed to a deal with veteran cornerback Shareece Wright on Monday night.

Baltimore will fill Davis’ spot on the 53-man roster with the 28-year-old Wright, who was released by the San Francisco 49ers at his request on Saturday after being inactive for the first four games of the 2015 season. Signed to a one-year, $3 million contract in March, Wright spent the first four years of his NFL career with the San Diego Chargers.

A 2011 third-round pick from USC, Wright started 27 games over his four seasons in San Diego, collecting 137 tackles, one interception, and 20 pass breakups. Primarily an outside cornerback, Wright will be a candidate to serve as the No. 3 corner, which would allow Lardarius Webb to play inside in the nickel package like the Ravens prefer.

The 5-foot-11, 182-pound Wright struggled in coverage last season and drew the most pass interference penalties in the league with eight a year ago, but Baltimore is desperate to turn around a defense that gave up 33 points and more than 500 yards of offense in an overtime loss to Cleveland on Sunday.

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Cobb deal puts Torrey Smith in prime position on open market

Posted on 08 March 2015 by Luke Jones

Saturday was a productive night for free-agent wide receiver Torrey Smith and brought the latest signal supporting his expected departure from the Ravens.

With the news of star wideout Randall Cobb agreeing to a four-year, $40 million contract to remain with the Green Bay Packers, Smith will only see the demand for his services rise around the league with a top free-agent receiver now off the board.  The 26-year-old Smith and Philadelphia wide receiver Jeremy Maclin are considered the top talents who will officially hit the market on 4 p.m. Tuesday for the start of free agency.

With Baltimore currently holding just $4.639 million in salary cap space, Smith is expected to find a home elsewhere with the San Francisco 49ers reportedly leading the race for the speedy receiver’s services. According to CBS Sports, the 2011 first-round pick turned down a five-year, $35 million contract prior to the 2014 season, a move that now looks wise despite a disappointing campaign in which he caught just 49 passes for 767 yards.

Despite both sides repeatedly expressing hope that they’d continue their relationship, the Ravens’ brass seemed to go out of its way to prepare fans for Smith’s departure late last month with owner Steve Bisciotti even taking a shot at the lucrative $60 million contract the Miami Dolphins gave wide receiver Mike Wallace two offseasons ago.

“Let’s be frank: Do you hope that Torrey doesn’t break the bank out in the open market so that we can get him for our number? That’s a hard thing to say,” Bisciotti said. “I care about the kid. I want him to maximize his earnings. At the same time, the more successful he is at doing that, the less success we have in retaining him. I don’t like to stand up here and say I’m rooting against the guy, but we’ve got to find a number.”

And that number is expected to be too rich with Cobb now off the market and a number of teams looking for an impact wide receiver in free agency.

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