Tag Archive | "San Francisco"

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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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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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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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Ravens cancel second extended stay on West Coast

Posted on 25 September 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Several days after acknowledging the Ravens were reconsidering a second extended stay on the West Coast, head coach John Harbaugh said Friday that those plans have been scrapped.

Citing a longer week between their Oct. 18 contest in San Francisco and the Oct. 26 Monday night game against Arizona as the primary reason, Harbaugh said the Ravens will use a more conventional travel schedule for both games. The Ravens would have left for San Francisco two days early and would have spent a total of 11 days away from home had they elected to stay out west.

“That was a big part of it,” Harbaugh said. “That was the main part of it. It’s just a long week.”

Of course, the results of their first extended stay on the West Coast likely made the decision easier as the Ravens lost games to Denver and Oakland to begin a season 0-2 for the first time since 2005. The team stayed in San Jose last week ahead of the surprising 37-33 loss to the Raiders.

With Harbaugh acknowledging Monday that the Ravens were reconsidering their travel plans and coordinator Dean Pees expressing displeasure with how his defense practiced before the Oakland game, it appeared all but guaranteed that a second extended trip would not happen. Earlier in the week, Harbaugh thanked owner Steve Bisciotti and the entire organization for putting in the work to make the first long-term trip possible.

“I would have loved to reap the benefits of that and been able to stand up here and talk about what a plus that was in winning two football games,” Harbaugh said. “But we’re not able to do that because we didn’t get the job done. But from the effort — the work effort — we can stand on that foundation going forward.”

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Harbaugh: “Our defense has to step up and play like the Ravens play”

Posted on 21 September 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — John Harbaugh didn’t mince words in assessing a defense that allowed 37 points in Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Oakland Raiders to drop the Ravens’ record to 0-2.

The performance was out of character for a franchise known for its defensive tradition over 20 seasons in Baltimore. The eighth-year head coach put his players and coaches on notice that the defense needs to be fixed quickly as the Ravens now try to become the 25th 0-2 team to bounce back to make the playoffs since 1990.

“If we’re going to have a chance to be a successful football team, our defense has to step up and play like the Ravens play,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the expectation. That’s where the bar is set, and we’re going to have the guys out there that do that. And it’s on us as coaches to put the right guys out there, teach them to do the right things, and have the right schemes in place.”

Not only were the Ravens playing an Oakland offense that was shut out by Cincinnati through three quarters the previous week, but they was feeling confident about a defense that didn’t allow an offensive touchdown against future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and a talented Denver offense in the season opener.

Against the Raiders offense, however, everything went wrong as second-year quarterback Derek Carr threw three touchdown passes and Oakland accumulated 448 yards of offense. The Ravens collected just one sack and Pro Football Focus credited them with 11 missed tackles, their highest total since last year’s Week 9 blowout loss in Pittsburgh.

“We had missed tackles. We had missed assignments. We had breakdowns in coverage. We had missed alignments,” Harbaugh said. “We played about as unsound as you can play in a lot of different ways. We had effort for the most part, but I’ll even say we didn’t have the kind of effort we need to have on defense — the kind of all-out, flying-around effort that we expect from a Ravens’ defense.”

Playing without the injured Terrell Suggs, the Ravens struggled to create any semblance of consistent pressure on Carr as Elvis Dumervil played his highest number of snaps (62) since his days with the Denver Broncos and Courtney Upshaw didn’t capitalize on more opportunities to rush. As a result, Carr had a career day through the air with his 351 yards.

Harbaugh was quick to point out that Oakland designed plenty of short passes to neutralize the rush, but he did not forgive the inability of linebackers and defensive backs to neutralize those throws.

“When a team is determined to get the ball out fast, then you’re not going to get a lot of quarterback hits and you’re not going to get a lot of sacks,” Harbaugh said. “What you have to do is defend those quick throws, and we didn’t defend the quick throws as well as we need to because of the missed tackles and some of the missed alignments.

“If you force those throws to be no-gains, one gain, minus-2, 3-yard gains, when the ball is coming out fast, then you force them to hold the ball a little bit longer and to gain some yards and you get to the quarterback. That’s the No. 1 issue there.”

Though there’s truth to Harbaugh’s point, the Ravens didn’t get to Carr when he took deeper drops either, further making the decision to deactivate veteran newcomer Jason Babin puzzling after he was signed to provide more depth behind Dumervil, Upshaw, and rookie Za’Darius Smith.

Against an underwhelming offense, the Ravens showed no sign of being close to figuring out their pass-rush equation without Suggs.

“I think he had way too much time on the [bootlegs],” Harbaugh said. “He was able to stand back there on the keepers and boots almost forever and throw the ball. We have to figure out how to get that changed. But from a pass-rush standpoint, those are the two situations — the quick throws and the boots.”

Penalties on final drive

Two critical penalties hurt the Ravens on Oakland’s game-winning touchdown drive as defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan committed a senseless roughing-the-passer foul that marched the Raiders into field-goal range and safety Will Hill was flagged for holding before he made what looked to be the game-clinching interception with under a minute remaining.

Harbaugh offered a strong opinion on each one, with one player being chastised and the other forgiven.

“The Timmy Jernigan one was a foolish penalty — really inexcusable,” Harbaugh said. “There was no reason for that whatsoever at any time during the game, but especially in two-minute. But that was just a way late hit, and I don’t understand that one. It hurt us.

“The other one, I’m still looking for it. I don’t see it on tape, so I’m not sure what to tell Will on that. It looked like a good play to me.”

Second long trip out west being reconsidered

After previously saying they planned to stay out west for the week between their Oct. 18 game at San Francisco and Oct. 26 contest at Arizona, the Ravens are now reconsidering those plans.

Harbaugh said it would be a “no-brainer” to stay in Phoenix if the week were shorter between games — the second game takes place on a Monday night — but critics will understandably wonder how much the results of their first extended trip between the Denver and Oakland games will factor into a decision expected to be made in the next few days.

“If we stay [out there], it’ll be because we and the players feel like it would be the best thing,” Harbaugh said. “And if we don’t, it would be because we’d rather get back here and be in our home confines. [We’ll decide] which is best, especially in a long week.”

No word on Perriman

Injured rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) was seen doing some light running during his pre-game workout on Sunday, an increased level of activity shown from previous weeks when he was restricted to making catches from a stationary position.

The Ravens coach added no clarity when asked whether that was a sign of the first-round pick being close to finally returning after he sprained his knee on July 30.

“Not that I’ve been told,” Harbaugh said. “I have no update on it.”

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I left my heart in McCovey Cove...

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 5 San Francisco Giants

Posted on 09 September 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

San Francisco – I’ve seen a number of games at AT&T (and a few when it was still dubbed Pac Bell) and I’m always struck by how close that right field wall looks. It’s a wonderful setting and I think it’s impossible to complain it in any way about watching a game in San Francisco. Especially now that Candlestick is long gone. The smell of garlic and pizza is everywhere. Plenty of great concessions. The fans are all jacked up with World Championship swag. And the building is gorgeous. Bring a jacket. As you can see from many of my pictures, you can get football weather in July in San Francisco. And there’s even some charm to that, especially in the middle of my mid-summer heated sojourn during the middle of the season. The ballpark itself is shoe-horned into the waterline and the trail of traffic and folks in orange and black is its own scene. The McCovey Cove scene is also tremendous. A must see…

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Veteran cornerback says Ravens interested in signing him

Posted on 22 June 2015 by Luke Jones

At a time of year when most free agents have at least found a home for training camp, veteran cornerback Tarell Brown says the Ravens are one of several teams showing interest in his services.

A former starter with the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders, the 30-year-old told Sirius XM NFL Radio over the weekend that Baltimore was one of four teams who have expressed interest in signing him on the open market. He started 14 games last year in his only season with the Raiders, making 55 tackles and four pass breakups.

Brown spent the previous seven seasons with the 49ers, starting 47 games and collecting 11 interceptions. He was a starting cornerback against the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII, making three tackles and forcing a fumble.

Already anticipating the healthy returns of starters Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb, general manager Ozzie Newsome boosted the Ravens’ veteran depth at cornerback this offseason by signing former New England Patriots slot cornerback Kyle Arrington and former Indianapolis Colt Cassius Vaughn to compete with the likes of Rashaan Melvin, Asa Jackson, and Tramain Jacobs. Newsome hasn’t shied away from adding veteran cornerbacks over the summer in recent years as he signed Aaron Ross and Dominique Franks following last June’s minicamp.

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