The 49ers next season will move to Santa Clara, but they’re still the San Francisco 49ers.
San Francisco is a city that embraces its diversity. It seems the 49ers would be a logical fit for the first openly gay player in NFL history.
On Sunday, Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced he is gay in interviews with the New York Times and ESPN.
The NFL released a statement on Sunday in support of Sam’s announcement:
“We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”
Some draft experts rate Sam as a third-round draft pick – mostly likely at outside linebacker in the 49ers’ 3-4 scheme due to his size (6-foot-2, 260 pounds). The 49ers own five of the top 94 picks in the draft. The 49ers own 11 draft picks, plus a third- or fourth-rounder expected as a compensatory selection.
The 49ers already have two Missouri products in their front seven: defensive tackle Justin Smith and outside linebacker Aldon Smith.
Sam was the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year after recording 11.5 sacks. There is a premium on pass-rushers in the NFL, but outside linebacker is not necessarily an obvious position of need for the 49ers.
– Matt Maiocco, CSN Bay Area
At the Winter Olympics, the men’s downhill ski race is the big bowl of goulash. The premier attraction. It is spectacular, dangerous, wild, compelling, thrilling and heartbreaking.
At the Winter Olympics, Bode Miller is the puzzling and not easily digestible spice in the bowl of goulash.
But we know the rules, don’t we? As a nation, America cannot go to the Olympics with the Bode Miller it wants. America must go to the Olympics with the Bode Miller it gets. Which can be maddening.
And so it was again Sunday at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center.
Miller was the favorite to win the downhill. But after a few slight bobbles, he finished a disappointing eighth. Then he seemed to put the blame on the course conditions, the flat sunlight, the humidity and maybe the temperature of Russian concession-stand food. Anything but himself.
For instance, when asked the difference between his superior training runs last week and Sunday’s result, Miller pointed to the atmospheric environment.
“The training runs were bluebird, perfect visibility and hard snow,” Miller said, followed by a rueful chuckle. “That’s the perfect conditions to see who’s the best racer, unfortunately. Today the visibility went away, temperatures are warmer, so the course breaks down a little bit. … In the middle where it’s all ice, the high humidity brings the water out, and the snow just gets slower.”
Therefore, after reviewing the race in his mind, Miller said he was giving himself an excellent grade for the day.
“It’s tough when you have to judge yourself because the clock doesn’t really seem to judge you fairly,” Miller explained. “Just like I’ve said a million times, I’m not always so attached to the result.”
Not attached to the result? Say what?
Same old Bode. That’s what.
The man is an awesome athlete. Miller is the best American ski racer of the past 20 years and maybe ever. Since his first Games in 1998, he has won five Olympic medals along with 33 World Cup races.
Yet the Olympic downhill — one cannonball scream from top to bottom of the mountain — has been his personal demon. He’s never won it. His best finish was a bronze medal at Vancouver four years ago. For all his greatness, he has been considered an underachiever.
Sunday, that was supposed to change. At age 36 and recently married, he realizes this is surely his last Olympics. And he has supposedly matured after a well-publicized life of partying and world class don’t-give-a-flip impudence. He was focused. He was locked in.
“Bode was unbelievable yesterday in training,” said the man who won the downhill gold, Matthias Mayer of Austria. “Everybody knew Bode could be the Olympics winner today.”
Miller came out of the gate with winning body language. In his dazzling white racing suit, he blitzed down the snowpack — which is really groomed ice — and was ahead of gold medal pace for the first segment of the course. But then he put one ski in a slightly wrong place, by inches. This forced him to lean just slightly off his intended path. He skimmed one of the gates bordering the course with his shoulder as he blew past. Then he skimmed another.
Those minor errors, costing tenths of a second, eliminated gold or any other medal for him. Miller couldn’t make up time in the bottom part of the course and crossed the finish line .52 seconds behind Mayer.
Miller was plainly upset when he looked up at the scoreboard and saw his time. He squatted over his skis in the runout area. He stared at the snow. He put his hands on his helmet and stared at the snow some more.
– Mark Purdy, San Jose Mercury News
Thousands of us golf-oriented folks traipsed out here to the craggy left edge of America with our shorts and sunblock, eliciting the vengeful scorn of Mother Nature.
She showed us. Sent rain, and wind.
Keep us in mind next time Northern California is parched. Who you gonna call? Droughtbusters.
The weather was dicey, but the golf gods chipped in, so to speak, with some pretty good golf at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, including a great dramatic finish Sunday.
Jimmy Walker hung on by his fingernails to win by a stroke. Walker, when he’s not winning golf tournaments, is an astrophotographer. The question now is, what is Walker as a golfer? A comet? Meteor? Shooting star?
Right now he’s a UFO, the out-of-nowhere winner of three tournaments in his past eight starts, after going winless in 187 PGA Tour events. This is Jimmy Walker’s universe and we’re all just living in it.
Walker’s slight stagger down the backstretch added a nice element of drama to an interesting tournament. When Walker faltered, word went out that a man was choking, which alerted Carmel police commissioner Gordon to shine the Clint-signal searchlight into the sky.
Eastwood, 83, made easily the best shot of the tournament. At a banquet Wednesday night, Eastwood Heimliched tournament chairman Steve John, shooting a ball of cheese across the room. Eastwood no longer plays this tournament, but his short game is still solid.
What do you want to bet that in Clint’s next movie, that’s how the bad guy goes down – felled by a ball of cheddar to the forehead?
“Say cheese, punk,” Clint will rasp, coldly.
The Heimlich thing was a shocking moment to those at the banquet when they realized that a civic leader in this ultra-chic town was mixing a white zin with camembert.
Eastwood and Walker weren’t the only stars of the week. There were also:
— The weather. Not the worst weather in the history of the event, by any means, but enough stuff going on to add spice. Half the tourney was played in a driving drizzle, and the whipping wind caused a delay in play Saturday.
This tournament demonstrated that weather forecasters in this neck of the woods are just throwin’ darts, blindfolded. For predicting weather at Pebble Beach, a meteorologist has no more chance than, say, a proctologist.
— The celebs. The AT&T is now the last of the Mohicans, the only PGA Tour event still offering fans close-up encounters with celebrities, and Gary Mule Deer (just kidding, Gary!).
This is not insignificant. Even without tourney darling Bill Murray, off this year because of movie commitments, the stars bring out the fans and build the TV ratings, raking in money for charity.
And, hey, one radiant smile from Bill Belichick can bring sunshine to the rainiest day! (Just kidding, Bill.)
Stars mixed with big-time golfers – it’s an antiquated, throwback concept, but for some reason it still works here, thanks to guys like Peyton Manning.
Manning, still smarting from a miserable Super Bowl, was the most charming man on the Monterey Peninsula. Signed autographs, chatted up galleries, showed that he’s the coolest person in sports. Bing would love this guy.
Kid Rock was the best addition to the celeb field. Unfortunately, Rock didn’t trash his hotel room, start a bar brawl at the Hog’s Breath or take a 12-gauge from his caddie and bag his limit of deer and seagulls.
Hey, even rock stars need some down time.
– Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle