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St Louis - Colin Kaepernick received the starting nod from 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh earlier in the week, and was able to practice with the first team exclusively for an extended period for the first time even with Alex Smith healthy. Although Kaepernick played okay it was no where up to the level of greatness he has shown the two previous weeks. On paper a game between the Niners (8-3-1) and Rams (5-6-1) seemed to be overwhelmingly in favor of San Fran, but we all know the NFL can be as unpredictable as a David Akers field goal attempt is these days. For the second time this season the two teams would enter into an extra period and almost end in a tie. Rams rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein would boot a 54 yard field goal with just 26 seconds left to beat the Niners 16-13.

"I was just trying to make the kick and not think about anything," Zuerlein said. "I was pretty relieved, you know."

Kaepernick made two big errors that were huge in the outcome of the game. In the third quarter he would be penalized for intentional grounding in the end zone while under pressure. This made the score 10-2 with the Niners in front. His second error came in the fourth quarter when an errant pitch out would be picked up by Rams rookie Janoris Jenkins and returned for a TD. St. Louis converted the two-point conversion to tie the game at 10. Both teams would then exchange field to lead them into OT.

Our defense played a great game," Kaepernick said "I gave up those points that were on the scoreboard for the Rams so that's 100 percent my fault."

With just over five minutes left in OT David Akers missed a 51 yard field goal that would have ended the game. Akers, after having one of the best all-time season by a kicker in NFL history last year, has struggled this year going just 7 for 15 on field goals over 40 yards.

"I probably missed it by 3-4 inches to the right," Akers said. "I just feel horrible for letting my teammates, the organization and the fans down."

The 49ers will have a couple big decisions to make over the next week. 1) Do you stick with Kaepernick or go back to Alex Smith against the Miami Dolphins. 2) The Niners have already tried out a few kickers and I have no doubt they will be inviting a few more into camp. I would not be surprised if we see a new kicker starting within the next week or two in a San Francisco uniform.

Published in Sports
Monday, 12 November 2012 03:50

RARE TIE FOR NINERS, SMITH HURT

San Francisco, Ca. - For the first time since 2008 an NFL game ended in a tie. The good, the 49ers (6-2-1) battled their way back to earn the tie, the bad, the Niner's tied a team in the St. Louis Rams (3-5-1) who by all accounts should have been chalked up as a W.

Both teams missed overtime field goals by reliable kickers, and penalties played a huge role in the game's outcome.

"I don't know what to make of this," 49ers All Pro Linebacker Patrick Willis said. "We have one of the best kickers in the game, and it came down to him at the end and he misses it. That tells you right there something wasn't right."

QB Alex Smith took an extremely hard hit by Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar during a scramble with just over a minute left in the first quarter. Smith left the game a few plays later with a possible concussion. Coach Harbaugh said Smith will be evaluated this week per NFL concussion protocol.

Niner's back-up QB Colin Kaepernick would take over for Smith and finish the game 11 of 17 for 117 yards and added eight carries for 66 yards including a 7 yard TD run. Kaepernick started off slow but once he found his rhythm played very well down the stretch.

It was a whacky game all around as evidence to the first play of overtime. Rams QB Sam Bradford completed an 80-yard bomb to WR Danny Amendola that took St. Louis to the 2 yard line. As 49er fans got up to leave, the sight of a yellow penalty flag quickly put them right back in their seats. The play was called back for illegal formation.

"I have to say, I've been doing this a while. I don't think I've ever been in a game like this," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "As I told our guys, we had a number of chances to put the game away. And, unfortunately, we didn't."

The 24-24 tie was the first since Philly and Cinci's 13-13 game over 4 years ago.

"It just feels like it's unfinished business," San Francisco cornerback Tarell Brown said.

"It feels weird," Niners safety Donte Whitner said. "We're about wins around here."

San Francisco will look to get back into the win column as they host the Chicago Bears next Monday night in Prime Time. The Bears (7-2) come in hungry after a 13-6 loss at the hands of the Houston Texans Sunday night. The Niners offense will need to be on point against a Chicago defense that is opportunistic, stingy, and among the very best units in football. The 49ers defense will contend with Wide-Out Brandon Marshal, RB Matt Forte and QB Jay Cutler among others.

Monday night's game will be touted as the "Game of the Week", and very well could live up to the hype.

Published in Sports

By Justin J. Crowder

Although Marco Scutaro would take a nasty blow from Cardinals Right Fielder Matt Holliday as he slid into second base during the 1st inning of game 2 of the NLCS, Scutaro would remain in the game and energize not only the Giants players but also the 42,679 fans on hand to watch the Giants route the Cards 7-1. Giants Right Fielder Hunter Pence would say "it just kinda pumps you up...when you see on of your guys go down, you always want to win the game, but it's like 'let's go! Let's put it on the scoreboard'". Scutaro would leave in the 5th inning to have X-Rays on his hip, which came back negative. Good thing for the Giants as Scutaro's tremendous postseason play has captured the hearts of Bay Area fans much like former Giants outfielder Cody Ross did during the 2010 World Series run.

Ryan Vogelsong (the 2011 Willie Mac Award winner) would pitch beautifully giving the Giants a much needed 7 strong innings scattering 4 hits to go along with 4 K's and allowing just 1 run. Giants closer Sergio Romo who is also the owner of the coolest beard this side of Brian Wilson would get some much needed work in the ninth during a non-save situation. Vogelsong would be the first Giants starter to get past the sixth inning during this years postseason play, and it couldn't have came at a better time.

Giants outfielder Angel Pagan would hit his second home run of the postseason in the bottom of the first. The stat line was stellar for the Giants lead-off man as he compiled 2 hits, 2 runs, 2 RBI's, and a walk. The Giants look to become the 1st team in 25 years to have the fewest home runs of any team in the majors and make it to the World Series. What the Giants lack in pop they make up for with outstanding pitching, good solid defense, and a very smart veteran team and coaching staff. Filling in for Scutaro, 2nd baseman Ryan Theriot would also add a hit and 2 RBI's with National League MVP hopeful Buster Posey and a slimmed down always fun to watch 3rd baseman Pablo Sandoval both contributing with a hit each.

The series will take a travel day tomorrow as the two teams get ready to battle it out in St. Louis at the beautiful Busch Stadium on Wednesday Oct. 17th at 1pm. The Giants will send ace Matt Cain who went 16-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 193 strikeouts to the mound. The Cards will counter with right hander Kyle Lohse who went an impressive 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA and 143 strikeouts. Cain and Lohse both in this years hunt for the National League Cy Young Award will look to capture the all important and pivotal game 3 match-up in the NLCS.

Published in Sports
Monday, 15 October 2012 14:13

Bay Area "Bummed" After Game 1 Loss

By Justin J. Crowder

The San Francisco Giants would once again raise the blood pressure of Bay Area and Central Valley fans as they would lose game 1 of the National League Championship Series 6-4 to the St. Louis Cardinals.For the first time since 1958 the two previous World Series Champions (Giants 10', Cards 11') would face each other in the playoffs. Starting Pitcher and 18 game winner Lance Lynn was poised to to take the mound against 23 year old 16 game winner and south paw Madison Bumgarner. The smell of celebratory Champagne lasted but a short time as the Giants washed away the euphoria of a 3-2 series victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Divisional Series and began focusing and delivering the team mantra "Never underestimate the heart of a Giant" on the St. Louis Cardinals who defeated the Washington Nationals 3-2 in their own 5 game series. The Cards would strike first as 3rd baseman David Freese launched a two run homer in the top of the second inning. Freese who was last years World Series MVP admitted that after going up 6-0 against the Giants that "i'm thinking of the D.C. game" Freese would also say "They were up 6-0. We were up 6-0.And that shows that you've got to keep playing...We were fortunate enough that our bullpen came in and closed the door the rest of the way." Two nights earlier the Cards had comer back from a 6-0 deficit against the Nationals. The cards would bombard Bumgarner again in the fourth as 2nd baseman Daniel Descalso would hit a one-out double and short stop Pete Kozma would continue his outstanding post season play driving inDescalso with a double of his own to left field. After swiping third base the bleeding would continue ascenter fielder Jon Jay singled in Kozma from third. Once former Giant Carlos Beltran grabbed ahold of aBumgarner pitch and crushed a 2 run shot to left field, Giants skipper Bruce Bochy had scene enough and quickly pulled the Giants 3rd year pitcher from the game. The bottom of the fourth provided the Giants and their fans some hometown cookin' of their own. After singles by the hot hitting 2nd baseman Marco Scutaro (who ended the regular season with a 20 game hit streak) and right fielder Hunter Pence (a huge mid-season acquisition by the Giants) 1st baseman Brandon Belt would deliver a single of his own driving in Scutaro and giving the Giants their first run of the NLCS. Left fielder Gregor Blanco would then triple to deep right scoring Pence and Belt. After short stopBrandon Crawford drove a deep ball to right field that scored Blanco and pushed the score to 6-4 the AT&T crowd truly came alive and the chant of "BELIEVE" echoed throughout the stadium. Lance Lynn wouldleave giving up 4 runs on 5 hits in just 3.2 innings. Entering the 5th both teams would need to rely on their bullpen and middle relief much earlier thenanticipated. The Giants would see a strong performance by a combination of G. Kantos, T. Lincecum,J. Affeldt, S. Casilla, and J. Mijares who combined to throw 5.1 magnificent innings allowing no hits, no runs, 5 strikeouts, and just 1 walk. Not to be outdone the Cardinals bullpen was incredibly stout as J. Kelly, M. Rzepczynski, T. Rosenthal, E. Mujica (who would get the win) and closer J. Motte would dominate Giants hitters over 5.1 innings allowing no runs and striking out 4. The aforementioned Motte who was tied for the National League lead with 42 saves could be a huge plus for the Cardinals as a dominate factor at the end of games. The Giants will rely on a closer bycommittee approach with Sergio Romo leading the way and trying to fill the shoes of the enigmaticGiants pitcher Brian Wilson. After going just 3 for 15 the Giants 2 through 5 hitters will truly need tostep up in game two and deliver if the Giants stand a chance against this talented St. Louis team. The Giants will try and even up the series on Monday Oct. 15th at AT&T Park as 14 game winner Ryan Vogelsong takes the mound against 2005 Cy Young award winner Chris Carpenter who spent much of the 2012 regular season on the disabled list. Game 2 will start at 5:00 PM and be televised on Fox.

Published in Sports

When Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran strained his left knee running out a double play ball in the first inning of game 3 of the NLCS, Giants fans were relieved  to see one of the Cards best hitters be hobbled and have to leave the game. Unfortunately little known Cardinals utility man Matt Carpenter would quickly make Bay Area fans miss the site of Beltran's face as he would hit a 2 run 421 foot blast off Matt Cain in the bottom of the third inning. "It was definitely  a surprise," said Carpenter. "I didn't even realize Carlos had hurt himself; there was really no thought process. I was in the game before I had time to think about it."

The Giants who came in 70-22 when scoring first, including the postseason, took the lead in the third on Pablo Sandoval's run-scoring groundout after leadoff hits by Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro who showed no signs of injury after leaving game two in the 5th inning because of a hard slide into second by Matt Holiday.

Giants ace Matt Cain lost for the second time this postseason allowing three runs on five hits in 6.1 innings of work. The biggest eye soar on the day was not just the three and a half hour rain delay in the 7th that turned players and fans alike into soggy prunes but also the fact the Giants were 0-7 with runners in scoring position.

Cardinals closer Jason Motte would record the first 2 inning save of his career on what was from most accounts a very lackluster night for Giants batters.

The Giants snapped their five-game road winning streak in the postseason but will look to bounce back tonight as Tim Lincecum will revive his roll as starter against Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright. "He's a guy we want out there. He's been throwing the ball well," Bochy would say of Lincecum. "We've got to bounce back."

Published in Sports