Tag Archives: San Francisco 49ers

How to talk to your kids about Richard Sherman

While trying to keep an open mind, I’ve been watching the arguments unfold the past couple of days in the wake of Richard Sherman’s bombastic remarks after the Seahawks defeated the 49ers in the NFC championship game.

Outrage was in abundance that night, with many football fans denouncing Sherman as an ungracious lout and vowing to root for the Broncos in the Super Bowl to spite him. (I’ve read, too, that there was a lamentable racist slant to many attacks on Sherman, although I  observed none from those I follow on Twitter.)

A contrarian view came up in response to the denouncers, and that is that it was “refreshing” that a player would speak so openly in an era of the NFL devoid of controversial figures.

My take?

I approach it the way my father did when teaching me about sportsmanship, and I hope I conveyed the same message to my own children: Compete as hard as you can. Never taunt, never boast, never gloat. When the game is over, be gracious in victory or defeat. Shake your opponent’s hand and say “good game.

That’s the code you follow to become a man (or woman).

I wouldn’t have to ask my father what he thought of Sherman’s outburst, and I’m sure my kids don’t have to ask me what I think.






Fond memories of Candlestick Park

As the final curtain of fog is about to go down on Candlestick Park, I’m grateful for my memories of the place.

I went to a smattering of Giants games at the ‘Stick in the mid- to late 90s, the first of which as I recall was against the Montreal Expos. That was the second National League game I had ever seen in my life.

I arrived in San Francisco from Seattle in 1993, a few months after Barry Bonds came over from Pittsburgh. Those were, presumably, pre-steroids days for No. 25, before he got caught up in the home run chase with immortality — and notoriety.

One of the quirky things about the Giants in those days was that they signed Dallas Cowboys’ star Deion Sanders to play the outfield alongside Bonds. I actually got to see Sanders play and somewhere in a shoebox I have a photo of him on the field shot from the upper deck behind home plate.

I went to one Dodgers-Giants game at Candlestick, and although the results of the game have faded from memory, those of the weather have not. With my wife and in-laws and maybe a child or two, we sat in the bright sunshine during the early innings that summer afternoon. By late in the game, we were huddling under blankets once the fog brought in a blast of cold air from the coast.

Although I never saw a football game there in person, on TV I watched many a 49ers game from there during the Steve Young era. Banner-towing planes that would circle the ‘Stick took off from Oakland Airport not far from our home in Alameda, and they’d be droning overhead as I’d listen to the games on radio while doing yard work on Sunday afternoon.

My San Francisco years overlapped with the renaming of Candlestick to 3Comm Park, a marketing change that, to my memory, no one in the Bay Area liked or embraced.

San Franciscans have warmly embraced AT&T Park as the home of the Giants, and they’ll take quickly to the 49ers new home being built down the peninsula in Santa Clara.

The ‘Stick has served San Franciscans well, and it will be missed. Mays and McCovey and Marichal and Montana were in their heyday there, but ultimately, the place will be remembered for its strange weather more than anything else.






Who’s the more aggrieved Bay Area athlete – Alex Smith or Brian Wilson?

There’s nothing “tender” in the dispensing of major league contracts to baseball players. San Francisco last week declined to offer a contract to Brian Wilson, the fierce and funky closer who in 2010 helped the Giants win their first World Series since the franchise bolted New York for the West Coast.

Wilson has been rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.  He was grounded for the season after two early appearances in 2012, a year in which the Giants would again be champions. Although he wasn’t on the mound after April, he remained a spirited force in the dugout and clubhouse the entire season. His full bearded, goofy antics — playing organ on a teammate’s cap — were an integral part of the Giants’ personality for several seasons.

In the end, that meant bupkis.

Wilson reportedly is angry and ready to sign with another team, and who can blame him?

But is Wilson the most aggrieved athlete in the Bay Area? Consider Alex Smith, the 49ers quarterback who’s been benched after sustaining a concussion and having to watch Colin Kaepernick step in and lead the team to consecutive victories.

Wilson’s arm injury was serious and a second go-round, keeping him out of play essentially for a full season while Sergio Romo eventually took over as closer, was tested for weeks during the season and playoffs and was nearly flawless as the Giants swept the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

Not to diminish the impact of his injury, but Smith suffered a concussion and wasn’t able to play for just two games.

Kaepernick, in his second season, stepped in. He took the snaps in a game when the Rams and 49ers tied, then performed phenomenally as the 49ers stomped the Bears on Monday Night Football. He did well again last weekend against the Saints.

It’s Coach Jim Harbaugh’s call to make, but I think he owes Smith better treatment.

Under Harbaugh’s direction, Smith emerged as an excellent quarterback in the 2011 season, taking the team to the NFC championship game. The game was lost in overtime when an inexperienced 49ers player botched a punt return in overtime; the Giants got the ball and kicked the winning field goal.

The 49ers have treated Smith shabbily over the years, and demoting him is just another kick in the pants. I actually think he’s getting a rawer deal than Wilson is. Wilson’s situation evolved; Smith’s changed suddenly.

Either way, I wish both players nothing but success in 2013, when they’ll both be wearing new uniforms.

Oakland Raiders cut Cable, and other musings on big-league coaching

Word is out tonight from the Bay Area that Al Davis has given the heave-ho to Coach Tom Cable, who guided the Raiders to an 8-8 record this season, their best in recent years. Evidently improving operations is not enough in Oakland, where it’s “just win, baby.”

Or so it’s supposed to be.

The Raiders have been a sorry spectacle the past few years. Cable may not have been the most articulate or dynamic figurehead for the Silver and Black, but at least he figured out a way to improve the team. That can’t be said for Mike Singletary, who got sacked with one game to go in the 49ers’ disappointing season.

Being the head coach or manager in the NFL, Major League Baseball or any other top-level league has its rewards. But in the end, most coaches get kicked in the hindquarters.

In the mid-70s, my father dropped a mid-summer note to Cleveland Indians manager Jeff Torborg, who was soon to be chucked after another dismal season by the Tribe. Torborg sent my dad a postcard with a picture of him in uniform on one side. On the back, Torborg’s handwritten note thanked my dad for whatever kind words he had sent. I can’t remember precisely what Torborg wrote, but it was a gentle note, something along the lines of “this stuff comes with the territory.”

I asked my dad what he’d written. He’d sent a note of sympathetic encouragement, noting that the managers never get enough credit if the team wins and certainly bear the brunt of the blame if the players fail.

That’s the way it has always been in pro sports. The coaches-to-be of the Niners, Raiders and multiple other franchises about to announce dynamic new leadership should keep that in perspective as they head to the rostrum to announce their commitment to winning, to reaching the “next level,” to bringing glory back to this storied franchise, yada, yada, yada.

Savor the day, mi amigos. This may be the best day you have at the helm.

A new year, and it’s about time I got started

We’re already two days into 2011, and it’s high time I got cracking here at the Ball Caps Blog. I can’t quite explain my absence the last several weeks other than to speculate that it may be fallout from surgery in November. I just haven’t had the drive to post.

Nonetheless, I’ll offer a few quick observations on things I probably would have commented on earlier had I taken the time to do so:

– Baseball lost one of its greats with the death of Bob Feller late in 2010. He was the greatest Cleveland Indian of my lifetime, which began only a few weeks before Feller retired at the end of the 1956 season. Feller was not only a great pitcher, but he was a loyal representative of the Indians franchise, which went into a decades-long tailspin once Feller and others of his era fell off the roster.

-It was a shame that Mike Singletary flamed out as coach of the San Francisco 49ers, getting sacked a week ago today. My take on Singletary was that he was (and is) a good, driven man, but it’s tough for Hall of Fame players to succeed as coaches (cp. Starr, Bart).

-Although I didn’t catch the rain-drenched game, I think it’s marvelous that the NHL continues the Winter Classic outdoor game. For all the kids and their moms and dads who hosed down the back yard to create an ice rink, for all the kidswho skated into the dusk on the frozen ponds of the provinces, this game is for you.

-The 2010 World Cup is fading into memory, but what a grand (if noisy) spectacle it was. I’m eagerly anticipating the next one.

-The Big 10 has taken its lumps this bowl season, in excruciating fashion. Here’s hoping the Ohio State Buckeyes properly represent the best of the Midwest in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night.

– Did I happen to mention the San Francisco Giants won the World Series?

Happy New Year, everyone. Good sporting to you.

The incomparable Jerry Rice nominated to the football Hall of Fame

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=Jerry+Rice&iid=2932495″ src=”b/5/3/8/Super_Bowl_XXIV_afcd.jpg?adImageId=9973428&imageId=2932495″ width=”234″ height=”355″ /] Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith head the class of seven NFL players who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at Canton, and I write today to lavish praise on Rice.

He was incomparable, the dominant receiver of his era. He played superbly in the biggest games, and he played superbly in games that had little effect on the standings.

The San Francisco 49ers had a wonderful run of great seasons, and Rice was surrounded by a stellar cast. But his star shone brightest of all, whether he was catching touchdown passes from Joe Montana or Steve Young.

He rewrote the NFL record book for receivers. Even on his last legs with the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks, Rice still managed to be productive well past his prime years at Candlestick Park.  Not a bad career for a guy who played his college ball at Mississippi Valley State University.

Farewell to Isaac Bruce, one of the great ones

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Isaac Bruce bid farewell to his outstanding NFL career today. He was on the field for one play for the 49ers, who went on to defeat the hapless St. Louis Rams. Bruce spent all but the last two years of his career with the Rams, dating back to their last year in Los Angeles, 1994. He was an integral part of the “Greatest Show on Turf.”

It’s pretty cool that he got to log his last play before the Rams fans, even as few as there were.