49ers

Seahawks rout Lions, advance to face Falcons in divisional round

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Seahawks rout Lions, advance to face Falcons in divisional round

BOX SCORE

SEATTLE -- The formula that has led the Seattle Seahawks to unmatched success over the past five seasons returned.

A healthy dose of Thomas Rawls rumbling on the ground. A few timely throws by Russell Wilson helped by some remarkable catches. And a defense that never allowed Detroit a sniff of the end zone.

Rawls rushed for a franchise playoff-record 161 yards, Paul Richardson made one of the catches of the year for his first career postseason touchdown, and the Seahawks beat the Lions 26-6 on Saturday night in an NFC wild-card game.

Seattle won its 10th straight home playoff game, continuing Detroit's miserable conclusion to the season that finished with four straight losses. Detroit's long playoff history without postseason success continued: no playoff wins since 1992. No road playoff wins since 1957.

Rawls was the workhorse as the run game the Seahawks became known for when Marshawn Lynch was in the backfield finally found consistency that was missing all season. Rawls bettered Lynch's 157 yards in the 2014 NFC championship game against Green Bay. Rawls had runs of 12, 14, 26 and a 32-yarder late in the third quarter, when Wilson ended up being his lead blocker.

Rawls capped his night with a 4-yard touchdown run that gave Seattle a 19-6 lead. He was the first player with at least 150 yards rushing in a playoff game since Lynch's performance against the Packers.

While Rawls did the grunt work, Richardson filled the highlight reel with a trio of catches. None was better than his 4-yard touchdown in the second quarter to give Seattle a 7-0 lead.

Richardson went horizontal reaching out with his left hand to cradle the pass as he was being interfered with by Tavon Wilson. What wasn't called on the play was Richardson's right hand yanking on the facemask of Wilson as he reached to make the catch.

Richardson had another one-handed catch in the fourth quarter, and Doug Baldwin got into the act of amazing catches, pinning a 10-yard reception to the back of his leg late in the fourth quarter to continue a Seattle drive. Two plays later, Baldwin's 13-yard touchdown reception put it away.

Wilson finished 23 of 30 for 224 yards, while Baldwin had 11 catches for 104 yards.

SHUTDOWN D:
Overshadowed by the offensive performance was Seattle's defense shutting down the Lions. Hampered by a handful of dropped passes and some untimely penalties, the Lions could only manage a pair of long Matt Prater field goals.

Matthew Stafford was 18 of 32 for 205 yards. He was sacked three times and Detroit never ran a play inside the Seattle 33-yard line.

FOURTH-DOWN SUCCESS:
Seattle was 4 of 11 on fourth downs during the regular season, but got two big conversions on its first touchdown drive. On fourth-and-1 at the Detroit 39, Rawls bounced for 4 yards; the drive was capped by Richardson's catch on fourth-and-goal from the 2.

Detroit wasn't so successful. On its third possession, it went on fourth-and-2 from the Seattle 38. The oddly designed play had Stafford throwing behind the line of scrimmage to Matthew Mulligan. The play was blown up by Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright for a 2-yard loss.

KICKING IT:
Prater became the first kicker with multiple 50-yard field goals made in the same playoff game, and Seattle's Steven Hauschka was true on both of his field goal attempts. But Hauschka missed his seventh extra point of the season after Rawls' touchdown with 8:43 remaining.

UP NEXT:
Detroit: The Lions will lament the end of their season. After getting its record to 9-4, Detroit lost its final four games.

Seattle: The Seahawks will face the No. 2 seed Atlanta Falcons next Saturday. Seattle beat Atlanta 26-22 in October.

Hoyer understands 49ers' move to Beathard, plans to stay ready just in case

Hoyer understands 49ers' move to Beathard, plans to stay ready just in case

The move to rookie C.J. Beathard as the 49ers’ starting quarterback is intended to be for the remainder of the season. But Brian Hoyer knows things can always change.

Hoyer, who played ineffectively after winning the starting job in the offseason, was benched on Sunday in the second quarter against Washington. The winless 49ers are Hoyer’s seventh team in nine NFL seasons, so he is familiar with rejection.

“I’ve been in this situation before and C.J. is a great kid, so I’ll be there every day trying to help him as much as I can,” Hoyer said.

“Also, the other thing is, you never know what’s going to happen – injuries and stuff like that. Obviously, you never wish that upon people but that’s what happened to me in Houston and I was right back in a few weeks later. So you’ve always got to stay ready and just be ready to do your job.”

Hoyer started for the Texans in Week 1 of 2015. Ryan Mallett took over in Week 2, but Hoyer returned to the starting lineup in Week 6.

Coach Kyle Shanahan decided to go with Beathard after Hoyer completed just four of his 11 pass attempts for 34 yards in four offensive possessions. The 49ers managed just two first downs (one by penalty) and 39 yards with Hoyer in the game.

“I can understand what Kyle did,” Hoyer said. “He tried to change some things up. I thought C.J. came in and gave those guys some life a little bit.

“It’s part of the job and, unfortunately, when you don’t play as well as you like, and your offense doesn’t play as well as you like, he’s forced to make that decision. I have the utmost respect for Kyle and I knew he was firm on his decision and I just went about trying to support C.J. as best I could.”

Beathard completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards with one touchdown – a 45-yard strike to Aldrick Robinson – and one interception on a desperation fourth-down attempt on the 49ers’ final offensive play of the game.

Beathard said he felt a lot of support from all of his teammates during the 49ers’ 26-24. The 49ers rallied from a 17-point deficit to tie the game in the third quarter.

“It was awesome,” said Beathard, a third-round draft pick from Iowa. “I think this team showed a lot of fight and battled hard until the end. But (we) just couldn’t get the job done. We are going to come back and get back to work on Monday and Tuesday. We have another one this week (at Levi’s Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys), so hopefully we can get a win.”

To prove collusion, Colin Kaepernick better be able to provide the smoking gun

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AP

To prove collusion, Colin Kaepernick better be able to provide the smoking gun

The only thing you need to understand about Colin Kaepernick’s action against the NFL is this.

If he has paperwork proving that the owners conspired to keep him out of football, he wins. If he doesn’t, he almost certainly loses.

Oh, there’s a lot of gobbled-lawyerese in any court proceeding; that’s why lawyers lawyer.

But the fact is this: Kaepernick and/or his lawyers have to produce the smoking gun, as Marvin Miller did in the ‘80s collusion cases against Major League Baseball, In those, the owners conspired not to sign free agents, did so in writing, and got their hats blocked in court.

Then they did it again, and lost again. And then, clever fellows that they were, they did it a third time, and got caught once more.

Lesson learned: From that moment, collusion became a paperless enterprise. No smoke, no gun. No gun, no case. It couldn’t have been simpler.

Now you may try to apply logic like, “Brandon Weeden,” or “Brett Hundley,” or “the owners are . . .” And you may well be correct. In fact, you almost certainly are.

But being correct isn’t the same as proving it, and without proof, Kaepernick’s case is an excellent example of well-constructed circumstantial evidence that will amount to little. The bar for this is high, and like everything else in life, it requires receipts.

Therein lies Kaepernick’s problem. Unless, of course, he has the receipts – statements on tape, or written memoranda, or rogue texts. In that case, therein lies, the league’s problem.

It is hard to imagine that the 32 owners, with all the lawyers at their command, would be so stupid as to leave collectable evidence laying about, but that’s what people assumed in the ‘80s, too, and baseball had to pay $280 million for its carelessness.

Still, that isn’t way to bet. Barry Bonds filed a lawsuit along similar grounds when he couldn’t get work after being released by the Giants in 2007, and had no corroboration for what he suspected was a blackball against him for, well, for being Barry Bonds. So he lost.

And I suspect that is what we have here as well. Kaepernick’s suit risks nothing for him, as his NFL days are almost certainly over anyway, so he may as well have his day in court if not the field.

But if he has the goods and can present them coherently before a judge, we’ve got an entirely different game, and one more reminder that we are in bloodsport territory between owners and players now, and there are no rules.

Except that one about paperwork. That one never changes.