Giants' Belt arrives in Fresno with 'clear head'


Giants' Belt arrives in Fresno with 'clear head'

April 25, 2011

When a player is sent down from the big leagues, he has 72 hours to report to his new minor-league team.High-profile prospect Brandon Belt, bounced from the bigs before the Giants took on the host Rockies on Wednesday in Colorado, took full advantage of the rule and is glad that he did."I think it helped taking a few days off so I could clear my head," Belt told CSNBayArea.com Monday morning from Fresno via cell phone.Told by San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy on his 23rd birthday that his .192 batting average through 17 games had earned him a trip to Triple-A Fresno, Belt decided slow down the whirlwind that has been his life.
Since tearing through the Giants' system last season, he was sent to the prestigious Arizona Fall League and helped the Scottsdale Scorpion win the AFL championship, got married during the offseason, reported to big-league camp as the Next Best Thing, and displaced incumbent first baseman Aubrey Huff as the starter for Opening Day against the Dodgers.Just as quickly, he fell into a slump that prompted the demotion. It was time to take a step back and breathe.So instead of rushing to Tucson, Ariz., where the Fresno Grizzlies were wrapping up a road trip with games Thursday and Friday, Belt took a pass and took his time. After spending Thursday getting settled in for what he hopes is a short-term stay in the San Joaquin Valley, he made his way over to the Grizzlies' Chukchansi Park for a low-key round of batting practice as Fresno Pacific infield coach Matt Souza and Central High skipper Brad Fontes took turns firing away at the phenom.Belt's goals? "Start from the basics and getting my swing right," he said. So far, so good. In his 2011 debut for Fresno, Belt on Saturday started in left field, batted in the cleanup spot and crushed a two-out, two-run homer in his first at-bat.The pitch he hit? Pretty much the same one that sent him to Fresno in the first place. It was an inside fastball thrown by Micah Owings, who has more than 60 big-league starts on his resume."You don't make it to the big leagues as fast as he did if you can't hit the inside fastball," Grizzlies manager Steve Decker told the Fresno Bee. "He can hit it. He's just got to know when to look for it."Belt, already known for his tremendous plate discipline, had worked the count full before his home run off Owings, and he walked later in the game.
On Sunday, he was moved up to the No. 3 spot in the order and dropped an RBI double just inside the right-field line in the first inning. He added an RBI single later and entered Monday's home game against the Reno Aces having gone 3-for-7 with four RBIs since that birthday bummer with Bochy."I'm doing all right," Belt said.In addition to the adjustments that Belt is trying to make at the plate, he's adjusting back to life in the outfield. Decker said that Belt, who saw all of his playing time with the Giants at first base while Huff endured some early struggles in the outfield, said Belt will play only a game or two a week at first base while fellow prospect Brett Pill, who was batting .385 through Sunday, and Travis Ishikawa, who hit a grand slam Sunday to help boost his average to .236, share the rest of the time at the position.That's fine with Belt, who mostly played first base and pitched at the University of Texas but spent plenty of time in the outfield before matriculating to Austin, Tex. Once he gets used to reading balls off the bat again, he figures, it'll be like riding a bike."I don't feel too bad out there," Belt said. "Obviously there's a few kinks I need to sort out, but so far it's going pretty well. The last time I played out there regularly was in high school."

Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent


Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent

If there is such a thing as being “due” in sports (and there actually isn’t, so you can probably stop reading now), the San Francisco 49ers had Sunday coming to them.
After all, the anomaly of being the “best winless team in football” based on margin of defeat lasts only so long until the “winless” part trumps the “best” part, because even the Los Angeles Chargers – the previous “best bad team in football” – aren’t the Chargers all the time.
So it was that the Dallas Cowboys exposed every weakness the 49ers have with the simplest thing there is.
The Cowboys did everything they wanted, but only whenever they wanted it, in a 40-10 dope-slapping that could actually have been worse than it was. The 49er offense was properly stymied (again), gaining only 290 yards (4.5 yards per play) and the defense was thoroughly Elliotted (as in Ezekiel-ed, who averaged 8.1 yards in his 27 touches). San Francisco’s warts were rubbed until they glowed, and if not for the fact that head coach Kyle Shanahan already knew where they were, he’d have been shocked to see how visible they were.
And therein lies the takeaway from another day at Not-So-Great-America. It turns out that the 49ers weren’t very good at much of anything before Sunday except just how far away they are from what Shanahan and general manager John Lynch believe is their destiny. C.J.  Beathard remained the rookie quarterback he is, and Carlos Hyde's hard-won 68 rushing yards led to no scores. Indeed, San Francisco's only touchdown came on a four-yard improv sprint from Beathard, who is by no means a running quarterback except in abject flight.

Next week in Philadelphia figures to be no less grisly, if you’re waiting for that magic moment when “0” becomes “1.” That is, of course, unless Washington exposes the Eagles as less than what they seem, which is very often the case in the new parity-gripped NFL.

But there are subsequent get-well games at home against Arizona and then at New York against the Giants the week after, so whatever dreams you might have about them running the table backwards and getting the first overall pick in the draft are still light years from realization.
This is, however, another healthy reminder that the job to be done is at least two more years in the undoing before the doing can actually begin. Not that the players or coaches needed another lesson, mind you – they know.
But maybe you needed it, just to keep your delusions in check. Maybe the people who were “due” were all of you.
But that’s unfair, too. You didn’t undo this franchise. All you did was believe, and there’s nothing wrong with that – as long you know there will be more days like this before your team starts handing out the 40-10’s.
In the meantime, there is beer.

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys


Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 40-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7 on Sunday:

1. A major step backward
So much for the 49ers’ somewhat-impressive streak of close losses.

There was nothing encouraging about what transpired in the 49ers' worst loss at Levi’s Stadium. It was also the franchise's worst home loss since Mike Singletary's team absorbed a 45-10 thumping against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 11, 2009.

Was there anything positive to take from this game?

“No, not right now,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It was disappointing. I think all three phases, players and coaches, we’ve got to play better than that, a lot better to give ourselves a chance to win.”

The competitive nature of the 49ers’ past five games was one thing. But with a big home loss on such an emotional day, it is fair to say that the honeymoon is over for Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. The 49ers looked like a team devoid of any leadership, and brings more scrutiny onto the organization’s decision last week to release linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

Now, the 49ers face a crossroads. With another cross-country trip ahead, the 49ers have to regroup in a hurry in order to avoid another embarrassing blowout against the Philadelphia Eagles.

2. Beathard’s first start
Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard certainly was not the reason the 49ers got blown out. In his first NFL start, he showed a lot of toughness, which was to be expected. He was sacked five times. But most of those sacks could have been avoided. He has to get rid of the ball quicker, especially on three-step drops.

Beathard also showed some promise, too. He let the ball fly deep for Marquise Goodwin, who caught four passes for 80 yards. Beathard completed 22 of 38 passes for 235 yards.

Beathard accounted for the 49ers’ only touchdown with a 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. There seems to be little doubt it was in the best interest of the organization to begin evaluating what it has for the future with the permanent switch from Brian Hoyer to Beathard.

3. Dwight Clark’s Day
The 49ers, of course, did nothing to evoke any memories of the great teams on which Dwight Clark played. Well, they did look a lot like Clark’s first team with the 49ers.

The 49ers of 1979 lost their first seven games of the season. This year’s team matched that start for the worst beginning to a season in franchise history.

More than 35 of Clark’s teammates off the 1981 Super Bowl team were in attendance to honor a pay tribute to Clark, who is battling ALS. Now in a wheelchair and considerably lighter, Clark delivered some poignant remarks at halftime.

Clark, 60, told his old teammate, Keena Turner, who works as vice president of football affairs, that all he wanted was to see some of his old teammates.

“And the 49ers heard that and flew all these players in, so I could see them one more time,” Clark said.