49ers

Hernandez, sloppy defense doom A's in opener

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Hernandez, sloppy defense doom A's in opener

April 1, 2011BOX SCORE A'S POSTGAME VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD
OAKLAND (AP) Felix Hernandez pumped his fist and marched off the mound with his usual swagger and sense of humor.King Felix made a little more history for the Mariners on opening day doing what he does best: throwing heat.Hernandez found his dominant Cy Young form in a hurry, pitching a five-hitter for his 14th career complete game and the majors' first this year as Seattle beat the AL West rival Oakland Athletics 6-2 on Friday night."After the first inning I said, 'I'm winning this game and then I'll go a complete game,'" Hernandez said, beaming.He tossed the first complete game on opening day in franchise history, too.Chone Figgins hit a go-ahead solo home run in the sixth inning off Craig Breslow (0-1). Ichiro Suzuki singled twice, drove in a run and stole a pair of bases as the Mariners won their opener under new manager Eric Wedge to end a five-game losing streak in Oakland. Seattle spoiled the A's opener played before a sellout crowd of 36,067 that included 1,000 standing-room only tickets.
GUTIERREZ: A's wilt under Opening Day expectations
Suzuki moved within one hit of tying Edgar Martinez's franchise record of 2,247.Hernandez (1-0) dazzled after allowing Josh Willingham's two-run, two-out homer in the first. He faced the minimum in each of the next six innings, allowing only a leadoff single to David DeJesus in the fourth before Landon Powell's base hit to begin the eighth."He's never going to give in," Figgins said. "He's not a Cy Young for nothing. He's not one of the best pitchers in the game for nothing."Hernandez, who won the 2010 AL Cy Young Award despite only 13 victories, struck out five and didn't walk a batter in a 108-pitch gem. DeJesus struck out swinging to end the 2-hour, 50-minute opener. The right-hander is now 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his four career opening-day outings."He's no joke," new teammate Jack Cust said.The previous pitcher to throw a complete game on opening day was Ben Sheets for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to STATS LLC."If you talk about opening day you can't ask for much more than that," Wedge said of his ace.
VIDEO: Brad Ziegler postgame
Willingham wasted little time showing why the A's acquired him from Washington this winter to be their new cleanup hitter and upgrade an offense that managed only 109 homers and 663 runs last season, the team's second-fewest in the last 28 non-shortened seasons.Willingham sent the second pitch he saw from Hernandez over the out-of-town scoreboard in left - the first opening-day homer allowed by Hernandez. Willingham became the 10th player in Oakland history to hit a home run in his first at-bat with the A's. Frank Thomas last did it on April 3, 2006.Cust scored an insurance run against his former club to start the Mariners' three-run seventh, when Oakland committed two of its five errors. A's catcher Kurt Suzuki gave everybody a scare when he went down writhing in pain after being clobbered by a scoring Miguel Olivo, but Suzuki stayed in the game to finish the inning before taking a seat with a mild left ankle sprain. Powell replaced him to start the eighth.Oakland last committed five errors in a game on July 6, 2007, at home against Seattle. The A's also had four errors during their season-opening 5-3 loss to the Mariners here on April 5 a year ago."Just a poor night all the way around. Too many walks, too many errors," manager Bob Geren said. "You're not going to see that from this club very often. That's not the recipe that we need to win."
Trevor Cahill hung tough in his first opening-day start but labored and saw his pitch count climb in a hurry. The right-hander, an 18-game winner in his second full major league season last year, allowed one run on four hits in 4 2-3 innings, struck out eight and walked four.Cahill escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth after consecutive errors by third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, who had his first career two-error game. Cahill left with runners on first and second with two outs in the fifth - at 105 pitches."I think there were a little more nerves than normal," Cahill said of the A's. "That's not our brand of baseball."New designated hitter Hideki Matsui went 0 for 3 and grounded into a double play in his Athletics debut.Mark Ellis, who matched his career best with a 13-game hitting streak to end last season, hit an eighth-inning single.Hundreds of tailgaters took to the parking lot early on a spectacular spring day in the Bay Area, when first-pitch temperature was 64 degrees.NOTES: Hernandez threw 73 of his pitches for strikes. The Mariners twice had pitchers go 8 1-3 innings on opening day. ... Oakland went 7-2 against Seattle at home last season. ... The uniforms worn by Matsui and Suzuki will be auctioned off Sunday to aid earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in their native Japan. ... The Mariners opened away from Safeco Field for the third straight year. They are 4-4 against the A's on opening day, including 2-3 in Oakland. ... Wedge is encouraged by the recent progress of Seattle CF Franklin Gutierrez, on the 15-day disabled list with stomach gastritis. "We're hoping antibiotics is going to take care of it," Wedge said. ... Mariners closer David Aardsma threw his second bullpen session Thursday as he recovers from hip surgery. "I think we'll see him sooner than later," Wedge said. ... Injured A's closer Andrew Bailey (strained forearm) played catch as far out as 120 feet, while RHP Rich Harden (strained lat muscle below his shoulder) threw a bullpen session. Both are on the DL to start the year.

Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent

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AP

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.
 
Talent.
 
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

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AP

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.