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Hunter runs 49ers past Raiders 17-3

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Hunter runs 49ers past Raiders 17-3

Aug. 20, 2011
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- About the only thing new for Alex Smith in his return to Candlestick Park was the coach on the sideline.Considering the offense's performance last week, that was a major improvement.Smith threw for 126 yards and an interception in coach Jim Harbaugh's home debut, getting showered with a mix of boos and cheers in the San Francisco 49ers' 17-3 preseason victory over the cross-bay rival Oakland Raiders on Saturday night."We improved from last week. But if we want to be the team we're talking about being, we have to finish in the red zone and can't turn the ball over," Smith said. "In my thinking, those first few drives, we didn't finish and then had the pick. Can't do that."While the running game racked up huge chunks of yards, the passing game wasn't always crisp.Smith was 8 for 13 and came up empty in the end zone. He had a pass intercepted by defensive end Matt Shaughnessy in the second quarter and led the 49ers to a field goal in one half of play.The 2005 No. 1 overall pick at least left healthy. Oakland starting quarterback Jason Campbell didn't return after taking a couple of blows on a scramble play in the second quarter. He was scheduled to have test for a concussion.
NEWS: Raiders' Campbell leaves game 'feeling dizzy'Bay Area fans might have left with more questions than answers about the two starting quarterbacks.Although San Francisco's offense was a complete turnaround after a 24-3 loss in the exhibition opener at New Orleans last week, Smith's performance mimicked so many others from his previous six seasons: He anchored three long drives, showed signs of progress and made one major mistake.With second-round pick Colin Kaepernick waiting on the sidelines, the pressure is on Smith to finally perform. Kaepernick threw for 52 yards on 6-for-8 passing and - like Smith - benefited in long drives by a strong running game led by Kendall Hunter, who finished with 105 yards and a touchdown on nine carries."There's a lot to learn, new terminology and stuff like that," Hunter said. "With new coaches, you just got to adjust and learn everybody and get used to everybody."The Niners opened with a 16-play, 79-yard drive that stalled 2 yards short of the goal line. The ensuing field goal attempt was botched because holder Andy Lee couldn't corral the snap, throwing the ball away and injuring his hip getting pounded to the ground by defenders.On the second drive, Smith tried to squeeze a pass to tight end Vernon Davis on the left sideline, Shaughnessy dropped into coverage and was gift-wrapped an interception. Smith walked off the field to a slight chorus of boos, the only cheers coming from Raiders fans.Smith, the presumed regular-season starter, said he never saw Shaugnessy drop into coverage. Both Smith and Harbaugh believe it was an error in recognizing coverage and not a reminder of past mistakes."We talked about (the interception)," Harbaugh said. "We feel that's a correctable thing. I know why it happened. We just have to do a little better job of our eyes."The best highlight of the night for the 49ers came when new receiver Braylon Edwards made a one-handed catch on the sideline for 32 yards on final drive for the first-team offense. San Francisco settled for a 23-yard field goal by David Akers, who also had one punt blocked filling in for Lee.Not that the news was any better on the other sideline.The Raiders already were without several key players because of injuries, notably receivers Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy and running back Darren McFadden. Now they could be adding another to the list.Campbell was hurt late in the second quarter when he scrambled to his left, was tackled by Justin Smith and appeared to take a knee to the helmet from linebacker Ahmad Brooks. Campbell was down on the ground briefly while being checked out by trainers."The ball got knocked out of my hands. I tried to go dive on it and caught a knee to the head," Campbell said. "
He sat on the bench after being replaced by Trent Edwards, finishing with 74 yards passing. Sebastian Janikowski made a 46-yard field goal in the fourth quarter for Oakland's only score.Raiders coach Hue Jackson, still searching for his first win at the helm of the silver and black, didn't blame the injuries for the poor performance."That has nothing to do with tonight," Jackson said. "Tonight we didn't play Raider football. We didn't play like a Raider. That's just the truth. Let's call it like it is."Hunter had a 52-yard TD rush in the third quarter and Xavier Omon ran for another from 5 yards out in the fourth quarter.After losing 24-18 to the Arizona Cardinals in its preseason opener, Oakland didn't exactly make any strides the second time out. The Raiders, who have struggled to find the end zone once they're close, have only scored one touchdown in eight trips inside the 30 this preseason."I think we are still knocking some rust off," defensive tackle Richard Seymour said. "It is good to get out here and work with our teammates, but we still have a lot of work to do."NOTES: Raiders TE Kevin Boss had a left knee injury. ... Lee was scheduled to undergo test on his hip. Harbaugh said he didn't think the injury was serious.

Bowman pushing to help Raiders right away, prove 'I have a lot of juice left'

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Bowman pushing to help Raiders right away, prove 'I have a lot of juice left'

NaVorro Bowman hasn’t been a Raider long. The inside linebacker visited the team’s training complex Monday morning, signed a one-year, $3 million contract that afternoon and was on the practice field a few hours later.

Bowman’s in something of a rush. His new team plays the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night. Bowman plans to face them.

That’ll take a crash course in Raiders defense. There’s new terminology to learn and roles to master, even if he hones on a specific package.

It won’t be easy. Even a perfect week might come up short with but one real practice in an incredibly quick turnaround.

It’s rational to think he won’t be ready, fair to give him two weeks practice before a Raiders debut.

That’s not the tack he’ll take.

“Hey,” Bowman said, with a wry smile. “I’m going to show you something.”

He understands the situation. The Raiders are 2-4, in desperate need of an AFC West win. A loss might put the Raiders too far down to rebound. The four-time All-Pro knows he’s needed, and believes he can help if he can get some scheme down.

“It’ll take a lot of hours, a lot of studying, a lot of repeating the same words and things like that,” Bowman said after Monday’s walk-through. “It’s part of being a good football player. You have to put the time in. It doesn’t come easy.

“I’m the guy to do it. I won’t let them down. I’ll put the work in that’s needed to be done.”

Immersing in brand new be a cleansing process. Bowman left the only NFL team he’s ever known Friday when the 49ers cut him loose. He wanted to spend his career with one team. After seven-plus seasons, a switch was required. He didn’t like losing snaps. The 49ers wanted to go younger at the position. A trade was attempted. He didn’t like the suitor, and the 49ers respectfully pulled back. An outright cut was the decisive action.

It gave Bowman an opportunity to choose his next step. He didn’t go far. Bowman’s new job sits 35 miles north in Alameda, which offered plenty of advantages for a family man.

“My twin girls are five and my son is eight and they’re in school,” Bowman said. “They’re doing really well so you always want to keep that going as a parent. You don’t want to keep switching them in and out. That played a big part in what I was going to do. For the Raiders to show as much enthusiasm in wanting me to come here made my decision a lot easier.”

Enthusiasm was evident in two ways. The bottom line comes first. The Raiders offered $3 million to make this deal quick, adding a solid sum to the $6.75 million base salary guaranteed by the 49ers under his previous contract.

The second was clear in a Monday morning conversation with Jack Del Rio. The Raiders head coach spoke plainly, saying Bowman could make a major impact as a player and veteran leader of a shockingly young position group.

“It was really upfront, letting me know their position and how bad they want me,” Bowman said. “He let me know exactly what he wanted to get out of me coming here and being a presence for this defense. Being more vocal, getting guys to understand the urgency to be really good at the NFL level.”

His lessons start Tuesday morning. Starting weakside linebacker Cory James introduced himself in the locker room Monday and asked Bowman when he’ll start watching film. The answer: bright and early.

Bowman has a game to play Thursday. That’s possible because he didn’t have to relocate. He can just hit the ground running. He’s been constantly learning new systems during the 49ers coaching carousel, so he’d a quick learning. He also sees similar concepts between schemes.

“It’s not too different,” Bowman said. “The terminology is really the hard part. I’m a fast learner. I went out there today and I think I did pretty well. I’ll get in here early tomorrow and learn from my mistakes and try to keep getting better.”

That’s Bowman’s first goal. He also wants to show knee and Achilles’ tendon injuries haven’t sapped his effectiveness as many believe.

“I’m only 29 years old,” Bowman said. “I still have a lot of juice left in me.”

With Bowman heading to Oakland, everyone ends up happy, unless...

With Bowman heading to Oakland, everyone ends up happy, unless...

NaVorro Bowman’s employment odyssey lasted three days, and he didn’t have to get his mailing address changed.

The one-year, $3 million deal he reportedly signed with Oakland Monday came after a fairly quiet weekend for all parties. It was an easy choice for him, since there is minimal disruption, and an easy choice for Oakland, which needs all the defensive expertise it can get and has players that Bowman’s diminishing speed cannot expose.

In other words, everyone ends up happy . . . unless Bowman suddenly improves to the point where John Lynch has some ‘splainin’ to do.

The Raiders and 49ers have often shared players, thus belying their often overblown rivalry. The convenience was too . . . well, convenient, and will not be in evidence once Las Vegas becomes an NFL city.

And lord known the Raiders need some new voices in a room that has seemingly gone stale as expectations start to brown into disappointment. Bowman brings an effervescence borne of deep playoff runs, without being too loud a voice in a room that needs to develop more permanent leadership.

As to how much any of this translates into improved defensive play, or just a better vibe coming from Oaktown, well, put it this way.

If Bowman can stanch that level of bleeding, he shouldn’t be playing, he should be an EMT.

But at least he won’t end his career with a sour meeting with the people who run his original team, and that must count for something.

Maybe.