Ray Ratto

Kyle Williams earns cruel place in 49ers lore


Kyle Williams earns cruel place in 49ers lore

SAN FRANCISCO -- Kyle Williams put down plenty of memories worth clinging to, but for the purposes of 49er history, he will be known as the owner of the fingerprints that held the knife that ended the season that ended their desolation.One punt that found him when he wanted it not to do so, and one stripped punt -- thats how Williams season ended. Half of the New York Giants points in the NFC Championship at Williams hands, and the 49ers dream season ends with a thud for want of those 10 points.The final score was 20-17, with the death blow a 31-yard Lawrence Tynes field goal 7:54 into overtime. But it wont be remembered as such. It will be remembered as the Kyle Williams Game, until he has an opportunity to inspire the story of the Kyle Williams Overcomes Adversity Game.

If that happens. Not everyone gets an escape clause in sports, and some live with it for far too long.It was just one of those situations, Williams said as he confronted the first paragraph of every story that will be written about him this spring and summer. Just one of those things.RATTO: 49ers fail to cheat The Reaper
Well, two of those things, actually. He wasnt sure what to do with the punt that struck his right knee with 11:08 left in regulation, the one that turned into the Giants second touchdown. And he was too sure on the punt that was taken from him by New Yorks Jacquian Williams and Devin Thomas 5:28 into the overtime.I just wanted to turn it up the field, and the guy (Thomas) just reached in and made a play, Williams said of the strip by Williams that was recovered by Thomas at the San Francisco 24. Its hard to be the last guy to touch the ball in a game and have what happened happen in a game of this significance, but it is what it is.There were lots of reasons the 49ers were stopped one game short of Indianapolis, and they will be recounted elsewhere. But Kyle Williams will be listed as the chief culprit because of the reductive nature of heroism and villainy in sport. The only folks who ever get to be remembered are the ones who did, and the ones who did not.In New York, Eli Manning did, and so did Victor Cruz and ultimately Thomas and Williams and Tynes. But in San Francisco, this is Kyle Williams burden to bear for as long as it takes for someone to replace it with something better, worse or weirder. Football is a mean-spirited game that way, too.

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor


Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”