Ray Ratto

Ratto: 49ers' Harbaugh in QB quagmire with Smith


Ratto: 49ers' Harbaugh in QB quagmire with Smith

July 26, 2011


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Jim Harbaughs first act of true annoyance is about to happen, as he is asked for the third, 30th or 300th time if he is interested in Matt Hasselbeck, the newly defrocked quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks.He has repeatedly put himself in the position of defending Alex Smiths reputation against any and all detractors, since the day he got the job. Smith is his quarterback. Smith is the man for the job. Smith is all the Smith the 49ers can ever use.But his power to bend peoples minds apparently stops at the end of 4949 Centennial, because he is going to be asked about every new quarterback that hits the bricks. That means Hasselbeck, and to a lesser but still vibrating extent, Cincinnatis Carson Palmer.RELATED: Bengals won't trade Carson Palmer
Harbaugh will be placed in one of two positions -- either actively and repeatedly denying that he is interested in either of them, or look like a prevaricator on the subject of Smith. And you know how coaches react when they are caught in a fibout-of-date opinion.Poorly.

Harbaugh is no different. His M.O. at Stanford was that of the players guy who didnt really enjoy any of the give and take of the outside world. At a school that has always been publicity shyresistantdisinterested, he was the perfect fit, always willing to tell a whopper when he needed to, never reluctant to keep information to himself and always scaly when called on it.Well, this isnt Stanford, this is the 49ers, a place where the quarterback position creates an unhealthy fixation in both the paying customers and the reporters who attempt to serve them. Harbaugh has always defended Smith, even though common sense told anyone willing to listen that he would be Smiths guy until something better came along.MAIOCCO: 49ers' deal with Alex Smith 'pretty well set'
Now maybe Hasselbeck is that guy. And maybe not. If he is, Harbaugh will have to reinvent his story line on Smith. If he isnt, Harbaugh will have to re-re-re-re-repeat his defense of Smith as though his word wasnt good the first 70 or 80 times. Either way, hell get chapped at the very suggestion that he was either changing his mind on Alex Smith, or not changing his mind on Alex Smith.Either way, he cant win. He can barely break even. And the level of his irritation will help us understand the level of interest he pays to the chattering classes in TV, the Internet and the papers. We think he is very interested in all of them, and we will find out soon enough, as soon as the 10th Hasselbeckian inquiry is raised.In other words, by Wednesday mid-afternoon at the latest.

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?”