Snow is the only thing making 2017 football bearable

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AP

Snow is the only thing making 2017 football bearable

Of all the criticisms about football in 2017, the one that has been least covered is the scandalous lack of snow games.

The two best games of the weekend, and this is not disputable, were Army-Navy and Indianapolis-Buffalo, a week after a glorious Grey Cup. Those were quality games playing in gloriously awful weather, and every city with a domed stadium wept knowing it will never know that level of joy.

Then again, both the Raiders and 49ers will be home this weekend, and the weather will be disgustingly clear here as well. In fact, other than Sault Ste. Marie, MI, and Caribou, ME, there isn’t supposed to be any snow at all in the 48 this weekend.

So the question we take into Week 15, and the start of the bowl season Saturday, is “Why bother?”

Sure there are big games – the Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City, New England at Pittsburgh, the Los Angeles Rams at Seattle and Green Bay at Carolina, not to mention the five bowl games on Saturday (Boise State-Oregon at the Vegas Bowl is the best) – but the average temperature for the 15 non-domed cities is a barely brisk 48 degrees, with some possibly rain in Cleveland, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and (big surprise here) Seattle.

And that’s not good enough. Not nearly. Snow is, frankly, the only thing making 2017 football bearable at all, and if Roger Goodell wanted to earn his newfound money, he'd be up seeding clouds this weekend and through the end of the season.

The Indy-Buffalo game was the best snow game of the century, easily beating the Tuck Game in 2002 and barely edging Lions-Eagles in 2013. The metric: inches of snow above shoe tops. LeSean McCoy, who also starred in the 2013 game (219 and two scores), won Sunday’s with 156 and the game-winner in overtime, and the snow Sunday was high-ankle-sprain/lower calves deep. McCoy had more trouble lifting his legs out of the snowbanks than he did evading Colts.

Now that’s quality entertainment, the kind which we need more of between now and the start of what we suspect will be a dismally clement postseason, meteorologically speaking.

So yes, in case you were wondering, this is just more proof that there is actually global warming. It is almost certainly the only good thing about global warming. But there still aren’t enough great snow games, unless we get better forecasts from The Weather Channel. And by better, we mean worse.

You know, like damned near everything else these days.

49ers claim pass-rusher off waivers from Patriots

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Ap

49ers claim pass-rusher off waivers from Patriots

The 49ers on Wednesday were assigned outside linebacker/defensive end Cassius Marsh off waivers from the New England Patriots.

The Patriots waived Marsh on Tuesday after acquiring him in September from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for fifth- and seventh-round draft picks.

Marsh (6 foot 4, 245 pounds) appeared in 46 games in his four NFL seasons. Three of his four career sacks came in 2016 while with the Seahawks. He was Seattle's fourth-round pick in 2014 after recording 13 of his 15 career sacks at UCLA in his final two seasons.

Marsh is the second defensive player the 49ers have claimed off waivers this week. The club acquired former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Sheldon Day on Monday. The 49ers released defensive linemen Tony McDaniel and Datone Jones within the past week.

The 49ers are at their roster maximum of 53 players. The club will have to clear a roster spot if Tank Carradine, as expected, is activated off injured reserve in order to play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium.

Snap count: Raiders' Melifonwu experiment at cornerback backfires

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USATSI

Snap count: Raiders' Melifonwu experiment at cornerback backfires

The Raiders are razor thin at cornerback, without many bodies or talent they can trust. They were down to three healthy career cornerbacks heading into Sunday’s game against New England, with TJ Carrie, Sean Smith and Dexter McDonald available.

Head coach Jack Del Rio added a new name to the mix. He started second-round safety Obi Melifonwu at cornerback against the high-flying Patriots, an experiment that didn’t work out well.

Melifonwu played 26 snaps at cornerback, where he had been working some in practice since becoming eligible to return off injured reserve. He spent the early season on IR after having arthroscopic knee surgery.

Melifonwu was put in a tough spot, and struggled as a result. He allowed two receptions for 69 yards on four targets, including a 64-yard touchdown to Brandin Cooks where he had his eyes in the backfield when the Patriots speedster blew right by.

This position switch came in Melifonwu’s second NFL game, with just seven defensive snaps under his belt. 

Head coach Jack Del Rio admitted it was a move made out of desperation.

“Yeah, a little bit,” Del Rio said after Sunday’s 33-8 loss to New England at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. “We need more production (at cornerback). We're willing to try just about anything and we talked about being lean there and needing more production from that spot.

“(Melifonwu’s) a talented kid and it was probably asking a little too much, but we are going to roll those guys, we rolled our guys in the secondary tonight, and we're going to do that. We have got to do that until somebody starts playing well enough to stay in there full-time.”

The Raiders are in a bind at cornerback with Gareon Conley on injured reserve and David Amerson out three straight games with a foot injury. Demetrius McCray and Antonio Hamilton are also on season-ending injured reserve.

Carrie was a mainstay on Sunday, playing all 60 defensive snaps. Smith took over early, when the Melifonwu experiment wasn’t working out. He played 43 snaps, allowing three catches for 34 yards on five targets. McDonald played just eight snaps.

The Raiders are hoping someone can improve and settle into a full-time spot. The secondary has been thin for some time, but the personnel department has declined to sign anyone new off the street for depth.

That means Del Rio’s staff is still searching for answers at that position from a small pool.

“We're not playing really well on the back end and we have to find a way,” Del Rio said. “And we're going to make it competitive and let guys challenge for it and challenge for time and the guys that play the best are going to play the most.”

OFFENSE
Quarterback – Derek Carr 74
Running back – DeAndre Washington 24, Marshawn Lynch 21, Jamize Olawale 14, Jalen Richard 11,
Wide receiver – Amari Cooper 67, Seth Roberts 59, Michael Crabtree 58, Cordarelle Patterson 25, Johnny Holton 13
Tight end – Jared Cook 54, Clive Walford 14, Lee Smith 10
Offensive line – Kelechi Osemele 74, Rodney Hudson 74, Donald Penn 74, Gabe Jackson 74, Vadal Alexander 74

DEFENSE
Defensive line –
Khalil Mack 53, Mario Edwards 44, Justin Ellis 38, Eddie Vanderdoes 34, Denico Autry 31, Treyvon Hester 24, James Cowser 14
Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman 51, Bruce Irvin 46, Cory James 44, Nicholas Morrow 15, Marquel Lee 9
Cornerback – TJ Carrie 60, Sean Smith 43, Obi Melifonwu 26, Dexter McDonald 8
Safety – Reggie Nelson 60, Karl Joseph 51, Shalom Luani 9

SPECIAL TEAMS
Nicholas Morrow 18, James Cowser 18, Marquel Lee 15, Erik Harris 15, Xavier Woodson-Luster 15, Keith McGill 15, Jamize Olawale 15, Cordarrelle Patterson 13, Dexter McDonald 12, DeAndre Washington 11, Jalen Richard 9, Shalom Luani 9, Lee Smith 7, Khalil Mack 7, Mario Edwards 7, Eddie Vanderdoes 7, Denico Autry 7, Treyvon Hester 7, Jon Feliciano 7, Johnny Holton 6, TJ Carrie 6, Jon Condo 4, Marquette King 4, Karl Joseph 2, Cory James 2, Obi Melifonwu 2, Giorgio Tavecchio 2

DID NOT PLAY
QB EJ Manuel, OT David Sharpe

INACTIVE
QB Connor Cook, OT Jylan Ware, DL Jihad Ward, CB David Amerson, LB Shilique Calhoun, RT Marshall Newhouse, DT Darius Latham