Wizards

49ers can up sacks total facing Arizona Cardinals

49ers can up sacks total facing Arizona Cardinals

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The pass rusher in Aldon Smith is getting a little more excited than usual this week.

That's a feeling spreading throughout the San Francisco defense as the 49ers prepare for Monday night's game against the Arizona Cardinals, the only NFC West team to beat the Niners during coach Jim Harbaugh's two seasons here.

Despite another strong season from Smith, the 49ers aren't sacking opposing quarterbacks at the same rate they did last year. But that hasn't prevented San Francisco from leading the NFL in both total defense and passing defense.

There could be plenty of opportunities for sacks against the Cardinals, who have struggled all season to protect quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.

That pair has been dropped 35 times in seven games, by far the most sacks allowed by any team in the league. Skelton, who will start Monday's game, was sacked seven times in last week's loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

That's something that hasn't gone unnoticed by Smith, who set a franchise rookie record last season with 14 sacks and leads the team with 5 1/2 this year.

``We'd all like to have more sacks,'' Smith said Thursday. ``Seeing other people have success getting sacks, I mean that's what I do and that's what we do. So of course it's thumbs up for us.''

Smith has half of San Francisco's entire sack total. The 49ers have only three sacks in their past three games and rank 23rd in the NFL in sacks per play - the team's lowest standing in 12 defensive categories recorded by the league.

The 49ers had 42 sacks in 2011, and the havoc created by their pass rush was a key to the team's defensive success. Smith burst onto the scene with an impressive rookie season, but the 49ers also got a consistent push up front from their bookend defensive tackles, All-Pro Justin Smith (7 1/2 sacks last year) and Ray McDonald (5 1/2).

Justin Smith and McDonald have combined for only a half sack so far this season. Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (three sacks) is the only 49er besides Aldon Smith with more than one sack this year.

But the lack of sacks belies the strength of San Francisco's pass rush. The pressure up front has been good with Justin Smith and McDonald combining for 47 quarterback hits and 68 pressures even though they haven't been taking quarterbacks to the ground.

``We're ranked (first) in pass defense, and pass rush is part of pass defense,'' defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. ``So, although we don't have the sack numbers, which a lot of people want to sink their teeth into, that's not the measure of a good pass rush. And right now to this point, I haven't seen pass rush as being a weakness for us.''

Aldon Smith still has been getting his sacks. He was particularly impressive during a three-play sequence in the final two minutes last week against Seattle to help the 49ers finish a 13-6 victory over the Seahawks that left San Francisco (5-2) a game ahead of Seattle (4-3) and Arizona (4-3) in the division.

With the Seahawks back deep in their own territory, Smith overpowered Seattle offensive tackle Breno Giacomini to sack quarterback Russell Wilson for a seven-yard loss.

Two plays later, with Seattle facing 4th and 17 from its 4, Smith again was pushing Giacomini back into Wilson in the end zone before guard Paul McQuistan peeled back to help. McQuistan was flagged for a chop block on Smith, and the 49ers were awarded a safety that Harbaugh declined since the ball went back to San Francisco with 43 seconds remaining.

``I think teams are a little bit more prepared for us than they were last year and quarterbacks are getting the ball out faster,'' Smith said. ``But all in all we're hurrying throws and we're creating a lot of pressure, so we're doing our job.''

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Blazers' C.J. McCollum has a theory on DeMarcus Cousins signing with the Wizards to reunite with John Wall

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Blazers' C.J. McCollum has a theory on DeMarcus Cousins signing with the Wizards to reunite with John Wall

Blazers guard C.J. McCollum has a theory that may sound familiar to Wizards fans. The star shooting guard now hosts a podcast and said on his most recent episode that he could see DeMarcus Cousins teaming up with John Wall in Washington.

McCollum's Blazers happened to lose in the first round to Cousins' Pelicans, though Cousins did not play in the series due to injury. Now, McCollum has offered thoughts on his future.

Here is what McCollum said about Cousins potentially going to Washington on his Pull Up podcast, as transcribed by SLAM Magazine:

"No slight against the homie. I think he’s a very, very good player. But you just have to look at the team roster and try to figure out what’s best for that roster moving forward...

“I think team success, playoff success, factors in to decision-making with personnel moving forward. Obviously, Jrue Holiday, Rondo, AD will have input on what they decide to do going forward. So that’s something to keep an eye out on in the free agency.

“And if that is the case, Boogie would jump out in to the market as a free agent and be a very hot commodity, and could potentially team up with the Washington Wizards.

“You heard it here first. You heard that here first. You know that Kentucky connection, man. I could see that happening. That’s just something to think about going forward.”

The funny part of those quotes is that McCollum said "you heard it here first." Wizards fans, of course, have been banging that drum since, oh, 2010 when the two were drafted.

As it has often been throughout the last eight years, a reunion of Wall and Cousins is unlikely. Yes, Cousins is expected to hit free agency, but the Wizards currently do not have the money to sign him. They are in the luxury tax and would have to move some big contracts to make room.

Cousins is also coming off a torn Achilles injury. That creates major questions about his future and how much money teams will offer him. 

If healthy, Cousins would fit nicely with the Wizards who will need to get younger at the center position at some point. It just doesn't seem like a good bet given all the factors in play. 

You can listen to McCollum's full podcast here.

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NFL Draft 2018 Redskins live blog: First round draft updates, analysis

NFL Draft 2018 Redskins live blog: First round draft updates, analysis

The 2018 NFL Draft is finally here. It's time to file away the mock drafts and frame your big boards for memory.

Tonight, Thursday April 26, the best college football players in the country will learn which franchise they will begin their professional football careers with.

The NFL Draft is the biggest non-sporting event on the sporting calendar, and the 2018 edition is no different. Taking place at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas, the 2018 NFL Draft is sure to be bigger than ever, with four quarterbacks and a freakish running back all vying for the top pick.

The Cleveland Browns are on the clock, and will make the first overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft around 8:30 p.m. tonight.

The Washington Redskins have the No. 13 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and won't make their draft pick until around 9:45 p.m. ET.

But we are keeping you up to date on all things NFL Draft with our life blog and draft tracker.

NFL Draft 2018 Redskins First-Round Tracker and Live Updates:

PreDraft Coverage:

5:05 PM - We did a  bracket challenge for Redskins fans, giving you the chance to vote on who the Redskins should take at No. 13. If it were up to Redskins fans, Georgia LB Roquan Smith would be the choice.

4:45 PM - Since we are on the subject of the Edmunds brothers, let's ask and answer this question: When and where will both Tremaine and Terrell go?

4:30 PM - One option for the Redskins at No. 13 is Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds. He just so happens to be the focus of an exclusive NBC Sports Washington webseries. "E-Boyz" takes a look at draft prospects Tremaine and Terrell Edmunds, as well as their brother Trey, a running back for the Saints and their father, Ferrell, and former two-time Pro Bowl tight end for the Dolphins.

E-Boyz — Ep. 1: The Players
E-Boyz — Ep. 2: Ferrell
E-Boyz — Ep. 3: Danville
E-Boyz — Ep. 4: Celebration

4:10 PM - The first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft won't be announced for another four hours. But we have a lot to prep. Let's get started with draft music. Players in the green room get to select their walkup music. Josh Jackson deserves to be the No. 1 overall pick. 

4:00 PM - Welcome to our live update tracker of the 2018 NFL Draft. The draft doesn't get started until 8:00 p.m. But there is a lot to go over until then.

Here is a good place to start. 

- Draft Day Primer: JP Finlay goes over all the Redskins' options
- Top Prospects: RB options for the Redskins
- Top Prospects: WR options for the Redskins
- Need To Know: Rich Tandler's Seven-Round Redskins Mock Draft
- Mega-Mock Predictions: DC Media choose No. 13 pick