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49ers pounding opponents with ground game

49ers pounding opponents with ground game

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The San Francisco 49ers are beating up opponents with a power rushing attack, and nobody's enjoying it more than the big bodies leading the way up front.

A physical offensive line featuring 2010 first-round draft picks Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis has established itself as a force in the trenches, opening holes for a ground game that ranks second in the NFL in yards rushing and first in rushing average.

Seattle entered last week's game with the NFL's second-ranked rushing defense, but the 49ers blasted through the Seahawks for 175 yards to highlight a 13-6 slugfest victory that put San Francisco alone atop the NFC West at 5-2.

That kind of performance has become typical for the 49ers, who have rushed for 175 yards or more four times already this season and look to do it again Monday night at Arizona in another key divisional game.

San Francisco's line is expecting another physical battle against an Arizona defensive front that features Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell, who said earlier this week that the 49ers are a team that both he and Dockett ``really hate with a passion.''

The Niners have held the upper hand in several of those kinds of battles this season. San Francisco's five offensive line starters average 6-foot-5 and 317 pounds, and they pack a punch.

``We're big guys leaning on you all game,'' Davis said Friday. ``We just do our job, and it wears you out. It's just natural it happens like that. It's just one will against another, and some guys are tougher than other guys.''

Davis and Iupati have started every game for the 49ers since they were drafted, becoming in 2010 just the third pair of rookie offensive linemen to start every game since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. Since then, they have set the tone of physicality for San Francisco's line.

Particularly Iupati.

A bruiser at left guard, Iupati has gained a reputation as one of the top run-blocking guards in the league. Second-year offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Iupati ``had the best game since I've been here'' during the win against Seattle.

``He just played lights out,'' Roman said. ``He was just dominating people. He's an athletic, explosive guy and he enjoys it. He's got some physical tools that are rare, and they were on display.''

One of San Francisco's signature offensive plays is called ``power,'' a running play during which Iupati pulls to the right and either trap blocks or leads through a hole.

Iupati has been running that play since his college days, and nobody was able to stop it then, either.

``That's my game,'' Iupati said. ``I love power. Power is one physical play. It's just one of those plays that's smashmouth football. It's fun, man. That's one of my best plays, and I've always loved pulling and trapping. With the line blocking, Frank (Gore) can read those holes easily, and Frank's one of the best running backs out there playing the game.''

Gore has had a lot of success on that play, and the three-time Pro Bowler is enjoying one of his finest seasons despite carrying the ball fewer times than at this point in previous years.

Gore ranks fifth in the NFL with 601 yards rushing, and his 5.8 average per carry is a yard better than any of the four backs ahead of him. Kendall Hunter, Gore's backup, has 258 yards rushing and averages 5.2 yards a carry. The 49ers are averaging 5.9 yards per carry as a team after averaging 4.1 last season.

The 49ers also have been getting strong play up front from center Jonathan Goodwin, Pro Bowl tackle Joe Staley and right guard Alex Boone, who has been impressive in his first season as a starter.

``They've just been playing great, and they really set the tone for us more than anything with the way they go out there,'' quarterback Alex Smith said. ``Everything kind of starts with them. The last few weeks, really hats off to them the way they've been getting things done, especially last Thursday in the run game.''

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Report: Former Terp Diamond Stone included in federal documents detailing NCAA violations

Report: Former Terp Diamond Stone included in federal documents detailing NCAA violations

A bombshell article published Friday morning by Pat Forde and Pete Thaamel of YAHOO Sports details potential NCAA violations involving more than 20 schools and 25 players.

Among some of the biggest names and programs in college basketball includes former Maryland Terrapin, Diamond Stone.

According to documents and bank records that are part of an FBI investigation, Stone received $14,303 while a freshman at Maryland, a clear violation of NCAA rules. 

Former NBA agent, Andy Miller and his former associate, Christian Dawkins of ASM Sports were dishing out the incentives. Included were cash advances, entertainment expenses and travel expenses for high school and college prospects.

Other player's included in the documents include Dennis Smith who played at North Carolina State, Isaiah Whitehead from Seton Hall, DeMatha star Markelle Fultz who played at Washington and Edrice Adebayo who went on to play at Kentucky. 

Player's and their families from Duke, Michigan State, USC, North Carolina, Texas and Alabama are also included.

Stone played for the Terps during the 2015-16 season before declaring for the NBA draft. He was selected 40th overall by the New Orleans Pelicans and traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Stone did end up signing with a different agency.

While this is still under investigation, large consequences for the NCAA can be expected.

The NCAA released this statement following the news. 

These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America. Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules. Following the Southern District of New York's indictments last year, the NCAA Board of Governors and I formed the independent Commission on College Basketball, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, to provide recommendations on how to clean up the sport. With these latest allegations, it's clear this work is more important now than ever. The Board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity. We also will continue to cooperate with the efforts of federal prosecutors to identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.

RELATED: DIAMOND STONE ADMITS TO 'MISTAKES' DURING FRESHMAN YEAR AT MARYLAND

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!