Redskins

Kaepernick facing pressures as QB on and off field

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Kaepernick facing pressures as QB on and off field

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) He was adopted as a newborn, has a fully grown pet tortoise named Sammy, and sports 10 or 11 tattoos by his own count covering much of his upper body.

Colin Kaepernick is finding out fast that just about everything becomes fair game - and very much public - when you're a starting quarterback in the NFL. Personal, professional and otherwise. Since the second-year pro took over as San Francisco's starter three games ago, further details of his life have emerged.

``I get tattoos because I like them, not for anybody else,'' Kaepernick said when asked if he understands the intrigue of a tattooed quarterback. ``I don't know. I don't worry about that.''

Kaepernick said Wednesday he understands there are pressures on and off the field with his job, but prefers to move forward this week from a disappointing loss at St. Louis and get ready for Sunday's home game against the Miami Dolphins.

Kaepernick accepts the added attention and scrutiny that comes his way, along with the successes.

``That's something that I don't worry about,'' he said. ``I'm here to play football. I don't pay attention to what the media's writing or what people are saying. I'm here to play, and go out and perform on Sundays.''

And Kaepernick knows he had better help the Niners (8-3-1) bounce back from a 16-13 overtime loss on the road to the Rams - because coach Jim Harbaugh still will only go as far as to say Kaepernick is the starter again this week, nothing beyond there. The reigning NFL coach of the year hasn't ruled out returning to Alex Smith before season's end.

``It's a situation, whatever Coach Harbaugh chooses, that's the guy we're rolling with,'' left tackle Joe Staley said. ``We're all worried about getting W's, we're worried about doing our jobs to the best of our ability. We don't have time to worry about favorites. Kaepernick's our guy. We support him 100 percent. That's how it is.''

Harbaugh again accepted blame Wednesday for an errant pitch in the fourth quarter that was fumbled by Kaepernick deep in 49ers territory and that allowed St. Louis to tie the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion.

Harbaugh said Kaepernick still can learn as much from plays that go awry as from those that work. Even Rams coach Jeff Fisher wondered afterward why San Francisco called such a risky play in that situation.

``The play we called in the huddle was a loser, and we didn't have an audible for that play,'' Harbaugh said. ``The way it turned out, that's a low-hanging fruit, `What the heck are they doing?' You learn from it. It feels like somebody reached into your chest and stomach and started pulling the innards out without using any anesthesia.''

Not that Harbaugh actually called that one - that was offensive coordinator Greg Roman - but he did relay the call to Kaepernick through the headset and took full responsibility for it.

Kaepernick isn't blaming anybody. He will be the first one to acknowledge he has plenty of flaws to go with his big, playmaking arm.

Now, Kaepernick is back to work getting ready for what has turned into a key game with the Dolphins considering Seattle won at Chicago in overtime Sunday to put pressure on the NFC West-leading Niners. San Francisco plays at the Seahawks (7-5) on Dec. 23.

``Can't make mistakes. That's the biggest thing,'' Kaepernick said of what he took from Sunday. ``For the most part I felt my reads were good, got through progressions well. That's something I want to continue to do going forward.''

There haven't been many miscues so far. Kaepernick took over as starter in the second half of San Francisco's first game with the Rams, a 24-24 tie on Nov. 11, after Smith suffered a first-half concussion and the 2011 second-round draft pick has kept the job even after Smith was medically cleared to return.

Kaepernick is 69 for 106 for 888 yards and three touchdowns with one interception and a 96.7 passer rating.

``We've got faith and trust in Colin in the way he's played,'' Harbaugh said. ``Therefore, another start this week.''

Notes: WR Mario Manningham wasn't practicing during the open portion of the Wednesday afternoon session, along with CB Tarell Brown, who was on last week's injury report with a knee issue but played every snap at St. Louis.

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O-line, D-line is the move for the Redskins at No. 13, according to Charles Davis

O-line, D-line is the move for the Redskins at No. 13, according to Charles Davis

We are nearing the start of the NFL Draft, less than three days to be exact, and right now there are a ton of names circling around whom the Washington Redskins should take at No. 13.

You’ve probably read countless mock drafts at this point (if you haven’t or need another here is ours), and there’s one thing that is consistent: nothing.

So let's concern ourselves less of ‘who’ and exactly what each player will bring to the Redskins.

There are very few evaluators of talent better than the NFL Network’s Charles Davis, so he got to talk with J.P. Finlay and Mitch Tischler on the latest edition of the Redskins Talk podcast.

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST WITH CHARLES DAVIS HERE

He broke down EVERYONE that Washington could be taking at No. 13 overall. If you don’t have time to listen (which we highly recommend that you do), here are some of the highlights:

“This could be a wild first night,” said Davis. “All of these different trade scenarios are out there right? My experience has been that most of that calms down as we get closer. There’s a lot of discussion and chatter about it, but we don’t usually have it.”

REDSKINS NEEDS:

“At 13, when you’re really down to it, Mitch I think you had said to me even before we began ‘O-line, D-line man, let’s talk O-line, D-line,’ and I think that is the perfect place for this Washington team.”

VITA VEA, DT, WASHINGTON

“If Vita Vea from Washington somehow is sitting there at 13, and the idea that you could go up there and put him a line and get Jonathan Allen back from last year, I think that’d be a great place to go. This is a top-10, top-5 talent in this draft that possibly could still be around at 13.”

“When we’re talking about the people that are in our business, the talking heads that people kind of go to and kind of get held accountable for their mock drafts… you don’t really see Vea in any consistency in the top ten.”

“Eleven is kind of the breakpoint for him.”

MAURICE HURST, DT, MICHIGAN

“I like him. I don’t know that I like him quite that high.”

DA’RON PAYNE, DT, ALABAMA

“I like Payne, better than Hurst, but again I don’t know about quite that high.”

“The medical, you can’t help it when you’re talking about a heart. You can’t help but be a little bit concerned. Now he has gotten clearance, that has come through, but we all know that each team is going to do it’s own research and got to decide how comfortable they are with that.”

QUENTON NELSON, OL, NOTRE DAME

“I doubt he is falling to 13, because if somehow he falls to eight to the Bears and if the Bears don’t run up to the podium and plug him in, I’d be stunned.”

ORLANDO BROWN JR., OT, OKLAHOMA

“Normally when you have a combine and you have some things that you have some questions marks on, normally you have some balancers. Orlando Brown had zero balancers. Everything was historically bad.”

WILL HERNANDEZ, G, UTEP

“Now Will Hernandez has had about as good a postseason as an offensive lineman can have.”

“This kid Hernandez has become a massive road grater, quicker than you would think, better pass protector and he did all of this on an 0-12 team last year. So he is another guy to keep an eye on, especially if as you said they are able to move back.”

DERRIUS GUICE, RB, LSU

“I’d be surprised at 13.”

“Get back to 19 and then I think Guice is in play at 19. If that indeed is the runner that they like. I think the running back renaissance is real.”

JOHN KELLY, RB, TENNESSEE

“I think this John Kelly kid from Tennessee is a really good runner. He had a little trouble off-field last year, missed a game because of all that, but this kid runs hard, plays hard, he’s not Alvin Kamara… but this kid is more of a pure running back than Kamara is, he’s just not a bulky guy.”

TRADING BACK

“They’re in a tough spot because of the number. We’ve got all of this stuff now.”

“That’s a tough one, because if I’m Dallas and I want to come up and get my guy [Calvin Ridley], I don’t need to come up as high as 13 anyway, if you really think about it.”

BILLY PRICE, OL, Ohio State

“He’s a really good player. The kid played guard, he played center. Price is a really good technician. 44 a possibility? Possibility. Before the injury he was going late-first, early second.”

This is only scratching the surface of what the expert talked about. Get the full experience and listen to the full podcast.

MORE DRAFT COVERAGE:

- SEVEN ROUND REDSKINS MOCK DRAFT

- ODDS ON FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICKS

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Can Gio Gonzalez lift Nats out of losing streak in series opener vs. Giants?

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USA TODAY Sports

Can Gio Gonzalez lift Nats out of losing streak in series opener vs. Giants?

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco Giants right-hander Chris Stratton will seek to duplicate two impressive efforts when he takes the mound for the opener of a three-game series against the Washington Nationals on Monday night at 10:15 p.m. ET.

The series is the first in San Francisco since Giants reliever Hunter Strickland plunked Nationals star Bryce Harper with a pitch last May, triggering a brawl at the mound that resulted in the ejection of both players.

The Giants got the worst of the altercation, with slugging backup Michael Morse suffering a career-ending concussion in a collision with teammate Jeff Samardzija near the mound.

Stratton wasn't with the Giants at the time, but he contributed one of the best-pitched games of his young career when the clubs met again in Washington in August.

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Making just his third career start, the 27-year-old shut out the Nationals on five hits over 6 2/3 innings in a 4-2 win. He struck out 10.

It's the only time he has faced Washington.

Stratton (1-1, 2.22) has won just four times since, and came close to a fifth when he limited Arizona to one run in seven innings in his last start on Wednesday. He did not, however, get a decision in the 4-3 win, during which he recorded eight strikeouts.

The Giants will be opening a 10-game homestand following a 10-game trip on which they went just 4-6. Statton started two of the four wins.

Stratton wasn't the only Giants starter who pitched well on the trip. The club is coming off a series win against the Los Angeles Angels in which both Samardzija and Johnny Cueto took shutouts late into wins.

Strickland saved Sunday's 4-2 win for Cueto, and afterward was asked about his thoughts of seeing Harper again.

"Win a series," is all he would say.

RELATED: LATEST MLB POWER RANKINGS

In the Nationals, the Giants will be seeing a team coming off a high-profile series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, one that included a meeting on Sunday Night Baseball.

Washington lost two of three in the rematch of 2017 division winners, scoring a total of just eight runs on 21 hits in the three games, which ended with the Nationals stranding two in the top of the ninth of a 4-3 loss on Sunday.

Harper went 2-for-10 in the series, which the Nationals played without injured regulars Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon and Adam Eaton. They remain out.

Left-hander Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 2.49) will oppose Stratton.

The veteran has made 12 career starts against the Giants, going 5-4 with a 3.06 ERA.

He restored order to the Nationals-Giants series in San Francisco last season the day after the brawl, pitching 6 1/3 innings in a 6-3 win. It improved his record at AT&T Park to 2-3 with a 3.95 ERA in seven starts.

Gonzalez threw 97 pitches in beating the New York Mets 5-2 in his last start, allowing two runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday.

That pitch total wasn't even five times the number Giants first baseman Brandon Belt saw in one historic at-bat Sunday against the Angels' Jaime Barria in the first inning.

Belt fouled off 16 pitches and flied out on the 21st pitch of the at-bat, the most pitches in a Major League Baseball at-bat since 1988.

Afterward, Belt apologized.

"When I'm in the field, I hate it when a batter keeps fouling pitches off," he insisted. "I'm like, 'Dude, just put it in play. It's not that hard. Let's go.' So, I basically had to apologize to everybody after that."

RELATED: HOW NATS DROPPED FINAL GAME VS. DODGERS