Bears

Coaches nearly come to blows

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Coaches nearly come to blows

From Comcast SportsNet
DETROIT (AP) -- Jim Harbaugh charged across the field, lifting his shirt to expose his belly to attempt a chest bump. He extended his right hand to Jim Schwartz for a shake and slapped him on the back with his left hand. Schwartz didn't like what was done or said -- claiming he heard an expletive -- and went charging after Harbaugh. What an emotion-filled scene following a meeting of turnaround teams that matched pregame hype in San Francisco's 25-19 victory over Detroit on Sunday. The NFC might have a nasty new rivalry no one saw coming. After the 49ers knocked the Lions from the unbeaten ranks on Alex Smith's touchdown pass with 1:51 left, both coaches added some highlights -- or lowlights -- of their own. Harbaugh took the blame in one breath -- and a shot in the next. "That's totally on me," Harbaugh said. "I shook his hand too hard." NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the incident will be reviewed. Harbaugh, a first-year NFL coach who played at Michigan, had to be separated from Schwartz more than once after Schwartz came running and lunging toward him as both teams were going to the tunnel. "I went to congratulate coach Harbaugh and got shoved out of the way," Schwartz said. "I didn't expect an obscenity at that point. Obviously, when you win a game like that, you are excited, but there is a protocol that goes with this league." Players from the 49ers (5-1) and Lions (5-1) gathered and appeared to restore order -- probably because they were worn out from a hard-hitting, penalty-filled game with four lead changes after halftime. "Ironically, I was playing peacemaker," Detroit defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. "But this is an emotional sport." Smith's fourth-down, 6-yard pass to Delanie Walker gave San Francisco the go-ahead touchdown with 1:51 left. The play stood after video review didn't show definitely whether Walker's right knee was down before the ball reached the goal line. David Akers gave San Francisco a six-point lead with 1:02 to go with a 37-yard field goal. Detroit had a chance to drive for a winning TD, but couldn't get a first down against a swarming defense that hit and confused quarterback Matthew Stafford from the start. That last drive started with San Francisco's fifth sack and ended with a catch and lateral -- 69 yards short of the end zone -- to trigger Harbaugh's exuberant celebration. "It fires me up a lot," Harbaugh said. "If that offends you or anybody else, then so be it." San Francisco lost its first five games last season and the five-time championship franchise failed to finish with a winning record for the eighth straight year. Harbaugh has made an instant impact, quickly changing culture with many of the same players. The NFC West-leading 49ers have won five of their first six games for the first time since 1998. "He loves football," Smith said. "He's an emotional guy, and it's showing up on this team." Smith lost a fumble on his first snap and threw an interception late in the third quarter, matching his turnover totals from the first five games in both categories. But the No. 1 pick overall from the 2005 draft made a clutch pass to Walker for the win when Michael Crabtree drew away the defense. "They kind of jumped Crab and left me open in the middle," Walker said. "Alex made a great read and made a perfect throw." Smith was 17 of 32 for 125 yards, going early and often to Crabtree, who matched a career high with nine receptions for 77 yards. Frank Gore ran 15 times for 141 yards, including a season-long 55-yard gain, and scored a TD that pulled the 49ers within three after they were outscored 10-0 in the first quarter. Stafford looked shaky for the first time this season and San Francisco had a lot to do with that. "It's a good defense," he acknowledged. Stafford was 28 of 50 for 293 yards with two TDs. Detroit had won nine straight regular-season games, dating to last season, in what was the league's longest active streak. "We had trouble getting guys free, and when we did, we didn't always make the throws," Schwartz said. "We need to get the running game going so that we don't look quite so one-dimensional." The Lions couldn't move the ball on the ground with either Jahvid Best or Maurice Morris against a sturdy front and perhaps the league's best linebacking corps, allowing the 49ers to hit and harass Stafford. He was sacked once in the end zone, giving the 49ers a safety that cut their deficit to one point midway through the second quarter. Jason Hanson missed a 52-yard field goal that would've given Detroit a four-point lead late in the first half. Akers made a 55-yard kick to match a season high, putting the 49ers ahead 12-10 as time expired in the half. Brandon Pettigrew had eight catches for 42 yards and a score. Calvin Johnson added seven receptions for 113 yards, but didn't score after being the NFL's first player with nine TD receptions in the first five games of a season. Stafford connected with Nate Burleson on a 5-yard pass into the end zone ruled incomplete on the field. It was overturned after video review, giving Detroit a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Burleson caught the ball and got both feet down, then lost the ball after tumbling beyond the end zone -- a play similar to Johnson's well-documented catch that was ruled incomplete last year at Chicago. The 49ers overcame 15 penalties, including five false starts at raucous Ford Field, and Detroit drew six flags. "Once you get a couple false starts, it's like throwing gasoline on a fire," Smith said. Notes: San Francisco and Chicago combined for 14 false starts at Detroit, matching Houston's record from 2004 for the most false starts by visiting teams in back-to-back games since 1991, according to STATS LLC. ... The teams met with 9-1 records after being 1-9 at same point last season. ... Harbaugh played for Baltimore in 1998, when Schwartz was a Ravens assistant.

Patrick Mahomes' contract will haunt Bears in 2021

Patrick Mahomes' contract will haunt Bears in 2021

Chicago Bears fans can't escape the nightmare that is Patrick Mahomes. It began in 2018, Mahomes' first season as a full-time starter, when it became obvious that he was a special player who should've been the Bears' pick at No. 2 overall in the 2017 draft. Instead, Ryan Pace chose Mitch Trubisky, who's entering a 2020 training camp battle with Nick Foles for the team's starting job.

Mahomes won the league's MVP award in 2018 and led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory last season, and on Monday, he became the richest athlete in American sports. Kansas City signed him to a ridiculous 10-year extension that could pay him over $500 million by the time the deal is done.

Meanwhile, the Bears declined Trubisky's fifth-year option this offseason, making the 2020 campaign potentially his last in Chicago.

But what if Trubisky has a really good year? That should be good news, right? 

Wrong.

And it's all because of Mahomes.

If Trubisky plays like a quality starter in 2020, the Bears will be forced to pay him a lucrative new contract that, if we're being honest, he doesn't deserve. Even if they choose to buy an extra year by using the franchise tag, Mahomes' new deal will jack up the cost of that contract too. Regardless of the strategy, the Bears will be taking a big gamble on a player who needs more than one good year in 2020 to feel confident about paying. 

And let's say Trubisky flops and it's Foles who excels in the Bears' offense. His contract will be directly impacted by Mahomes as well. Remember: The Bears gave Foles the ability to opt-out of the final two years of his deal if he plays well. If Mahomes' big payday happened next year instead of Monday, maybe Chicago could've retained Foles on a more team-friendly contract. That's no longer the case.

So here we are. It's been hard enough trying to recover from the 2017 draft and the what-ifs that followed. It's bad enough that Mahomes has become the NFL's darling and the best quarterback on the planet. But an entirely new layer of the Mahomes curse is coming; he's going to make the Bears pay (again) for passing on him.

Cubs camp observations: Wrigley's home-field advantage without fans

Cubs camp observations: Wrigley's home-field advantage without fans

Four days into the Cubs’ training camp restart, we’ve only begun to get acquainted with the new normal of baseball rhythms and routines that we can only hope will result in a 2020 season of 60 games.

If the league can fix some of its early testing issues and keep enough players on enough teams healthy enough to start the season, what might come into play for the Cubs and the actual baseball.

Early observations after about a dozen Zoom sessions with team personnel and two intrasquad scrimmages:

NUTS: Home cooked?

The Cubs, who draw so reliably in one of the unique ballparks in the majors, might have more to lose than most teams without fans allowed to attend games when the season starts July 24.

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Just how much of the Confines’ home-field advantage is lost will be a matter of “wait-and-see,” manager David Ross said.

“There’s always an advantage to playing in your own park,” he said Sunday. “You feel more comfortable you woke up in your own bed. You’re not staying in a hotel room, which especially now, where you feel like outside spaces just aren’t comfortable as they used to be, probably [gives] a slight advantage in your city.

“There’s no substitute for fans,” he added. “There’s probably a slight advantage, but I don’t know if it’s as great as it used to be.”

What Ross didn’t mention were the rooftops across Waveland and Sheffield, which are planning to operate at 25-percent capacity when games start, suggesting at least a few hundred fans within cheering and booing distance.

“You’re going to hear them loud and clear, too,” pitcher Tyler Chatwood said. “I promise you that.”

BOLTS: Taking the fifth

All you need to know about Alec Mills’ ability to adjust and immediately step into an important role is what he did in an emergency start against the first-place Cardinals at Wrigley last year with the Cubs a half-game out and barely a week left in the season.

He hadn’t started anywhere in a month — and that was in the minors. But the guy who pitched out of the bullpen just three times in the four intervening weeks, pitched two outs deep into the fifth inning that day and didn’t allow a run (the bullpen took care of that, in a loss).

No wonder when Ross talks about Mills replacing the injured Jose Quintana (thumb) in the rotation, he says, “I’ve got a ton of confidence.”

He’s not the only one. “I’ve always had the mindset of doing whatever I can to stay ready and help in any way,” said Mills after pitching a strong three innings in a simulated game Sunday. “Obviously, with an unfortunate injury like this, I think it’s just even more heightened.

“I’m ready to do whatever, whether it needs to be maybe a start here or there, a couple more starts, long guy out of the pen — just whatever I need to do I pride myself on being ready to do that.”

CHATTER: The mask at hand

“It’s a little different. You leave the house with a phone, your keys, your wallet and your mask.”

—Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo on his and his teammates’ new daily normal.

“Everybody is thinking about it, but we try to get here and understand this is our safe zone and we’re trying to create that [within] the things that we’re going to do on and off the field.”

—Ross on players weighing the risk of playing during the pandemic against the safety precautions and protocols the team has built in and around its Wrigley Field bubble.

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