From Comcast SportsNetSANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- San Francisco 49ers placekicker David Akers said Thursday he received death threats on Twitter and closed the account.Akers received the death threats late last month, but is unsure at the number of posts directed at him because he did not go further back on his account to see how many."It was Twitter stuff. I got off there, so I won't deal with that anymore," Akers said Thursday.Once he initially saw them, he reported it to team and NFL security personnel. The 49ers said they were aware of the situation, and so was the league."I didn't go back and look any further," Akers said. "I hadn't been on there for weeks, so I didn't go back and look at any old ones after that. I don't take anything lightly. You really can't. I went through the proper people and what they felt like was safe."It was Akers last season who came to the defense of teammate Kyle Williams when he faced threats following two costly fumbles in the NFC championship game, a 20-17 overtime loss to the New York Giants.The 38-year-old Akers also revealed Thursday -- when newly signed kicker Billy Cundiff practiced alongside him in what has become a competition -- that he underwent double hernia surgery last February following his All-Pro season.Akers then went to see the same doctor in Philadelphia after a Nov. 25 game at New Orleans this season to have injections after the area flared up when he fell during practice working on kickoffs.Unlike 2011, when he made 44 of 52 field goals, Akers has been in a slump this season. He is 29 for 42 on field goals.He missed overtime kicks twice against the Rams this season, with the 49ers losing at St. Louis and tying at home. Akers had a field goal blocked in a loss at Seattle on Dec. 23 that Richard Sherman returned 90 yards for a touchdown.He missed two more wide left in a home victory against Arizona in the regular-season finale last Sunday before bouncing back to make two.Akers began the season by making a 63-yarder in a season-opening win at Green Bay in which the ball bounced off the crossbar and through the uprights."It's a game, it's a business, it's my career, but it's not who I am," Akers said of football. "I would definitely give that 63-yarder back to make the two kicks against St. Louis. People talk about my demeanor being down, listen, I take my job seriously. I feel when I miss kicks I let the team, the organization, the fans down. I take it personal."
The Bulls visit Miami to take on the 16-6 Heat in the wake of a disappointing loss to the Warriors in Chicago on Friday. The game tips off at 5 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago – until then, here's what to watch for:
Heat’s last five (4-1)
Dec. 6 — W vs. Wizards: 112-103
Dec. 4 — L at Celtics: 112-93
Dec. 3 — W at Raptors: 121-110
Dec. 1 — W at Nets: 109-106
Nov. 29 — W vs. Warriors: 122-105
Storyline(s) for each team
At 16-6, the Heat enter tonight the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and one of the league’s best teams — explosive offensively (second in the NBA in eFG%, per Cleaning the Glass), yet defensively-oriented (top 10 in defensive rating, eFG% against, turnover rate and defensive rebounding rate). Two things that should especially worry the Bulls: This game is in Miami and the Heat are coming off a day of rest after beating the Wizards 112-103 on Friday. The Heat are 9-0 at home this season and four of their six losses have come on the second night of back-to-backs. With fresh legs and their home crowd behind them, they’ll be tough to beat.
The Bulls, for their part, are coming off a momentum-crushing loss to the 5-19 Golden State Warriors on their home floor Friday, and on the first night of a road-and-home back-to-back — they’ll face the Raptors at the United Center, Monday. Both teams have already blown the Bulls out early in the season — the Heat 116-108 (it wasn’t that close) on Nov. 22, the Raptors 108-84 on Oct. 26. Since the start of last season, the Bulls are 7-48 against teams with winning records. To put it diplomatically, the next two nights will be an uphill battle.
Player to watch: Jimmy Butler
It’s the easy answer, but it’s also the right one. The Heat employ a dynamic cast of characters around Butler, but he’s the lifeblood of this team. The offense runs through him, the defense feeds off him (along with, of course, legitimate DPOY candidate Bam Adebayo as the anchor) and you can bet he’ll get up to face his former team. As Miami’s role players have endured up-and-down stretches, here are Butler’s numbers in his last eight games (i.e. since Nov. 22):
Per game: 22.8 points, 7 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 47.3% shooting (14 attempts), 9.5 FTA
And against the Bulls in his career:
Per game: 29 points, 5.3 assists, 5 rebounds, 3.7 steals, 48.1% shooting (18 attempts), 11.7 FTA
Even in a game the Bulls could find themselves overmatched in, perhaps we’ll get a fun Butler-Zach LaVine matchup this time around. Since being traded for each other after the 2016-17 season, the two have had some battles — before the Nov. 22 no-contest (LaVine, remember, was pulled by Jim Boylen early in the first quarter and only tallied 16 points in a blowout), they were each averaging over 30 points per game when facing each other. LaVine bounced back from that aforementioned pseudo-benching with a 49-point, 13 3-pointer outing in Charlotte; maybe another historic performance is in store after an underwhelming fourth-quarter showing on Friday against Golden State.
Matchup to watch: 3-point shooting
Miami is a heat-check factory. Their movement-based offense is effective at creating a plethora of open long-range looks per game and even though some of their ancillary weapons can be streaky, there’s so many of them that you can bet at least one will burn you on a given night.
For evidence, look no further than that Nov. 22 matchup. Before most Bulls fans had scanned their tickets and found their seats, the Heat ran out to a 15-0 lead in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the game, buoyed by four early 3-pointers (three from Kendrick Nunn, one from Duncan Robinson). Per Cleaning the Glass, the Heat take 36% of their field goals from 3-point range (13th in the NBA) and make 39.2% of those looks (3rd in the NBA). They have five rotation players shooting over 38% on threes, and only one of those is on fewer than 3.9 attempts per (Meyers Leonard, shooting 53.8% on 1.8 attempts). Robinson, notably, hits 42.8% of his 3-pointers on 6.6 attempts per game.
The Bulls were 10-for-30 (33.3%) from 3-point range in their last game against the Heat, but four of those came in the final 2:15 of the game in a too-little-too-late comeback bid. They’re feast-or-famine in this department, but will need to keep this matchup close to have a chance tonight.
Nothing new here as far as the Bulls are concerned, barring a surprise injury or Chandler Hutchison status upgrade. Boylen has indicated he’s progressing, but hasn’t offered a concrete timetable for return, as of yet. Thad Young rejoins the team tonight.
The Heat will be without Goran Dragic (16 points, seven assists, 3-for-5 from three on Nov. 22), who is currently dealing with a groin issue. Justise Winslow and Adebayo are both currently listed as questionable — Winslow missed time earlier in the season with a concussion, then returned for five games, but missed Friday’s game with a lower back strain. Adebayo hasn't missed a game since 2018; losing him would severely impact Miami's defensive versatility and rebounding. He had 16 points and 14 rebounds in these teams' first matchup.
Depending on which report you choose to believe, the White Sox could be on the verge of filling the void in their outfield with one of the bigger names on this winter’s free-agent market.
Dominican reporter Frank Castillo tweeted Saturday that the White Sox will sign Marcell Ozuna, planning to announce the free-agent deal Monday.
BREAKING NEWS: According to Dominican sports journalist @FrankCastillo22, Marcell Ozuna will sign with Chicago White Sox. The agreement will be announced on Monday.@z101digital @ZDeportes https://t.co/oy7w3FfgMM— Héctor Gómez (@hgomez27) December 7, 2019
Well, that was followed up by a report from The Score’s Bruce Levine, who said the White Sox are not about to sign Ozuna.
Our @MLBBruceLevine asked a solid White Sox source if there was any truth to the Marcell Ozuna rumor. "No." Okay then.— M@ (@MattSpiegel670) December 7, 2019
So there’s that.
The White Sox were connected to Ozuna earlier this offseason, as well as more recently, with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi writing last week that the team had interest in Japanese import Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, but were waiting to hear on the decisions of Ozuna and fellow free agent Nicholas Castellanos first.
Ozuna turned heads with his fantastic 2017 season for the Miami Marlins, when he slashed .312/.376/.548 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs. Since being dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozuna hit .263/.327/.452 with 52 homers and 177 RBIs in two seasons.
The White Sox have a pressing need in right field, making it little surprise that they’ve been tied to numerous options, including Ozuna, Castellanos and Joc Pederson. Ozuna, though, exclusively played left field in St. Louis. Were the White Sox to add him, would they insist he play right field? They’ve expressed little to no interest in moving Eloy Jimenez out of left field.
It’s rumor season, and there should be plenty more of them with the Winter Meetings starting Monday in San Diego. The White Sox are expected to continue the aggressive approach they’ve displayed already this winter with the signing of Yasmani Grandal and their reported high bid to Zack Wheeler, who took less money to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.