Nationals

49ers coach rips comments by Giants assistant

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49ers coach rips comments by Giants assistant

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh is taking on another coach.

Less than a year after an on-field confrontation with Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz over a postgame handshake, Harbaugh is miffed with New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.

Harbaugh accused Gilbride on Friday of making outrageous and incendiary comments about All-Pro defensive end Justin Smith in an effort to influence officials prior to Sunday's game between the teams that met in the NFC title game in January.

Harbaugh made his remarks in response to Gilbride's answer to a question Thursday about what makes the 49ers' front line so hard to block on passing plays. The long-time Giants coordinator started off by saying the linemen have ability and great, quick players who are tough.

What angered Harbaugh is what followed.

``Smith is a beast on the inside, he's strong, he does as good a job of grabbing a hold of offensive linemen and allowing those twists to take place. He never gets called for it so he gets away with murder,'' Gilbride said. ``That, in conjunction with the ability level they have, makes them as formidable as anybody we go against, and we go against some pretty good ones in Dallas' and Philadelphia's. They're as good as anybody up front.''

Harbaugh issued a statement through the team in response.

``Kevin Gilbride's outrageous, irrational statement regarding Justin Smith's play is, first, an absurd analogy,'' Harbaugh said. ``Second, it is an incendiary comment targeting one of the truly exemplary players in this league. It's obvious that the Giants coaching staff's sole purpose is to use their high visibility to both criticize and influence officiating.''

Smith had no reaction to Gilbride's allegation that he was getting away with holding.

``Hey, better than getting caught with it,'' he said. ``I mean, I really don't know what he's talking about, to be honest with you. But if he's trying to talk himself, get some bulletin board stuff, good for him. Whatever they need to do. It doesn't bother me. I'm going to have him look him up and see who it is.''

The more he talked, the more Smith seemed puzzled by Gilbride's comments, adding that what he does is nothing out of the ordinary. He was happy Harbaugh had his back.

``Hey hold me. I mean, they hold me,'' Smith said of offensive linemen. ``So, whatever. That's the first I've heard of it. That's the first time I've heard of an offensive coordinator complaining about it. I mean, they hold me. They just hold. They're born that way (laughs). I mean I really don't know what he's talking about.''

Niners offensive lineman Alex Boone felt it was wrong for Gilbride to call out Smith.

``A lot of people can get called out for a lot of things,'' Boone said. ``You just don't do it. It's not the way football's played. So I don't really care about it.''

Boone added that it is hard for a defensive lineman to get away with holding.

``If they're holding, it's pretty blatant and you see it. Everybody's always moving around and you can't really get away with stuff like that,'' Boone said.

The Giants and 49ers played twice in San Francisco last season in two very hard-fought games. The Niners won the first 27-20 and New York took the second 20-17 in overtime, earning a trip to the Super Bowl.

The Giants won their second title in five seasons, beating the New England Patriots 21-17 in the championship game.

In the offseason, a couple of San Francisco players said they felt they gave the game away more than the Giants won.

Harbaugh said Wednesday he wasn't bitter about the outcome and he didn't feel as if his team left something on the field in conference title game.

``In fact, I felt our team did what they had done all year, they played their hearts out,'' he said. ``They gave it their all and their all was good enough. That's how I felt.''

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MLB All-Star FanFest: Searching for a jersey from every team

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USA Today Sports

MLB All-Star FanFest: Searching for a jersey from every team

A sea of red and white Nationals jerseys flooded toward the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. But there wasn’t a Bryce Harper signing. And there wasn’t even a game. The Nationals are in New York to play the Mets. 

Then, as I turned and walked down the street I began to see random jerseys: Phillies, Yankees, Astros and Mets, among others.

It all clicked.

Ah, yes, the MLB All-Star weekend and its annual FanFest

As I walked inside the building and looked around, there was everything from memorabilia to interactive games like a speed gun, home run derby and more. 

MLB fans filled the building and the once-sea of red and white thinned out into a blob of colors. Fans from all different teams came out for the weekend’s festivities.

This left me curious: Could I find a jersey for every MLB team?

It was easy to find the big name teams. Going down the escalator, I was hit with a couple Jacob deGrom jerseys and a Carlos Correa one, as well. 

Mets, check. Astros, check.

A right turn and there was an Aaron Nola jersey, the All-Star phenom who surprised this year for the first-place Phillies. Check.

The Yankees and Red Sox weren’t far behind. 

As the day went on, my notepad of teams kept getting crossed off. The National League Central was the first division to go, and the American League Central followed suit. Surprisngly, it took me a couple hours — of course, I wasn't searching the whole time — to find the Marlins. Every other NL East team was easy.

Three hours later, I had found all but five teams: Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels. 

I decided to take another lap before I left. And standing, right by the stolen base activity, stood a man in a Randy Johnson throwback Diamondbacks jersey. 

We both look at the kids running down the line toward the base before a purple jersey caught my eye. It was another kid, waiting in line, wearing a Nolan Arenado jersey.

That left me with just three more teams. As I headed toward the exit, I was shocked I had not seen a Mike Trout jersey. One of the greatest players in modern baseball and not one Angels fan.

Then a co-worker pointed toward the MLB shop area. Finally, a Trout jersey. And then I turned around to grab my backpack and notebook. Another Trout jersey. Weird. I crossed off the name and looked up. Another Angels jersey. OK, enough. 

With just two more jerseys left and me being the stubborn person I am, I walked around the FanFest for another 20 minutes, looking for that green A’s jersey, or dark blue Rays one. 

Then, I finally found Stomper, the Athletics mascot taking photos with kids. On him was an A’s jersey — ironic, right? 

After about 10 more minutes I gave up. There were no Rays jerseys. The best I could do was a Tampa Bay tank top a woman was wearing while her kids played. But, that doesn’t count. We’re looking for jerseys.

Oh, and here are other sports apparel that I saw before that non-existent Rays jersey.

  • Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan t-shirt
  • San Francisco 49ers Jimmy Garoppolo jersey 
  • A Texas Longhorns athletic shirt
  • France soccer jersey
  • Philadelphia 76ers shirt
  • Montreal Expos Vlad Guerrero jersey
  • Oakland Raiders Bo Jackson jersey
  • Golden State Warriors Steph Curry jersey
  • DC United Wayne Rooney jersey

And so, the search for a Rays jersey continues. 

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Austin Rivers believes he can help the Wizards on defense as much as anything

Austin Rivers believes he can help the Wizards on defense as much as anything

When asked at his introductory press conference for how he will fit on the Wizards' roster from a basketball perspective, guard Austin Rivers didn't first cite his three-point shooting, his ability to affect games scoring off the bench or his speed to run the floor with John Wall and Bradley Beal. The first thing he point to was his defense.

That may have surprised some people out there as Rivers has long been known for his scoring ability and not so much his skills on the other end. It's not that he can't play defense, it's just that most of the highlights he's produced over the years have been due to his high-flying finishes at the rim and wicked pull-up jumper from three-point range.

Defense, though, is something Rivers takes pride in and he hopes to continue developing as a defender in Washington.

"With how much Brad and John have to do every night, for them to not have to always guard the best guard on the other team, that's something I can come in here and do. Try to bring that competitive spirit and be one of the defenders on the team," Rivers said.

Rivers' defensive ability has produced some controversy among Wizards fans and media members on social media. Some insist he does not bring value on that end of the floor, while some numbers suggest he does have some defensive potential.

Last season, Rivers averaged a career-high 1.2 steals per game. He was tied for fifth on the Clippers in defensive win shares.

However, his 113 defensive rating was his worst since 2013-14. It was an outlier on the Clippers and not in the good way. He also ranked nowhere near the top of the league in deflections or contested three-point shots, two hustle stats that guys like Wall and Beal fair well in.

Rivers points to two attributes that he believes make him a strong perimeter defender. One is his versatility and the other you could call scrappiness.

"On defense [the Wizards] can switch one through three or one through four. I think that gives us a lot of dangerous options," he said.

As for his scrappiness, Rivers says it comes from the early days of his career.

"I had to figure out ways to be effective without [a jumpshot] and that's how I became a defender. I guess everything happens for a reason, right? I'm happy I did have those early career struggles because it made me find a side of me that I didn't do [early on]. Because I promise you I didn't play any defense at Duke," he said.

The last line drew laughter from those gathered at his introductory press conference. Rivers insists that he now takes that end of the floor very seriously. The Wizards certainly hope he can back up his words.

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