Redskins

After Giants win title, Niners getting their shot

201301201713620059892-p2.jpeg

After Giants win title, Niners getting their shot

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) When Jim Harbaugh and Alex Smith drove in the Giants' victory parade last fall, players on San Francisco's championship baseball team hoped they might be able to return the favor if the 49ers could win it all a few months later.

Now, the Giants might just get that very chance with the NFC champion Niners headed to New Orleans to face the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

Titletown USA very well could be moving out West - and soon.

``For sure!'' Giants general manager Brian Sabean said Sunday night.

San Francisco is trying to become the first market to win a World Series and Super Bowl in the same season since the Boston Red Sox accomplished it in 2004 and the New England Patriots followed suit in February 2005.

What's more, even the NBA's Golden State Warriors are giving Bay Area fans an awful lot to cheer and hopes of a playoff season.

The 49ers beat Atlanta and made it this far with a second-year quarterback boasting all of nine career starts to his name - 25-year-old Colin Kaepernick. The Giants captured their second championship in three years behind the play of an All-Star catcher who won the NL batting title and MVP after missing most of 2011 with a season-ending left leg and ankle injury - 25-year-old Buster Posey.

The teams have taken a similar path, too.

The Giants rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the NL division series to beat Cincinnati, then from a 3-1 hole in the NL championship series against the 2011 World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals before manager Bruce Bochy's bunch pulled off an improbable World Series sweep of the well-rested Detroit Tigers.

On Sunday, the 49ers traveled to hostile Atlanta, erased a 17-0 deficit and held the Falcons scoreless over the second half for a 28-24 victory.

``One thing about our team is that all year we continued to find, and even through adversity, we continued to fight,'' linebacker Patrick Willis said.

With second-year coach Harbaugh leading the way, San Francisco is headed back to the Super Bowl for the first time since after the 1994 season, when it won its fifth championship during a remarkable run through the 1980s and 90s.

When the Giants rallied to beat the Reds, they became the first team in major league history to come back from a 2-0 deficit by taking three straight on the road. The 49ers snapped a five-game postseason road losing streak Sunday at Atlanta.

In late September, San Francisco's baseball players autographed a hat for Smith, the quarterback who had been fined $15,000 last season by the NFL for sporting a Giants hat after games - though the fine was later dropped. Bochy wore a 49ers hat in the dugout before a game to show Smith - who later threw out a ceremonial first pitch during the playoffs - that the Giants appreciated him.

``We're having fun with this. It's our way of supporting him for supporting us,'' Bochy said at the time. ``We're all 49er fans here. This is in honor of Alex. I'm glad he didn't have to pay the fine. That's good news.''

Infielder Ryan Theriot also bought 49ers hats for his teammates, while quirky reliever Sergio Romo dressed in full 49ers garb after one of his games. He sported a red Aldon Smith No. 99 jersey, and also attended a 49ers game and met players in the locker room afterward - even seeking a few autographs and getting a hug and handshake from tight end Vernon Davis.

San Francisco first baseman Brandon Belt rode with Harbaugh in the Halloween victory parade through the city.

``He might have gotten more claps than I did,'' Belt said, only half-joking.

Harbaugh quickly nixed that notion a couple of days later.

Giants CEO Larry Baer's favorite sign he saw on parade day read: ``San Francisco, Happiest Place on Earth.''

Hard to argue this is the place to be right about now - especially for the avid sports fan.

``San Francisco fans need to sit back and enjoy,'' former Giants first baseman J.T. Snow said Sunday. ``They have no reason to ever complain again! Be happy! San Francisco has two great leaders in Boch and Harbaugh.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

screen_shot_2018-10-16_at_5.55.43_pm.png
@kerrigan91

The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

The Kerrigan family is about to make a big-time addition to its roster.

Ryan and his wife, Jessica, already have two very, VERY, very, very cute bulldogs in their household. 

But on Tuesday, the two announced in separate Instagram posts that Jessica is 18 weeks pregnant and that a third human Kerrigan will arrive in 2019.

"Can I eat dis sign aftur da picturr iz over?" George the bulldog said when reached for comment on the news.

"How did dey gett such a smawl jerzey for da baby alreddy?" Franklin the other bulldog added.

This is all very wonderful.

Come next March, the world is about to get a little precious-er.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

capsfaceoff.png
USA Today Sports

The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

Tuesday’s practice was a lot like every other for the Caps until the end. After working on the power play, the team gathered at one end of the ice and began working on faceoffs. It was not just the centers, but wingers and defensemen alike got into the action with every win celebrated by loud cheers from teammates.

It should could as no surprise to see faceoffs as a point of emphasis for Washington considering just how much the team has struggled with them in the early season. The Caps rank 30th in the league in faceoff win percentage at only 43.8-percent.

“Yeah, there's little details that can help our game,” Lars Eller told reporters after practice. “The more you have the puck, easier the game is gonna be for you. We have a little more time in between games than usual during the season here, so we have the time to work on something like that, which can be little things that makes the difference.”

The team as a whole watched video on faceoffs prior to practice and then worked as a five-man unit during the drill. The main point of emphasis head coach Todd Reirden wanted to drill into his players was that faceoffs are not simply the responsibility of the centers alone.

“The days of it just being center vs. center and a clean draw being won back are a rarity now so it's important to have all five guys helping, something we watched video on earlier today,” Reirden said.

“You ask any centerman if they have a good group of wingers that can help them out on draws, that makes a huge difference,” Nic Dowd said. “I've been lucky, I have [Devante Smith-Pelly] on my right and I'm a righty so I win all my draws my backhand side so a lot of pucks go his way and he wins a lot of draws for me. That's huge. You have a guy that's sitting over there that's sleeping, you could go easily from five wins to five losses and then that's your night. It makes a big difference.”

Faceoffs were always going to be more of a struggle for the Caps this season with the departure of Jay Beagle who was, by far, the team’s best faceoff man for several years. Whenever the team needed a big draw, Beagle was the player relied upon to win it. With him gone, it is no surprise to see the team struggle.

But the Caps don’t like the idea of keeping possession off a draw just 43.8-percent of the time.

“It's essentially like the ref is creating a 50-50 puck and you snap it back, you get possession, now you're forechecking and it makes a huge difference,” Dowd said. “You play against those top lines, they want to be in the O-zone. Well, if you lose the draw, now you're playing D-zone, you win the draw now you're playing O-zone. So effectively, you've shut down their shift.”

There is a school of thought suggesting that perhaps the importance of winning faceoffs is overrated and a team’s faceoff win percentage is not overly important. Eller himself admitted as much to reporters.

What no one can argue, however, is that while some faceoffs may not matter all that much, there are some that are hugely important in a game. The Caps recognize that. For them, being a strong faceoff team is not necessarily about improving the team’s win percentage, but more about being able to win those critical draws.

“It's something that for the most part the players understand and a neutral zone faceoff with 14 minutes to go in the first period is not nearly as important as one that's 5-on-6 at the end of the game,” Reirden said. “We all know that. It's important to put the right people on those situations and give them the best chance to have success.”

“A center ice draw, I could see where guys could make the argument, well you lose it you still will play hockey and stuff could still happen,” Dowd said. “But I think the game is such a possession game now that any opportunity you can win a 50-50 puck whether that's a faceoff or a board battle, it makes a huge difference.”

 

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: