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49ers backup Alex Smith says it's tough to sit

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49ers backup Alex Smith says it's tough to sit

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Colin Kaepernick's image filled the Superdome scoreboard, his ears tucked into his red 49ers hat just so, as he sat at one of the seats reserved for the biggest personalities and most important players at Super Bowl media day.

He is, after all, San Francisco's starting quarterback.

About 50 yards away, not in one of those seats set aside for starters, stood Alex Smith, Kaepernick's backup. Smith was not shown on the scoreboard.

Question after question came at Smith, but instead of being about how to beat the Ravens or what it might feel like to win a championship, most concerned his transition from starter to reserve in this, ironically, his best season in the NFL. NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. A top-of-the-league passer rating. One game when he completed 18 of 19 passes. But then came a concussion in one game, sitting out as a precaution in the next - and that was that. The job became Kaepernick's for good.

``I'm not going to lie about any of that,'' Smith said Tuesday at the Superdome. ``Tough at times, for sure, tough to accept, tough to watch.''

And then he added: ``But we're in the Super Bowl.''

About 15 minutes later, the guy who took his spot in the lineup, was asked whether he feels bad at all for Smith.

``I mean, it's a business,'' Kaepernick replied. ``You have to do whatever you can to try to be successful.''

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SEMI-CANDID HARBAUGH: Jim Harbaugh insists he was at his fittest, his best during his early days as a head coach at the University of San Diego.

Even if he's now got his San Francisco team playing for the franchise's sixth championship in his second season as an NFL head coach.

It hasn't been that long. And he hasn't changed much since spending the 2004-06 seasons at San Diego.

``In a lot of ways, yes, but the thing I regret now is that I'm at the low point of my manhood, my physical fitness,'' Harbaugh said Tuesday. ``I was in a lot better shape when I was coaching at USD.''

So, what are his ``guilty pleasures'' when it comes to treating himself to a nice meal? Barbecue?

Harbaugh played along - sort of. This is the guy who said he quit chewing tobacco and drinking diet sodas after undergoing a procedure in November for an irregular heartbeat. This is the guy with three young children and a baby boy, Jack, born back in early September.

``What's ever there, I usually wind up eating,'' he said, chuckling. ``Is that relevant to what we're trying to accomplish this week? ``

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WHAT SACK? Jim Harbaugh doesn't remember Ray Lewis' first career sack - on him - or so the 49ers coach claims.

``I don't remember that sack,'' the 49ers coach said. ``I do remember being a teammate of Ray's in 1998. I feel that Ray was one of the greatest players to ever play in the National Football League. He's a man I truly respect. He's a fine person and he's a true professional.''

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I LOVE NY/NJ? NOT! - Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco apologized for his word selection in criticizing the NFL's decision to hold next year's Super Bowl in an outdoor stadium at a cold-weather site.

On Monday, Flacco was asked about the game being played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

``I think it's retarded. I probably shouldn't say that. I think it's stupid,'' he said.

On Tuesday, he was contrite.

``Obviously, it was a poor choice of words,'' he said. ``At home, I have a close relationship with Special Olympics. I didn't mean to offend anyone.''

Flacco would like nothing more than to return to the Super Bowl next year, even if it might be in freezing conditions for the first time. It's in his home state to boot.

The fifth-year pro from Audubon, N.J., preparing for Sunday's Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers, is not a fan of playing the next big game in East Rutherford.

``I think it's obvious reasons,'' Flacco said. ``They've done it the way they've been doing it for 47 years. There's a lot that goes into this game, more than just playing the game: It's about the fans and it's about the players that played for the right to get there. There are a lot of things that go into it and it's just kind of a crazy decision, I believe.''

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NFL HONORS: Celebrity presenters for ``NFL Honors,'' the TV show featuring The Associated Press awards, will include Steve Carell and Channing Tatum.

The program will air Saturday night, Super Bowl eve, from 9-11 p.m. EST on CBS, which also is televising the game on Sunday.

Other presenters will include Connie Britton, Jason Clarke, Josh Charles, Craig Ferguson, Nina Dobrev, Jeremy Renner, Olivia Munn and Zoe Saldana.

The AP will present the league's MVP, Coach of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, and Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year during ``NFL Honors.''

Actor Alec Baldwin will host the show, which will feature live performances from One Republic and New Orleans' natives The Soul Rebels.

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NECKLACE? WHAT NECKLACE? 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was asked about the ``necklace'' he wears on the sideline during games that includes a Sharpie. He seemed taken aback.

``Well I take great offense that you call it a necklace. It's a whistle,'' he said with a smile, drawing laughs from the media. ``It's a coaches' whistle that coaches have long worn around their neck. I believe every coach should have a whistle. It's hard to imagine going out to practice without a whistle.

``Then I just put a pen onto the whistle string. It's not complicated at all. If I need a pen, it's just right there.''

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MOSS WANTS MORE: Last week, the Ravens' Ed Reed said he plans to be back for another season. On Tuesday, the 49ers' Randy Moss said he wants to come back, too.

One of the first questions Moss was asked when the 49ers kicked off Super Bowl media day Tuesday was whether Sunday's game would be the final one of his 14-year, five-team, potential Hall of Fame career.

``I've thought about it,'' the 35-year-old Moss said, ``I do want to play another year.''

Moss has seen limited playing time this season with 28 catches for 434 yards and three TDs, plus five catches for 71 yards in the playoffs.

The 34-year-old Reed promised to be ``playing next year,'' ending speculation he was about to call it a career. Reed, a nine-time Pro Bowler and probable Hall of Famer, is finishing his 11th season, and was one of only two players on the Ravens' defense to start all 16 regular-season games. He has a club record 61 interceptions and the NFL-record of 1,541 yards in interception returns.

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Ravens defense digs too deep a hole in 33-28 loss to Chiefs on the road

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Ravens defense digs too deep a hole in 33-28 loss to Chiefs on the road

The Ravens needed to hold the Chiefs to eight or less yards to get the ball back. 

Faced with a third-and-9 in their own territory, the Chiefs dialed up a screen pass to win the game. Instead of nine yards, they got 16. 

On a day when the defense had trouble getting off the field, it was only fitting the Ravens couldn’t get a stop when it mattered most in a 33-28 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

“That play is really kind of a play that everybody on the defense is really kind of involved in,” Tony Jefferson said. “So we say, ‘Who’s responsible for the screen? Everybody.’ Back to the drawing board, we’ll look at it and see the things we’ve got to fix.”

The Ravens defense allowed 503 yards of total offense, a number they didn’t hit all of last season. The longest play was an 83-yard touchdown from Patrick Mahomes to Mecole Hardman to put the Chiefs up 20-6 in the second quarter. 

Mahomes finished the day with 374 yards passing and three touchdowns. His 374 yards passing was a number Mahomes needed overtime to hit last season.

“That’s an explosive, very good offense,” Jefferson said. “Mahomes did a good job extending plays, as we knew.”

Baltimore’s defense allowed 23 points in the second quarter as it had trouble dealing with Kansas City’s vaunted passing attack. But a problem that came up unexpectedly was the run, as the Chiefs averaged 5.4 yards a carry. 

The Ravens trailed 23-6 at halftime, but cut the lead multiple times to a one-score game in the second half. But the 17-point deficit was far too much to overcome, especially with an offense like Kansas City’s. 

“I thought our guys fought like crazy,” coach John Harbaugh said. “If we get a little bit better, we’ll win games like this.”

The game took a bit of a turn in the second half, as the Ravens continually went for two-point conversions in an aggressive game plan. They missed all three. 

They also went two-for-three on fourth down conversions, in an effort to keep their offense on the field and keep Mahomes off it.

“Analytically, when you look at the numbers, it’s not even close,” Harbaugh said. “In terms of percentage of chances to win the game. We believe in our offense, we’re going to try and get as many first downs as we can.”

And while the defense improved in the second half and only allowed 10 points, the damage was done as the Ravens offense couldn’t climb out of the hole left by the big halftime deficit. 

Even the aggressiveness of the offense couldn’t make up for the early halftime deficit.  

“We talked about it going into the game, that our offense was going to take chances on fourth down and we were ready for it,” Jefferson said. “We totally agreed with it, because we don’t back down from anybody.”

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Stock up, stock down: Rating the Ravens after their five-point loss to the Chiefs

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Stock up, stock down: Rating the Ravens after their five-point loss to the Chiefs

In a monster AFC matchup on Sunday, the Ravens weren’t able to get enough offense and enough stops on defense to earn the win. 

The loss drops the Ravens to 2-1 ahead of the Browns matchup on Sunday.

Here are a few players whose stocks are up and down after the loss.

Stock down: Pass defense

The Ravens defense knew they had a challenge to face against Patrick Mahomes. It’s likely they won’t see one like him again. 

Mahomes threw for 374 yards on 27-of-37 passing and had three touchdowns passing. He led an offense that scored three touchdowns in the first half, the same number it scored against the Ravens last season. 

It wasn’t pretty for the pass defense, as a blown coverage led to an 83-yard score which gave the Chiefs all the momentum they needed. 

Three receivers (Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Darrel Williams) had five or more receptions.

“Some of them (deep pass plays) were well executed by them,” coach John Harbaugh said. “The one touchdown was just played wrong by a certain player, that happens. So that’s what happened.” 

Stock down: Lamar Jackson

Jackson had the first rough game of his 2019 season.

He finished just 22-of-43 and had 267 yards. He looked impressive on the Ravens first drive of the game and bought time with his legs in the pocket, but faltered as the game wore on. 

Jackson picked his game up in the fourth quarter, but was aided by two throws that can only be described as Hail Mary throws caught by Seth Roberts and Willie Snead. 

“We let our defense down, I feel,” Jackson said. “I had a lot of throws I should have made, I feel.”

Stock up: Nick Boyle

The first of two positives on the offense, Boyle was the team’s leading receiver with four receptions for 58 yards.

With Mark Andrews (three catches for 15 yards) hobbled with a foot injury, Boyle was Jackson’s most consistent target over the middle of the field.

When Andrews returns to full health, Boyle likely won’t see the volume of targets he saw today. But it was a nice day for the Delaware product.

Stock up: Mark Ingram

The Ravens made a commitment to the run game on the first drives of each half, and it showed as Ingram tied a Ravens record with three rushing TDs in a game. 

Ingram finished with 103 yards on 16 carries — a 6.4 yards per carry average — and was the game’s leading rusher.

“I think it speaks for itself, we ran the ball well,” Harbaugh said. “Offensive played excellent, played tremendous I thought.”

Stock down: Two-Point Plays

Woof. The Ravens had three two-point plays, including one that came from the one-yard line, and weren’t able to score on any of them. 

They went for two up 6-0, down 30-19 and 33-28. They made none of those. 

Still, despite the result, it may not have been the worst decision to go for two points...

Stock up: John Harbaugh’s decisions

Hang in there on this one. 

The Ravens first decision to go for two points was due to the fact that they had the ball at the Chiefs one-yard line and thought they could punch in a quick conversion. The second decision was likely to cut the lead to nine, so that a touchdown and a field goal would win the game instead of merely tie the game. The final decision was to cut the lead to a field goal. 

Harbaugh said he doesn’t regret any of the decisions. 

“I don’t think we’re setting any tone, there’s no tone to be set,” Harbaugh said. “You’re trying to do everything you can to win the game. And when you get the ball at the one-yard line, it makes a lot of sense to go for two. Unless you’re playing scared, which we aren’t going to do.”

Stock down: Run defense

The Ravens allowed 140 yards rushing (5.4 yards a carry) to a host of Chiefs running backs. Williams and LeSean McCoy had 6.9 and 6.8 yards per carry to lead the team. 

Against Mahomes, knowing his deadliness passing the ball, the run defense had to be as sharp as ever. Unfortunately for the Ravens, it wasn’t as the Ravens could slow down the Chiefs ariel and ground attack.

Stock down: Linebackers

Patrick Onwuasor had a pass go inches above his hands in a metaphor for the entire afternoon. 

He, Chris Board and Kenny Young didn’t have their best days as the Chiefs were able to run the ball well all afternoon. 

Mahomes was able to fling the ball out to the flats early in the game, as his running backs ran free in the flat all afternoon long. 

Overall, the Ravens defense just had an afternoon to forget. 

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