NCAA

Davis, Kaepernick still finding their rhythm

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Davis, Kaepernick still finding their rhythm

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Vernon Davis had a cross-country flight and an entire off day to think about the touchdown that should have been.

Colin Kaepernick overthrew the tight end on a would-be 34-yard score during the first quarter of Sunday's 41-34 victory at New England.

Davis acknowledges he is still getting used to Kaepernick, who is 4-1 since becoming the starter in place of Alex Smith and earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after the upset of the Patriots.

``I get chills when I think about it,'' Davis said of the missed opportunities. ``One thing I learned in the beginning when I first got here, everyone was talking about being on the same page as the quarterback, as Alex Smith. You have to develop that chemistry, that bond so you can be on the same page. That's something me and Kap don't have right now. We don't have it; you have to expect it because he just stepped in.''

From gauging the zip on the ball after its release to learning the tendencies of the strong-armed Kaepernick and finding their timing together, Davis said he believes things will soon start clicking.

Another special January would be just what Davis has in mind. He caught the winning TD from Smith to beat New Orleans 36-32 in last season's divisional playoffs, then had touchdown receptions of 73 and 28 yards in a 20-17 overtime loss to the New York Giants in the NFC title game.

If they can get on the same page Sunday night at Seattle, that would be even better as far as Davis is concerned. The Niners (10-3-1) can clinch a second consecutive NFC West title with a win, and they're also determined to keep hold on the No. 2 seed - and a first-round playoff bye that would come with it - by slowing down the red-hot Seahawks (9-5).

Davis has only 39 catches for 516 yards and five touchdowns this season, with just four receptions over the past four games after getting a season-best six in a Monday night win against the Bears on Nov. 19. He had one catch for 10 yards at New England.

Coach Jim Harbaugh has repeatedly said a big part of deciding whether to target Davis has to do with the swarming defense and double coverage he draws.

Harbaugh is pleased with the extra work Davis and Kaepernick are putting in after practice.

``I can think of a couple things in particular where Vernon and Colin spent some extra time on certain routes, extra during and after practice, and that helped,'' Harbaugh said Wednesday. ``Just specific plays. That was a positive for us and that's something we can continue. ... I think there will be some more focus on that this week.''

Of the near misses in Sunday's win, Harbaugh said those might be fixed with ``maybe some more time on task, just between the two of them.''

Kaepernick and wideout Michael Crabtree have quite the connection going already, but now Davis is determined to find it, too.

``Just extra throws,'' Kaepernick said, expanding only by saying, ``we're making progress because we're getting those extra throws after practice.''

Not that Davis and Smith had a rhythm right away.

It was the 2009 season when Davis led the 49ers with 78 catches for 965 yards and 13 touchdowns, which matched Antonio Gates' NFL record for TDs by a tight end. Davis made his first Pro Bowl that year and tied for the league lead in touchdown catches with Randy Moss and Larry Fitzgerald.

``It took a while, but with Kap I'm sure if we just continue to rehearse and work on it, we can make it happen,'' Davis said. ``He's a fast learner, just like Alex. But it takes time.''

Davis is quick to credit Crabtree for the way he is running his routes and for getting open.

``It depends on what your routes are,'' Davis said. ``The routes, speed, all those things come into consideration.''

With the next game being in the NFL's loudest venue, keeping up with Kaepernick becomes that much more important. The 49ers spend time in practice trying to simulate the crowd noise, though that's tough to do.

``One thing we've got to work on is getting in the huddle and watching his mouth as he calls the play,'' tight end Delanie Walker said Wednesday.

Kaepernick and center Jonathan Goodwin are still finding their groove, too.

They struggled on their exchanges against the Patriots, and Kaepernick fumbled four snaps. Of course, the conditions were wet.

``Don't ask Goody about it. It's my fault,'' Kaepernick said aloud in the locker room Tuesday.

To which Goodwin replied: ``No, it's 50/50, like a husband and wife.''

NOTES: DT Justin Smith didn't practice during the open portion of Wednesday's workout. Harbaugh remains optimistic he can go Sunday - which would be Smith's 186th consecutive start. ``If it's humanly possible,'' Harbaugh said. ``We'll see how he feels today and tomorrow.'' ... WR Mario Manningham wore a non-contact black jersey as he nurses a right shoulder injury that has sidelined him for the past two games. ... For anyone thinking Harbaugh changed up his standard uniform at New England, he said: ``Khakis were underneath. It was a rain suit over the khakis.''

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The 7 craziest things that happened in Week 12 of the college football season

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USA TODAY Sports

The 7 craziest things that happened in Week 12 of the college football season

From massive comebacks to cartwheels, to rabid bats and even the rare signs of life from Northwestern's offense, this weeks' college football action truly had it all.

Here are the seven craziest things that happened in Week 12 of the college football season.

Ohio lineman does cartwheel during a play

MACtion was in full swing on Tuesday with a game between Western Michigan and Ohio. Unless you went to either of those schools, you probably don't care. I bring it up, however, because of one glorious play in which an offensive lineman did a cartwheel.

This wasn't a fun touchdown celebration, this wasn't a taunt after a big play. This was, the ball is snapped, the play is being run and this dude straight up does a cartwheel while people around him are playing actual football.

Make no mistake, this was planned. That was an actual play in Ohio's playbook. He did it immediately off the snap. Quarterback Nathan Rourke threw a 25-yard completion on the play so I guess you would have to say it worked. Hopefully, that means more of this in the future.

Michigan State wore their helmets on the bus to the Michigan game

Trying to motivate a group of college kids throughout an entire season is tough. Some coaches are masters at it. There are some techniques, however, that fall flat. I think you can put this one in the latter category.

Michigan State played rival Michigan on Saturday and the Spartans got off the bus on the way to the game with their helmets already strapped on. I guess the message was supposed to be that they were ready to play. The message that actually sent was, we are all out of ideas so here's something we will be mocked for when it doesn't work.

Michigan State lost to Michigan 44-10.

There were rabid bats at Mississippi State

First off, here's wishing the Alabama quarterback a speedy recovery. As it was the biggest story of the week, I would be remiss not to mention it when talking about the Alabama-Mississippi State game.

Tagovailoa's injury overshadowed what I thought would be the biggest story coming out of Starkville: rabid bats.

From great catch to miraculous fumble

This was just whacky. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor made an incredible one-handed catch as he grabbed a ball thrown behind him. A great play quickly turned into a disaster as he turned up the field and tucked the ball, but immediately had it punched out for a fumble.

We have all seen players tiptoe down the sideline, but not often do you see a ball do it. Luckily for Nebraska, Lamar Jackson pounced on the loose ball while the rest of his teammates stood watching seemingly oblivious to the fact that the ball was live.

Columbia had a punt blocked by the butt of its own player

You have heard of the butt fumble, but how about the butt punt block?

Northwestern scores 45 points

What happens when a stoppable force meets a movable object? That was the question on everyone's mind in Evanston when Northwestern met UMass.

Northwestern's offense entered the week averaging 11.1 points per game. That's not just the worst scoring offense among Power 5 teams this year, it is the worst of the decade. Its previous season-high for points was 30 which it scored against UNLV. So how in the world did the Wildcats manage to put up 45 points? Because UMass just so happens to be one of the worst teams in the FBS this year.

Running back Evan Hull went off for Northwestern with 220 rushing yards and four touchdowns to give the illusion of a competent offense. That won't last as next week they play Minnesota.

Oklahoma overcame a 25-point deficit to beat Baylor

Oklahoma has an illustrious history. Since 1895, the Sooners have won seven national titles. One thing they had never done? Overcome a 25-point deficit.

Oklahoma did just that on Saturday on the road against an undefeated Baylor team and without its top wide receiver in CeeDee Lamb. Somehow, the Sooners managed to rally to win the game 34-31 with an incredible second-half performance to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive.

McClung lifts Georgetown past Georgia St. 91-83

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McClung lifts Georgetown past Georgia St. 91-83

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mac McClung had 25 points, Omer Yurtseven had a double-double, and Georgetown topped Georgia State 91-83 on Sunday night.

McClung made all 11 of his foul shots and Yurtseven finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Josh LeBlanc added 12 points James Akinjo scored 11 points for Georgetown (3-1).

Corey Allen had 21 points for the Panthers (1-3). Josh Linder added 17 points and Justin Roberts and Damon Wilson scored 15 points apiece.

Georgetown faces Texas on Thursday. Georgia State plays Prairie View on Friday.

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