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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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These well-known Redskins fans would be very interesting minority stakeholders

These well-known Redskins fans would be very interesting minority stakeholders

The Redskins' three minority owners, who reportedly make up about 40-percent of the team's ownership group, are actively trying to sell their stakes in the club.

Now, if those three do in fact move on — which may prove difficult — there are plenty of well-known Washington fans who could prove to be interesting replacements, even if they purchase just a small slice of what the trio is looking to pass on. 

Check out the list below for a handful of the more eye-catching names that would absolutely draw headlines. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

One of NASCAR's most popular drivers of all time is now working as an analyst for NBC. He's been a fan since he was nine years old and has a positive relationship with Dan Snyder. Plus, he's already used to pressure-packed Sundays.

Matthew McConaughey

Here's another mega-celebrity and lifelong fan of the Burgundy and Gold who's also a personal friend of Snyder's. Perhaps he'd like to add some football hardware to his already crowded trophy case.

Kevin Durant

Durant is one of the best ballers in the world, and with how enormous NBA contracts are as well as all the endorsements he's picked up along the way, you have to figure he has some spare cash to put toward the Redskins if he wanted to.

Plus, becoming a part owner of an NFL team would be something he could hold over his enemies like Draymond Green and Kendrick Perkins.

RELATED: A NAME CHANGE SEEMS IMMINENENT

Wale

The famous rapper just hosted some of the Redskins' virtual programming during the 2020 Draft, and he's tight with QB Dwayne Haskins. He could be next in the long line of artists/musicians who've dabbled in sports ownership.

Taraji P. Henson

The Hidden Figures and Empire actress' father once worked as a janitor for Washington, and she's been a supporter of the squad for quite a while. Buying into them could be a nice thing to add to her real-life empire.

Joe Gibbs

Gibbs isn't exactly a current pop culture icon like any of the names above, but he is a DC icon and it'd be foolish to exclude him from a list like this. Snyder has understandably revered Gibbs for essentially his whole life and confided in him often in the past.

If Gibbs wanted to become involved with the Redskins again, you have to believe Snyder would be thrilled.  

Alexis Ohanian

Ohanian, who co-founded Reddit and sold it back in 2006, has been devoted to the Redskins since the late '80s. He's attended plenty of contests in his fan career. So, why not make the transition from the stadium seats to the owner's box?

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NHL, NHLPA finalize protocols for the 2020 postseason

NHL, NHLPA finalize protocols for the 2020 postseason

At long last, the NHL and NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) have agreed on the protocols under which the season can formally resume. The news was first reported Sunday by TSN's Bob McKenzie. The details of a new CBA that has been negotiated as part of the NHL and NHLPA's efforts to bring back hockey, however, is still being finalized. Hockey cannot resume until both the protocols for 2020 and the new CBA memorandum of understanding are ratified by the league's board of governors, the NHLPA's executive committee and a full membership vote by the players.

The full details of the protocols have not been formally released, but aspects have been leaked over the past week as both sides inched closer to an agreement. As expected, any player will have the option of opting out of Phase 3 (training camp) and Phase 4 (resumption of the season) without penalty, but the player must notify the team by July 7.

Teams will also be limited to 30 skaters in Phase 3 with an unlimited number of goalies. In Phase 4, that number goes down to 28 skaters and an unlimited number of goalies so presumably this should not be an issue for most teams. It does, however, allow two extra players in case a team is caught off guard by a player opting out.

In addition, Frank Seravalli reported players' families will be allowed to join the players for the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final which will take place in Edmonton. Elliotte Friedman also reported there will be significant punishments for individuals who try to leave the bubble.

The league formally paused its season on March 12. Since that time, the remainder of the regular season was canceled and the postseason re-structured to include 24 teams. Two round-robin tournaments will take place among the top four teams in the East and West to determine seeding while the remaining teams will all play a best-of-five play-in round. From there, the playoffs will begin with all four remaining rounds being a best-of-seven and with teams being reseeded after each round to determine matchups.

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