Nationals

FBN--NFL Capsule: Cardinals at 49ers

FBN--NFL Capsule: Cardinals at 49ers

ARIZONA (5-10) at SAN FRANCISCO (10-4-1)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX

OPENING LINE - San Francisco by 15

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Arizona 6-8-1; San Francisco 9-6

SERIES RECORD - 49ers lead 25-17

AP PRO32 RANKING - San Francisco No. 6; Arizona No. 27

LAST MEETING - 49ers beat Cardinals 24-3, Oct. 29

LAST WEEK - 49ers lost to Seahawks 42-13; Cardinals lost to Bears 28-13

CARDINALS OFFENSE - OVERALL (32), RUSH (32), PASS (28)

CARDINALS DEFENSE - OVERALL (12), RUSH (28), PASS (3)

49ERS OFFENSE - OVERALL (11), RUSH (4), PASS (25)

49ERS DEFENSE - OVERALL (2), RUSH (6), PASS (4)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - 49ers can clinch NFC West for second straight season with win or Seattle loss against St. Louis. If 49ers win and Green Bay loses at Minnesota, San Francisco will earn No. 2 playoff seed and first-round bye. If 49ers lose and Seattle wins, San Francisco will be wild-card team and head on road for first round. ... Arizona has lost 10 of last 11 games. ... Bryan Hoyer will be fourth different quarterback to start for Cardinals this season. ... Aldon Smith needs three sacks to equal Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22 1/2 set with New York Giants in 2001. Smith has not had sack in consecutive weeks for first time this season. ... Michael Crabtree is 67 yards shy of becoming San Francisco's first 1,000-yard receiver since Terrell Owens (1,102) in 2003. ... 49ers 7-0 following loss or tie under coach Jim Harbaugh. ... Alex Smith completed 18 of 19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns in San Francisco's 24-3 rout at Arizona on Monday Night Football on Oct. 29. Smith has since been replaced by Colin Kaepernick, who is 4-2 as starter. ... Larry Fitzgerald caught eight passes for 111 yards in Arizona's 28-13 loss to Chicago last week. It was first time since Sept. 23 against Philadelphia he broke century mark. Fitzgerald had 89 yards receiving in last five games combined. He has 69 receptions for 785 yards. ... 49ers DL Justin Smith missed last week's loss at Seattle with elbow injury, snapping streak of 185 straight starts. He is not expected to play Sunday. ... 49ers K David Akers has made at least one field goal in 32 consecutive games. That's second-longest streak in NFL history behind Matt Stover, who had 38-game streak with Baltimore from 1998-2001.

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

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With no access to in-game video, Trea Turner’s swing has taken time to adjust

With no access to in-game video, Trea Turner’s swing has taken time to adjust

Heading into the Nationals’ four-game series with the New York Mets this week, Trea Turner was hitting just .196 on the young season with one home run. The vaunted base stealer had been thrown out on the basepaths three times while having yet to swipe a bag successfully. In the field, he’d racked up three errors.

It was a frustrating start for the 27-year-old shortstop, who’s coming off a season in which he played with only nine fingers and still found a way to serve as a catalyst atop the Nationals’ lineup. Now fully healthy, Turner was expected to play a role in helping Washington absorb the loss of Anthony Rendon in the middle of its lineup.

Normally, poor at-bats would prompt Turner to head down to the replay room for a quick look at his mechanics. He goes into the clubhouse in between innings and examines his previous swings to see if he needs to make any adjustments. It’s a practice Turner has grown to rely on over the course of his major-league career.

But this season, Turner hasn’t had access to the replay room after MLB banned in-game video as part of its health protocols for playing in the middle of a pandemic. Instead, he’s had to wait until after each game before being able to break down his swing. It’s made for slower progress, but after going 5-for-9 with two home runs and four RBIs over the first two games of the series in New York, he feels that his adjustments have started to pay off.

“I felt good in the box and I feel like my approach was good but not having video is a little different and I feel like in years past I was pretty good at going back and just checking out the swing real quick and making the little adjustment I need to make in game,” Turner said in a Zoom press conference after Tuesday’s 2-1 win.

“Finally made the right adjustment a few games ago and started putting the barrel on the ball and feeling a little better. The last four or five games or so my contact has been a little bit stronger and it was just a matter of time for the hits to start to fall.”

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Turner hasn’t been the only member of the baseball community to express how the lack of video access has changed their approach. On Saturday, Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash told MLB Network Radio that he wasn’t pleased with MLB’s decision to ban something that had become an integral tool for coaches and players during games.

“Without being too controversial, I think it's absolutely ridiculous,” Cash said. “It's probably one of the worst things that I've seen Major League Baseball do in take video away from players. Video is what makes us good. It helps us learn, it helps us coach, it helps us attack. And it's been taken away from us because of one team, or a couple teams' stupid choices.”

“We can't even watch a game; we cannot watch our own game. Our players cannot come in and watch a game in the clubhouse. It is asinine. The entire protocol system, how they came up with that, it is wrong. They're doing an injustice to players.”

While it’s unknown whether the real reasoning behind MLB’s decision is related to health protocols or the sign-stealing scandals that surrounded the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox over the offseason, Turner isn’t making any excuses. In fact, the results are beginning to turn his way.

Entering play Tuesday, Turner had a hard-hit percentage of 40.9 percent, well above his career rate of 32.5. His batting average on balls in play was just .238 (league average is .300), indicating he had been getting unlucky on some well struck balls. In fact, his groundball rate is down five percentage points from his career average while his flyball rate is up 10 percent.

Then came his home run off Mets starter Rick Porcello in the first inning. Turner took a breaking ball high and away and hit it off his back foot on a line straight into the seats in right field.

It was only Turner’s second opposite-field homer of his career after he hit none all of last season. Yet even with the adjustments he’d been making to his swing, he said that he didn’t go into the at-bat looking to hit anything to right field against Porcello.

“I think it’s just swing path and pitch,” Turner said. “I’ve hit a few balls to right-center out in certain stadiums, mostly probably at home, and I don’t know if those are opposite field per se. They might be more center field but I just think when you’re facing righties, to hit an opposite-field home run is fairly tough. He tried going toward that backdoor sinker and I just felt like it was the right swing on the right pitch and just keeping it fair and not slicing the ball.”

Turner will continue tweaking away at his swing, hoping to produce results like he has so far in the New York. But with or without the video replay room, he doesn’t expect the opposite-field homer to be the start of a new trend.

“I don’t have necessarily that oppo power some of these big guys get,” Turner said. “I usually have to pull them but every once in a while, if you get the right pitch on the right swing, it sneaks out. So I’ll take it.”

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'Washington Rexes' name suggestion creates a stir on Twitter

'Washington Rexes' name suggestion creates a stir on Twitter

As the Washington Football Team searches for a permanent new moniker, it's no surprise that some rather unique names have been suggested. Take the Washington UFOs or Washington Wanderers as examples.

The newest member of that group is the Washington Rexes, a name highlighted by the team as part of the fan recommendations initiative it's taking. The name was recommended by a fan named Carl, and the reasoning behind it certainly unique.

"Washington Rexes. I know this seems strange, but hear me out. Washington is home to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, which houses an impressive collection of dinosaur skeletons, including a Tyrannosaurus Rex, one of the largest and most terrifying predators in history," Carl wrote. "Rexes would be an impressive nickname, implying strength, power, and ferocity. The mascot would be amazing. Plus, who doesn't love dinosaurs?" 

As wild as it may seem, Carl does kind of bring up some good points. The dinosaur is a very strong and scary animal, so it checks the intimidation box. The Smithsonian gives it the local connection and naming the stadium "Jurrasic Park" or something of that nature actually works. Wait, is Washington Rexes genuinely a good idea?

Well, for the most part, Twitter did not think so.

If dinosaurs weren't their thing, some suggested picturing it as an homage to former Washington quarterback Rex Grossman. 

Washington Rexes probably won't be the eventual name of the team. But, Carl deserves an A+ for creativity. 

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