Gore, James solid 1-2 punch in 49ers' run game


Gore, James solid 1-2 punch in 49ers' run game

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Frank Gore quickly gave credit to rookie LaMichael James for an impressive NFL debut - and for taking some pressure off the three-time Pro Bowler in the process.

``He kept me fresh,'' Gore said. ``It's great.''

Anthony Dixon is doing his part for San Francisco, too. Gore and Dixon each ran for 1-yard touchdowns, and the 49ers' versatile running game showed its depth in Sunday's 27-13 victory against the Miami Dolphins. Gore led the way en route to his sixth career 1,000-yard rushing season and 50th touchdown on the ground.

``I said the first week of the year I feel like we have the best backfield in the league,'' Dixon said. ``We have a lot of talent, we are super deep. I know coach has a hard time trying to figure out what to do with all of us. It's a good problem. We just try to feed off each other.''

James, a second-round draft pick this year out of Oregon, was active for the first time all season Sunday and took advantage with eight carries for 30 yards. James' performance helps the Niners (9-3-1) cope with the devastating, season-ending loss of backup Kendall Hunter to an ankle injury suffered at New Orleans on Nov. 25.

Both Dixon and James play key roles on special teams as well.

But James' production and ability to spell Gore down the stretch will be important for the 49ers as they look to make another run at the Super Bowl after falling short in overtime of the NFC championship game against the Giants last January.

``Kendall was a big part of our team, and LaMichael can do similar stuff as Kendall, and that's good,'' Gore said. ``Happy for him. I saw LaMichael when he first got here. The offense was kind of tough for him. Camp was going kind of tough. He wasn't used to playing in small spaces, but he did a (heckuva) job.''

One potential distraction for this close-knit group is gone.

Brandon Jacobs' short time with San Francisco is all but over after he was suspended Monday for the final three regular-season games. It's doubtful he would rejoin the team for the playoffs.

While the 49ers didn't provide a reason for the suspension, Jacobs had become increasingly vocal via social media during the weekend about his frustration over a lack of playing time. He referenced being ``on this team rotting away.''

He has only played in two games this season, managing 7 yards on five carries. Jacobs spent his first seven NFL seasons with the New York Giants, winning two Super Bowl rings.

Coach Jim Harbaugh declined to address Jacobs' comments on Monday, even when asked whether Jacobs is still on the team.

``I'll go with the fifth amendment,'' Harbaugh said. ``Just at this time, at this hour I choose to have no comment on that.''

Now, Harbaugh and his players can move on without having to deal with the disgruntled Jacobs in the locker room - or the sight of the 6-foot-4, 264-pound tailback pounding his fists into the padding of the goal post on game day as his quirky pregame ritual.

After the way he played Sunday, James could get more chances Sunday at New England.

``LaMichael got those touches. Thought he made a real, real good contribution, both in the kick-off return game and offensively,'' Harbaugh said.

Gore certainly likes San Francisco's variety of offensive options as the 49ers head out to face the AFC East-leading Patriots (9-3) in a game that should provide quite the measuring stick for both teams in mid-December.

Not that Gore needs much to go on: His numbers tell the story of his eighth NFL season at age 29. He has 1,035 yards on 211 carries for seven touchdowns, and averages 4.9 yards per carry.

Along with going over 1,000 yards rushing with a 63-yard outing against the Dolphins, Gore matched his mentor, Roger Craig, and late Hall of Famer Joe Perry for the franchise record in rushing touchdowns with 50.

``I always knew Frank was a great running back,'' said quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who led a winning effort in his fourth straight start and fourth ever. ``Being out there on the field and seeing some of the cuts he makes and how he protects in pass protection, I don't think there's another back like him in this league.''

Notes: Harbaugh didn't yet have an update on the status of DL and core special teams player Demarcus Dobbs, who was carted off the field in the first half Sunday with a right knee injury. ``We'll know more when the MRI comes back. We'll see,'' Harbaugh said. ... First-round draft pick WR A.J. Jenkins also made his NFL debut Sunday. While he didn't have a catch, Harbaugh saw plenty of positives. ``A.J. probably was in there eight or nine snaps and had a real nice block on Frank's draw play that nearly scored,'' Harbaugh said. ``Ran a route, didn't get the ball, but ran right past his man.''


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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 23, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins  and NBC Sports Washington.

Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense—NFL coaches and others like to tell you that competition determines who wins roster spots in the league. And that may be true to an extent. But many roster spots are predetermined by a player’s contract situation and/or draft status. It is unlikely that an undrafted player like Fish Smithson will win a roster spot over Troy Apke even if the former outperforms the latter in every way during training camp. Apke was a fourth-round pick and they aren’t going to give up on him in favor of an undrafted player. It would cost $3.2 million in dead cap to cut Stacy McGee and only $150,000 to move on from Ziggy Hood so McGee will win a “competition” that is even remotely close. (Offensive projection here)

Redskins will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor at training camp—While this is something that could add a little spice to the Jets’ visit to Richmond, don’t look for much of anything to happen. Zach Brown might give a little extra shove to Pryor here and there but he’s not going to do anything that will draw blood or even cause a deep bruise. If nothing else, a big hit on Pryor would invite retaliation by the Jets on Josh Doctson or Paul Richardson. And that might lead to more retaliation and you end up with a brawl like the Redskins and Texans had a couple of years ago.

Trent Williams very much of approves of Smith and Guice—Williams is going into his ninth NFL season and he has yet to be on the winning side of a playoff game. He thinks that Alex Smith and Derrius Guice can help change that. 

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list—I normally greet this list with a big yawn and this year was no exception. But I do find the omission of Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating and was third in adjusted net yards per attempt, odd. In an update to this post, the NFL released the names of the top 10 players and Smith is not on it. He shouldn’t be, but he should be somewhere on the 100, perhaps in the middle of the pack. The only Redskins player to appear on the list was Trent Williams at No. 57.

The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger—It’s likely that nine players who are 25 or younger will line up as starters for the Redskins this year. I don’t have a rundown of how that compares to the rest of the league but it’s notable that in the last two years six of them have replaced players who were either approaching age 30 or over it. I’ll engage in some speculation here and say that five of the young players—Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, and Montae Nicholson—are good enough to potentially make a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Former Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz was born on this date in 1950. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 33
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 70

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 78 days. 

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson


GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”