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Baalke considered as lock for next Niners G.M.

Baalke

With a search that some league insiders consider to be window dressing aimed at creating the impression of due diligence (and Rooney Rule compliance), the Niners are believed to be focused on elevating Trent Baalke into the vacant G.M. job.

The 49ers did not appoint a new G.M. after firing Scot McCloughan in the weeks prior to the 2010 draft.  Baalke inherited most of the duties, but not the title.

Given their meeting with former Panthers and Rams executive Tony Softli, who currently is not employed by any NFL team, the Niners have complied with the requirement that at least one minority candidate be interviewed.  It’s believed that the remaining roster of candidates will include folks against whom Baalke will compare favorably.

Baalke presumably then will be involved in the hiring of the franchise’s next head coach.

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Ron Rivera: We want to unleash Cam Newton, but have to do it the right way

Terrell Suggs, Cam Newton AP

The Panthers have been routed by the Steelers and Ravens the last two weeks and they’ve had Cam Newton run four times for 14 yards over the course of those two games.

That’s not the Newton that ran for 28 touchdowns over the last three seasons and it’s a major part of the Panthers offense that has been completely missing this season. The reason isn’t some big secret. Newton had ankle surgery in the spring and a rib injury to start the regular season, causing some wraps to be thrown on his game but the team’s facing questions about when those wraps are going to come off.

Coach Ron Rivera said that the team wants to “unleash” Newton and move him from being one percent of the rushing offense closer to his customary 30 percent, but that they need to make sure the time is right before cutting loose.

“It’s very hard,” Rivera said, via ESPN.com. “You can see it. You just know he wants to cut loose and do certain things. You can feel it, and a lot of times you see him start to do it, but it’s coming. We’ve got to do this the right way.”

There’s plenty wrong with Carolina’s offense right now, including an offensive line that has helped Newton get sacked nine times in three games. If he’s going to be taking those hits in the pocket, he might as well take a few outside of it as he tries to provide the spark that’s been missing in Carolina.

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Tick bite sent Rams center Scott Wells to ICU

St. Louis Rams v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

Football players ending up in the hospital with knee injuries or broken bones are almost commonplace.

But there was nothing normal about Rams center Scott Wells‘ experience this summer.

A tick bite led to a bacterial infection which landed Wells in the intensive care unit. Called ehrlichia, it’s similar to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and can be fatal.

He thought he was suffering from the flu during June practices, but quickly realized it had gone beyond that when his urine was dark brown.

“Wednesday night I was put in ICU,” Wells said, via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “From the way (doctors) explained it to me, it attacks your bone marrow and starts to shut down your immune system so you can’t fight it off. Then your organs start to shut down trying to fight it off.

“So it went from what seemed to be just a cold virus, flu-like symptoms, to really sick really fast.”

Wells said his body temperature reached 104.5  degrees, and he lost 20 pounds during the four days he was in the hospital.

“It took some time to gain the weight back,” Wells said. “I was in great shape when I got sick, and the doctor said that’s what helped me get through it. But I’m healthy now. I’m fine now. There’s no residual long-term effects from it. Everything is normal.”

He’s back in the lineup and normal now, but will never look at a bug bite or flu symptoms the same way again.

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Jon Gruden may be the Raiders’ target as their next head coach

New Orleans Saints v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

The Raiders have fired head coach Dennis Allen, and there’s one man Raiders owner Mark Davis would love to hire next: Jon Gruden.

Gruden coached the Raiders from from 1998 to 2001 and then beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl after Davis’s father, the late Raiders owner Al Davis, traded him to the Buccaneers. Gruden has long been viewed as the first choice for Mark Davis as the person who could come back and turn the franchise around.

But it remains to be seen whether Gruden is interested in the job. Publicly, Gruden has always insisted that he loves working as a commentator and has a contract that ties him to ESPN for years to come. But few people believe Gruden would turn down the right opportunity to return to coaching.

The question, then, is whether he views Oakland as the right opportunity. Given the current state of the franchise, which hasn’t made the playoffs since Gruden beat them in the Super Bowl after the 2002 season, Gruden may have no interest. But if Davis were to offer Gruden significantly more money than ESPN is paying him, and offer Gruden the authority to oversee the personnel department and pick his own players, it could pique Gruden’s interest. Don’t be surprised if Davis makes a run at Gruden.

And if Gruden says no, Jim Harbaugh’s name is being floated. This could get fun.

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Arrowhead Stadium takes back its noise record

New England Patriots v Kanas City Chiefs Getty Images

The Seahawks and Chiefs are no longer division rivals, but they do keep going back and forth at each other.

Via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star, the Chiefs took back the record for loudest outdoor stadium during last night’s thrashing of the Patriots.

A representative from Guinness confirmed that Arrowhead Stadium reached 142.2 decibels, surpassing the previous record of 137.6 set at Seattle last season.

The Seahawks broke the previous record of 137.5 set by the Chiefs against the Raiders.

We have the feeling these two are going to be yelling at each for years to come.

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Bill Belichick scoffs at questions about quarterback change

Tom Brady AP

The Patriots have a lot of problems at the moment.

But they do not, as you might suspect, have a quarterback controversy.

After his team took a 41-14 thrashing from the Chiefs, coach Bill Belichick answered a lot of questions.

But he didn’t have to answer the one about whether the quarterback position would be evaluated this week, after he pulled Tom Brady and let rookie Jimmy Garoppolo finish up.

According to Phil Perry of CSNNE.com, Belichick “was dismissive, chuckling briefly, at the question.”

That’s a reasonable response considering it’s Tom F. Brady, but the Patriots offense was a mess all night.

And Garoppolo was sharp, going 6-for-7 for 70 yards and a touchdown to Rob Gronkowski. It was nice outing, even if it started down 41-7.

Meanwhile, Brady turned it over three times, and passed for 159 yards.

Asked whether playing the rookie was “performance-related to Tom or skill-related,” Belichick said: “We played everybody tonight.”

“I think our team competed,” he said. “I thought we competed there at the end. That’s what they should do.”

It was just hard to tell for most of the night.

“We need to do everything better offensively,” Belichick said. “We had like five first downs in the first half or something like that? We did a lot of things wrong. And we turned the ball over in the second half. Pretty much we need to do everything better.”

But don’t doubt they’re going to do it with Brady, lest you be scoffed at.

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Report: Tony Sparano won’t be Raiders interim coach

New York Jets v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

In the wake of the firing of head coach Dennis Allen Monday night, one of the most logical choices for an interim replacement was assistant head coach and offensive line coach Tony Sparano.

Sparano served four years as head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2008-2011 and has the most recent head coaching experience of any member of the Raiders coaching staff.

But according to Fallon Smith of CSNBayArea.com, Sparano will not be the interim head coach of the Raiders.

Only two other coaches currently on staff would seem to be viable options – offensive coordinator Greg Olson and senior offensive assistant Al Saunders.

Saunders served as head coach of the San Diego Chargers from 1986-1988 and had the title of assistant head coach while coaching in Kansas City, St. Louis and Washington.

Olson was the assistant head coach in Jacksonville in 2012 and has been an offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions (2004-2005), St. Louis Rams (2006-2007), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2008-2011).

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Allen’s firing 23rd permanent in-season coaching change since 2000

Atlanta Falcons v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

The firing of Raiders coach Dennis Allen marks the 23rd time an NFL club has changed coaches in-season for reasons of resignation or termination since 2000.

Of the 22 interim coaches in this span, eight went on to earn the club’s full-time head-coaching job the next season. This includes the Raiders’ Tom Cable, who took over for Lane Kiffin in 2008, then went on to coach Oakland through 2010.

Overall, interim head coaches replacing a departed predecessor are a combined 48-81 since 2000 (.372). That’s an improvement over the combined record of the coaches who preceded them. Including Allen’s 0-4 mark with Oakland this season, coaches fired or leaving on their own accord during the season are 65-162 before their severance (.286).

Here’s the list of interim coaches since 2000. Coaches who were eventually awarded the full-time job are bolded. Coaching records are from NFL and Pro Football Reference records:

2000 (4)
Cincinnati Bengals: Dick LeBeau. Record: 4-9.
Arizona Cardinals: Dave McGinnis. Record: 1-8.
Detroit Lions: Gary Moeller. Record: 4-3.
Washington Redskins: Terry Robiskie. Record: 1-2.

2001 (1)
Minnesota Vikings: Mike Tice. Record: 0-1.                                               

2003 (1)
Atlanta Falcons: Wade Phillips. Record: 2-1.

2004 (2)
Cleveland Browns: Terry Robiskie. Record: 1-4
Miami Dolphins: Jim Bates. Record: 3-4.

2005 (1)
Detroit Lions: Dick Jauron. Record: 1-4.

2007 (1)
Atlanta Falcons: Emmitt Thomas. Record: 1-2.

2008 (3)
Oakland Raiders: Tom Cable. Record: 4-8.
San Francisco 49ers: Mike Singletary. Record: 5-4.
St. Louis Rams: Jim Haslett. Record: 2-10.

2009 (1)
Buffalo Bills: Perry Fewell. Record: 3-4.

2010 (4)
Denver Broncos: Eric Studesville. Record: 1-3.
Minnesota Vikings: Leslie Frazier. Record: 3-3.
San Francisco 49ers: Jim Tomsula. Record: 1-0.
Dallas Cowboys: Jason Garrett. Record: 5-3.

2011 (3)
Jacksonville Jaguars: Mel Tucker. Record: 2-3.
Miami Dolphins: Todd Bowles. Record: 2-1.
Kansas City Chiefs: Romeo Crennel. Record: 2-1.

2013 (1)
Houston Texans: Wade Phillips. Record: 0-3.

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Report: Dennis Allen fired by Raiders

Dennis Allen AP

Dennis Allen’s time as head coach of the Oakland Raiders appeared to be running short after the Raiders fell to 0-4 with a 38-14 loss in London against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Now that hourglass has run out of sand.

According to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, the Raiders have informed Allen he has been terminated as head coach of the Raiders.

Terry Collins of the Associated Press initially reported Sunday evening that Allen had been fired before deleting the report and issuing an apology. Whether the wheels were already in motion then or if it took until Monday evening for a decision to be made is unclear.

Allen won just eight games in just over two seasons as head coach of the Raiders. It would seem likely that Tony Sparano would take over as head coach on an interim basis.

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Jamaal Charles, Alex Smith lead Chiefs to 41-14 rout of Patriots

New England Patriots v Kanas City Chiefs Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs steamrolled to a 41-14 victory over the New England Patriots on Monday night.

The Patriots defense could do nothing to slow the Chiefs offense and Tom Brady posted one of the worst starts of his stellar career.

Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis led the Chiefs to 207 rushing yards and Alex Smith passed for 248 yards and three touchdowns as the Chiefs (2-2) posted a dominant showing against New England.

After missing last week due to an ankle sprain, Charles return to the lineup was a boost for the Kansas City offense. Charles scored a rushing touchdown and two receiving touchdowns for the Chiefs.

Smith tossed two scores to Charles and a third to Travis Kelce in posting a 144.4 passer rating on the night.

Meanwhile, the Patriots (2-2) looked disjointed all night. New England’s offense line couldn’t open holes in the running game and Brady was hurried frequently by a strong Kansas City pass rush.

Brady completed 14 of 23 passes for 159 yards with one touchdown with two interceptions – one returned 39 yards for a touchdown by Husain Abdullah. He also fumbled possession to Kansas City following a sack by Tamba Hali. Brady posted a passer rating of just 59.9 Monday night. It was just the 18th time in 195 regular season starts that Brady was held to a passer rating under 60.

The 27 point defeat was the second largest of Brady’s career, behind only a 31-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 7, 2003.

Brady was lifted following his second interception for rookie Jimmy Garappolo.

Garoppolo led one touchdown drive that culminated with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski. Garoppolo finished 6 of 7 for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Brandon LaFell was one of the few strong performers for the Patriots. He finished with six catches for 119 yards and a 44-yard touchdown reception.

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Rex Ryan “confident” Dee Milliner will play in Week Five

Dee Milliner AP

For the time being, the Jets are hanging around the fringes of the AFC East race.

And it appears they will be getting one of their top cornerbacks back for Sunday’s game at San Diego.

Second-year pro Dee Milliner, who has missed 3-of-4 games this season because of injury, is expected to play in Week Five, coach Rex Ryan said Monday.

“Milliner, we will just see how he is. I know there will be a pre-practice evaluation on him on Wednesday. But I am confident he will be ready to play this week,” Ryan said, according to an interview transcript from the club.

A first-round pick in 2013, Milliner notched 56 tackles, defended 17 passes and intercepted three passes as a rookie. Even more was expected of him this season, especially after the club parted ways with Antonio Cromartie and didn’t add any marquee cornerback help in free agency or the draft.

And there would be no better time than now for Milliner to return to action while building on his rookie campaign. The Jets, who are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, have the tall order of matching up with the Chargers’ versatile and potent passing game next Sunday.

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AEG seeks six-month extension of Farmers Field agreement

Handout of architectural firm Gensler's artist rendering showing the proposed Farmers Field stadium and event center Reuters

As the NFL privately claims that a return to Los Angeles is coming sooner than later, one of the companies hoping to build an L.A. stadium hopes to expand a soon-to-be-expiring window for doing so.

AEG has announced that it is seeking a six-month extension to an agreement with the City of Los Angeles regarding the construction of the venue that already is known as Farmers Field.  The current deal expires on October 18.

“We have resumed discussions with the NFL and, while much remains to be done before a deal could come together, we remain committed to this project,” AEG president and CEO Dan Beckerman said.  “In light of the positive tone of recent conversations, we feel it would be productive to continue this dialogue while at the same time further exploring alternative plans with the City.”

AEG hopes to build a downtown stadium, at the L.A. LIVE complex.  Rams owner Stan Kroenke has acquired acreage at Hollywood Park, another potential location for an NFL stadium.

The Raiders, Rams, and Chargers are among the teams that could relocate to Los Angeles.  It’s possible that L.A. eventually will have two teams, like it last did 20 years ago, right before the Raiders and Rams left town.

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Bridgewater doesn’t practice on Monday

Bridgewater Getty Images

Despite positive news via X-rays and MRIs, Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s sprained ankle kept him from practicing on Monday, three days before the Vikings face the Packers on Thursday Night Football.

Many teams playing on a short week don’t practice on Monday, submitting instead an estimation of who would and wouldn’t have practiced.  For the Vikings, the report includes no such disclaimer, which means that practiced without their starting quarterback.

Which explains the decision to add Chandler Harnish to the practice squad along with McLeod Bethel-Thompson, which gave the Vikings three quarterbacks on Monday.

Also missing practice on Monday were linebacker Chad Greenway (hand, rib), cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (illness), and tight end Kyle Rudolph (abdomen, groin).  Running back Jerick McKinnon (ankle) and cornerback Josh Robinson (hamstring) participated on a limited basis.

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Chiefs survive Andy Reid’s clock management before halftime

andyreid AP

In all his years as a head coach, Andy Reid still hasn’t quite figured out clock management.

That was on display at the end of the first half tonight in Kansas City, where the Chiefs narrowly avoided paying dearly for a clock management blunder against the Patriots. As the Chiefs drove deep into Patriots territory with time running out, they wasted several seconds before finally calling their final timeout with eight seconds left. Then, instead of throwing deep into the end zone, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith threw a pass short of the goal line, and Dwayne Bowe was tackled inbounds. The clock would have run out on the play if not for a penalty on the Patriots on the play.

Fortunately for the Chiefs, that New England penalty stopped the clock with one second left, and the Chiefs were able to kick a field goal as time expired.

The Chiefs took a 17-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. With any luck, this game won’t be close enough for Reid’s boneheaded clock management to cost Kansas City in the second half.

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Boone, Baalke balk at reports of discord in San Fran

Harbaugh Getty Images

In response to Deion Sanders’ claim that unnamed 49ers players want coach Jim Harbaugh to hit the road, Jack, both a player and the team’s G.M. went on the record to attack the unnamed report of strife in Santa Clara.

“To be quite honest I find it a little ridiculous when people outside the locker room are talking about it,” G.M. Trent Baalke told 95.7 The Game in San Francisco. “Let’s get back to football. Let’s talk about the game itself, the performance of the guys, the way they grinded through things, the coaching staff included. It’s a good victory and those are the things we should be talking about.

“For me to speculate on what keeps driving it, obviously there’s people saying stuff that have never been in this building. So when it’s coming from people who have never been in this building or unnamed sources it’s not even worth the time of answering these questions especially when there’s ten follow ups to every question that’s given.”

Guard Alex Boone was a bit more blunt.

“If you’re not in our locker room, then keep the 49ers name out of your mouth,” Boone said. “Let’s just do that because you have no idea what goes on inside our locker room. For guys to talk about, ‘Oh so and so told me this,’ Who’s so and so? ‘Oh I can’t tell you that.’ Because it’s probably not true. It’s not important.”

Neither guy denied the accuracy of the report. Instead, they complained about its existence — and they objected to the use of unnamed sources.

But unnamed sources make the journalism world go ’round. Some people who know things or believe things can’t put their names to those things without actual or potential repercussions. That doesn’t stop those people from talking under the cloak of anonymity, and it doesn’t prevent reporters from deciding whether the information is credible and, in turn, reportable.

With or without Deion’s attempt to play reporter for a day, it’s widely believed in league and media circles that Harbaugh won’t coach the 49ers beyond this year, barring a Super Bowl win that prompts the team to pay him like a Super Bowl-winning coach. The reactions from the likes of Harbaugh, Baalke, and Boone are aimed at keeping the situation from becoming untenable during a season in which the goal of winning the franchise’s sixth title remains viable, albeit at this point unlikely.

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Jamaal Charles is back and the Chiefs take an early lead

Jamaal Charles AP

Jamaal Charles is back.

Charles, the running back who was held to just 23 yards in the first two games of the season and missed Week Three with a high ankle sprain, is back tonight against the Patriots and already making a huge impact.

With the first quarter not even over yet, Charles already has seven carries for 38 yards and a touchdown, giving Kansas City an early 7-0 lead.

The Chiefs’ offense has looked methodical and efficient, with Alex Smith completing six of his eight passes. They may need to worry about left tackle Eric Fisher’s inability to block Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones, but otherwise the Chiefs’ offense is looking strong.

Now Tom Brady needs to pick things up to get the Patriots back in it.

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