Shaun King joins Mike Florio to preview NBC’s Sunday Night Football game pitting the San Francisco 49ers against the Seattle Seahawks. King thinks both young QBs have done a phenomenal job this season, but gives the winning nod to Colin Kaepernick due to the weapons he has at his disposal.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Shaun King credits 49ers’ young QB
The 49ers have a new coach in Kyle Shanahan and Shanahan brought the offense he’s developed over years as a coordinator with him to Santa Clara.
For many members of the team, that means they are getting a lot of new information thrown their way during the offseason program. One exception to that rule is quarterback Brian Hoyer, who played for Shanahan when both men were with the Browns and signed a free agent contract with the 49ers this offseason.
That experience has put him ahead of the pack when it comes to understanding both what Shanahan wants from the offense and how to get the unit in position to provide it.
“It’s definitely easier for me to call the plays this time around,” Hoyer said, via ESPN.com. “I remember last time kind of having to think about it, whereas now I find myself knowing that when Kyle starts to call a play I can kind of put it together. Just hearing it the second time around has helped, and knowing the plays, there are a lot of words; I think calling the play is half the battle, and it’s something I really don’t think about anymore. It comes naturally to me.”
Hoyer played some of the best football of his career for Shanahan in 2014 as the Browns got off to a 6-3 start before everything fell apart down the stretch. A reprise may not be in the cards, but getting everyone on the same page would help and that task should be easier with a quarterback who knows the offense well enough to help Shanahan teach it as they head into the season.
The search for returners will be part of the Jets’ work in OTAs.
Who will step in at fullback for the Ravens?
How will the Texans offensive line look this season?
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone stressed the importance of Memorial Day to his players.
A look at some tweaks to the Broncos defense.
Giants defenders know that they need to build on last year’s improvement.
Former Lions TE Joseph Fauria has eyes on making a comeback.
Former Packers G Jerry Kramer visited Washington with Vietnam veterans.
The Vikings would love to see some recent draft picks develop quickly.
The Falcons will travel to New England this season for another meeting with the Patriots.
Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips discussed how his father Bum influenced him.
A look at how 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is delegating responsibilities on his staff.
If the Seahawks are stuck in the past, can they win going forward?
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer’s going to take another week off to rest after his latest eye surgery, but his influence will never be far from the team.
Mostly, that’s because he’s trusted old friend Andre Patterson to play his part while he’s gone.
“He just texted me and asked me to make sure I kind of get his message across to the team,” the Vikings defensive line coach said, via Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “We’ve been together a long time. We have a close friendship, and I think he trusts I’m going to do the best job I can to get his voice across.”
The Vikings haven’t named an interim coach like they did last year when Zimmer was away for a week (special teams coach Mike Priefer coached them against the Cowboys). Coordinators are running their respective sides of the ball during Organized Team Activities, and Zimmer’s still watching practice film every day, but it’s Patterson who lends direction.
Zimmer trusts Patterson for a reason. They’ve known each other since 1988, when they worked together at Weber State. Zimmer has hired Patterson four times, and his children have been babysitters for Patterson’s.
“Well, Andre knows me probably better than anyone there, including [my son] Adam,” Zimmer said.
That’s why Patterson leaned on his boss to take some time away to get well.
“On a personal level, I love the man,” Patterson said. “He’s like a brother to me. So obviously my number one concern was his health . . . because that’s the best thing for our football team. That’s the best thing for our players. That’s the best thing for our coaches. That’s the best thing for our front office. That’s the best thing for our fans.
“Mike is tough, ornery and a hard worker. I had to get the point across to him at some point that Mike had to think about Mike and get himself healthy. Whatever we had to do to get that done, that was the most important thing.”
Such that Zimmer is able to step away for a bit, having someone he trusts like Patterson on staff should only help as he takes the time he needs.
Seattle starts its Organized Team Activities a week later than expected this year, because last year’s OTAs had a little too much “A” in them, again. This time around, the offseason practices come only days after the emergence of a story that peeled back the curtain on the drama and dysfunction still lingering from Super Bowl XLIX.
So when the first session begins on Tuesday, how will coach Pete Carroll handle it? Will Seth Wickersham’s story for ESPN The Magazine become a rallying cry for team unity? Will it be used as an example of what happens when family business gets discussed outside the family? Or will it be disregarded and ignored as the product of unreliable sources and #fakenews?
Regardless, the story and its details loom over the team as the OTAs launch, and it’s safe to say that key figures in the story (Carroll, cornerback Richard Sherman, quarterback Russell Wilson, offensive lineman Germain Ifedi) will be peppered with questions about the facts reported therein. Defensive end Michael Bennett, who always has something to say and who called the article “trash” and “all gossip” on Twitter, surely will be talking about the issue, regardless of whether he’s asked about it.
At the core of the story was the notion that the Seahawks and Sherman seriously contemplated a divorce in the offseason, but ultimately opted to stay together. Will they renew their vows or are they simply biding their time for the inevitable?
The evidence as to which way this relationship will go will begin to be compiled, beginning this week — and culminating during a season that with the application of stress will either make things better or make things much, much worse.
The NFL party line, as articulated by Commissioner Roger Goodell, is that Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment is football related, Giants owner John Mara has acknowledged off-field concerns contributing as well.
Mara told Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com that the Giants didn’t discuss signing Kaepernick this offseason, and that they’ve heard from many fans who would be angry if they did.
“All my years being in the league, I never received more emotional mail from people than I did about that issue,” Mara said. “If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game. It wasn’t one or two letters. It was a lot. It’s an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, moreso than any other issue I’ve run into.”
The Giants signed kicker Josh Brown to a new contract after he was arrested for domestic violence, and kept him on the team last year after he was suspended for domestic violence. It’s extraordinary that Mara says he heard from more fans about Kaepernick — a player on another team, who didn’t do anything illegal — than about Brown.
Mara’s comments say a lot about Kaepernick’s continuing unemployment: For many teams, the decision not to sign Kaepernick may go beyond whether the coach or G.M. think Kaepernick can help on the field. It may go up to the owner, who fears Kaepernick would hurt the franchise off the field.
Hockey gets its annual national close-up starting Monday, when Nashville and Pittsburgh meet for the most iconic trophy in all of sports. (Sorry, NFL, but it’s true.)
And since PFT Live operate as usual on Monday (it’s hard for me to take a day off from work when it’s not really work), we’ll devote some real estate to the game played on literally frozen tundra. With blades and sticks and a projectile that rockets around the rink, knocking out teeth and busting jaws and potentially doing serious damage to parental aspirations.
NBC’s Pierre McGuire joins the show at 7:35 a.m. ET for a Stanley Cup Final preview, and we’ll chase later in the show with MDS about football issues, and maybe some hockey.
Yes, it’s still a football show and there will be plenty of football talk. But for Monday at least it’s proper to spend some time on the second best sport in America. (Sorry, basketball and baseball, but it’s true.)
Join us on NBC Sports Radio at 6:00 a.m. ET and then on NBCSN for the simulcast that begins at 7:00 a.m. ET.
Even a one-day contract needs two willing parties.
When former Falcons quarterback Mike Vick, who created one of the biggest messes any player ever has for any team by maintaining over a period of several years a secret (but ultimately not secret enough) dogfighting operation in rural Virginia, expressed interest in signing a one-day contract to retire as a Falcon, he left out one key fact: The Falcons have not yet expressed interest in such a transaction.
“Well, I haven’t talked to anybody about it specifically,” Vick told Vaughn McClure of ESPN on Sunday. “It’s something that I’ve really been thinking about trying to get done. I was asked the question the other day — is that what I want — and I said, ‘Yeah.’
“So, yeah, I think in due time, it’s something that can potentially happen.”
It can potentially happen, but only if the Falcons want it. Frankly, why should they? While the passage of time and Vick’s second act in Philly made many to stop focusing on what he’d done, he still did what he did. And while he was doing what he did, he was an erratic and often-unprepared presence on the field, with wildly inconsistent performances and a failure to ever come close to fulfilling his God-given potential.
Vick’s legal troubles sparked one of the worst seasons any NFL team ever endured, with endless distractions and, ultimately coach Bobby Petrino quitting abruptly during the season. It’s easy to understand why the Falcons may not be rushing to arrange the ceremonial one-day contract signing.
So where does it go from here?
“I don’t know,” Vick said. “It’s just a waiting game now. You know, I’m patient. I’m patient, man. We’ll see what happens.”
While it’s a far cry from retiring his jersey or putting him in a ring of honor or otherwise making an open and permanent display, extending any sort of honor to Vick is something that owner Arthur Blank and the rest of the organization may need more than a decade to get their arms around.
Here’s how it’s properly done, Michael Scott.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman made a promise to provide a college scholarship to a girl he met last year, if she sufficiently improved her grades. She came through, and so has Sherman.
As explained by Wes McElroy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sherman will make good on his vow to Varina High School graduate Hershai James.
The promise was made last year, and honored this year, at an event organized by NFL Network’s Michael Robinson, a former teammate of Sherman’s in Seattle. Robinson combines a Celebrity Waiter Dinner and a Football Camp to benefit the Excel to Excellence Foundation.
“It goes back to knowledge is power and if you have knowledge you’re going to be as powerful as you ever want to be,” Sherman said. “Nobody stops anybody from reading and educating themselves. Mike [Robinson] is only trying to empower these kids to be everything that they can be and if we can help with that with our presence, with our [autographed] jerseys [to be auctioned], with our words, we’ll do everything we can.”
For Sherman, it also ended up being money out of his pocket. Though no one is disclosing how much he’ll pay, it was enough of a carrot to inspire Hershai James.
“When my senior year began, I definitely had the scholarship in my head as motivation,” James said. “Having something to look forward to helped. It’s like saying my hard work and dedication had paid off.”
Given that Memorial Day weekend typically generates a negative headline regarding an NFL player who finds trouble (or vice-versa), it’s good to have something like this to tip the balance the other way.
Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones, a second-round pick in 2016, struggled during his rookie season as a punt returner. So far, those struggles are lingering into 2017.
Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald notes that Jones “misplayed several balls” in practice on Thursday at an OTA practice. He either lost the punts in the wind or flat-out dropped them.
For that reason, Howe floats the idea of removing the punt return from Jones’ repertoire, allowing him to focus solely on playing cornerback. (He also was beaten for a 30-yard touchdown on Thursday, and Malcolm Butler is likely only one season away from leaving New England.)
Jones thrived as a punt returner at Alabama. But first he has to secure the football. Last December, coach Bill Belichick seemed to have Jones’ back after Jones awkwardly strayed his feet toward a live punt that the Ravens had not yet touched.
“[W]e have confidence in all of our players,” Belichick told reporters at the time. “We’ve seen [Matthew] Slater fumble before. We’ve seen [Tom] Brady throw an interception before, too. We’ll always do what we feel is best for the football team based on the situation and the particular game and what we’re dealing with.”
The problem with Jones is that the struggles have gotten into his head, and perhaps the only way to get the most out of him in his primary role will be to shut down a secondary role that is causing way too many problems for him and for the team.
Oakland fans may not be happy that the Raiders are leaving, but the team remains popular enough that the fans will support the team while it’s still there.
That became clear with the news from the San Francisco Chronicle that the Raiders have sold out their season tickets.
That hasn’t always been the case in Oakland, but this year the Raiders are coming off a playoff season, they have plenty of young talent and they’ve added a popular hometown hero in Marshawn Lynch. It would be surprising if they’re not able to fill the Oakland Coliseum this year and next year.
The big remaining question is whether the Raiders will be gone after next year, or whether they’ll stay for 2019 as well. The Raiders’ lease in Oakland runs through 2018, and their new stadium in Las Vegas won’t be ready until 2020. That leaves them in limbo for 2019, but if they keep selling tickets, the most sensible decision would seem to be a one-year extension of the lease, and one last year in Oakland for the Silver and Black.
After the Browns made quarterback DeShone Kizer a second-round pick last month, the ESPN draft crew unanimously agreed that Kizer wouldn’t play as a rookie. They apparently had forgotten that it was the Browns who had drafted him.
Kizer joins a franchise that has been struggling to find a competent quarterback for most of the 18 years since it returned to the NFL as an expansion operation. And as Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes in a Sunday mailbag column, Kizer “demonstrated superior physical skills to the other quarterbacks [on the roster] in regard to arm strength and mobility” from the moment he showed up for rookie minicamp.
The question is whether Kizer can learn enough fast enough to become the best option. Given that Kizer and coach Hue Jackson have essentially become joined at the hip, it’s obvious that the Browns are trying to make that happen quickly.
“I think he’ll either start immediately, or early on in the season,” Cabot writes.
The key for Kizer could be an offensive line that looks to be much better in 2017. If he has time to run the offense and make his progressions and build confidence and have the game slow down, Kizer could both start and thrive for a team that has had well over 20 non-thriving starters since 1999.
Former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs recently reopened his five-year-old feud with Jim Harbaugh, telling CBS Sports Radio that the former 49ers coach “didn’t know what he was doing.” Harbaugh took the high road in response, advising Jacobs via Twitter to “[l]et all bitterness & wrath & anger & clamor & slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
Jacobs apparently sought a second opinion.
“I will expose him, Michigan will fire him when I am done,” Jacobs declared Saturday on Twitter regarding Harbaugh.
Before Jacobs convinces himself that he’ll do to Harbaugh what Eric Dickerson did to Jeff Fisher, it’s important to understand more about the history between the two men. Jacobs joined the 49ers in 2012, and a knee injury delayed his regular-season contributions into October. Once October came, however, Jacobs still didn’t do much of anything.
He vented about his lack of game reps, before saying, “I’ve learned over the years when you open your mouth and say certain things, it hurts you, so I’m just going to shut up and keep working.” The next day, Jacobs backtracked, saying he had “ironed it out” with Harbaugh.
Jacobs nevertheless wasn’t activated for the next game, which happened to be against his former team, the Giants. Jacobs finally dressed in Week Seven, against the Seahawks. He nevertheless didn’t play — and wouldn’t play until Week 12 against the Saints.
In November, Jacobs tweeted this general advice: “Never work in a place where you hate your boss so much, you should always be happy at work.” He insisted (perhaps even with a straight face) it had nothing to do with his employment with the 49ers.
Next, he vented again, on Instagram: “I am on this team rotting away so why would I wanna put any pics up of anything that say niners this is by far the worst year I ever had, I’ll tell you like I told plenty others.”
Two days later, Harbaugh declined multiple times to comment on Jacobs during a press conference. Later that same day, the 49ers suspended Jacobs for the final three games of the regular season. He reportedly planned to file a grievance, but there never were any reports of the grievance actually being filed or resolved.
Two days later, Jacobs’ locker had been reassigned and there was no evidence Jacobs had even been employed by the team.
“From the coaching standpoint, they don’t want any distractions on the team. He was being a distraction, they felt he was being a distraction, so they felt they needed to do something about it,” defensive lineman Ray McDonald, who’d go on to create some distractions of his own, said at the time. “I guess, if he’s not about the team. And the coaches feel that he’s not trying to help the team. They made the right decision.”
Jacobs would later say that he was told the team didn’t release him for fear that he’d resurface with an opponent.
So that’s the background, which helps explain Jacobs’ animosity toward Harbaugh. And this isn’t even the first time Jacobs had expressed hostility toward Harbaugh; in early 2014 Jacobs offered up a simple explanation for Harbaugh’s failure to win a championship.
“He is a bitch, and that’s why he’s never won anything,” Jacobs said. “It is what it is. I’ve got two rings. Harbaugh, though, he’s a bitch. So it doesn’t matter.”
It apparently matters now, with Jacobs pointing to the fence and calling his shot: He will expose Harbaugh and get him fired.
That’s fine, Brandon. Now let’s see if you can swing the bat.
Defensive end Dante Fowler’s rookie season ended at Jaguars rookie minicamp when he tore his ACL and the 2016 season saw him record four sacks while finding his way in the NFL.
That’s not quite what the Jaguars were hoping for when they made Fowler a first-round pick in 2015, but it may have set the stage for bigger things this time around. Fowler said he has noticed “how strong I’m getting and the explosiveness coming from my knee” and is predicting similarly positive results when he gets on the field this fall.
“I think it will happen,” Fowler said, via GridironNow.com. “It was a big learning experience for me last year on and off the field. That was my first year on the field. I was like a freshman in college all over again, getting used to the guys at this level. It gave me an idea of how big and strong some of these guys are.”
Fowler said he has improved his conditioning and learned “what to do and what not to do” by reviewing film from last season. It all sounds like the right path to follow for better results on the field, but the path hasn’t been a direct one for the Jaguars for quite some time now.
Said Bills coach Sean McDermott, “You look at all the different aspects of building a roster, it’s not just the guys that are on the team. You have to look at draft picks, and you know, what draft picks we have for next year. Do we have all of them? Are we one short?”
The Hollister brothers are trying to make the Patriots as undrafted free agents.
Outside opinions don’t seem to be shaping the Ravens’ view of themselves.
How many receivers will the Bengals keep on the roster?
A look back at the last week for the Steelers.
Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel is off to a good start in his new job.
Six notes from the first week of Titans OTAs.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid did some sportswriting in college.
Chargers G.M. Tom Telesco is embracing the team’s move to Los Angeles.
Breaking down the Eagles’ salary cap situation.
Said Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon on winning the starting job, “Don’t count me out. That’s always my goal. I’m competitive. I think it will be a good way to evaluate myself and see where I stack up against them.”
Looking ahead to the Falcons’ date with the Dolphins.
S Mike Adams offers the Panthers an experienced hand in the secondary.
Will this season be Pete Carroll’s most challenging as the coach of the Seahawks?
Receiver Marvin Jones arrived in Detroit with a flourish, with 482 receiving yards in four games. Over the next 12 combined, he had 448.
And so a guy who was on pace for 1,928 yards (which would have been No. 2 all-time) finished with fewer than 1,000. Jones addressed the situation earlier this week at an OTA session.
“I flushed it really after the playoff game,” Jones said, via Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press. “After the playoff game I said, ‘It’s over.’
“Obviously I was pretty disappointed in everything that happened. But what can I say? All I can do is prepare and I know what I can do. Everybody sees what I can do and you’ll see it for a long time.”
Jones didn’t offer any concrete plans for both starting and finishing strong in 2017. However, it’s clear that he’s done talking about 2016.
“[O]bviously the start I had was a great start,” Jones said. “I was hoping to continue that. But it’s football and it didn’t [happen] and you guys know how I felt about that. So I don’t really have to talk about that anymore.”
He nevertheless believes he can play on a consistent basis like he did in the first 25 percent of his first year with the Lions.
“Any receiver you ask, they’re supposed to say that,” Jones said. “I want to be that guy that does that. We have a lot of talent on our team that can do that. So when you have a lot of people on your team and you look across, I look across at [Golden] Tate and [Eric] Ebron and stuff like that, we are all those guys. But me personally, I want to be the guy that you’ve seen the first five weeks. I want to be like that for 16, 17, 18 weeks. So yeah, that’s the goal.”
If he can reach that goal, perhaps the Lions can reach their goal of winning a playoff game for the first time since 1991.