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49er take their first lead of the game

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

For two straight weeks, the Falcons have blown three-score leads.

They did it in the final minute last week, after leading the Seahawks 20-0 in the first half and 27-7 in the fourth quarter.  This time, a 17-0 lead has become a 28-24 deficit with 8:23 to play.

Last week, quarterback Matt Ryan saved the Falcons by driving the team into field-goal range with 31 second left.  This week, he’s got more time — but he needs more than a field goal.

The nine-yard touchdown run from Frank Gore comes more than 17 minutes in game time since the last points scored, also on a Gore run.  In the interim, the Falcons had a pair of turnovers, and the 49ers missed a field goal and saw a potential touchdown become a fumble just outside the Atlanta end zone.

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Jets sign former Chiefs wideout Frankie Hammond

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 09: Frankie Hammond #85 of the Kansas City Chiefs makes a catch against the Houston Texans during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at NRG Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets added another wide receiver with some return experience.

The team announced they had signed former Chiefs wideout Frankie Hammond to a future contract.

Hammond spent two years on the Chiefs’ active roster and last year on the practice squad.

He averaged 10.9 yards per punt return, and gives them another option behind a fleet of rookies who showed some promise last year.

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Colts want to interview Minnesota’s George Paton, too


The Colts’ interview list is beginning to look very familiar.

According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the Colts have asked for permission to interview Vikings assistant General Manager George Paton.

He’s viewed as strong candidate if not the favorite for the 49ers G.M. opening as well, amid a dwindling field of candidates.

The Colts have also asked to talk to Seahawks execs Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer, who were also up for the 49ers job but weren’t among the reported finalists before all the Packers execs pulled out of the search.

They’re also going to interview internal candidate Jimmy Raye III.

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Chiefs extend long snapper James Winchester’s contract

Kansas City Chiefs' Cairo Santos (5) celebrates with teammate James Winchester (41) after kicking the game-winning field goal against the Carolina Panthers in the final second of the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone) AP

The Chiefs took care of a little offseason business on Monday by signing long snapper James Winchester to a contract extension.

Winchester’s agent Ken Sarnoff made the announcement on Twitter. No financial terms or length were included in the announcement.

Winchester has played every game for the Chiefs over the last two seasons and was set to be an exclusive rights free agent this offseason.

It was a trying season off the field for Winchester. His father Michael was shot and killed while at work at the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City in November. Winchester missed some time to be with his family and attend his father’s funeral before returning to play against the Buccaneers that Sunday.

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Hue Jackson “leaning towards” Greg Seamon as new Browns QB coach

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 27:  Josh McCown #13 talks with head coach Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter against the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns Coach Hue Jackson plans to stay in-house to replace quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton, reported on Monday.

Jackson said he’s “leaning towards” moving Greg Seamon from tight ends coach to quarterbacks coach and moving Mark Hutson from assistant offensive line coach to tight ends coach. The Browns are coaching the South team in this week’s Senior Bowl, so they’ll be on the practice field in their new roles.

Jackson said he may not make a hire to replace Hamilton, who left to join Jim Harbaugh’s staff at the University of Michigan. Jackson calls the plays for the Browns and figures to have a strong voice in however the team decides to proceed at the quarterback position.

“Greg Seamon was my quarterback coach in college so he knows quarterback play and I trust him more than I trust a lot of people,” Jackson said. “I feel good about where we are right now but if I feel like afterwards that I do need someone else, we have the potential position where we could hire someone else.”

Seamon has been in football for 40 years and has spent 15 in the NFL. He was working as a scout with the Bengals when the Browns hired Jackson away from the Bengals last year, and Jackson brought Seamon to Cleveland. He’s been a college offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

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Report: Colts request interviews with Trent Kirchner, Scott Fitterer

jim_irsay_colts_owner Getty Images

Seahawks co-directors of player personnel Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer have been in the mix for General Manager jobs the last couple of years and it looks like they will be again in Indianapolis.

The Colts fired Ryan Grigson on Saturday and PFT reported on Sunday that the team has started reaching out to candidates to join a search that will also include interim G.M. Jimmy Raye. Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports that the team has requested permission to interview both Kirchner and Fitterer for the position.

Both men were on the list of candidates for the 49ers opening, but neither man is still in the running for the position. Fitterer dropped out of the running for a job with the Eagles last year.

Others who might be on the Colts’ radar are not known at this point, but owner Jim Irsay did say that Peyton Manning will not be taking a job in the team’s front office.

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T.J. Lang hopes he hasn’t played final game with Packers

FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2015, file photo, Green Bay Packers guard T.J. Lang (70) sets to block against the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif. Protecting Rodgers for as long as possible can be a challenging task for an offensive lineman, a job in which success is often measured in seconds. (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes, File) AP

Packers right guard T.J. Lang left Sunday’s loss to the Falcons after aggravating the broken bone in his left foot that cost him time earlier this season.

Lang said after the game that it felt similar to when he initially suffered the injury, but the pain wasn’t the only thing going through his mind when he broke down in tears on the sideline after leaving the game. Lang is set to become a free agent this offseason and the prospect of Sunday’s game being his final one with the team elicited an emotional reaction.

“That’s the first thing going through my mind after I hurt my foot again,” Lang said, via “I’m just hoping it wasn’t the last time I get to put on that helmet. It’s tough, man. Obviously, I’ll take some time, take a couple days, to rest up and recover and see what happens. I think everybody in this locker room knows that this is where I want to be. … It’s been eight years now. I don’t want to go anywhere. I’ve been saying that since the beginning. I love this team, I love Green Bay, I love everything about being a Packer. I love representing the city and the team. I want to be back. It’s not up to me. This is where I want to be.”

The Packers let Lang’s longtime partner at guard Josh Sitton go before the start of the regular season and replaced him with Lane Taylor. J.C. Tretter, who can play guard as well as center, and versatile backup Don Barclay are also set to become free agents, so the team has several decisions to make on the offensive line.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers may have signaled his preference for how those decisions play out on Sunday when he said “keeping those guys [on the offensive line] together was a big part of our success.”

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Kirk Cousins will replace Matt Ryan in Pro Bowl

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) AP

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins will replace Super Bowl-bound Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in the Pro Bowl, John Keim of reported on Monday.

You like that?

Cousins is making his first trip to the Pro Bowl after throwing for 4,917 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2016. He played the season under the franchise tag, meaning he’s eligible for free agency — or for another tag — if he and the team can’t work out a deal over the next several weeks.

The Pro Bowl is this Sunday, Jan. 29.

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Washington re-signs long snapper Nick Sundberg

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 20: Kicker Kai Forbath #2 of the Washington Redskins is congratulated by long snapper Nick Sundberg #57 of the Washington Redskins after a first quarter field goal against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedExField on December 20, 2014 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Washington is getting a head start on the offseason work, keeping a veteran who has created a bit of a cult following.

The team announced they had signed long snapper Nick Sundberg, a seven-year veteran who was set to become an unrestricted free agent.

The 29-year-old Sundberg has been with the team since 2010, and once played the second half of a game in 2012 with a broken arm, the kind of thing that can buy a guy some institutional loyalty. In fact, they used their injured reserve/designated for return spot on him that year, and followed up by signing him to a four-year extension after that.

He dealt with some back injuries this year, and they considered using quarterback Colt McCoy as their emergency snapper, but now they’ve made sure they have their regular one back.

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Greg Manusky, Matt Cavanaugh officially promoted to coordinator positions

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - CIRCA 2010: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Greg Manusky of the San Francisco 49ers poses for his NFL headshot circa 2010 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)

The Redskins spoke with several outside candidates to fill the defensive coordinator slot on head coach Jay Gruden’s staff, but word over the weekend was that they settled on promoting outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky to replace Joe Barry.

The team made it official on Monday morning with an announcement that also included confirmation that former 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula will be their defensive line coach in 2017. Manusky and Tomsula previously worked together in the same jobs with the 49ers and Manusky has also served as the defensive coordinator with the Chargers and Colts.

There was also an opening at offensive coordinator and, as expected, the Redskins stayed in-house by promoting Matt Cavanaugh from quarterbacks coach. Kevin O’Connell has been hired as the new quarterbacks coach.

Chad Englehart has also been promoted to head strength and conditioning coach after seven years as an assistant in that area. Kevin Latham has been hired to replace Englehart in that role.

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Anthony Barr replaces Vic Beasley Jr. in Pro Bowl

DETROIT.MI - NOVEMBER 24: Audie Cole #57 of the Minnesota Vikings and Anthony Barr (55)  try to drag down quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) of the Detroit Lions during second half action at Ford Field on November 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley visited PFT Live after the naming of the Pro Bowl rosters, he said he’d like to the play in the game — but he noted that he’d prefer to not be available for it.

With Beasley now officially not available for the Pro Bowl, the honor falls to a member of the Vikings. Linebacker Anthony Barr has made it to the NFL All-Star game for the second time in his career, filling the spot that initially went to Beasley.

Barr becomes the sixth Vikings to make it to Orlando. Last year, the Vikings sent five players to the Pro Bowl.

Maybe, one of these years, the Vikings Pro Bowlers won’t be available to play in the game due to a return to the Super Bowl. It’s now been 40 years between visits to the NFL championship game for Minnesota.

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Tom Brady: Maybe I’ll share thoughts on Roger Goodell after Super Bowl

PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 02:  (L-R) Tom Brady of the New England Patriots with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Super Bowl XLIX MVP trophy during a press conference folowing the Patriots Super Bowl win over the Seattle Seahawks on February 2, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said that he didn’t hear fans at Gillette Stadium chanting “Where is Roger?” at absent NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during Sunday’s win over the Steelers, but selective hearing isn’t going to stop the storyline of Goodell potentially handing the Lombardi Trophy to the Patriots in Houston from growing over the next two weeks.

Brady’s suspension to start the season kept Deflategate on many minds in New England, something owner Robert Kraft referenced after winning the AFC when he said there were “a number of reasons” why it was such a big win. During an appearance on “Kirk & Callahan” on WEEI Monday, Brady was asked if he’s thought about what he’d say to Goodell if they meet after a Super Bowl victory.

Brady may have given it some consideration, but he’s not sharing any thoughts he might have at this point.

“Hopefully we’ll finish the deal. Hopefully we can finish it off and we’ll see. Maybe I’ll tell you after,” Brady said. “But I don’t want to get into winning something before we’ve won it, because it’s going to be hard to win this thing.”

Goodell traditionally presents the Lombardi Trophy to the winning team’s owner, but appears with the MVP at a press conference the morning after the game. If Brady wins the MVP, it should make for a memorable moment.

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Did Steelers conceal Le’Veon Bell injury?

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts prior to the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell exited Sunday’s game with a groin injury. He admitted after the game that the he had been playing through a groin issue for weeks.

If he had a “groin issue,” it hadn’t been disclosed in the team’s postseason injury reports. Prior to the Patriots game, Bell didn’t practice on Wednesday and Thursday for reasons unrelated to injury. Prior to the Chiefs game, Bell didn’t practice on Wednesday for reasons unrelated to injury. Prior to the Dolphins game, Bell wasn’t listed on the injury report at all.

If there was a violation, it’s not nearly as clear as last week’s admission from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll that a knee injury to cornerback Richard Sherman had been concealed. If the league investigates, the question will be whether Bell received treatment on the groin. If he did, he should have been listed on the injury report.

The Steelers hardly would be the first team to violate the rules regarding the disclosure of injuries. Violating the rules and getting caught are two different propositions, however. By pointing out that he’d been dealing with a groin issue for weeks, Bell has invited scrutiny of the team’s injury-reporting practices.

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Travis Kelce stands by ref comments, writes out check to NFL

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 01:   Travis Kelce #87 jokes with  Charcandrick West #35 of the Kansas City Chiefs after he scored a touchdown during the second half of a game against the San Diego Chargers  at Qualcomm Stadium on January 1, 2017 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce got fined $12,500 by the league last week after he ripped the officiating in the team’s divisional round loss to the Steelers.

Among the thoughts Kelce shared was that referee Carl Cheffers shouldn’t be allowed to wear a “zebra jersey” as a Foot Locker employee, something the league would seem to take issue with beyond the fine since it chose Cheffers to work Super Bowl LI. Neither time nor the league’s response to his comments has swayed Kelce’s feelings, however.

“I stand by my statement,” Kelce said on ESPN Sunday. “If the NFL wants my money, they can have it.”

Kelce then pulled out his checkbook and wrote a check to the league that may have also included the $9,115 fine for unnecessary roughness he picked up for shoving Steelers cornerback Ross Cockrell at the end of a play.

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Aaron Rodgers: We need to win more to have the playoffs at home

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 22: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is wrapped up by Tyson Jackson #94 of the Atlanta Falcons during the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on January 22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers shook off a mediocre start to the season to play as well as anyone in football over the second half of the season. But Rodgers wishes they hadn’t waited to turn it on.

After losing the NFC Championship Game in Atlanta on Sunday, Rodgers said he wishes the team had played well enough for the entire regular season to get the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field.

“If this has taught us anything, it’s how important home-field advantage is,” Rodgers said. “We’ve played in three of these games, and they’ve all been on the road, and that’s just making it tough on yourself. Especially when the consequence is coming to a place like this, having to win here.”

Having to win in the Georgia Dome turned out to be too much to ask of the Packers. Perhaps in Green Bay the result would have been different. But Rodgers will never know, because the Packers lost too many games early in the season to earn home-field advantage in January.

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Hue Jackson won’t hold Senior Bowl skip against Deshaun Watson

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates with the trophy after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide to win the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game 35-31 at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns coach Hue Jackson might have been disappointed by not getting to work with Deshaun Watson for an extra week.

But he promises he won’t hold it against the Clemson quarterback for deciding to skip the Senior Bowl.

Via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Jackson shrugged off Watson’s business decision. The MVP of the national championship game will be a candidate for the first overall pick, and there were early indications he might go to Mobile before he decided to keep himself safe.

“There are going to be other guys that are not participating either, so I won’t hold it against him,” Jackson said. “I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. He’s still a draftable player, there’s still a process we have to go through to evaluate him and see if he can fit here with the Cleveland Browns. . . .

“I get it. I understand where he is and I’m sure he understood what we wanted to accomplish. Again, he’s got to do what’s best for him. You only get drafted one time, and I respect that.”

The Browns also pick 12th overall, and obviously need a quarterback (copy, save, paste as needed). They were already scouting Watson prior to the end of the season, along with other quarterbacks including Mitch Trubisky and DeShone Kizer. But of the group of underclassmen, only Watson was eligible to play because he had already graduated.

“Obviously we wish he were here,” Jackson said. “It would’ve been a great chance to have an opportunity to evaluate him doing the things we do in meetings and on the practice field. But that’s not going to happen, so we’ll have to find a different way of evaluating him. . . .

“I think he’s a high-character guy. I think he’s made of the right stuff. I don’t think there’s anything malicious about his decision. I just think he’s like a lot of guys who have made this decision to do what’s best for them.”

Carson Wentz chose to play in last year’s Senior Bowl, and an impressive week of practice helped vault him to the No. 2 overall pick. But he was also coming out of North Dakota State, and didn’t have a national title on his resume, either.

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