Maiocco's Instant Replay: 49ers 30, Packers 22

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Maiocco's Instant Replay: 49ers 30, Packers 22

BOX SCORE

GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- In the regular-season opener, the 49ers skipped ahead to midseason form for the first three quarters.The 49ers were nearly perfect in all three phases for three quarters Sunday. After one fourth-quarter hiccup, coming on a controversial Green Bay Packers punt return for a touchdown, the 49ers regained their swagger in a 30-22 victory at Lambeau Field.The team featured two of the preseason favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. And the 49ers might have established themselves as the early season team to beat.It was the 49ers' first road victory against the Packers since 1990 -- a span that included six regular-season games and two playoff showdowns.Quarterback Alex Smith distributed the ball to the 49ers' wide variety of offensive weapons. Smith finished 20-for-26 for 211 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. And running back Frank Gore capitalized on a wide array of personnel groups, featuring extra blockers to gain 112 yards on 16 carries.Smith set the 49ers' team record for most regular-season pass attempts without an interception. Smith entered the game with 159 consecutive attempts without an interception from the end of last season. Steve Young previously held the record with 184 consecutive attempts without an interception.Defensively, the 49ers managed to keep Aaron Rodgers and the high-powered Packers offense in check.Linebacker NaVorro Bowman intercepted a Rodgers pass midway through the fourth quarter. On the next play, Gore tore off a 23-yard touchdown run to give the 49ers a 30-15 lead. The 49ers had spare offensive linemen Leonard Davis and Daniel Kilgore on the field as eligible receivers on Gore's touchdown run.And, just as a year ago, kicker David Akers was exceptional with three first-half field goals.Akers, a 14-year veteran, tied an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to give the 49ers a 16-7 lead against the Green Bay Packers.Akers became the fourth player in NFL history to kick a 63-yard field goal, joining Tom Dempsey (1970), Jason Elam (1998) and Sebastian Janikowski (2011).Replacement refs: Coach Jim Harbaugh was livid on the sideline when referee David White picked up a flag for an apparent illegal block in the back that would've nullified Randall Cobb's 75-yard punt return in the fourth quarter. It appeared as if Packers special-teamer Terrell Manning blocked Anthony Dixon in the back in the middle of the field.Return of Williams: Kyle Williams handled all the punt-return chores with Ted Ginn out of action with a right ankle sprain. Williams gave the 49ers a chance to score before the end of the the first half when he returned Tim Masthay's punt 20 yards to the 38. Four plays later, Akers went out for his 63-yard field goal to close the first half.Designated runner: Backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick helped set up the field goal when he entered the game for one play, and he dashed off a 17-yard run to the Green Bay 45-yard line with :11 remaining in the half.Akers also made field goals of 40 and 43 yards in the first half. He set the NFL record last season with 44 field goals made.Moss is boss: Randy Moss' debut with the 49ers was a resounding success. He caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith in the second quarter for his 14th career regular-season touchdown against the Packers. He has caught more touchdown passes against the Packers than any other opponent in the history of the franchise.

O.J. Simpson to face Nevada Parole Board with freedom in sight

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AP

O.J. Simpson to face Nevada Parole Board with freedom in sight

LOVELOCK, Nev. -- O.J. Simpson once thrilled crowds as he ran for touchdowns and hurdled airport seats in car rental ads to achieve Hollywood celebrity before he was acquitted of murder in the 1995 "trial of the century" in Los Angeles.

Now, an aging Simpson will appear as inmate No. 1027820 in a starkly plain hearing room in a remote Nevada prison Thursday to plead for his freedom. He's spent more than eight years behind bars for armed robbery and assault with a weapon after trying to take back sports memorabilia in a budget hotel room in Las Vegas.

Simpson, 70, will ask four parole board members who sided with him once before to release him in October, a likely possibility with his clean prison record.

It will be a stunning scene for a charismatic star once known as "The Juice" who won the Heisman Trophy as the best U.S. college football player in 1968 and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

He appeared to have it all.

He went on to star in Hertz commercials and movies like the "Naked Gun" comedies and do sideline reporting for "Monday Night Football" before his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman were slain in 1994.

Simpson is expected to reiterate that he has kept a promise to stay out of trouble, coaches in the prison gym where he works and counsels other inmates.

"I guess, my age, guys come to me," Simpson told parole officials four years ago.

The same commissioners granted him parole on some of his 12 charges in 2013, leaving him with four years to serve before reaching his minimum term.

At Simpson's side in his bid for freedom will be lawyer Malcolm LaVergne, close friend Tom Scotto, sister Shirley Baker and daughter Arnelle Simpson.

O.J. Simpson is expected to explain what he would do and where he would live if he is granted parole after reaching the nine-year minimum of his 33-year sentence.

He was convicted in 2008 after enlisting some men he barely knew, including two with guns, to retrieve from two sports collectibles sellers some items that Simpson said were stolen from him a decade earlier.

"My crime was trying to retrieve for my family my own property," Simpson told the parole officials in 2013 before apologizing.

"Make no mistake, I would give it all back," he said, "to get these last five years back."

The items disappeared after Simpson was found not guilty in the 1994 killings of his ex-wife and her friend and before he was found liable in 1997 in civil court for the deaths.

He was ordered to pay $33.5 million to survivors including his children and the Goldman family.

A Goldman family spokesman said Ron Goldman's father and sister, Fred and Kim, won't be part of Simpson's parole hearing but that they felt apprehensive about "how this will change their lives again should Simpson be released."

"They will remain patient and optimistic that the system will do what is necessary to ensure the public's safety remains a priority and that proper justice will be served," spokesman Michael Wright said this week.

The Goldmans believe Simpson got away with murder in Los Angeles, and many people felt the stiff sentence handed down in 2008 in Las Vegas wasn't just about the robbery.

Now, even the retired district attorney who prosecuted Simpson for the heist acknowledges that Simpson has a good chance to go free. But David Roger denied Simpson's sentence was "payback" for his acquittal in the Los Angeles slayings.

The former prosecutor said Simpson took a gamble when he rejected an offer to avoid trial by pleading guilty to a felony that could have gotten him 2½ years in prison.

"He thought he was invincible, and he rolled the dice," Roger said.

Why Kirk Cousins' stock is on the rise

Why Kirk Cousins' stock is on the rise

The NFL has always had difficulty uncovering the next stars at the sport’s most important position.

And it figures to get more and more difficult as offenses in college have drifted away from the general requirements of playing quarterback at the NFL level, such as forming a huddle, lining up under center and reading defenses.

First-year 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan spoke before the draft about the difficulties of evaluating college quarterbacks and attempting to project how they will fit into NFL schemes.

“It makes it tougher each year to evaluate,” Shanahan said. “The more spread out it gets, the more up-tempo it gets, a little more sloppy it gets.

“I know a lot of colleges have committed to the spread, which is a good way to move the football and a good way to score points. But it does make it harder to evaluate if you don’t plan on doing the same thing.”

Are there enough good, young quarterbacks to take over after the current crop of aging, superstars fade out of the NFL? Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger are in their mid-30s or older.

That is why Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins would be a player of interest for a lot of NFL teams if he becomes available next offseason. He turns 29 in August. But with the top quarterbacks continuing to play at high levels past 35 years old, any team could expect at least five solid seasons from Cousins.

Although he might not widely be considered a top-10 quarterback now, if Cousins continues to learn the game and improve he should move up as many of those in front of him exit the leauge.

Here’s a look at the ages this season of the non-rookie quarterbacks who are projected to start for their clubs:

40 – Tom Brady (NE)
38 – Drew Brees (NO), Carson Palmer (Ariz), Josh McCown (NYJ)
36 – Philip Rivers (LAC), Eli Manning (NYG)
35 – Ben Roethlisberger (Pitt)
34 – Aaron Rodgers (GB)
33 – Alex Smith (KC)
32 – Matt Ryan (Atl), Brian Hoyer (SF)
30 – Andy Dalton (Cinc), Sam Bradford (Minn)
29 – Matthew Stafford (Det), Ryan Tannehill (Mia), Joe Flacco (Balt) Kirk Cousins (Wash), Russell Wilson (Sea)
28 – Cam Newton (Car), Tyrod Taylor (Buff), Andrew Luck (Ind), Mike Glennon (Chi)
27 – Tom Savage (Hou)
26 – Derek Carr (Oak), Trevor Siemian (Den)
25 – Blake Bortles (Jax), Carson Wentz (Phi)
24 – Marcus Mariota (Tenn), Dak Prescott (Dal), Cody Kessler (Cleve)
23 – Jameis Winston (TB), Jared Goff (LAR)