And the Heisman Trophy finalists are...

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And the Heisman Trophy finalists are...

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Johnny Manziel and Manti Te'o are in position to make Heisman Trophy history.Manziel, the redshirt freshman quarterback from Texas A&M, and Te'o, Notre Dame's star linebacker, along with Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, were invited Monday to attend the Heisman presentation ceremony.Manziel is the favorite to win college football's most famous player of the year award on Saturday night in Manhattan. He would be the first freshman to win the Heisman and the first Texas A&M player since halfback John David Crow won the school's only Heisman in 1957."I'm overwhelmed by this tremendous honor of representing Texas A&M, the 12th Man and all my teammates in New York," Manziel said in a statement. "This is a dream come true for me, and I know it's a credit to all my coaches and teammates. I definitely wouldn't be a Heisman finalist without my teammates and coaches."Three sophomores have won the award (Tim Tebow in 2007, Sam Bradford in 2008 and Mark Ingram in 2009), but the best a first-year player has ever done is second.Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma finished second to Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart in 2004. Peterson was a true freshman. As a redshirt freshman, Manziel attended A&M last year and practiced with the team but did not play.Michael Vick of Virginia Tech came in third in 1999 as a redshirt freshman and Herschel Walker was a true freshman for Georgia in 1980 when he finished third in the Heisman balloting.Nicknamed Johnny Football, Manziel quickly became a national sensation this season, putting up huge numbers in first-year Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin's spread offense. He led the 10th-ranked Aggies to a 10-2 record in their first season in the Southeastern Conference.With a knack for improvisation, Manziel racked up an SEC-record 4,600 yards of total offense, including 1,181 rushing to lead the conference. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Manziel zoomed to the front of the Heisman race on Nov. 10, when he passed for 253 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 92 yards as the Aggies upset then-No. 1 Alabama 29-24 in Tuscaloosa.Manziel and Texas A&M will play No. 12 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.Te'o is trying to become the first defense-only player to win the Heisman. The Fighting Irish have seven Heisman winners, tied for the most with Ohio State and Southern California, but none since Tim Brown in 1987.Te'o became the face of the No. 1 team in the country and leader of a defense that has been the toughest to score upon in the nation. The senior intercepted seven passes, second-most in the country and tops for a linebacker. He also led the Fighting Irish with 103 tackles, and earlier Monday won the Butkus Award as country's best linebacker.Te'o and the Irish face No. 2 Alabama in the BCS championship game on Jan. 7 in Miami.Klein would be the first player from Kansas State to win the Heisman."I'm just honored with this opportunity that the Lord has provided me here at K-State," Klein said in a statement. "I'm so proud to represent K-State in this because I feel like my road is very synonymous and in line with the K-State way. It has been a process, it has been a journey. There have been a lot of ups and downs, as well as a lot of hard times and growing pains through it. I'm just very proud to represent the K-State family and our heart and spirit in this environment."He seemed to be the front-runner for several weeks until Manziel's late push. When Klein threw three interceptions in the Wildcats' late-season loss to Baylor, Manziel moved to the front of the race.Klein is a multitalented quarterback like Manziel, but with a different approach. The 6-5, 226-pound senior is a bullish runner who scored 22 touchdowns and threw for 15 more, while leading the seventh-ranked Wildcats (11-1) to the Big 12 title. Earlier in the day, Klein won the Johnny Unitas Award given to the top upperclassman quarterback in the nation.Klein will finish his Kansas State career against No. 5 Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.

Pats OC McDaniels 'impressed' by York, Marathe

Pats OC McDaniels 'impressed' by York, Marathe

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels announced Monday morning he has pulled his name from consideration for the 49ers’ head-coaching job.

McDaniels interviewed with 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe on Saturday, Jan. 7, while the Patriots were on the bye week as the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. McDaniels indicated he also met with Brian Hampton, the 49ers’ director of football administration and analytics.

"I was really impressed with Jed York and Paraag and Brian, and people that came for the 49ers organization,” McDaniels said in a conference call with reporters who cover the Patriots.

“They did a great job with their presentation,” McDaniels added. “Again, (I’m) humbled to be included in that process. At this time, it's just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England, and focus on this year's playoffs and finish out the year however it turns out."

McDaniels said his main focus would be on helping prepare the Patriots to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in the AFC Championship game.

McDaniels, 40, was viewed as one of the hot head-coaching candidates, along with Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, this offseasons. He has served the past five seasons as New England’s offensive coordinator under Bill Belichick.

Shanahan becomes the leading candidate for the 49ers’ job. The 49ers interviewed Seattle offensive line/assistant head coach Tom Cable on Sunday. Shanahan and Cable are the only known remaining candidates for the job to replace Chip Kelly, who was hired after a 2-14 season.

McDaniels became Denver’s head coach in 2009. He was fired after 12 games in 2010 after his teams compiled an 11-17 record. He returned to the Patriots in 2012 and has served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on Bill Belichick’s staff.

McDaniels, who also interviewed with the 49ers last year, also had interviews on Jan. 7 with Jacksonville and the Los Angeles Rams. Jacksonville hired Doug Marrone, while the Rams hired Sean McVay.

“I've always said how grateful I am for this opportunity to work here for Mr. Kraft his family and coach under Bill with a lot of great guys on our staff and have the privilege to work with the players we get to work with each day," McDaniels said. "It's a great opportunity. Very thankful to be here and very much looking forward to this week against Pittsburgh."

Lengthy coaching search increases chances of failure for 49ers

Lengthy coaching search increases chances of failure for 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers are on the verge of having the least interesting (or appealing) job search in recent NFL history. In fact, they may have already achieved that honor.

While the other 31 teams were either already set and found their guy (or guys) in a fairly timely fashion, Jed York and Paraag Marathe are still interviewing candidates, and if reports are to be believed that their top coaching choice, Josh McDaniels, has decided to pass in hopes of finding a better gig in the next job vacancy cycle, they are now considered within football as they are outside it.

An ongoing disaster.

Since the end of the season, the 49ers have been without a head coach for 15 days, and a general manager for 17. York and Marathe have shown no particular urgency in filling either job, presumably on the theory that they can wait until February 6, the day after the Super Bowl, if need be.

The problem with that plan, of course, is that for 37 days (or 39) it’s rabbit season/duck season/rabbit season/duck season/York season, and when it’s York season, it’s also brand season.

In other words, the 49ers are currently further from New England, Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Atlanta than any other team, and while nothing really matters in mid-January for 28 of the 32 teams, the notion that a potential head coach would be willing to wait out the current cycle in hopes of doing better next time should be sufficiently galling to a fan base already revolted by its team.

This would all be different if there was a reason to be encouraged by York’s hiring history. Even the one he got right (He Whose Name Must Never Be Spoken, Michigan Division) he got wrong because he hired someone he thought he could tame and failed miserably – a clear vetting problem that lays squarely at the feet of the employer.

So no, York has shown no facility for coaching personnel judgment, and since owners hire coaches (and can’t be dismissed, as a great man once said) this delay does not represent wisdom but an increasing chance of failure.

Which brings us to Kyle Shanahan or Tom Cable, two guys who probably can’t be as picky as McDaniels.

Shanahan, the Atlanta offensive coordinator, has helped the Falcons create the most dynamic offense of the decade, but would be coming to a place where he has zero dynamic players, and therefore would be savaged almost immediately for not “coaching ‘em up,” as Chip Kelly was halfway through his first season, and Jim Tomsula was on the day of his first press conference.

Cable, the Seattle assistant head coach and offensive line coach, comes pre-condemned for coaching the Oakland Raiders in the aftermath of the Al Davis-Lane Kiffin tire fire, as well for as clocking assistant coach Randy Hanson (a lawsuit was settled in arbitration) and for allegations of domestic violence that Davis cited when he fired him after 44 games. He would not be given much benefit of the doubt because his history does not comfort, and because these are angry times in 49er World anyway.

So the speculation drags on, mostly on a low simmer, and it only makes York and Marathe look like the masters of a sinking ship. That isn’t a truly fair characterization, since by rule they have to wait on Shanahan, but when it comes to a 2-14 team (which has won one less game in the last two years in the last year of the discredited-in-house coach with no name) run by the son of a man who had his own organizational issues with the very same franchise, fair has nothing to do with it.

But look at the bright side. This could last another three weeks. At least they’ll know they didn’t get their first choice.