Is Phil Coke the Tigers' new closer?

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Is Phil Coke the Tigers' new closer?

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Jose Valverde didn't finish Game 2 of the AL championship series for the Detroit Tigers but retains his closer's role for now."I guess that sounds like I am mud watching, but I am really not," manager Jim Leyland said. "We will do some work with him."Valverde allowed a tying two-run double to Oakland's Seth Smith on Wednesday in Game 4 of the AL division series as Detroit lost 4-3, then gave up two-run homers in the ninth inning to the Yankees' Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez in Saturday's ALCS opener. Detroit rebounded to win 6-4 in 12 innings.Left-hander Phil Coke, who had just one save in each of the last two regular seasons, got the final six outs and allowed only one hit in the Tigers' 3-0 win Sunday."It's a tough game. You've got to be able to step up when called upon, and luckily I was able to do that," said Coke, acquired by Detroit from the Yankees following the 2009 season.After converting all 49 save chances during the 2011 regular season, Valverde was 35 for 40 this year. Leyland and pitching coach Jeff Jones were examining 34-year-old right-hander's delivery at 3 a.m."It is way too slow. The tempo is not good at all," Leyland said. "I don't even know if I am right about it, I probably shouldn't say it, but I will say it anyway, it almost appears to me that it looks like he is kind of waiting for something bad to happen. And I don't know if I am accurate on that, I may be totally wrong. But sometimes when you read a player, you can see that he's not quite as confident. And he is normally very confident. But I think there is something to this mechanical part of that. I definitely think that."He said before the game he planned to make his decision based on matchups."I cannot give you one name. I have a suggestion box down by my office," Leyland said. "The last three outs are very tough to get, and it takes a special cat in a lot of cases to do that."New York's batting order caused him to pick Coke."Today it went fine because we were really, really lucky to be honest with you," Leyland said. "Things fell in place."Coke assumes closing will not become a regular task. He expects to see Valverde pitching in the ninth inning soon."I think he absolutely has the ability to get back on track really quickly because, number one, he's a closer. That's what closers do," Coke said. "They have a bad game. They get it figured out, and they go back out there and do their job."

Kelly benched Kaepernick to see if Gabbert could provide spark

Kelly benched Kaepernick to see if Gabbert could provide spark

CHICAGO – The 49ers on Sunday had the second-worst passing day in the 71-season history of the organization.

Coach Chip Kelly made the move at the beginning of the fourth quarter to bench quarterback Colin Kaepernick in favor of Blaine Gabbert as the 49ers sunk to new depths with a 26-6 loss to the Chicago Bears on a cold, snowy day at Soldier Field.

Kelly said he made the move because it was clear to him that Kaepernick was not coping well with the inclement conditions. Kaepernick completed just one of five passing attempts for 4 yards through three quarters. He was sacked five times for minus-25 yards.

Kelly was asked afterward if Kaepernick would regain his starting job for next week’s game against the New York Jets.

“We haven’t had any discussions about anything,” Kelly said. “It was just my decision to make a move to see if we could get a spark and see where we were.

“At that point in the game, we’re down a couple of scores (18 points) and, obviously, we have to throw it a ton. So we just wanted to see if we could get a spark for our team. There were no permanent decisions or anything like that.”

Gabbert did not have much more success in his one quarter of action. He completed four of 10 attempts for 35 yards. He was sacked in the end zone late in the fourth quarter for a safety.

“Yeah, I was surprised,” Kaepernick said of his benching. “It wasn’t something I expected. I’m always prepared and ready to do everything I can to help this team win.

“It’s not about my feelings. It’s about being able to help this team win. This coaching staff didn’t feel like I was, you know, out there being able to help this team win, so they made a change -- whether I agreed with that or not.”

The 49ers stuck with the running game for most of the game. Running back Carlos Hyde gained 92 yards on 20 rushing attempts, while Kaepernick rushed six times for 20 yards.

Kelly took the conservative approach in conditions that were snowy, wet and near freezing. There was no wind. Kelly was asked afterward if he might have been too cautious with Kaepernick.

“No, I was just watching how the ball was coming off his hands and what our chances were of completing it,” he said. “Maybe I was too cautious, but it didn’t look like we were doing much in the passing game.”

Kelly pointed out that the weather did not appear to have much of a negative impact on Bears quarterback Matt Barkley, who completed 11 of 18 passes for 192 yards.

“Both teams played in the same weather, so I don’t look at that as an excuse, in terms of we had the same weather that they had,” Kelly said. “Both teams had to deal with it, and they dealt with it better, especially in the pass game.”

Said Kaepernick, “I think the weather was something that definitely played a factor. We have to be able to do a better job managing that, handing it and being able to throw the ball, still.

“More than anything, it was tougher throwing a wet football. Once again, we have to be better at, being able to handle it.”

The 49ers had just 6 yards of net passing in the game. Kaepernick and Gabbert combined for 39 yards passing. Negative yardage on sacks counts against net passing yardage in the NFL, and the 49ers had 33 yards in sacks.

The 49ers franchise-worst game in passing is minus-10 yards. Quarterbacks Bob Waters and Lamar McHan combined for 63 yards passing against the Detroit Lions on Oct. 6, 1963. The 49ers gave up 73 yards in sacks to account for the negative yardage.

“It was just one of those days,” Gabbert said. “It’s not on any single guy’s shoulders why we didn’t win this football game and why we didn’t execute as an offense.”

Kaepernick had been playing some of the best football of his career entering Sunday’s game. In the 49ers’ 31-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins a week earlier, Kaepernick threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns and gained 113 yards rushing.

“We have to continue to keep building, keep progressing,” Kaepernick said. “This is a setback, most definitely, but we have to be able to keep pushing forward.”

On Sunday, the NFL Network reported Kaepernick planned to opt out the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Kaepernick said he is not looking ahead to the offseason.

“Once again, like I’ve said all along, my focus is on the next game,” Kaepernick said. “So my focus has been on the Bears this past week.”

When asked whether he expects to remain the 49ers’ starter, Kaepernick answered, “That’s not my decision. My feelings on it really don’t matter at this point. I’m just going to do everything I can to make sure I’m prepared.”

 

Chip Kelly coached 49ers in Chicago despite father's death

Chip Kelly coached 49ers in Chicago despite father's death

CHICAGO – Paul Kelly, the father of Chip Kelly, passed away on Friday night, the 49ers coach confirmed Sunday afternoon.

Kelly flew from Chicago to New Hampshire late Friday after learning of his father’s death. He returned for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. The 49ers lost their 11th consecutive game, a 26-6 defeat to the Bears.

When asked if he considered not coaching in the game, Kelly told CSNBayArea.com, “My mom wanted me to coach.”

Kelly said the team was making travel plans to send him back to New Hampshire after the game to be with his family, including his mother, Jean.

General manager Trent Baalke informed the 49ers’ players during a meeting Saturday morning in Chicago.

Paul Kelly was a retired trial lawyer and a member of the New Hampshire Bar from 1960 to 2000.

In a 2009 profile on the Kelly family in the Oregonian, Paul Kelly was described as “cerebral, successful and competitive.” The article states that throughout Chip Kelly's childhood, his father preached, “Deeds, not words.”