Stanford's Luck among four Heisman finalists

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Stanford's Luck among four Heisman finalists

Dec. 6, 2010STANFORD PAGEPOLLS PAGE

(AP) -- Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and Oregon running back LaMichael James, two of the nation's most dynamic players, will meet in the national championship game next month.First, a stop in New York.Newton and James were named finalists for the Heisman Trophy on Monday, and will be joined by Stanford's Andrew Luck and Kellen Moore of Boise State for Saturday's announcement in Times Square.Newton overcame a pay-to-play scandal with a superb season on the field, piling up nearly 4,000 combined yards and 49 touchdowns in leading the top-ranked Tigers into the Jan. 10 national championship game.James and the Ducks will be there waiting for them in the desert after he piled up more yards and touchdowns than anyone else in FBS, helping the second-ranked Ducks into their first national title game."Since I was a young boy, playing the game of football has been a pure joy and this season has been a very special one for my teammates and for me," Newton said in a statement. "I know as a team we're excited to get back on the field on January 10 against a great Oregon team."Newton is the front-runner, but the big question is whether voters will look past the scandal involving his father.Newton was unparalleled on the field.He threw for 2,589 yards and 28 touchdowns while running for 1,409 yards and 20 more scores - adding another on a reception - to join Florida quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow as the only FBS players to have 20 touchdowns rushing and passing in a season.In his final regular-season game, he threw four TD passes and scored two more on the ground in Auburn's 56-17 rout of 18th-ranked South Carolina that earned Auburn the SEC championship and a shot at its first national title since 1957.The knock against Newton is the shenanigans by his father, Cecil.The elder Newton was accused of working with the owner of a scouting service to get up to 180,000 for his son to play for at Mississippi State while the quarterback was being recruited out of junior college last year.The NCAA cleared Cam, saying neither he nor Auburn knew anything about it, but Heisman voters might be leery of another Reggie Bush-type situation. The 2005 Heisman winner from USC gave back his trophy earlier this year and his school was hit with heavy sanctions after a four-year NCAA investigation determined he was ineligible that season for receiving improper benefits.If Newton does win it, he'll join Bo Jackson (1985) and Pat Sullivan (1971) as Heisman Trophy winners at Auburn."I'm very honored and blessed to be named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy with some other outstanding players," said Newton, who was playing at a Texas junior college just a year ago. "Like I've said, this is not an individual honor, but a team honor. I wouldn't be in this position without my great teammates, coaches and the Auburn family."If voters steer away from Newton, James could swoop in and become the first Oregon player to win college football's most prestigious individual award.James was the main cog in Oregon's nearly point-a-minute offense, forcing teams to key on him while the rest of his talented teammates ran all over the field. Oregon led the nation in scoring at nearly 50 points per game and was second in total yards, just a few tenths behind Oklahoma State at 537 yards per game.Even with the extra attention, James led the nation with 1,682 yards and 21 touchdowns, and his 152 yards per game was nearly 10 more than Connecticut's Jordan Todman in second. He closed out the regular season by gaining 134 yards in Oregon's 37-20 win over rival Oregon State on Saturday that clinched the school's first trip to the national title game.Luck was second fiddle to Washington's Heisman hopeful Jake Locker to open the season, but quickly established himself as the Pac-10's best quarterback.The 6-foot-4 junior won a lopsided battle over Locker and his Huskies early in the season and guided the fifth-ranked Cardinal to one of the best seasons in school history. A projected top NFL pick, Luck threw for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns with just seven interceptions while completing 70 percent of his passes for an 11-1 team that earned an Orange Bowl berth.
RELATED: Orange Bowl tab No. 5 Stanford, No. 12 VaTech
Moore wasn't much of a Heisman hopeful early in the season, but quickly played his way into the picture while leading the Broncos to the cusp of a BCS bowl berth.The junior was second in the nation in passer efficiency, throwing for over 3,500 yards with 33 TDs and five interceptions, but his chances took a hit with a loss to Nevada that knocked Boise State out of BCS contention.Alabama's Mark Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, wasn't much of a factor in his bid to repeat.The bruising running back missed the first two games after offseason knee surgery and wasn't nearly as dynamic as a year ago, rushing for 816 yards, half his total from a year ago. His team also had its repeat national title hopes fizzle with an early-season loss to South Carolina and later losses to LSU and Newton's Tigers.

Source: Packers execs on list of 49ers GM finalists

Source: Packers execs on list of 49ers GM finalists

Green Bay executives Brian Gutekunst and Eliot Wolf will be among the finalists to receive second interviews for the 49ers general manager position, a source told CSNBayArea.com on Wednesday morning.

Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton will also be among the finalists, reports the NFL Network, but a second interview with him has yet to be confirmed, a source said.

The 49ers are also expected to bring in another candidate or two for a second interview, a source said.

The second interviews are expected to take place after Sunday, when the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers play in the NFC Championship Game. The 49ers will have a second interview with Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan for the head-coaching position.

The 49ers are expected to make a formal offer to Shanahan to become the team’s next head coach, and the NFL Network reported Tuesday night it is “almost certain” he will accept. The 49ers will be allowed to speak with Shanahan next week, regardless of Sunday's outcome, but are not allowed to hire Shanahan until the Falcons' season is over. 

The 49ers interviewed nine candidates for the general manager position. Seattle co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner removed his name from consideration on Tuesday.

Sources say that Kirchner and coach candidate Tom Cable, Seattle’s offensive line coach, were in serious talks with the 49ers on Tuesday about filling the organization’s top two positions. But Kirchner and Cable felt like they were being used as leverage to land Shanahan as the head coach.

The other general manager candidates who interviewed with 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe were Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough, Seattle co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer, ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, Carolina assistant general manager Brandon Beane, Indianapolis vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III.

Gutekunst, 43, is in his 18th season with the Green Bay and his first as director of player personnel. He and Wolf originally interviewed with the 49ers on Jan. 5.

Gutekunst received a new title prior to last season after Packers general manager Ted Thompson denied permission for him to interview for the director of player personnel job with the Tennessee Titans. He was also denied from joining the Philadelphia Eagles’ personnel department in 2015 during Chip Kelly’s tenure with the team.

Wolf, 32, is in his first season as Green Bay’s director of football operations after receiving a promotion after being denied an opportunity to interview with the Detroit Lions last year.

Wolf is the son Hall of Fame executive Ron Wolf. He has also worked closely through the years with current NFL general managers Reggie McKenzie, John Schneider and John Dorsey.

Report: Shanahan 'almost certain' to accept 49ers' offer

Report: Shanahan 'almost certain' to accept 49ers' offer

Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is reportedly “almost certain” to accept the 49ers’ offer to become head coach.

Shanahan is the lone remaining candidate among the six individuals who interviewed with 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe. The 49ers plan for a second interview with Shanahan and a job offer, a source told CSNBayArea.com. Shanahan is expected to accept the 49ers’ offer, reports Michael Silver of the NFL Network, citing sources familiar with both parties.

The 49ers continued to work Tuesday evening on the process of narrowing down the general manager choices, a source said. Shanahan is expected to play a role in the select the team’s next GM, sources said.

On Tuesday, Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable and Seahawks co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner removed their names from consideration for the vacant coach and general manager positions. The 49ers fired Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke after the 49ers' 2-14 season.

One source said Cable and Kirchner believed the 49ers were using them as leverage to hire Shanahan. Cable interviewed with 49ers co-chair Denise DeBartolo York over the phone on Tuesday, NFL Network reported.

The 49ers are allowed to interview Shanahan for a second time after the Falcons’ NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The 49ers are prohibited from hiring or making a formal contract offer to Shanahan until the Falcons' season has concluded.

The top remaining candidates for the general manager job are believed to be Green Bay executives Brian Gutekunst and Eliot Wolf, Arizona's Terry McDonough and Minnesota's George Paton.