Urban: Giants' Sandoval to catch upon return?

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Urban: Giants' Sandoval to catch upon return?

June 10, 2011

URBAN ARCHIVE
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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

A few quick nuggets mined from Giants manager Bruce Bochy's session with the media Friday before the second game of a four-game series against the visiting Reds at AT&T Park:Pablo behind the plate: After noting that Pablo Sandoval (wrist), expected to come off the disabled list Tuesday for the start of a three-game set in Arizona, will see some time at first base to spell struggling Aubrey Huff, Bochy mentioned that there have been internal discussions about getting the Panda back up to speed as a catcher, the position at which he started his professional -- and big-league -- career.

Sandoval wouldn't be asked to get ready for mere emergency duty, either. He could be asked to play as frequently as a "couple times a week," said the skipper, who didn't think it would take much time at all for Pablo to get ready to again don the tools of ignorance."It's not something we've ruled out," said Bochy, who added that far more in-depth conversations would have to take place before the notion became a reality.Interesting development, to say the least, because the last time Sandoval was asked if he had any interest in catching again, he responded as if asked if he'd like to jump into a bathtub full of piranhas and a plugged-in microwave oven.Zito ready: Giants lefty Barry Zito will make his second rehab start for the Single-A Dan Jose Giants on Saturday in Modesto and told CSNBayArea.com that he expects to throw up to 95 pitches.Were Zito needed in the event of an emergency at the big-league level, it's clear he'd be ready in terms of stamina, but he noted that only such a development is likely to cut his rehab assignment any shorter. Well aware of how well the Giants rotation has performed in his absence, he sounds willing to accept any role he's asked to fill, but the Giants currently have no plans to get him any relief work out of the bullpen in preparation for taking on a long-relief role if need be upon his return. Bullet behind schedule: Outfielder Darren Ford (ankle) was eligible to come off the disabled list on June 7, but he's probably more than a week away from returning to the roster or heading out for a rehab stint. Bochy said Ford received a cortisone shot Wednesday or Thursday and will remain shut down for "a couple more days" before possibly being cleared for any sort of activity.Fontenot fine: Infielder Mike Fontenot (groin) is rehabbing with Sandoval at Triple-A Fresno and was lifted from the Grizzlies' game Thursday night after four innings, but Bochy assured the press there had been no setback. "That was the plan, four innings, all along." Fontenot could return for the start of the Arizona series, too.Stretching out: Lefty Dan Runzler, who has worked exclusively out of the bullpen for the Giants, is being "stretched out" in the minors, but no decision has been made as to whether he'll be converted into a starter. It's definitely an option being strongly considered, though, in large part because the team lacks organizational rotation depth in the high minors.

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.

Wilcox embracing challenge, will change the way Cal looks on field

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AP

Wilcox embracing challenge, will change the way Cal looks on field

BERKELEY — With more than a half-century without a Rose Bowl berth, tougher academic standards than most Pac-12 schools and lackluster fan support in a pro-sports focused market, there are plenty of hurdles for a football coach at California.

Coach Justin Wilcox took the job for the Golden Bears because he embraces those obstacles and he wants players who feel the same way as he seeks to rebuild a program that has one winning record in the past five years and no conference championships since 1958.

"When you come here, there are challenges," Wilcox said at his introductory news conference Tuesday. "You don't come here and go through school and just go through the motions. You'll be challenged in the classroom, challenged on the football field and learn to interact in a dynamic society. I believe in that and that helps guys grow."

Wilcox faces many hurdles in his new job replacing the recently fired Sonny Dykes less than three weeks before national signing day. He has to put together a coaching staff, evaluate the players already on campus and try to keep together, and even add to, a recruiting class that committed to a different staff.

Athletic director Mike Williams fired Dykes after four seasons on Jan. 8 because he wanted a coach committed to Cal instead of flirting with other jobs and needed someone who could excite a fan base that often stayed away from Memorial Stadium in recent years as the Bears teamed porous defenses with sometimes exciting offenses while posting a 19-30 record.

Williams had five finalists for the job but chose a former Cal assistant with a defensive background and familiarity with the Pac-12 as an assistant for seven years at three schools in the conference.

"He truly gets this place, he truly gets coaching in the West," Williams said. "He came in and was very organized and thoughtful. He knew what he wanted to do and who he wanted to hire. ... It's a special place and I think he'll treat it as a special place."

While Dykes flirted with job openings at Houston and Baylor this past offseason in part because of his concern about increased academic standards for recruits, the Bears hope Wilcox is someone who wants to stick around after more than a decade of being on a self-described "windy" path as a top defensive coach.

The former Oregon defensive back began his coaching career in 2001 as a graduate assistant at Boise State. He spent three years as linebackers coach under Jeff Tedford at Cal from 2003-05 when the Bears nearly ended their Rose Bowl drought during a 10-win season with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback in 2004.

Wilcox has spent the past 11 years as a defensive coordinator with stops at Boise State, Tennessee, Washington, Southern California and finally Wisconsin, where he helped the Badgers field a top 10 defense and win the Cotton Bowl.

Wilcox has worked and played for many successful coaches, including Tedford, Chris Petersen, Dan Hawkins, Mike Bellotti, and Paul Chryst.

"I've been extremely fortunate to work for and with people I learned so much from," he said. "Each step along the way, I've seen it done a lot of different ways. I'm not trying to be any of those people. I always try to take pieces and make it my own."

Wilcox has begun putting together his staff, having hired former Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin as offensive coordinator and longtime Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood to fill that role on the Bears.

The Bears will look very different under Wilcox than Dykes. Wilcox said he will recruit tight ends as Cal moves from the spread "Bear Raid" offense that relied on four receivers almost exclusively to a more balanced offense with tight ends and more power concepts.

While he will delegate most of the offensive responsibilities to Baldwin, Wilcox said he will be more involved on defense where he wants to find players who can fit into his base 3-4 system.

Cal ranked 125th in total defense, 127th in scoring defense and 122nd in yards per play out of 128 FBS teams last season on the way to a 5-7 record.

"Every second is critical right now," Wilcox said. "I will not sacrifice the long-term good of the program for what everyone wants which is certainty. Things will happen quickly. I understand the recruits have some anxiety about the situation and there's emotions involved. That's totally understandable. I'd feel the same way."