49ers-Giants II -- what's changed


49ers-Giants II -- what's changed

It was 58 degrees and sunny at Candlestick Park when the New York Giants visited the 49ers on Nov. 13. The 49ers won that day, 27-20, sending the Giants on their way into a four-game losing streak.Expect it to be cooler and damper on Sunday when the teams meet again in the NFC Championship Game.And weather won't be the only difference.

--"I think schematically, maybe (the Giants are) doing a little less," 49ers quarterback Alex Smith said. "(They're) playing faster though. I think it's even helped them. They've seemed to be creating more turnovers, playing faster on defense."--Smith played well in that first game, and his confidence has continued to build. After last week's performance against the Saints, the level of his play is at an all-time high. In the first meeting, Smith completed 19 of 30 passes for 242 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Perhaps his best throw was a pass that Michael Crabtree failed to catch in the end zone. He also had some communication issues with then-49ers receiver Braylon Edwards near the goal line. Smith's one interception was on a pass in which he hit Ted Ginn in the hands and deflected to Giants cornerback Corey Webster.--San Francisco running back Frank Gore is at full strength after being a non-factor in the first meeting. He carried just six times for zero yards before exiting the game in the first half with a knee contusion. Kendall Hunter led the 49ers with six carries for 40 yards. The 49ers virtually abandoned the run game. They're likely to be more balanced this time around.
--Giants linebacker Michael Boley, the team's second-leading tackler and their biggest presence in the middle of the field, did not play in the second half of that game after sustaining a hamstring injury.--Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw did not suit up due to a foot injury. Bradshaw leads the Giants with 26 carries for 126 yards in the playoffs. And starting fullback Henry Hynoski did not play. It was one of five games he missed because of a neck injury.--David Diehl, who started at left guard against the 49ers, is now playing left tackle in place of Will Beatty, who's out an eye injury. Kevin Boothe has taken over at left guard. After averaging 3.5 yards per rush as a team in the regular season, they've improved to a 4.6-yard average against Atlanta and Green Bay in their two playoff games.
--Back then, Braylon Edwards opened the game as a starting receiver for the 49ers. Ted Ginn was the No. 3 wideout. Edwards never appeared to get healthy. He has since been released. Ginn's availability for Sunday's game is in doubt with a right knee injury. If Ginn does not play, Kyle Williams would start and Brett Swain would become the No. 3 receiver.--Tight end Delanie Walker was the 49ers' leading receiver with six catches for 69 yards. He has not played since sustaining a fractured jaw on Christmas Eve against the Seattle Seahawks. He returned to practice this week.
--Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks returned after missing a game with a hamstring injury. The 49ers rolled coverage to Nicks' side. He caught two passes for 41 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown.

Anthem singer at Heat-76ers game kneels during performance

Anthem singer at Heat-76ers game kneels during performance

MIAMI -- A woman performing the national anthem before an NBA preseason game in Miami did so while kneeling at midcourt.

Denasia Lawrence opened her jacket just before she started to sing, revealing a "Black Lives Matter" shirt, then dropped to her left knee and performed the song. She said it was her way of protesting racial oppression.

"We're being unjustly killed and overly criminalized," Lawrence wrote early Saturday in a Facebook post. "I took the opportunity to sing and kneel to show that we belong in this country and that we have the right to respectfully protest injustices against us."

Miami Heat officials said they had no advance knowledge of Lawrence's plan to protest. Lawrence, a social worker, kept the shirt hidden until her performance.

"I didn't get paid to sing the national anthem nor was this moment about any sort of fame," Lawrence wrote. "Black Lives Matter is far larger than a hashtag, it's a rallying cry."

The anthem issue has been a major topic in the sports world in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand while it is played. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and athletes from many sports - and many levels, from youth all the way to professional - have followed his lead in various ways.

Heat players and coaches stood side by side for the anthem before their game with Philadelphia, all with their arms linked as has been their custom during the preseason. The team plans to continue standing that way for the anthem this season as a show of unity.

"Throughout all of this, I think the most important thing that has come out is the very poignant, thoughtful dialogue," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We've had great dialogue within our walls here and hopefully this will lead to action."

The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.

"All I can say is what we've seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Friday in New York. "It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do."

Heat guard Wayne Ellington often speaks about the need to curb gun violence, after his father was shot and killed two years ago. He had his eyes closed for most of the anthem Friday, as per his own custom, though he was aware of Lawrence's actions.

"At the end of the day, to each his own," Ellington said. "If she feels like that's the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her."

Making a statement in the manner that Lawrence did Friday is rare, but not unheard of in recent weeks.

When the Sacramento Kings played their first home preseason game earlier this month, anthem singer Leah Tysse dropped to one knee as she finished singing the song.

Tysse is white. Lawrence is black.

"I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans," Tysse wrote on Facebook. "I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do. I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability."

49ers promote RB to active roster ahead of game vs Bucs

49ers promote RB to active roster ahead of game vs Bucs

The 49ers on Saturday promoted running back DuJuan Harris to the active roster to be eligible to play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi’s Stadium.

The team waived defensive lineman Taylor Hart to make room for Harris on the 53-man roster. Hart, originally a fifth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014, was claimed by the 49ers off waivers on Sept. 5. He appeared in one game and recorded two tackles.

Running back Carlos Hyde has been ruled out of Sunday’s game due to a right shoulder injury. Mike Davis and Shaun Draughn have served as the 49ers’ backup running backs through the first six games of the season.

Harris (5 foot 7, 206 pounds) has bounced between the 49ers’ 53-man roster and practice squad this season. He has yet to appear in a game. Last season, he played in two games, rushing for 140 yards on 27 carries. He also caught nine passes for 97 yards.

Draughn and Davis are the 49ers’ fourth- and fifth-leading rushers this season behind Hyde and quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick. Draughn has 55 yards rushing on 18 attempts, while Davis has 18 yards on 10 carries.