Baalke leading candidate for NFL Exec of Year


Baalke leading candidate for NFL Exec of Year

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers are cleaning up in the win-loss column. And, when that time comes, they figure to clean up in postseason awards, too.Jim Harbaugh is the leading candidate for NFL Coach of the Year. Really, he's the only candidate.
And I'm not sure voters need to look outside the 49ers for another legitimate candidate for NFL Executive of the Year, either.Obviously, team president Jed York played a huge role in hiring Harbaugh. But York made it clear that the general manager would hire the head coach. And that general manager, Trent Baalke, has pushed all the right buttons in his first year with his new title.The 49ers already had a strong nucleus of players. But beginning with the hiring of Harbaugh to a five-year, 25 million contract, Baalke was spot-on with his moves.Harbaugh was the 49ers' most lucrative and flashy offseason acquisition. But Baalke was also the point man during the draft, which netted pass-rusher Aldon Smith, third cornerback Chris Culliver, backup running back Kendall Hunter and starting fullback Bruce Miller.And during the frenetic free-agent signing period, the 49ers made several key moves to upgrade some key positions:--The club signed cornerback Carlos Rogers to replace released veteran Nate Clements.--The 49ers signed veteran Donte Whitner and re-signed Dashon Goldson to fill the safety positions.
--Kicker David Akers was signed to replace Joe Nedney.--The 49ers did not overpay to retain center David Baas. Then, they brought in respected veteran Jonathan Goodwin to take his spot. And they wisely spent the money left over.
--The most money the 49ers spent on a player contract went to defensive end Ray McDonald, who has upgraded the pass rush as an every down player. The 49ers have not felt the loss of nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, as Isaac Sopoaga moved over to fill the position in the middle of the defense.--The 49ers also locked up running back Frank Gore to a reasonable, three-year contract that eased Gore's concerns before the start of the regular season.--The 49ers also picked up receiver Braylon Edwards from the NFL bargain bin. He has yet to make a major impact, but he is a starter who still might factor prominently in the offense.
Here are some of the other postseason awards in which 49ers are on the "watch list" with seven games remaining in the regular season:Defensive Player of the Year: The 49ers have two strong candidates with linebacker Patrick Willis and defensive lineman Justin Smith. Both players would be logical selections for the award. Defensive backs Darrelle Revis (New York Jets) and Charles Woodson (Green Bay), and sack artists Jared Allen (Minnesota) and DeMarcus Ware (Dallas) are also strong candidates.Comeback Player: Quarterback Alex Smith. Some players, such as Tony Romo (Dallas), Matthew Stafford (Detroit) and Jermichael Finley (Green Bay), are playing at high levels after returning from injuries that wiped out their 2010 seasons. Carolina receiver Steve Smith has already blown away the numbers he put up last season in 14 games. Alex Smith missed a couple games last year due to an injury. But he is merely returning from an average season, as he threw 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions a year ago. But perception is everything, so Smith has a chance.Defensive Rookie of the Year: Aldon Smith has fallen behind in the race as his sack totals have slowed. He is not an every-down player, so that does not help his case. Von Miller (Denver), Ryan Kerrigan (Washington), and Brooks Reed (Houston) probably rank ahead of Smith on most ballots right now. But Smith can win the award with a strong conclusion to the season.

New York Giants release kicker Josh Brown

New York Giants release kicker Josh Brown

The New York Giants released placekicker Josh Brown, the team announced on Tuesday.

The NFL suspended Brown for the season opener in Dallas for violating the League’s Personal Conduct Policy.  That suspension was based on his May 22, 2015 arrest on domestic violence charges, which were dismissed approximately five days after the arrest.

Brown served his suspension, returned to the Giants on September 12, and subsequently participated in five games. 

Last Wednesday, approximately 24 hours before the Giants were to depart for London, new information was released by authorities in Washington State.  The new materials disclosed a history of alleged domestic violence by Brown.  On Thursday, the Giants announced Brown would not accompany the team to London, where they played the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. 

Last Friday, the NFL, at the Giants request and citing the documents released two days earlier, placed Brown on the Commissioner Exempt List. 

Today, the Giants released Brown.

“We believed we did the right thing at every juncture in our relationship with Josh,” said team president John Mara. “Our beliefs, our judgments and our decisions were misguided.  We accept that responsibility.

“We hope that Josh will continue to dedicate himself to rehabilitation, and to becoming a better person and father.  We will continue to support him in his efforts to continue counseling, and we hope that Josh and his family can find peace and a positive resolution.

“We have great respect and feel strongly about our support for the good people who work tirelessly and unconditionally to aid the victims of domestic violence and who bring awareness to the issue. We have been partners with My Sisters’ Place (a domestic violence shelter and advocate based in Westchester, New York) for nearly 20 years. The leadership of that organization has provided invaluable insight as we have considered our decisions in this matter.  We value and respect their opinion, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”

Statement from Josh Brown:
"The road to rehabilitation is a journey and a constant modification of a way of life.  My journey will continue forever as a person determined to leave a positive legacy and I embrace the opportunities to show and speak about what has helped me to be that man.  I am sorry that my past has called into question the character or integrity of The New York Giants, Mr. Mara or any of those who have supported me along the way.  In the coming days and weeks I plan on telling more of the pain I had caused and the measures taken to get help so I may be the voice of change and not a statistic.  In the interim I am cooperating with the Giants and the NFL. Thank you to everyone that has supported me, I will not let you down."

New York Giants media services

49ers players get week break, while coaches search for answers

49ers players get week break, while coaches search for answers

SANTA CLARA -- In the early afternoon Monday after the 49ers’ day-after-game meetings concluded, the players were excused for the next seven days.

Coach Chip Kelly opted to give the 49ers a week break, rather than going through a couple days of practices before providing the players with a mandatory four consecutive days off during the bye week.

The 49ers on Sunday dropped to 1-6 on the season with a 34-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But there will be no extra practices to attempt to sharpen their performance.

“They’ve been at it since July 31st,” Kelly said. “They haven’t had more than one day off in a row. So I think at this point in time that’s what our whole MO has always been.

“They’ll meet with our strength and conditioning coaches. They have their lifting programs in terms of what they can do and what they have to do. And I think at this point in time we need to heal up. I think it’s a good break for them to do what they need to do and that’s the way I’ve always done it and our teams have been fresh coming out of the bye week.”

While the players will be off for a week, Kelly said the coaching staff will continue to work through Friday in an attempt to identify areas in which they can improve and snap out of their six-game losing streak on Nov. 6 against the New Orleans Saints at Levi’s Stadium.

“We’ve got a lot of self-scout that we have set aside,” Kelly said. “We’ll be in here all week kind of looking at what we’ve done in the first seven games, what have our opponents done to us in the first seven games relative to what we thought going into the game based on the break downs. Did they change?

“If they were 60-percent pressure going into our game and they were only 30-percent pressure in our game, trying to delve into how people are defending us. How are people attacking us from an offensive standpoint in terms of attacking our defense and what their tendencies were going into the game and then what actually transpired in the game. So we’ve got a lot of film work and a lot of studying to do here during this week.”

Kelly reiterated on Monday that he is not looking at leaving the 49ers after this season. He said he has not heard from any schools with coaching openings or potential openings. Kelly said he has tried to remain focused on his job through the longest losing streak he has ever experienced as a coach.

“No one’s happy, so I don’t know if the word’s anguish, but I mean obviously you try to keep it consistent in terms of your approach to everything that you do,” Kelly said. “I don’t think being consistent and being even-keeled means that it doesn’t bother you or that you’re not frustrated in terms of what’s gone on.”

Kelly said the 49ers have the talent to win games. When asked why the coaches have not been able to extract more victories, Kelly placed the blame for the team’s poor play on himself and his staff.

“That’s on us,” Kelly said. “I agree 100-percent in terms of what you’re saying. But our job is to put our players in position to make plays and we’re not doing a good enough job of that right now.”