Davis ... football's most compelling figure


Davis ... football's most compelling figure

It's difficult to imagine the NFL without Al Davis.It's impossible to imagine the Raiders without Al Davis.The news Saturday morning of Al Davis' passing should not come as a huge surprise, given his obvious physical decline over the past few years. But it still is shocking because of the huge impact he had on professional football.It's difficult to think of another organization in all of sports that has been as closely associated with one person. There was "Papa Bear" George Halas, who owned the Chicago Bears from 1922 until his death in 1983. He was a player, and coached the organization from the beginning until 1967.
FAN FEEDBACK: Share your memories of Al Davis
Somehow, the Bears managed to keep going without George Halas, though many in Chicago wondered how that would be possible.This morning, the football world is wondering the same thing about the Oakland Raiders.How is it possible the Raiders will continue without one of sports' icons through the decades at the helm?Of course, the Raiders will continue.
RATTO: Davis' legacy impossible to measure
The team will be on the field Sunday to face the Houston Texans, all right. It's just difficult to think that Al Davis will no longer be around to manage and micro-manage every move.The Raiders were always so much more interesting because of Davis' influence and perceived influence on every aspect of the football team.Through the years, nearly every significant coaching decision, especially lineup changes, in some way was traced back to Davis. Nobody every really seemed to know how much he inserted himself into football decisions, but that was all part of the Raiders' mystique.Now what happens?The 49ers have plans for a stadium in Santa Clara that can accommodate two home teams, such as the Giants-Jets arrangement in New York. Davis always demonstrated zero interest in a project that the 49ers spearheaded.Regardless of whether the shared stadium makes financial sense, Davis had his own ideas. He liked the plot of land on which the Raiders currently call home. Davis was a man accustomed to doing things himself, so he wasn't about to go along with a plan not of his design.
GUTIERREZ: Video Q&A with Jim Plunkett
As AFL commissioner, he forced a quick merger with the NFL in 1966. He was the only person who served in such varied capacities in professional football as personnel assistant, scout, assistant coach, head coach, general manager, commissioner, team ownerchief executive officer.There is little doubt that Al Davis was the most interesting man in sports. And he didn't have to resort to any schtick to get attention.All he had to do was be himself.

Mark Helfrich provides insight into Chip Kelly's line of thinking

Mark Helfrich provides insight into Chip Kelly's line of thinking

Mark Helfrich had a strong indication he would be fired as Oregon’s head coach. And he said he told Chip Kelly recently he would have no hard feelings if Kelly left the 49ers to return to coach the Ducks.

Kelly this week said he is not interested in abandoning his job with the 49ers to coach in the college ranks. Helfrich suggested during a radio interview on Friday that Kelly told him the same thing privately.

When it was suggested that Kelly hated to recruit, Helfrich did not disagree.

"That's a fact," Helfrich said in an interview on ESPN Radio's Russillo and Kanell. "I don't know hated recruiting. . . a dislike. A strong dislike. But I think Chip has that challenge in his mind right now to make it right in the NFL.

"I had some of those conversations with him a couple weeks ago when it looked like this was going south. That was a very awkward converation, but (I) just wanted to let him know that to take our personal relationship out of it in every way, shape or form if he wanted to consider this.

"But, me, reading between the lines, I think he wants to make it right in the NFL. I think he wants to win at that level. He's had a rough go of it this year, but he'll get it right."

Kelly compiled a 46-7 record in four seasons in Eugene, Ore. He left after the 2012 season to accept the head-coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly was fired late last season and took the 49ers job two weeks later.

In Kelly’s first season with the 49ers, the club is 1-10. The 49ers are on a franchise-long 10-game losing streak entering Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

Helfrich was 37-16 in his four seasons at Oregon after his promotion from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Kelly said he spoke with Helfrich the morning after he was fired.

“I just felt bad for Mark. I love him like a brother,” Kelly said. “He’s a tremendous person. He’s a hell of a football coach, but he’s an even better person. Just felt for him and the rest of the guys on that staff. It’s an unfortunate thing that goes on in this profession. We all know about it when we sign up, but when it happens you’re still taken aback by it.”

Kelly said he hoped his denial of any interest in the Oregon job would end all speculation about his future. When asked if intends to remain with the 49ers, Kelly said on Wednesday, “Yep. So we're all done with that, I hope."

Injury report: Dial set to return for 49ers; Patton, Lynch questionable

Injury report: Dial set to return for 49ers; Patton, Lynch questionable

Defensive lineman Quinton Dial, who sat out last week’s game with knee and neck issues, will return to action Sunday for the 49ers at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears.

Dial was not listed on the team’s injury report after going through two limited practices this week. The 49ers had only a walk-through Friday in Orlando, Fla., but Dial was cleared to return to full activity, the team announced.

Wide receiver Quinton Patton (concussion) and outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (ankle) were both listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

Patton appears to be on pace to be cleared in the NFL’s return-to-play concussion protocol. He has returned to non-contact football activity after sustaining a head injury last week against the Miami Dolphins.

Lynch has already missed four consecutive games with a high-ankle sprain. Lynch has appeared in only three games this season. He sat out the first four games of the year while serving a four-game suspension for violating the leageu’s policy of substances of abuse.

The Bears listed six players as questionable for the game, including outside linebackers Willie Young and rookie Leonard Floyd. Young leads Chicago with 6.5 sacks, while Floyd is second with five sacks.

Quarterback Jay Cutler has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury. Matt Barkley will make his second career start.

LB Aaron Lynch (ankle)
WR Quinton Patton (concussion)

QB Jay Cutler (right shoulder)
LB Willie Young (knee)
S Adrian Amos (foot)
WR Eddie Royal (toe)
LB Leonard Floyd (concussion)
CB Deiondre' Hall (ankle)
G Josh Sitton (ankle)