Other 49ers-Patriots matchups to watch


Other 49ers-Patriots matchups to watch

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Over the past three days, we've written about the top three 49ers-Patriots matchups for Sunday night's game.

1. Ultra-talented 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will face a great learning experience against Bill Belichick's defense. It figures to be his greatest mental challenge as a starter.

2. Outside linebacker Aldon Smith had success against Patriots left tackle Nate Solder as a 2009 collegiate player. An identical showing would place the 49ers' second-year player in the NFL record book.

3. And cornerback Carlos Rogers will face his stiffest test, as he goes up against Wes Welker. Quarterback Tom Brady gets rid of the ball quickly, and it's no secret he will look to get the ball to his slot receiver . . . repeatedly.

Here are six other key matchups to consider for Sunday's game:

RDT Justin Smith vs. LG Logan Mankins: It's strength vs. strength, as the 49ers' most physical defender goes up against the Patriots' most physical lineman. The 49ers figure to be in their nickel defense for most of the game, so they'll need Smith to be stout against running back Stevan Ridley, who has 1,082 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.

ILB Patrick Willis vs. TE Aaron Hernandez: Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio must decide how to account for Hernandez. When the Patriots go with multi-receiver formations, Willis will likely be matched against Hernandez in coverage. The other option for the 49ers is to play more dime coverage with fourth cornerback Perrish Cox entering the game in place of Willis.

RG Alex Boone vs. DT Vince Wilfork: The 49ers will want to run between the tackles to chew up clock and keep the Patriots' offense off the field. If Boone can win this matchup in the run game against a four-time Pro Bowl player, that'll be huge bonus for the 49ers.

RB Frank Gore vs. ILB Jerod Mayo: Gore will make his 100th career start. It's imperative that he has success between the tackles to make Kaepernick's play-action passing more effective. Gore enters the game 29 yards behind Joe "The Jet" Perry for most rushing yards in franchise history, including Perry's two seasons with the 49ers in the All-America Football Conference. (Officially, stats from the AAFC are not recognized by NFL teams.) Mayo is the Patriots' leading tackler with 158 stops (100 solo), according to the film review from New England coaches.

WR Michael Crabtree vs. LCB Aqib Talib: Crabtree is the 49ers' top receiving threat with 66 catches for 761 yards and five touchdowns. Talib immediately took over as a starter after the Patriots acquired him in a Nov. 1 trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Talib sustained a hip injury Monday night, but he should be good to go on Sunday night.

TE Vernon Davis vs. S Devin McCourty: Davis has not been much of a factor the second half of the season. He has more than 37 yards receiving only once in the 49ers' past eight games. In the past three games, Davis has three catches for 19 yards. McCourty started the first six games at left cornerback before moving to safety.

76ers anthem singer says 'We Matter' shirt got her the boot


76ers anthem singer says 'We Matter' shirt got her the boot

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia 76ers national anthem singer Sevyn Streeter says she was told by the team she could not perform because of her "We Matter" jersey.

She was scheduled to sing before the Sixers' season opener Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Streeter wrote on Twitter, "Was suppose to sing the anthem at @sixers & @okcthunder game but mins b4 @sixers said I couldn't because I was wearing a "We Matter" jersey.

The Sixers declined to say why Streeter's performance was canceled.

"The Philadelphia 76ers organization encourages meaningful actions to drive social change. We use our games to bring people together, to build trust and to strengthen our communities. As we move from symbolic gestures to action, we will continue to leverage our platform to positively impact our community," the Sixers said in a statement.

The Sixers had a member of their dance team sing the anthem.

This isn't the first time the Sixers were dragged into a national anthem controversy.

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.

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.

Pederson refutes reports linking Eagles to 49ers WR Smith

Pederson refutes reports linking Eagles to 49ers WR Smith

Torrey SmithAlshon Jeffery?

Not happening, according to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.

While a couple reports have linked the Eagles to making a trade before the fast-approaching deadline to grab another veteran outside receiver, Pederson shot them down at his Wednesday press conference.

“There’s no legitimacy to that,” Pederson said. “And I’m thrilled with the guys we have and going to work with them every day.”

[MAIOCCO: Source: 49ers not shopping WR Torrey Smith]

The Eagles made a trade before the season to acquire Dorial Green-Beckham from the Titans, but the team’s receivers still haven’t been great during the first six games of the 2016 season.

They also went out and claimed Bryce Treggs after the 49ers waived him at final cuts, but the speedy wideout hasn’t yet been active.