Rams: Preseason pick to cellar dweller


Rams: Preseason pick to cellar dweller

SANTA CLARA -- The St. Louis Rams were the only team in the NFC West that entered this season with a returning starting quarterback whose long-term spot in the organization was unquestioned.Coming off a 7-9 season with rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, many expected big things from the Rams this season."It's been a rough year for us, obviously," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said Wednesday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters.The Rams were a consensus pick to win the NFC West. But the Rams have fallen on their faces. They're in last place with a 2-9 record, and Spagnuolo is on the hot seat. Were the expectations too much to handle?RELATED: NFL standings
"We embraced that. I know the team did, the staff did, and I did," Spagnuolo said. "You'd much rather be in that role. Certainly, you want to live up to it and exceed it and we haven't done that for a lot of different reasons -- some out of our control and enough of it in our control. It didn't happen, and we're trying to find a way to correct that."The Rams had a change in offensive systems. Coordinator Pat Shurmur was hired as Cleveland Browns head coach. Gone was the short-passing game in favor or a more vertical attack favored by new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.But the 49ers (9-2) had many of the same issues with the lockout. So why have the Rams failed where the 49ers succeeded?"The one challenge that we had -- and we're never going to use this as an excuse but you're asking the question -- the one thing that's important on offense, especially when you're putting a new one in, is continuity, especially on the offensive line," Spagnuolo said. "We haven't had that."Both offensive tackles, Rodger Saffold and Jason Brown, are on injured reserve. And former 49ers lineman Tony Wragge replaced Jason Brown at center last month. Also, Bradford missed two starts with a high ankle sprain. Also, the Rams have had problems keeping receivers healthy.
"You really need it in the landscape of this year and with teams like ourselves and San Francisco, where you're putting in a new offense, especially," Spagnuolo said. "You really had to bank on having the same 11, 12, 13 guys through training camp. In the beginning of the year, we knew there would be some rough edges. But you'd hope you'd get to this certain point in the season and those reps under your belt would surface and you'd have some success."That's happened to San Francisco this year. I know Jim (Harbaugh) has spoken of it quite often. The goal is to just get better and better."

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.