NFL rankings: A new No. 1 in town


NFL rankings: A new No. 1 in town

After the 49ers' showing in New England, we have a new No. 1 atop the NFL power rankings. In fact, there was a lot of shuffling in the Top 5 this week while the Raiders ended their six-game losing streak and moved out of the bottom 3…

1 (3) 49ers (10-3-1) Colin Kapernick threw 4 TDs against Patriots. Alex Smith has never thrown 4 TDs in a game.
2 (2)  Denver Broncos (11-3) Since opening season 2-3, Broncos have outscored opponents by 12.3 points per game.
3 (5) Atlanta Falcons (12-2) Think Matt Ryan wants home-dome advantage in playoffs? He is 33-4 at home in career.
4 (4) Houston Texans (12-2) Arian Foster has rushed for 100 yards in 46.9 percent of his games, third-best percentage in NFL history, beind Barry Sanders and Jim Brown.
5 (9) Seattle Seahawks (9-5) First since 1950 Giants to drop at least 50 points on consecutive opponents in same season.
6 (6) Green Bay Packers (10-4) Bad omen for postseason? Mason Crsoby has missed field goal in eight straight games.
7 (1) New England Patriots (10-4) Wait, wasn't Bill Belichick a defensive mastermind? Pats' D ranked 27th overall.
8 (7) Indianapolis Colts (9-5) Andrew Luck or RG III? RG III or Andrew Luck?
9 (12) Washington Redskins (8-6) RG III or Andrew Luck? Andrew Luck or RG III?
10 (13) Minnesota Vikings (8-6) Is Adrian Peterson NFL MVP, or "merely" Offensive Player of the Year?
11 (14) Dallas Cowboys (8-6) December struggles? What December struggles? Tony Romo suddenly 3-0 in season's final month.
12 (15) Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) Trying for consecutive playoff appearances for first time since Ken Anderson's mustache was under center in 1981 and 1982.
13 (8) New York Giants (8-6) The 34-0 shellacking ties 1981 Raiders for worst margin of defeat by defending Super Bowl champ.
14 (10) Baltimore Ravens (9-5) Only in NFL would three-game losing streak culminate with clinching of playoff spot.
15 (11) St. Louis Rams (6-7-1) Lambs 0-4 vs. NFC North; Rams 6-3-1 against everyone else.
16 (16) Chicago Bears (8-6) Jat Cutler just 1-7 against the Packers, including playoffs, with the Bears.
17 (17) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) Big Ben has thrown for 300 yards three times this season. Steelers are 0-3 in those games.
18 (19) New Orleans Saints (6-8) So either there WAS or there was NOT a bounty run by the Saints, right?
19 (18) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) Doug Martin's 1,647 yards from scrimmage second-most in franchise history.
20 (23) Miami Dolphins (6-8) By air -- a 123.2 passer rating -- and by ground -- 52 yards rushing -- Ryan Tannehill sets career highs.
21 (25) Carolina Panthers (5-9) Cam Newton attempting to join Bobby Douglass, Randall Cunningham (four times) and Donovan McNabb as QBs to lead team in rushing.
22 (27) Tennessee Titans (5-9) Blame the schedule-makers for putting this product on national television.
23 (20) New York Jets (6-8) Would be funny were it not so sad…or somesuch.
24 (21) Cleveland Browns (5-9) Trent Richardson's 28 rushing yards only his third-lowest total of season.
25 (23) Buffalo Bills (5-9) Setting pro football back in Canada more than 1994 Las Vegas Posse.
26 (24) San Diego Chargers (5-9) Ryan Mathews breaks left clavicle, to join right clavicle he broke in preseason.
27 (29) Arizona Cardinals (5-9) The Cardinals have now won a game more recently than the Diamondbacks. 
28 (30) Raiders (4-10) And the Raiders have now won a game more recently than the San Francisco Giants.
29 (26) Philadelphia Eagles (4-10) Iggles' pratfall on national TV a clarion call for change in Philly.
30 (28) Detroit Lions (4-10) At least Calvin Johnson continues to play -- his seventh straight 100-yard receiving game ties NFL mark co-held by Michael Irvin and Charlie Hennigan.
31 (32) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) Cecil Shorts 75 yards shy of becoming first Jag with 1,000 yards receiving since Jimmy Smith in 2005.
32 (31) Kansas City Chiefs (2-12) As someone tweeted after watching Brady Quinn on Sunday, they would STILL draft JaMarcus Russell over Quinn. Ouch.

Adam Gase offers advice to presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan

Adam Gase offers advice to presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan

Coach Adam Gase, a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching position two years ago, learned in his first season with the Miami Dolphins it is essential to have a solid staff around him in order to remain focused on calling plays.

Presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has spent the past nine NFL seasons as an offensive coordinator, including the past two with the Atlanta Falcons. His teams have ranked within the top-10 in total offense in six of those seasons. The Falcons play Sunday in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers.

Shanahan’s knack for game-planning and play-calling are, perhaps, the biggest reasons the 49ers have tabbed him to become head coach. And he is not likely to delegate those duties when he becomes the man in charge on the sideline.

But Gase, speaking on “The 49ers Insider” podcast, noted the importance of being surrounded by a strong staff in order to continue to run his team’s offense.

“It really comes down to how good your coaching staff is around you and how good your support staff is and how you can manage the game during the game and still be able to call plays,” Gase said.

The Dolphins’ staff includes special-teams coordinator Darren Rizzi and his assistant, Marwan Maalouf, who have studied game management and are responsible for alerting Gase to impending in-game circumstances that require his attention. Rizzi is on the sideline during games, while Maalouf is located in the booth.

“They were staying one step ahead on things,” Gase said.

Gase and Shanahan have never worked together, but Gase said they have known each other for a long time because they are approximately the same age and came into the league around the same time.

“You see guys at the combine and the Senior Bowl," Gase said. "You’re at these functions and you see each other once or twice a year. And it’s always good catching up and getting a chance to talk football.

“We grew up in different styles of systems on offense, but at the end of the day, football is football, and there’s always great conversations to have. He’s really smart. . . (We’ve) crossed up a little bit, where he’s worked with certain guys I’ve worked with and vice versa. And I’ve heard nothing but great things about him, with what he knows football-wise and how he goes about his day-to-day activities and work ethic. All I’ve ever heard are great things about him.”

Shanahan is expected to be included in the 49ers' process of hiring a general manager. The 49ers this week informed four of the remaining eight candidates for the position they would not be included in a second round of interviews. That leaves Green Bay’s Brian Gutekunst and Eliot Wolf, Minnesota’s George Paton and Arizona’s Terry McDonough as those who are still under consideration.

When asked what advice he would give Shanahan, were he to officially become 49ers head coach, Gase said, “It’s all about communication.”

He added, “It’s all about that constant dialogue throughout the season. It’s really easy to get lost in doing your job as the head coach. But when you’re all invested in the same thing and you’re all striving to do the same thing and that communication is really rolling, that gives you your best chance to have success.

“It’s never guaranteed because there are so many factors that happen within the season with injuries and schedule and just all those little things you can’t predict, but when you have great communication and you’re all working toward the same thing, that’s going to give you your best chance.”

Kings teammates on Gay's Achilles injury: 'It kind of hurt my soul'

Kings teammates on Gay's Achilles injury: 'It kind of hurt my soul'

SACRAMENTO -- The news couldn’t be any worse for the Sacramento Kings. A 106-102 loss to the Indiana Pacers sent the Kings to their sixth loss in seven tries on the homestand. But an injury to Rudy Gay had the locker room as quiet as it’s ever been.

“Somber, very somber,” Garrett Temple said of the team’s mood. “We have a team of good character guys. Guys that have the right mindset and it’s tough to see people get hurt, especially a guy like Rudy. I’m going to be praying for him and hopefully he can bounce back stronger than before.”

Gay, 30, went to the floor hard in the late third quarter after trying to make a move on the baseline. He laid on the floor for a few seconds before slapping the ground in disgust. Eventually he had to be carried off the court by Willie Cauley-Stein, Omri Casspi and the team’s medical staff.

The initial report is a torn left Achilles tendon. An MRI is set for Thursday morning, but CSN California has learned the diagnosis is correct. There is no timeline for what comes next for Gay, but surgery is required for the team’s second leading scorer.

“Rudy’s a good guy and for him to go down like that this time of year, in this point of his life is kinda tough,” Lawson said. “I’m probably one of the closest to him on the team. It kind of hurt my soul.”

It was a non-contact injury for Gay and the veteran appeared to know the severity of the injury right away.

“Once I seen him on the ground, I felt sick, I felt like something in me just dropped,” Lawson added.   

Gay made his way into the locker room while media was still present. He wore a dark hoodie and a walking boot and moved with the aid of crutches. He grabbed his belongings and left without speaking to the media.

The veteran forward has had issues with his Achilles in the past and even underwent shock wave treatment over summer on the area to prepare himself for the upcoming season. He missed time over the previous two seasons with Achilles tendonitis.

Gay was set to opt out of the final season of his three-year contract extension signed in November of 2014 and become an unrestricted free agent. If he opts in, he is owed $14.4 million next season by the Kings.

Even before the injury, the Kings had began to sputter. After leading by as many as 22 early in the game, Indiana had cut the lead to ten at the point of the injury and momentum had clearly shifted the Pacers way. Without Gay on the court, All-Star Paul George scored two points to end the third and another 11 in the deciding fourth quarter to finish the night with 24.

DeMarcus Cousins tossed in a 25-point, 12-rebounds, 10-assist triple-double, but he shot 0-for-9 in the second half as the Pacers collapsed on the All-Star center.

After falling to 1-6 on the seven game homestand, Sacramento is scheduled to hit the road for a brutal stretch away from Golden 1 Center beginning Friday in Memphis.

“We’ve got an eight game road trip, we’ve got to come together closer and closer, not drift apart,” Lawson said.   

The Kings will play eight games in 12 night’s including three sets of back-to-backs. Gay is clearly out of action, but the team may be without forward Omri Casspi on the trip as well.

Casspi was injured in practice earlier in the week and underwent an MRI on Monday. Tests revealed a strain to his right plantaris tendon and he is expected to miss 1-2 weeks.

“It’s tough, other players are going to have to step up that weren’t playing,” Lawson said. “Hopefully everybody’s been working hard to be ready for this moment.”

With the loss, Sacramento fell a season-high nine games under .500 at 16-25, but they remain just a game and a half out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff chase.

“Guys are going to have to step up, next man up, next man up,” Temple said.