Cal hires former CU coach Ambrose as DB coach

Cal hires former CU coach Ambrose as DB coach

Jan. 4, 2011

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(BERKELEY) Ashley Ambrose has been named the defensive backs coach at Cal, head coach Jeff Tedford announced Tuesday. The 13-year NFL veteran and 1996 AFC Defensive Back of the Year has spent the last three seasons on the Colorado football staff, including the 2010 campaign as the defensive backs coach after serving as the receivers coach in 2009 and as a defensive technical intern in 2008.Ashley is a bright young and upcoming coach with a tremendous amount of football experience that were excited is joining the Cal football program, said Tedford. I strongly believe he will effectively communicate the knowledge he has gained both as a player at the highest level, and now at the beginning of a promising coaching career, to our players and his colleagues on our staff.Im excited about the opportunity to work with Jeff Tedford and his staff, said Ambrose. Hes a proven coach with a winning program and a great staff that knows how to recruit and coach. Im going to focus on discipline and doing everything I can to help our student-athletes graduate from school, experience success on the football field at Cal, and teach them what it takes to be able to have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams of playing at the next level.During his lone season working with the Buffaloes defensive backs in 2010, he coached senior Jimmy Smith to first-team All-Big 12 honors as the senior cornerback recorded a career-high 70 tackles, including a team-best 52 solo stops. Smith, who also co-led the team with five pass breakups, improved his status the year before Ambrose coached him from an honorable mention All-Big 12 choice and a 2010 third-team All-Big 12 preseason selection according to Athlon Sports and Phil Steele. Smith was the only Colorado defensive player named to the All-Big 12 first or second team. Another 2010 Ambrose pupil, senior cornerback Jalil Brown, was an honorable mention selection for the second consecutive season.Ambrose brought a wealth of professional football experience to a coaching career that began in 2006 as an intern coach with the Atlanta Falcons. After being selected by Indianapolis in the second round (29th pick overall) of the 1992 NFL Draft, he went on to play 13 seasons in the league, four with the Colts (1992-95), three with Cincinnati (1996-98), three with New Orleans (1999, 2003-04) and three with Atlanta (2000-02). He earned All-Pro honors with the Bengals in 1996, when he was also the AFC Defensive Back of the Year. During his career, he had 42 interceptions, returning three for touchdowns, and also posted 178 pass deflections to go with 514 tackles (464 solo).After 192 games and 141 starts, he retired from professional football following the 2004 season.Ambrose earned his bachelors degree in Industrial Technology in 1992 from Mississippi Valley State, where he lettered four years at cornerback. He had 17 interceptions, 40 pass deflections and 110 tackles, as well as seven kick returns for touchdowns (four punt, three kickoff) during his college playing career.He has long been active in community service, as he developed the "Ashley Ambrose All-A's Club" that rewarded high school football players who excelled academically. He also participated in VH-1's Save the Music program and in the NFL United Way Hometown Huddle campaign among the many things he did as a professional, which included donating hundreds of tickets to scholar-athletes.A native of New Orleans, Ambrose graduated from Alcee Fortier High School in 1988, where he lettered in football, basketball, and track and field. He is the father of two children, Aisha (12) and A.J. (9).After playing the last 88 seasons and every home game at Memorial Stadium since the facility opened for the 1923 Big Game, Cal will host its 2011 home contests at San Franciscos AT&T Park while Memorial Stadium undergoes an extensive renovation and retrofit. The Bears will return to Memorial Stadium for their 2012 home schedule.Cal opens its 2011 season with a neutral-site non-conference game against Fresno State at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on Saturday, Sept. 3. The contest is not part of the recently announced 2011 season ticket package for five home games at AT&T Park. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase tickets for Cal vs. Fresno State at a later date.Visit CalFootballSF.com for more information on 2011 Cal football at AT&T Park and stadium.berkeley.edu for updates on the progress of the renovation and retrofit of Memorial Stadium.Courtesy of Cal media services.

Melifonwu might be solution to Raiders' problem covering tight ends

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Melifonwu might be solution to Raiders' problem covering tight ends

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have struggled mightily covering tight ends. It hasn’t been a one-year thing. They’re notorious for letting that position run rampant over the past four years, allowing talent ranging from Travis Kelce to Gary Barnidge to tally huge totals against the Silver and Black.

The Raiders may have found a solution to that problem Friday in the second round. They selected massive combine freak and Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu, a 6-foot-4 speedster who can match up well with most anyone.

“Look, this is no secret, we’ve struggled for the last couple of years covering the opponents’ tight ends,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We think this is a guy that can help out with his length, matchup against some of the bigger tight ends, some of the better tight ends. We’ll put him right in the mix.”

Del Rio can get creative with this kid. Melifonwu is a safety by trade, but can play cornerback – he proved that during Senior Bowl practices – and functions well from the slot. He can also play well in the box against the run game or deep in the pattern, providing versatility to the secondary.

The Raiders have incumbent starters at safety, with free safety Reggie Nelson and strong safety Karl Joseph. Nelson is 33 and entering a contract year, so Melifonwu could develop into a long-term partnership with Joseph, last year’s first-round pick.

Expect Melifonwu to help right away, especially against the recently bothersome tight end position.

“I feel like I’m a solid cover guy, especially versus tight ends,” Melifonwu said. “I feel like the majority of tight ends that I go up against I’m going to be faster than and really be able to cover them.”

The London, England native put on a show at the NFL scouting combine. He ran 40 yards in 4.40 seconds there, and did most every drill well.

“I think it did a lot for me,” Melifonwu said. “I think it showed my character, my poise and the ability to perform under pressure. And really the fact that not only am I an explosive player, I’m a player that has great hips and great range for somebody my size.”

Del Rio said is supported solid game tape, which improved as his college career progressed. He finished with a career-high 118 tackles and four interceptions. He also had 2.5 tackles for a loss and three passes defensed. He accounts the improvement to improved football knowledge.

“Just having a better sense of the game of football,” Melifonwu said. “My defensive back coach Anthony Poindexter was a great college safety and a great NFL safety. He really did a great job of helping me fine tune things like run fits, formations and really keyed every week to watch and how to watch the game of football, how to study the game of football which in result, helped me have the season I had.”

49ers select TE George Kittle in fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers select TE George Kittle in fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft

GEORGE KITTLE
Position: Tight end
College: Iowa
Height: 6-3 3/4
Weight: 247
Selection: Fifth round, No. 146 overall

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers selected Iowa tight end George Kittle in the fifth round with the No. 146 overall pick.

Kittle becomes the second Iowa player the 49ers selected in two days. Late Friday, the 49ers traded up to select quarterback C.J. Beathard.

Kittle was considered an outstanding blocker in the Hawkeyes pro-style offense. As a senior, Kittle appeared in nine games and caught 22 passes for 314 yards and four touchdowns. In 2015, he had 20 receptions for 290 yards and six touchdowns.

"I think my game overall, I’m a very versatile player," Kittle said. "I can have my hand in the dirt and block anybody you want me to block. You can move me around and run routes. I’ll do whatever you want me to do. I feel like I can catch the ball well and run routes well. I’m a versatile guy."

Kittle joins a 49ers tight end group that includes Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek, Logan Paulsen, Blake Bell and Je’Ron Hamm. 

Former NFL executive Michael Lombardi on Friday reported the 49ers are attempting to trade McDonald. In one of former general manager Trent Baalke’s final moves, the 49ers signed McDonald in December to a five-year contract extension that included a $7 million signing bonus.

Kittle said he caught passes during Beathard's workout with 49ers quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello. The next day, he was invited to fly to Santa Clara as one of the 49ers' 30 pre-draft visits.

While the 49ers' selection of Beathard at the end of the third round might have surprised some, Kittle said he figured the 49ers would have reason to be interested in his teammate of the past four years.

"He’s just a guy, he loves football more than anything other than maybe his daughter," Kittle said of Beathard. "He lives and breathes it. That’s all he cares about. He is a genius in the film room and on the football field. He know absolutely everything that everybody is going to do. . . . He’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around.”