49ers

League-leading Canucks visit red-hot Sharks

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League-leading Canucks visit red-hot Sharks

March 10, 2011

VANCOUVER (43-16-9) vs.
SHARKS (39-22-6)

Coverage begins at 7 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

SAN JOSE (AP) -- The San Jose Sharks are one of the hottest teams in the NHL with nine wins in 10 games while the Vancouver Canucks have been perfect on their five-game trip.

One of these division leaders will have its momentum slowed Thursday night as the teams meet for the final time unless they square off in the playoffs.

San Jose (39-22-6) has used its surge to open a lead atop the Pacific Division and move away from a pack of playoff contenders in the tightly packed Western Conference.

Patrick Marleau's overtime goal gave the Sharks a 3-2 win at Nashville on Tuesday. Eleven of their last 13 games have been decided by one goal.

REWIND: Marleau's OT goal gives Sharks win over Preds

"With the race so close, you can't slide a couple games," Marleau said. "It's even hard to give up one game, two points in this race."

Vancouver (43-16-9) has the most points in the NHL with 95 and appears to have gotten back on track on this road trip. The Canucks have won the first three of this five-game trip after alternating wins and losses during a 12-game stretch.

"We've been finding different ways to win so far on this road trip, which is nice," goalie Roberto Luongo said. "We've been playing some solid hockey, I think, not giving up too much and getting timely goals, which is very important at this stage of the season."
NEWS: Boyle out, Canucks to start Schneider in goal?

The Sedin twins have combined for 10 points on this trip, including six in Tuesday's 4-3 overtime victory at Phoenix. Both assisted on Dan Hamhuis' game-winner.

Each brother enters with six points during a five-game streak against San Jose. The Sedins have totaled seven points in three meetings this season, with Vancouver going 2-0-1.

Daniel Sedin leads the NHL with 84 points and Henrik Sedin has 79.

Vancouver allowed a rare power-play goal Tuesday, the fifth in its opponents' last 73 chances. The Canucks' penalty kill is the best in the West at 86.4 percent.

The Sharks went 1 for 2 on the power play Tuesday after a 1-for-12 slump over their previous four games. Coach Todd McLellan made changes, with Devin Setoguchi moving to the top line with Marleau and Joe Thornton while having Dany Heatley join Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe.

McLellan would not commit to the changes going forward.

"We'll see," he said. "We know we have the ability to move people around. And we'll continue to do that as need be."

Marleau has scored in the last three games for San Jose. He did not take a shot Tuesday until his game-winner.

"That's what Patty does," McLellan said. "He's leading us in goals now and he's scored some big ones down the stretch."

Antti Niemi is 9-1-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average in his last 10 starts. He's got a 3.60 GAA in the three games against Vancouver this season.

RELATED: Niittymaki returns to practice

Luongo has a 0.96 GAA in two starts against the Sharks this season, but he's 0-2-1 with a 2.63 GAA in his last three at HP Pavilion.

Backup Cory Schneider, who recorded his first career shutout with 26 saves in Sunday's 3-0 victory at Anaheim, is 1-1-0 with a 5.99 GAA in two career starts against San Jose.

Lynch clarifies 'divisive' comment on anthem protests

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Lynch clarifies 'divisive' comment on anthem protests

SANTA CLARA – John Lynch, the 49ers’ general manager, used a word Wednesday while stating his opinion on national anthem protests that could only be described as divisive.

That word that Lynch said he regrets using was “divisive.”

Lynch clarified his stance Friday morning on an appearance on KNBR, the flagship station of the 49ers.

“If I could take one thing back, I would have changed that word, because of the negative connotation," Lynch said. "But I was really trying to make the point that our game should be a beacon for what can be."

During his initial comment two days earlier during a press conference at Levi's Stadium, Lynch spoke about football's role in bringing together individuals from all backgrounds:

”I think it’s a great beacon for the rest of culture in terms of the way it should be. You strive for a common goal and you have unity. And I think this game brings people together. So, I think personally, when I see that, I think that’s divisive. …”

The movement started a year ago with then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to social inequality and police brutality against minorities.

Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett has been the most outspoken in carrying on Kaepernick’s protest this summer.

There is added attention on protests in light of the unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, which featured white supremacists and President Trump’s statement that there was blame to be shared on “both sides."

Philadelphia safety Malcolm Jenkins raised a fist on the sideline Thursday night. Teammate Chris Long, who is white and attended the University of Virginia, put his arm around Jenkins. Lynch referenced the scene on the Eagles sideline during his interview with Brian Murphy of the KNBR Morning Show.

"I'm glad you brought this up because I'm having, for the last couple of days, a lot of thought, a lot of waking up in the middle of the night thinking about what I said and how people perceive that," Lynch said.

"You know, when I saw that picture of Chris Long and Malcolm Jenkins, I think that's exactly what I was speaking to and what I think is so great about football, of how I think our society can be and how it should be, of people coming together."

Lynch said he was at his family’s home in San Diego and with his 10-year-old daughter when the unrest was unfolding in Charlottesville.

“It’s sad, it’s disgusting, it’s unbelievable that these things still exist,” Lynch said. “So I want to go a step further -- not only do I respect, but I understand the motivations of these players that are trying to do something about it. I want to be very clear with that, that’s where my heart is.”

Hoyer, Shanahan earn praise from Broncos All-Pro DBs

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AP

Hoyer, Shanahan earn praise from Broncos All-Pro DBs

SANTA CLARA – The reviews of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Brian Hoyer from within the organization have all been positive this offseason.

That’s not a surprise, of course, considering the 49ers have yet to play a meaningful game and hope abounds during every NFL training camp.

But, on Thursday, Shanahan and Hoyer received unsolicited praise from two Denver Broncos All-Pro defensive backs who went up against the 49ers’ offense during two days of practices.

“Going against Kyle Shanahan, he’s a great offensive mind and a great offensive coach,” Broncos defensive back Chris Harris said. “So it was a great week. You never know, we might see a team that has this type of offense. But on the schedule -- I looked at the schedule -- we don’t and I’m kind of glad we don’t.”

Unlike the past two summers when the 49ers and Broncos held joint practices, it was difficult to proclaim a winner this week. The 49ers at least held their own on both sides of the ball after being clearly beaten the past two years.

For the Broncos, going against the 49ers’ offense gave them a better challenge than they experienced in the past. The teams meet Saturday night at Levi's Stadium in the second exhibition game for both teams.

“He (Shanahan) makes it work,” Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib said. “He makes you use all of your adjustments. He makes things gray, so you don’t know if you need to check or if you’re going to check. He moves you left and right. They’re great with their bootlegs. All in all, it’s a pretty great offense.

“It gives us a different look than we’ve been seeing. It’s a solid offense. Any time you can practice against a solid offense, no game plan, just go out there and play your technique, that’s always great work.”

Hoyer, 31, enters his 10th NFL season with his seventh different team. He has been anointed the starter for the first time in his career at this stage of the season. General manager John Lynch said has been pleasantly surprised since signing Hoyer to a two-year, $12 million contract. He can earn as much as $18.5 million if he reaches all of his incentives.

Hoyer's starting job has never been in doubt from the moment he signed with the 49ers on the first day of free agency.

“We’ve said from the beginning we want a franchise quarterback around here and a lot of people are making assumptions as to what Brian’s role is,” Lynch said. “Is he a bridge? Is he all those things? Our response to Brian and to everybody is he’s got the first crack of being that guy. And I love the way he’s embracing that opportunity each and every day, and really has been a tremendous leader for our group. I think, probably exceeded my expectations of how I thought he could play.”

That kind of public praise from within the organization is not uncommon. But Hoyer's play even opened eyes on the Denver side. Talib said he was impressed what what he saw from Hoyer and the 49ers’ passing game. The 49ers have ranked no better than 29th in yards passing over each of the past four seasons.

“He looks good. He runs the offense well,” Talib said. “Shanahan has a hell of an offense. Hoyer is doing a great job running it. They get the ball out fast. They move you left and right. It takes a polished quarterback to run an offense. He’s doing a great job.”