49ers

Super Bowl security tighter than ever?

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Super Bowl security tighter than ever?

From Comcast SportsNet
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- From pickpockets and prostitutes to dirty bombs and exploding manhole covers, authorities are bracing for whatever threat the first Super Bowl in downtown Indianapolis might bring. Some -- nuclear terrorism, for instance -- are likely to remain just hypothetical. But others, like thieves and wayward manhole covers, are all too real. Though Indianapolis has ample experience hosting large sporting events -- the Indianapolis 500 attracts more than 200,000 fans each year, and the NCAA's men's Final Four basketball tournament has been held here six times since 1980-- the city's first Super Bowl poses some unique challenges. Unlike the Final Four, which is compressed into a weekend, the Super Bowl offers crowd, travel and other logistical challenges over 10 days leading up to the Feb. 5 game. And unlike the 500, where events are largely concentrated at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway about seven miles from Lucas Oil Stadium, the NFL's showcase event will consume 44 blocks -- about a mile square -- in the heart of the city, closing off streets and forcing an anticipated 150,000 or more NFL fans to jockey with downtown workers for space much of the week. "This is clearly bigger in terms of the amount of people who will be downtown over an extended period of time," city Public Safety Director Frank Straub said. Under a security risk rating system used by the federal government, the Super Bowl ranks just below national security events involving the president and the Secret Service, said Indianapolis Chief of Homeland Security Gary Coons. The ratings are based on factors including international attention, media coverage, the number of people the event attracts and visits by celebrities and foreign dignitaries, he said. The Indianapolis 500 ranks two levels below the Super Bowl. The city has invested millions of dollars and worked with local, state and federal agencies to try to keep all those people safe. Up to 1,000 city police officers will be in the stadium and on the street, carrying smartphones and other electronic hand-held devices that will enable them to feed photos and video to a new state-of-the-art operations center on the city's east side or to cruisers driven by officers providing backup, Straub said. Hundreds of officers from other agencies, including the state police and the FBI, will be scanning the crowd for signs of pickpocketing, prostitution or other trouble. One concern has been a series of explosions in Indianapolis Power & Light's underground network of utility cables. A dozen underground explosions have occurred since 2005, sending manhole covers flying. Eight explosions have occurred since 2010. The latest, on Nov. 19, turned a manhole cover into a projectile that heavily damaged a parked car and raised concerns about the safety of Super Bowl visitors walking on streets and soaring above the Super Bowl village on four zip lines installed for the festivities. Since December, IPL has spent about 180,000 to install 150 new locking manhole covers, primarily in the Super Bowl village and other areas expected to see high pre-game traffic. IPL officials say the new Swiveloc manhole covers can be locked for security reasons during the Super Bowl. In case of an explosion, the covers lift a couple of inches off the ground -- enough to vent gas out without feeding in oxygen to make an explosion bigger -- before falling back into place. An Atlanta consultant hired by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission last summer to audit IPL's underground network of cables for a cause of the explosions says the new covers are merely a Band-Aid. "We've argued it's better to prevent," said Dan O'Neill of O'Neill Management Consulting, which filed its report in December. O'Neill's team couldn't pinpoint an exact cause for the explosions but said a flawed inspection process contributed, noting that IPL workers missed warning signs such as road salt corroding an old cable or leaks in nearby steam pipes. In a report filed Jan. 19 with Indiana utility regulators, the power company said it had overhauled its inspection process. IPL will dispatch extra crews to the area around the stadium in case of power-related problems, such as a recent breaker fire that left 10,000 customers in homes south of downtown without power. Spokeswoman Crystal Livers-Powers said the company doesn't anticipate any power issues. Straub, the public safety director, said he's confident the city is prepared and notes that Indianapolis hosts major events "pretty regularly." Special teams from the Department of Energy will sweep Lucas Oil Stadium and the surrounding area for nuclear terror threats, and a new 18 million high-tech communications center that opened in time for the lead-up to the game will tie it all together. "We're using more technology, and state of the art technology, than has been used in any Super Bowl before this one," Straub said.

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.”

Players Voice Awards: Draymond not the 'Best Defender'

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USATI

Players Voice Awards: Draymond not the 'Best Defender'

The players have spoken.

The 2017 Players Voice Awards pick for "Best Defender" goes to...

Kawhi Leonard.

On June 26, Draymond Green took home the Defensive Player of the Year award at the first annual NBA Awards Show.

He received 73 first-place votes, 22 second-place votes and three third-place votes. (Yes, he was left off of two ballots entirely)

Rudy Gobert was the runner-up with 16 first-place votes, 53 second-place votes and 30 third-place votes.

Kawhi finished in third with 11 first-place votes, 23 second-place votes and 58 third-place votes.

While the media recognized Draymond as the best defensive player in the NBA last season, his peers don't agree.

In 2015, Draymond finished runner-up and was left off 42 ballots.

In 2016, he finished runner-up and was left off nine ballots.