Urban: Giants on the brink versus D'backs


Urban: Giants on the brink versus D'backs

Sept. 1, 2011


Mychael Urban

A week or so ago, a glance at the big-league landscape showed but two playoff races worth tracking with impassioned day-to-day interest.The National League West division chase was one of them, the American League West the other. Every other playoff spot -- Brewers in the NL Central, Phils in the NL East, Braves as NL Wild Card, Tigers in the AL Central, YankeesRed Sox somehow divvying up the AL East and Wild Card crowns -- appeared taken.Not much has changed in the races that appeared all but over, although the Indians -- 5 12 games back -- aren't quite ready to conceded to Detroit just yet, and the AL West race remains a taut tussle between Texas and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County Near the John Wayne Airport and Disneyland but Not Really Anywhere Close to Los Angeles.But suddenly, after another agonizing week of turmoil with the defending world champions, the NL West race could be on the verge of losing considerable steam in terms of national attention by weekend's end.
NEWS: Quiet day for Giants Thursday; no callups
The front-running Diamondbacks, six games to the good, roll their nine-game winning streak into AT&T Park on Friday for the opener of a three-game series against the Giants, and anything less than a sweep by the reigning champs might very well put San Francisco out of the misery it's been feeling since the dog days of August started biting them in the hind region.Sobering thought: Should the Giants, who last weekend lost two of four to the worst team in baseball (Astros) and this week dropped two of three to the team with the second-worst road record (Cubs), manage to take two of three from the streaking Snakes, they'll still enter play next Monday with a five-game deficit with 22 games to play.
RELATED: MLB standings
To overcome that, even a 16-6 pace the rest of the way from the Giants wouldn't be enough to force a tie were Arizona to finish up 12-10, and both of those marks would represent a dramatic departure from the current pace at which each team is playing.Still, there's optimism in the Giants' clubhouse."I don't feel we're out of it," veteran leader Mark DeRosa said Wednesday after a 4-0 victory over the Cubs that fellow vet Pat Burrell said was needed "in the worst way."Added DeRosa: "We're not going anywhere."A skeptic with a smart-aleck slant could, of course, agree with DeRosa wholeheartedly: You got that right, pal. You're not going anywhere but to a golf course in early October.But that's obviously not what DeRosa meant. He was highlighting the competitive fire that appeared to be stoked when the Giants shook up their roster and clubhouse Wednesday by cutting ties with Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada.DeRosa went out of his way to note that Rowand and Tejada weren't "cancers" in the clubhouse, but he did concede that "something had to be done," and that August had devolved into a Groundhog Day-ish procession of unsavory sameness.More of the same simply won't do against the Diamondbacks, who will be pitching AL All-Star Joe Saunders -- he's coming off one of his best starts of the season -- in Friday's opener, followed by their top two starters, Ian Kennedy (17-4, 3.03 ERA) and Daniel Hudson (14-9, 3.61), on Saturday and Sunday.The Giants counter with a trio of 2011 All-Stars, Matt Cain (10-9, 2.87), Tim Lincecum (12-11, 2.58) and Ryan Vogelsong (10-5, 2.63), each of whom has been hamstrung at various and many times by an offense that ranks 30th among 30 MLB teams in runs, 29th in batting average and on-base percentage, and 28th in slugging percentage."We still believe we can climb back into this thing," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "We dug ourselves a pretty good hole here but it's a gritty group. We'll keep fighting to the end."Barring a sweep, the end could be here sooner than anyone in Orange and Black wants to think.

49ers safety Reid endorses LSU safety Adams: 'We'd have to battle it out'

49ers safety Reid endorses LSU safety Adams: 'We'd have to battle it out'

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers already have three safeties selected within the top two rounds of the draft.

But as the organization has considered its options with the No. 2 overall pick, LSU safety Jamal Adams had been in the discussion. Adams recently visited the 49ers, where he and Eric Reid had a chance to catch up with each other.

Reid’s final season at LSU was 2013. The 49ers traded up to select him with the No. 18 overall pick. The 49ers drafted Jimmie Ward at the end of the first round in 2014, and Jaquiski Tartt was a second-round pick in 2015.

In the past 25 years, only two safeties -- Eric Berry (2010) and Sean Taylor (2004) – have been selected in the top five. Both were chosen with the No. 5 overall selection. Adams has a chance to go as early as No. 2 overall.

“I’m excited to see where he ends up. He could end up here. You know what I’m saying?” Reid said on Wednesday at the 49ers’ voluntary minicamp.

“He’s the best one in the draft. Someone will be very happy to have him, I’m sure.”

Adams (5 foot 11 ¾, 214 pounds) is considered more of a box safety. He recorded five interceptions in his 36-game college career, but Reid said he believes Adams can also play free safety.

“No doubt,” Reid said. “The kid can do it all. That’s why they got him projected to go where he is. I believe he could.”

In the 49ers’ new defense, which is based on Seattle’s scheme, Ward is getting a long look at free safety in the team’s minicamp. Ward started at cornerback last season.

After recording seven interceptions in his first two seasons, Reid has one interception over the past two seasons. He played 10 games last season before sustaining a season-ending with a torn biceps.

Reid said he is learning a new position but he believes playing closer to the line of scrimmage suits him. He is set to become a free agent at the end of the season as he plays this year with a salary of $5.676 million on the fifth-year option.

“I’m used to being on the back end,” Reid said. “I’m used to dealing with a lot more space. So, really, it’s the run game. And the run fits, knowing the gap schemes, the run (stunts) and knowing where the D-linemen are going to fit and filling the holes. That’s been the biggest difference for me.

“I like it. I’m a bigger safety in this league, so I think it’ll work for me.”

And what if the 49ers select Adams on Thursday evening?

”That’ll be interesting,” Reid said. “We’d have to battle it out. We’ll see how it goes.”

Defense on the menu as Raiders enter 2017 NFL Draft

Defense on the menu as Raiders enter 2017 NFL Draft

The Raiders offense is stacked. It was before this offseason, when tight end Jared Cook, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse entered the mix.

Then Marshawn Lynch signed up on Wednesday and filled the last immediate offensive need.

The Raiders have talent and depth at most every offensive position, contrasting the defensive depth chart.

The Raiders need help there, possibly with a few instant impact players taken in this weekend’s NFL draft. The first round starts Thursday evening, with the next two rounds Friday afternoon and the remainder of this draft starting Saturday morning.

Despite clear needs, Reggie McKenzie says position is secondary to his ranking system.

“We’re going to take the best player,” McKenzie said in his pre-draft press conference. “There are some good defensive players in this draft, but we’re going to follow our board like always.”

The Raiders general manager says that could lead to an unexpected draft haul. At least he tried.

“Don’t be surprised if I draft all offensive players,” McKenzie said, unable to keep a straight face. “How about that?”

McKenzie knows his roster is strong, with clearly identifiable needs on defense. The Raiders need a starting inside linebacker. They need a slot cornerback. They need help rushing on the defensive interior. They need safety help.

McKenzie tried to fix some of those areas in free agency, but could find a match beyond weakside linebacker Jelani Jenkins. The draft offers the best opportunity to upgrade on defense, and volume could help fix that unit.

“Hopefully we can get a couple of defensive players that can help our team,” McKenzie said. “But, like we both said, we just want to help this football team, regardless of who comes at a spot whether it’s first or seventh round. And hopefully we get some good players after the draft. That’s the plan, we just want to keep stocking and let the chips fall.”

This draft is critical as the Raiders enter a new phase. He deconstructed the roster and reconstructed it while getting right with the salary cap. Now they need to extend members of the awesome 2014 draft class, including quarterback Derek Carr, guard Gabe Jackson and edge rusher Khalil Mack. Drafted quality must continue to cycle through to keep the team strong and the team’s competitive window open.

McKenzie must keep an eye on the horizon, though a few more quality players could push his unit into serious contention for a conference title.

“What we want as a team moving forward, we just want more impact players,” McKenzie said. “You can never have enough playmakers on both sides of the ball and depth on both sides. That’s when you come in and try to get you the best player who can do those things. We’re not just going to plug holes if that’s what you’re asking. We’re going to get some good football players regardless of who we have here.”