Urban: Lincecum's progress, Giants' silver lining


Urban: Lincecum's progress, Giants' silver lining

June 17, 2011


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Mychael Urban

Giants manager Bruce Bochy wasn't demonstrative, boisterous or even slightly emotive Friday night while discussing his club's loss to the suddenly energized A's.There was a resigned passivity to what he brought to the postage proceedings in his smallish temporary office at Old Testament Coliseum (or whatever they're calling it these days).While discussing his team's offense, which managed to earn itself all of one run on six hits and zero walks, Bochy didn't need to trot out any biblical bluster."We squandered some opportunities tonight," he said of San Francisco's bagel in six chances with runners in scoring position. And, "Our margin of error isn't that big. And, "We don't put a lot of runs on the board."And, "We didn't hit too many balls hard today."Of his club's defense, which was charged with only two errors but had a real Benny Hill thing going for a spell, he was similarly matter-of-fact."It wasn't awful," he said. "But it wasn't the cleanest game in the world."Not even close. It was to clean what Felix Unger -- Monica from "Friends," for you hipsters -- was to dirty.Yet while the totality of it all left Bochy doing a subtle Mrs. Lincoln after the play, it wasn't all bad.Tim Lincecum, for instance, took the loss and fell to 5-6 overall, but he did so while posting his first quality start of the month and showed signs that he's started to figure out the mechanical issues -- no, it was most definitely not all mental, gang -- that turned his ERA over the previous three June starts into something you might see in a Ponzi scheme return-rate promise (9.39).RELATED: Giants Insider gallery: Lifeless in Oakland
The good news was that the Franchise, pitching for the first time as a 27-year-old, struck out seven and held the A's to two earned runs over six innings."I was back to being more aggressive," he said. "Letting things go."The bad news is that his fastball command -- or lack thereof -- was less than perfect, leading to five free passes that forced him to battle early and often. Ergo the departure after a leadoff walk in the seventh, with a pitch count of 113. Some interesting interpretations of the strike zone by the plate ump on several breaking balls, as well as the shaky D, didn't help, but Lincecum himself conceded that he was "throwing breaking balls in fastball counts." He said it was, in part, to try to fool guys by pitching backwards, but it's not a leap over Snake River Canyon to assume it was in part because he's still waiting for the GPS that guides his heater to come back from the shop."I've just gotta be better," Lincecum said. "I'm not saying it's all the way back."Another positive to come out of the postgame skull session with Lincecum was the burning of the tired he-misses-Buster-Posey and he-can't-work-with-Eli-Whiteside crutches that some people are offering the two-time Cy. Chris Stewart caught Lincecum on Friday, and Lincecum was moderately better, but when asked if any of the aforementioned excuses fly, the Freak didn't hesitate to riddle them with a verbal shotgun blast."Not at all," he said, reminding everyone that the catcher is the suggestion box, but the pitcher bought the lock and holds the key.In other words, the pitcher's neck and head trump the backstop's fingers every time."It doesn't matter who they're throwing behind the plate," Lincecum said. "As the pitcher, you have the last say."So that settles that. What, exactly, has been Lincecum's problem? Well, not to get all Insidery, but he hasn't been getting his upper torso over his legs, which means his finely tuned core and Ryan-esque leg drive haven't been providing the power and synchronicity he relies on, and that seems to have shortened his giraffe-like stride.In far simpler terms, he's falling toward first base too early.These aren't incredibly quick fixes. Lincecum's windup is a classic concerto, and an extra 10 minutes in rehearsal doesn't mean you're ready for Carnegie Hall. But Friday suggested he's already started the process, and that's probably why Bochy was so chill after such an uninspired performance.For all the ugliness, the thought of Lincecum on the verge of finding himself again must have seemed downright beautiful.

Jay Gruden anticipates Kirk Cousins returning to Washington


Jay Gruden anticipates Kirk Cousins returning to Washington

Quarterback Kirk Cousins is, perhaps, the top NFL player scheduled for unrestricted free agency in March.

But if Washington is unable to sign Cousins to a long-term contract before the start of the free-agent signing period, the club appears likely to place the franchise tag on him for the second year in a row.

Washington coach Jay Gruden appeared to confirm that suspicion on Tuesday while speaking to reporters at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

"We totally anticipate Kirk coming back to the Washington Redskins," Gruden said via CSN Mid-Atlantic. "We're excited about parlaying two very good years as the starting quarterback with a third year and continue to watch him grow."

But does Gruden anticipate another team willing the pay the price it would take to acquire Cousins?

If Washington places the franchise tag on Cousins at approximately $24 million for one season, another team could sign him to an long-term offer sheet and pay the price of two first-round draft picks as compensation.

The 49ers – and presumptive head coach Kyle Shanahan -- are expected to be interested in acquiring Cousins. If the cost of two first-round draft picks is considered exorbitant, the 49ers could attempt to negotiate another deal with Washington.

Washington can end any possibility that the 49ers or any other team could acquire Cousins this offseason if they tag him as an exclusive franchise player at a cost expected to be slightly higher than $24 million.

Cousins, who turns 29 in August, started every game the past two seasons for Washington. In 2015, he completed 69.8 percent of his pass attempts while throwing 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for a passer rating of 101.6. Last season, he finished third in the NFL behind Drew Brees and Matt Ryan with 4,917 yards. He averaged 8.1 yards per attempt and had a rating of 97.2.


Falcons C Mack explains what makes Shanahan's offense so effective

Falcons C Mack explains what makes Shanahan's offense so effective

The Atlanta Falcons had the highest scoring offense during the 2016 regular season, averaging 33.8 points per game, and they racked up 6,653 total yards.

In two playoff games, they've scored a combined 80 points.

The architect of that high-powered offense is Kyle Shanahan, who is the presumptive head coach of the 49ers.

So what makes Shanahan's scheme so effective?

Falcons starting center and former Cal Bears star Alex Mack answered that on ESPN's Mike and Mike show on Tuesday.

"He does a really good job of just having a very balanced offense. We want to run outside schemes. we want to run outside zone, we want to be really effective at doing that. And when a team stops you from doing that, when they put people over there, or they slant out or whatever they do to stop that, he has the backup plan," Mack said.

"He knows exactly when they bring that safety down to make it really tough to run outside zone, well that's going to open up some throws later down the field. And then when they put someone out there on the throws, well, there's a bigger cutback lane, so he calls a different run for that. So our offense is really built around being balanced and having an answer for what the defense wants to do to stop us," Mack continued.

Mack, Shanahan and the Falcons are set to put their No. 1 scoring offense to the test against the Patriots' No. 1 scoring defense in Super Bowl 51 in Houston on Feb. 5, 2017.