Team USA wins Race 12, lives to sail again


Team USA wins Race 12, lives to sail again

Facing an elimination race, Team Oracle USA won a must-win Race No. 12 and stayed alive in the 34th America's Cup.

Team USA had the lead from start to finish over Team New Zealand in the first planned race of Thursday.

Kiwi skipper Dean Barker still holds a strong advantage over rival Jimmy Spithill in the overall best of nine race for the Cup.

The day's second race, Race No. 13 overall, was postponed until Friday due to excessive wind speed.

Of the four races scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday, three were postponed due to the wind exceeding the limit and similar weather conditions were forecast Thursday.

Even after Thursday's win, Oracle Team USA, owned by software tycoon Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp., still needs a miracle to keep the oldest trophy in international sports from being spirited away by the crafty Kiwis. Oracle was docked two points going into the match following the biggest cheating scandal in the 162-year history of the America's Cup.

Spithill remains determined despite the incredible odds he and his crew face.

"It can be done,'' Spithill said. "I mean, look, we've got one hell of a battle on our hands here, but stranger things have happened in sport. I've witnessed some pretty big comebacks.

While Spithill is one race away from losing the Cup, Barker still needs just one more winning sprint around San Francisco Bay for a bit of personal redemption as well as a huge accomplishment for his small island nation of 4.5 million people. Coutts and a few of his mates then jumped ship for bit paychecks from Alinghi of Switzerland. That left Barker at the helm of hard-luck Team New Zealand in 2003, when it was swept in five races by Alinghi.

The Kiwis had to drop out of two races with breakdowns, including when their mast snapped in two and tumbled into the Hauraki Gulf in Race 4. Barker sailed the Kiwis back into the America's Cup match in 2007 before they lost 5-2 to Alinghi. Coutts has been CEO of Oracle Team USA since the 2010 Cup campaign.

The Kiwis last hoisted the Auld Mug in victory in 2000, so they can wait at least one more day for the chance to finish off Oracle. Leading 8-2, the Kiwis need one more win to reclaim the Auld Mug for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

In 1995, Coutts and the late Peter Blake led Team New Zealand to a 5-0 win over Dennis Conner off San Diego to claim the Cup for the first time for New Zealand. Barker and the rest of the Kiwi crew won Race 11 by 15 seconds earlier Wednesday. Barker controlled Spithill at the start and led the whole way, building his lead on the crucial upwind third leg toward the Golden Gate Bridge.


Staley's streak expected to end after 92 consecutive starts


Staley's streak expected to end after 92 consecutive starts

Five-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game due to a hamstring injury, the 49ers announced on Friday.

Staley has the third-longest active streak among offensive tackles with 92 consecutive starts. Only Cleveland's Joe Thomas (156) and Oakland's Donald Penn (153) rank ahead of him on the list.

Coach Chip Kelly said Friday morning on his weekly show on KNBR that the 49ers have two more days of training “and then we’ll see what Joe’s status is going into the game on Sunday.”

Kelly added, “That’s kind of what we normally do with everybody. The best thing to say with Joe is he’s day-to-day. We’re hopeful, but we have two more days out on the field.”

With Staley not expected to play, the 49ers will likely shift left guard Zane Beadles to left tackle. Andrew Tiller, who started the first five games of the season at right guard, would likely start at left guard.

The 49ers expected outside linebacker Aaron Lynch to return to action on Sunday after missing five games with a high-ankle sprain, Kelly said on KNBR. Lynch is listed as questionable, along with defensive tackle Quinton Dial, who has a left elbow injury

The Jets will be without at least one starter. Right tackle Breno Giacomini was ruled out due to injuries. Brent Qvale, a third-year player from Nebraska, is scheduled to make his fifth NFL start.

Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson is listed as questionable with an ankle injury.

T Joe Staley (hamstring)
DT Quinton Dial (elbow)
LB Aaron Lynch (ankle)

RB Khiry Robinson (lower leg)
DT Steve McLendon (hamstring)
T Breno Giacomini (back, calf, shoulder)
LB Lorenzo Mauldin (ankle)
S Antonio Allen (concussion)
WR Jalin Marshall (concussion)
DE Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)

49ers expect Aaron Lynch to return to action vs Jets

49ers expect Aaron Lynch to return to action vs Jets

Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch has missed give games with a high-ankle sprain and still appears to be restricted while moving in pre-practice drills.

But 49ers coach Chip Kelly said Friday morning on his radio show on KNBR that he anticipates Lynch will be able to get back on the field Sunday against the New York Jets for just his fourth game of the season.

Kelly was asked about why the 49ers have not promoted outside linebacker Marcus Rush from the practice squad. Rush led the 49ers with six sacks in the exhibition season. His best game came against the Denver Broncos, beating former Nevada tackle Kyle Roberts for three sacks. Roberts is not on an NFL roster or practice squad.

“We haven’t had an opportunity at outside linebacker,” Kelly said. “We didn’t put Aaron on IR, and we anticipate getting Aaron back this week. So we really don’t have a spot at that position he plays.

“If we were to lose a player at outside linebacker, then we’d certainly think about activating him. But we ahven’t lost an outside linebacker, so we still have Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Tank Carradine and Aaron. We carry four outside linebackers on our team. Aaron’s been out for a little bit here with his ankle, but it wasn’t a season-ending injury, so we just really don’t have a spot for him.”

Lynch has one sack in three games this season. He was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s policy on substances of abuse. He has not returned to action since sustaining an ankle sprain in the Oct. 23 game against Tampa Bay.