Ravens' checklist complete in Thanksgiving victory


Ravens' checklist complete in Thanksgiving victory

BALTIMORE -- The brothers never addressed the topic with their teams during the short lead-up to the Thanksgiving night game that featured brothers on opposite sidelines as head coaches.But the Baltimore Ravens players were not fooled.They knew the game had added personal significance for Ravens coach John Harbaugh. That's because he was matched against his younger brother, Jim, the 49ers head coach.
The Ravens responded with had an impressive checklist of accomplishments Thursday night.REWIND: Ravens snap 49ers streak, beat S.F. 16-6
--They stopped 49ers running back Frank Gore, allowing him to gain just 39 yards on 14 rushing attempts. --They sacked 49ers quarterback Alex Smith nine times. That's right, nine times and also forced an intentional grounding penalty.--After going just one of seven on third-down conversions in the first half, the Ravens strung together four straight on their opening drive of the third quarter to score the only touchdown of the game.All that added up to the Ravens' 16-6 victory over the 49ers and an emotional win for a team that is striving to win home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.Here's what the winning side had to say afterward:"I thought the defense controlled the run about as well as you can and then we had the sacks. The pressure was relentless. Alex Smith is almost impossible to get down. You guys saw that. He gets out of trouble really well. And our guys did a pretty good job of managing that, even though you saw he made a couple plays."
--Ravens coach John Harbaugh"That's always the game plan, to get at the quarterback. But I think the No. 1 game plan was to win the Harbaugh Bowl. Coach tried to downplay it. He tried to play like, 'You know, this isn't me versus my brother; this is the Ravens versus the 49ers.' But it was really important that we as a team wanted to win it for him."
--Linebacker Terrell Suggs"This was a big football game for our team, as it was real big for those guys, for John and Jim (Harbaugh), I'm sure. This is just a real big game for our football team, and we all felt that John, obviously, wanted to win this game. Any time you're really friendly with somebody, it makes a rivalry that much better and to go out there and play like we did, obviously, it felt great for us."
--Quarterback Joe Flacco"We understand that up front, we needed to have a huge game, just because we are missing Ray Lewis, and we are kind of light on the back. . . We knew that we had to stop the run early, especially because we knew if Frank Gore gets going, he is going to keep on going. He is a great running back, and I'm just happy we got him stopped early and we were able to get to the quarterback."
--Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata"I knew what kind of day it was going to be. If you look at the numbers, they're not going to be eye-popping. But time of possession? Huge. They are a great defense, the best defense we've seen all year. We knew that going into this game. We've got similar personalities and similar styles of play. But time of possession was the key. I'm not going to sit up here and worry about the numbers because the way we won is more important than the numbers we put up."
--Running back Ray Rice"They're a great defense, first of all, a great defense. We just battled out there. And giving up no sacks speaks as much to guys getting open and Joe getting rid of the ball quickly as much as it does to the protection. And the play-calling, as well. We had a chance to stay balanced and ran the ball the whole game and didn't turn the ball over. That's probably the biggest part of all. We didn't give our defense any short fields. It's hard to go a long way against our defense."
--Center Matt Birk"It was definitely big. That's the goal in the game to try to control the clock and convert. That's what good offenses do, especially in clutch times like that. When the game was going the way it was, I felt like whoever scored (a touchdown) was going to win. For us to get the lead and maintain the lead by controlling the clock, it was big . . . Our offensive line did a great job. Our running backs, as well. Anytime those guys are pounding the ball up front and our running backs are running the way they are, it's tough against anyone, but we were able to move the chains."
--Receiver Torrey Smith on the Ravens' sucess on third downs"We play our butts off every week. They only thing that we changed, we wanted to get some turnovers on the back end -- not the front seven. We wanted some interceptions. And we were trying our best to get more than one. . . He (Smith) tried to go deep. It was 17 (Braylon Edwards). They tried to 'big boy' me. You know, put the tall guy (against me). And I played it well. But he had to get the ball out right then, so it made it easy on me."
--Cornerback Lardarius Webb on his interception"It's huge. Obviously, it meant a lot to our head coach. We're excited to get a win for him. It meant a lot to this team and for our season and where we want to go. We enter December with all the opportunity in front of you, and it's really in our hands."
--Tight end Dennis Pitta

Kaepernick's parents defend his anthem protests: 'Very proud of our son'

Kaepernick's parents defend his anthem protests: 'Very proud of our son'

Colin Kaepernick began his silent National Anthem protests in late August.

For almost four months, his parents have remained quiet.

But after reports that Kaepernick did not have the support of his parents, Teresa and Rick Kaepernick reached out to ESPN's The Undefeated on Friday to set the record straight.

"Colin is carrying a heavy load and following a difficult path that he truly believes in. He is putting his entire future and possibly his life on the line for those beliefs. As his parents, it pains us to read articles and tweets saying that his family does not support him; this could not be further from the truth. We want people to know that we are very proud of our son and admire his strength and courage in kneeling for the rights of others," the couple said in a statement to the publication.

Kaepernick's parents also commented on those you have called their son un-American or labeled his protests as anti-Military.

"Colin has chosen to kneel for the national anthem as a protest to the continuing racial inequality in this country. He has explained his reasons for this in multiple interviews, yet it seems some people still do not understand his point. For whatever reason, there are some who want to view this as an anti-military protest or an un-American stance. These views could not be further from the truth, but we know that people will believe what they wish to believe. The recent remarks (attacks) by Admiral Harris supported by the Pentagon are over the top, and we feel the desire to make a public statement in support of our son," The Kaepernicks said in their statement.

They concluded their statement by discussing the reaction the family received due to Kaepernick's protest, including detailing the hate mail that has been sent to them.

"When Colin first 'took a knee', his family was as surprised as anyone. We did not understand why he was doing this and were overwhelmed with the public reaction and hate. Colin not only received terrible racist tweets, but also received letters directly to our home similar to that recently received by [Denver Broncos linebacker] Brandon Marshall. We were truly shocked at the amount of racist hatred out there! Until this had occurred, we had naively believed that the racial atmosphere in this country was far better than it actually is. Prayer and talks with our son gave us a much better understanding of the reason for his protest and how we should view it."

The Undefeated's Martenzie Johnson also spoke to Teresa Kaepernick by phone on Friday and she threw her family's support behind her son.

"I just want to be on the record that we absolutely do support him," she said.

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

The 49ers signed tight end Vance McDonald to a five-year contract extension through the 2021 season, the team announced late Friday.

The deal is worth $35 million, including $16 million in guaranteed money, ESPN reported. The actual contract terms and amount of fully guaranteed money is expected to be less than the reported figures.

McDonald ranks third on the 49ers with 24 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns. He has touchdown receptions this season of 75 and 65 yards.

"Vance has shown consistent growth throughout his four-year career and his production this season is the result of his dedication and hard work,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “We believe he has only scratched the surface of what he will be able to accomplish in his career. Vance is a tremendous ambassador for the 49ers, and his passion for helping others provides a wonderful example for this organization. We look forward to his continued contributions to this organization, both on and off the field.”

McDonald is in the final season of his original four-year, $3.99 million contract he signed as a second-round draft pick in 2013.

In McDonald’s three previous seasons, he caught just 40 passes for 475 yards and three touchdowns.

McDonald spoke last week about the greater chances he's gotten to prove himself since the 49ers traded Vernon Davis last season.

“I just always look back at the opportunity when Vernon went to (Denver),” McDonald said. “Just being able to have the trust and the opportunity to start games and play every down.”

Said 49ers coach Chip Kelly, "He’s one of our weapons on the offensive side of the ball and he runs better than most tight ends in this league. So really depends on week to week what people have available at the safety spot to kind of match up with him. But he’s certainly someone that I think people defensively have to game plan for.”