11

49ers won’t take him, but Kyler Murray moves will impact Niners’ draft

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray’s announcement last week that he intends to focus on football made waves in the Bay Area, particularly at the headquarters of the Oakland Athletics.

While the A’s most directly felt the impact of Murray’s apparent decision to bypass the chance to play baseball for them, the ripple effect of Murray’s news made its way to the area’s local football teams.

On the surface, the San Francisco 49ers and Murray won’t have much to do with each other. The Niners have a huge investment in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and there’s next to no chance that Murray will be on San Francisco’s radar with the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

There’s a long way to go until the draft, but many are expecting Ohio State pass-rusher Nick Bosa to be the top overall pick, which, for now, is held by the Arizona Cardinals. Given the 49ers’ need for a dominant edge rusher, Bosa would be an ideal fit.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, have been connected to Murray since video surfaced of new coach Kliff Kingsbury praising Murray last year and saying he’d take him with the top pick.11

Kingsbury has attempted to quell that speculation, saying that Josh Rosen is the guy in Arizona. But you don’t have to look hard to find examples of teams being committed to a quarterback right up until the moment they aren’t. In 2015, the Rams spent months trying to convince the world that they were sticking with Sam Bradford. Then, on the first day of the league year, they traded him to Philadelphia for a package that included Nick Foles.

If, over the next couple of months, Arizona trades Rosen and drafts Murray, that would be the easiest path to giving the Niners a chance to land Bosa.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Even if that doesn’t happen and Arizona stays with Rosen, having Murray in the mix could improve the Niners’ position. With teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins in need of quarterbacks — and others, such as the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers lurking as potential surprise entrants in the derby — the only way to ensure landing the signal-caller they want is to trade up to No. 1.

Simply put, any situation in which someone other than Bosa goes No. 1 overall would be a boon to the Niners, and while Murray’s presence doesn’t guarantee such a scenario, it certainly doesn’t hurt the chances of it happening.

11

Who believes in the Patriots? Almost everyone, actually

Tom Brady stood at the lectern after winning his eighth straight divisional-round playoff game, wearing a black ski cap on his head, smiling patiently as he listened to a question attempting to summarize the sentiments of his haters, who are apparently numerous.

Hey, Tom, the questioner began, as one does when greeting a friend, or loved one. Once again this week, there was a lot of talk about how this was the end of the dynasty, and how you’re were going to fall off a cliff. I’m sure winning is sweet, but is it even sweeter when you continue to prove people wrong?nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Brady, who still had traces of eye black faintly visible on his 41-year-old face, mulled the question for several seconds, trying to stifle a wry grin that would potentially reveal far more than his answer.
Which he has almost no shot of winning: Brady is going up against the juggernaut that is the Kansas City Chiefs, a team it’s almost impossible to imagine him defeating, as long as you ignore that he did it once already this season; or that only four teams (Broncos, Ravens, Jets, Colts) have ever kept him from playing in the Super Bowl.11

The reality is Tom Brady simply wanted it more, and we, his critics, have been afraid to write the truth, even those three times we voted him the league’s Most Valuable Player, or the four times we voted him the MVP of the Super Bowl.

“Everyone thinks we suck and we can’t win any games,” Brady said on the field after earning a berth in his eighth consecutive AFC championship, twice as many as Jim Kelly led the Buffalo Bills to consecutively in the 1990s. “We’ll see. It’ll be fun.”

Brady was letting us know, in that moment, that he has heard our whispers, he has absorbed our doubts, while also continuing to ignore the noise because he never hears what is said or written about him, especially not the thousands and thousands of words written each week discussing his greatness.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

With 28 career playoff wins, how could anyone argue otherwise? Obviously, a quarterback who didn’t like winning so much would have, eventually, lost some of those games on purpose, or even grown tired of winning, as Brady’s old golf buddy, President Trump, likes to say. Perhaps that is the real difference between Brady and Philip Rivers, a man who fell to 0-8 in his career against the Patriots in this divisional-round loss. It has little to do with the fact that Brady has played his entire career for an organization with tremendous wealth and stability, in front of a rabid and loyal fan base, and for an exceptional coach with an uncanny knack for talent acquisition.

12

Fantasy Premier League: The pros and cons of Marcus Rashford

When the two strikers faced off on Sunday, it was Rashford who had the upper hand. His goal decided the match and helped Manchester United pick up their biggest win since sacking Jose Mourinho. Since the change in management, the Englishman has started every match scoring a fantastic four goals while also recording an assist. In fact, over that period his England contemporary and opponent this week, Harry Kane, is the only striker to be involved in more goals (seven). As for shots on target, no other forward has recorded more than Rashford’s 12 over the past five matches, with teammate Paul Pogba the only player overall to have recorded more overall (15).china nike nfl jerseys cheap

That last stat may be a nice little hint as to just how effective Manchester United have been in attack since the hiring of Solskjaer. In his brief managerial tenure at the club, the Red Devils have led the league in goals scored, assists, and shots on target, and sit second in chances created. Compared to those statistics under the previous administration, this has been a massive improvement at the club. The result of this has been incredible as 42 percent of Manchester United’s wins, and 34 percent of their goals, have come in the five matches since Solskjaer took charge.12

Naturally this outstanding on-pitch improvement has bled into fantasy and, while Pogba has likely been the biggest beneficiary, Rashford has quietly re-established himself as one of the best strikers in fantasy. While his overall ranking does not necessarily flatter him in the ESPN game (45th), he has recorded a tier-high 85.9 points over the past five matches, with Kane and Salah being the only forwards to have recorded more points over that stretch. There’s more to Rashford’s game than just goal scoring though — his creativity has significantly boosted his value this season as his six assists lead his tier on the season.

There’s more to Rashford’s recent form than just the managerial change, it’s also how he’s been deployed. All five of the 21-year-old’s starts under Solskjaer have come as a forward, a position from which six of his seven goals have come this season. The strange thing is, despite his usage by previous managers, this is by no means a new trend. Ever since the Louis van Gaal days it was evident that Rashford was better up front than when shifted out wide. Unfortunately for the latter, the signings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku in consecutive seasons meant Rashford had to play on the left in order to get any meaningful minutes. Over his young career, 64 percent of his goals have come when playing up front, and this is certainly evidenced in fantasy as well. When playing as a striker this season, Rashford averages 12.25 points, just about four points better per game than when playing anywhere else. That number would make him a top-20 player in the league, and the best in his tier.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Whether or not, Rashford can keep this up does remain to be seen, however. He has already scored as many goals (seven) as he ever has in a Premier League season, while already having recorded the most assists in his career (six). Fantasy wise, he boasts 203 points in our game, which is within 50 points of his total from all of last season. Of course, the main reason he’s already reaching his season-high marks is playing time. Rashford is currently on pace for 2170 minutes, just about 400 more than he’s ever played before. If he keeps up his current rates of production, he could be in line for a 12-goal, 10-assist season.

10

Patrick Mahomes inherited clutch gene from his major league dad

To understand how Patrick Mahomes, 23, could remain so composed on his rocket-ship rise to stardom is to know his family’s history when it comes to big games and the poise required to win them.

Nearly two decades before Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs started preparing to face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, Mahomes’ father, Pat, was as nervous as a pitcher could be while waiting for that phone to ring in the New York Mets’ bullpen. But once it did ring, and once the caller requested his services, everything changed.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

The Mets had lost eight of nine games at the end of September 1999, a collapse that appeared certain to cost them their first postseason appearance in 11 years. Their manager, Bobby Valentine, assured his players they would still make the playoffs if they could just rediscover the belief they had in each other. The Mets would need to sweep Pittsburgh in the season’s final series for a shot at advancing, and Valentine trusted few Mets more than he trusted Mahomes, a fearless 29-year-old righthander who was about to make the biggest pitches of what would be an 11-year career.10

“For the first time in my life I had a manager who totally believed in me,” recalled Mahomes, who had already pitched for the Twins and Red Sox, and for the Yokohama BayStars in Japan. “Bobby was the first manager who let me be me on my mound.”

Valentine also let his reliever bring his 4-year-old son to work. Mahomes had one of the Mets’ clubhouse guys put together a uniform for young Patrick, who was allowed on the field during batting practice.

“An adorable kid,” Valentine said. “I recall Patrick running around in my clubhouse, jumping up and giving guys high-fives after games. During batting practice Pat would take him into the outfield behind second base.”

Some coaches warned Mahomes that he needed to guard his son as line drives were whistling all over Shea Stadium, but the pitcher thought Patrick already knew how to handle himself on a ballfield. Pat and Patrick used to play a game called 500 that earned a participant 25 points for fielding a ground ball, 50 for fielding a one-hopper, and 100 for catching a fly ball. Patrick figured he needed to run down some 100-pointers during BP if he wanted to finally defeat his dad. He was 5 years old in the 2000 season when he caught his first big-league fly, off the bat of Robin Ventura. “I can still remember him holding up the ball, all excited,” his father said.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

But back in the fall of 1999, times were tense at Shea. On the night of Oct. 1, the Mets and Pirates had tumbled into extra innings when Valentine asked Mahomes to face the middle of the Pittsburgh order.

12

James Harden sets Rockets record with 36 first-half points

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni worried Monday that James Harden was “dog tired” and would have to carry an even heavier burden with the news that a thumb injury would sideline center Clint Capela for four to six weeks and leave Houston without three starters.

Harden’s horrible 3-point shooting in Sunday’s road loss to the Orlando Magic hinted that fatigue might be a factor for the reigning league MVP. However, Harden responded by scoring a season-high 57 points Monday night, continuing his historic run by carrying the Rockets to a 112-94 home win over the Memphis Grizzlies.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

“What he just did, we kind of take it for granted a little bit,” said D’Antoni, who recorded the 600th win of his NBA coaching career. “It’s like, ‘Oh, look at that, isn’t that cute? It’s 57!’ I mean, on dead legs and he played 43 minutes last night. It’s beyond impressive. It’s rare that people can do what he’s done, if anybody.”12

Harden indeed entered rare air with his 17th consecutive game scoring at least 30 points. It’s the longest such streak since Wilt Chamberlain had 20 straight 30-plus-point performances in 1964. The only other players with streaks of 16 straight 30-point games since Chamberlain were Kobe Bryant in 2003 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972.

Harden, who has led the Rockets to a 13-4 record during this run, shrugged at being part of such exclusive company.

“The win was important,” Harden said. “I’ve got to get some rest tomorrow and be ready to go Wednesday. Same thing.”

Harden extended his streak with time to spare before halftime. He scored a team-record 36 points in the first half, one shy of Vernon Maxwell’s franchise record for points in either half.cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

Harden, who finished three points shy of his franchise record, was 17-of-33 from the floor, including 6-of-15 from 3-point range, and 17-of-18 from the free throw line before receiving a standing ovation when he exited the game with 3:35 remaining.

The Rockets had lost three of their previous five games entering Monday, and MRI results revealed ligament damage in Capela’s right thumb that sources say will need to be surgically repaired. With guards Eric Gordon (knee contusion) and Chris Paul (hamstring strain) still out, the Rockets’ spirits easily could have sagged.

Harden didn’t let that happen, scoring two-thirds of Houston’s points in the first half while D’Antoni tinkered with the rotation, quickly opting to play small lineups when 36-year-old fill-in starting center Nene Hilario rested.

11

NBA clears Cavaliers of wrongdoing in Patrick McCaw signing

The NBA has cleared the Cleveland Cavaliers of any wrongdoing in their brief alliance with forward Patrick McCaw.

At the urging of the Golden State Warriors, the league investigated Cleveland’s signing of McCaw as a restricted free agent before releasing him. cheap nfl jerseys from china nike McCaw played two seasons with the defending champions but did not re-sign with them last summer. The Cavs signed him last month to a two-year, $6 million offer sheet, which the Warriors chose not to match.11

McCaw played in three games for the Cavs and was waived before his contract became guaranteed. He signed with Toronto last week.

The league said Monday it found “no violation of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, including the anti-circumvention rules.”cheap nfl jerseys nike china

The Cavs could have forfeited a draft pick had they been found guilty of any offenses.

12

Ryan Broekhoff finding rhythm in the NBA madness

Dwight Powell interrupts Ryan Broekhoff’s pregame media availability and answers the question about how easy it is for the Australian to find his rhythm despite not playing consistent minutes during his rookie NBA campaign.

Broekhoff proved his Dallas Mavericks teammate prophetic against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, finishing the game with a career high 15 points and three assists in 21 minutes of court time.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“Obviously I came into this league wanting to play and wanting to compete,” Broekhoff said post-game. “Having the opportunity, with a few guys sitting out tonight, it was good. The coaching staff and the players continue to show a confidence in me to shoot the ball. Tonight some of them went in which was a good feeling.12

Broekhoff spent five years plying his trade in Turkey and Russia before coming to the NBA this season, and as is the case with a lot of rookies — even those with his basketball pedigree — he’s found it hard to come by regular minutes in coach Rick Carlisle’s rotation.

Broekhoff has appeared in just 17 of the Mavericks 39 games, and prior to Saturday, his career high of 9 points came against the Pelicans in early December. Broekhoff says he’s been adjusting to the pace of the NBA season on the fly, and is growing more comfortable as the season rolls on.

“Definitely more comfortable, just adjusting to the game, as well as the travel and schedule and how many games — and how quickly the games seem to pop up each week. But I’m definitely feeling more comfortable and more confident in myself to compete at this level,” he said.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Although opportunities have been a little up-and-down, when I have got on I feel like I can compete with anybody that I’ve come up against. It’s been fun learning and adjusting to all that.”

To go back to Powell’s statement, Broekhoff, who entered the league with a reputation as a sharpshooting marksmen, admits it’s been difficult to find that rhythm when entering a game given his sporadic — at best — minutes.

11

Rockets’ James Harden falls 2 points short of extending 40-point streak

With a missed layup with five seconds remaining, James Harden’s historic scoring five-game run of at least 40 points came to an end in the Houston Rockets’ 110-101 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

“Well, we held [Harden] under 40, so I guess that’s a win,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.

Harden finished with 38 points on 13-of-35 shooting, including 5-of-17 from 3 and maybe most notably just 7-of-7 from the free throw line.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“Honestly that streak is pretty cool for stats and whatnot, but honestly the win is more important,” Harden said. “So, came up short and now we’ve got another opportunity to go home and play Denver, who’s playing exceptionally well. So we’ve got to regroup.”11

Harden said he was unaware he was two points short of 40 when he drove to the rim down nine with a few seconds left. He had an obvious off night, with coach Mike D’Antoni suggesting there was possibly some lingering emotion hanging on Harden and the team after their stunning overtime win against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday. Harden started slowly, scoring only nine points on 3-of-15 shooting in the first half.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“My shots were flat in the beginning of the game,” he said. “So I just had to adjust a little bit, get them up. That was another thing, for myself I’ve got to get off to a better start. I picked it up in the third quarter and the second half, but that first half I had the same opportunities I normally get but my shot was just a little flat.”

Harden got it going in the third, scoring 20 in the quarter on 8-of-13 shooting. He had the full arsenal at his disposal — step-back 3s, drives to the rim and, of course, free throws. But after playing the entire third, he sat out the opening of the fourth quarter and didn’t score in the final frame until hitting a 3 with 2:13 left. He got three free throws after an unusual call when Evan Turner fouled PJ Tucker while Harden was taking a 3, and hit a deep 3 with 34 seconds left.

12

Patriots’ game plan vs. Chargers must start with slowing Melvin Ingram

When the New England Patriots were preparing to face the Los Angeles Chargers in October 2017, Bill Belichick noted the presence of pass-rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa by saying they put the Chargers’ defense into a “special category.”

“There’s not many teams in the league that have one player like this. They have two,” he said.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Belichick talking up the opposition is standard operating procedure, but anyone watching the Chargers’ 23-17 wild-card victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday would be hard-pressed to disagree — particularly with Ingram’s ability to control a game.

His speed, first-step quickness and dynamic pass-rush moves contributed to making him a first-round NFL draft choice out of South Carolina in 2012. Offensive tackles across the NFL can attest to how challenging it has been to face him, particularly over the past four seasons, as he has totaled 36 of his 42 career sacks over that span.12

But the Chargers also move Ingram inside, where his speed is a tough matchup for guards and centers at times.

So it’s not just Patriots offensive tackles Trent Brown and Marcus Cannon who have to study up on Ingram and Bosa this week, but left guard Joe Thuney, center David Andrews and right guard Shaq Mason, as well.

That group on the interior has been a strength for the Patriots, with Thuney playing every snap this season and Andrews (99 percent) and Mason (84 percent) not far behind. This is their third year playing together, which has also helped from a cohesion standpoint.

“That group’s been pretty solid, pretty dependable, pretty reliable for us. We’ve been pretty fortunate in that part of the offensive line,” Belichick said in late November.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Quarterback Tom Brady has also helped his own cause at times with his knack for getting rid of the football quickly, which has negated pressure; the Patriots finished the regular season ranked third in the NFL in fewest sacks allowed per pass play. Brady will need a quick trigger Sunday against a Chargers defense that totaled seven sacks against Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, tying a franchise postseason record. All seven of those sacks came with the Chargers rushing four or fewer defenders, which is consistent with their approach in the regular season.

11

With third pick, Jets select … a player in CFP title game?

The New York Jets’ higher-ups won’t make the trek to Santa Clara, California, for the College Football Playoff championship game — the team is kind of tied up with a coaching search — but the Jets’ top talent-evaluators will probably catch the game on TV. They most certainly will study the tape at some point before the draft.

The Jets are picking third, and there’s a decent chance that the player they ultimately select will be playing Monday night, along with a bunch of other potential first-rounders. The most likely candidates for the Jets are Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell, two of the top defensive linemen in what is considered a vintage year for the position.

“You know how excited we were last year by the quarterback class? Well, multiply that by 10 with the defensive linemen that could go in the first round,” said New York-based draft analyst Tony Pauline, publisher of draftanalyst.com. “This will be a historic class.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Jets know all about first-round defensive linemen. They picked Leonard Williams in 2015, Sheldon Richardson in 2013, Quinton Coples in 2012 and Muhammad Wilkerson in 2011. Remarkably, the only one left is Williams, who is entering the final year of his contract. In fact, the only regular contributors on the defensive line under contract for 2019 are Williams, Nathan Shepherd and Mike Pennel. Henry Anderson and Steve McLendon will be unrestricted free agents. Folorunso Fatukasi, inactive for 15 games as a rookie, is a total wild card.11

The New York Jets’ higher-ups won’t make the trek to Santa Clara, California, for the College Football Playoff championship game — the team is kind of tied up with a coaching search — but the Jets’ top talent-evaluators will probably catch the game on TV. They most certainly will study the tape at some point before the draft.

The Jets are picking third, and there’s a decent chance that the player they ultimately select will be playing Monday night, along with a bunch of other potential first-rounders. The most likely candidates for the Jets are Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell, two of the top defensive linemen in what is considered a vintage year for the position.

“You know how excited we were last year by the quarterback class? Well, multiply that by 10 with the defensive linemen that could go in the first round,” said New York-based draft analyst Tony Pauline, publisher of draftanalyst.com. “This will be a historic class.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The Jets know all about first-round defensive linemen. They picked Leonard Williams in 2015, Sheldon Richardson in 2013, Quinton Coples in 2012 and Muhammad Wilkerson in 2011. Remarkably, the only one left is Williams, who is entering the final year of his contract. In fact, the only regular contributors on the defensive line under contract for 2019 are Williams, Nathan Shepherd and Mike Pennel. Henry Anderson and Steve McLendon will be unrestricted free agents. Folorunso Fatukasi, inactive for 15 games as a rookie, is a total wild card.