Kaepernick, 49ers fall short in comeback

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Kaepernick, 49ers fall short in comeback

From Comcast SportsNetNEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Colin Kaepernick got tripped up and tossed down, then still nearly led the greatest Super Bowl comeback in just his 10th career NFL start.Rarely rattled on an impressive path to the Super Bowl, San Francisco's second-year quarterback finally showed some inexperience on football's big stage. Not to mention some guts.After a remarkable postseason run -- with those speedy legs -- by the tattooed play-caller, the Baltimore Ravens exposed plenty of flaws in handing Kaepernick and Co. a 34-31 loss Sunday despite San Francisco's second-half rally."We were ready for the second half," Kaepernick said. "We knew we had to score to get back in the game. We had good plays, we had bad plays in the red zone."No team has come from more than 10 points down to win a Super Bowl, and Kaepernick had a chance to make it happen less than three months after becoming San Francisco's starter.He regrouped during a 34-minute delay early in the third quarter because of a power outage, finding his groove and turning the Super Bowl into a wild game down the stretch -- and gave yet more cred to the pistol offense designed by his old college coach that is so well suited for the NFL's young, mobile quarterbacks."Colin was cool the entire game," left tackle Joe Staley said. "Colin was the same he's been the whole entire season. He's never shown any hints of being rattled, any hint of being uncomfortable on the football field, and he showed that exact kind of character today."Kaepernick directed four second-half scoring drives, throwing a 31-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree and also running 15 yards for a TD. But the 49ers missed the two-point conversion that would have tied the game with less than 10 minutes left.Crabtree didn't get much help in a mistake-filled first half by San Francisco (13-5-1), which failed to stop Joe Flacco and deliver the franchise's sixth championship that would have matched the Pittsburgh Steelers for most ever.The 49ers' perfect Super Bowl record? That's over, too. They lost for the first time in the title game.Perhaps it's a bit premature to begin talking Bay Area dynasty again -- in football, at least.Playing for a title for the first time since Hall of Famers Steve Young and Jerry Rice won with a rout of San Diego 18 years ago, Jim Harbaugh's Niners made costly mistakes on both sides of the ball early in the game. And special teams, too.Yet Kaepernick did a little bit of everything in San Francisco's final drive, when the 49ers got the ball back at their own 20 with 4:19 remaining and trailing 34-29. He ran for 8 yards, hit Crabtree on a 24-yard gain and handed off to Frank Gore for a 33-yard run to the Baltimore 7.But with three chances from the 5, Kaepernick threw three straight incomplete passes intended for Crabtree, who got tangled up with a defender on the final play but no holding was called -- Harbaugh screamed from the sideline and signaled for a penalty.Kaepernick's off-balance throw under pressure on fourth down sailed through the end zone. Kaepernick lowered his head slightly and walked slowly off the field."That wasn't the original option," Kaepernick said. "It's something I audibled to at the line based on the look they gave us."No comeback this time in the Big Easy.The 49ers had a pair of penalties in the opening 4:24 that proved costly, on each side of the ball -- Vernon Davis' flag for illegal formation on the first play from scrimmage to negate his own 20-yard catch, then linebacker Ahmad Brooks' offside on Baltimore's third-and-9 from the 18. That gave the Ravens 5 yards, Flacco found Anquan Boldin for 13-yard touchdown the very next play.Early in the second quarter, rookie LaMichael James made a 25-yard run in which he spun twice before losing the ball. And safety Donte Whitner received a 15-yard facemask penalty to give the Ravens first-and-goal on the 4. Flacco found Dennis Pitta for a 1-yard score two plays later.Kaepernick wound up 16 for 28 for 302 yards with three sacks and an interception for a 91.7 passer rating in his outstanding Super Bowl debut. The interception was the first by the 49ers in six Super Bowls and ended a streak at 169 passes without one.Kaepernick also rushed for 62 yards, joining Joe Montana as the only quarterbacks to pass for 300 yards and run for 50 in a Super Bowl. Kaepernick recorded the fourth 300-yard passing performance by the 49ers in the Super Bowl -- Montana had two and Young one.The 25-year-old completed 8 of 13 first-half passes, was sacked twice and threw an interception as San Francisco fell behind 21-6.In the NFC championship game at Atlanta two weeks ago, such a deficit was no problem. Kaepernick rallied the Niners back from 17-0, while the defense delivered by holding the Falcons scoreless in the second half to win 28-24.On Sunday, Kaepernick led his team into the end zone for the first time with 7:20 remaining in the third quarter after the power outage when he found Crabtree.But a stingy San Francisco defense that relied on its ball-hawking, run-stopping play all season, couldn't consistently slow down Flacco and the high-powered Ravens.Leading up to the Super Bowl, Kaepernick had handled himself beautifully in hostile environments -- beating Drew Brees and the Saints right here in the Superdome on Nov. 25, and later guiding the Niners at New England. And, of course, the win against the Falcons on Jan. 20 that returned San Francisco to the Super Bowl at last."I was just sitting there watching Kaep with the ball and knowing that this whole team has trust in him and that he had everything in his hands," defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said. "We just knew that the ball was going in the end zone, through Frank, through Kaep, even getting the ball to Randy (Moss) or Crabtree with the hands he has."The 49ers were hoping for their own downtown victory parade and to have the World Series champion Giants take part after Harbaugh and quarterback Alex Smith drove in the San Francisco baseball team's parade last fall.San Francisco would have become the first market to win a World Series and Super Bowl in the same season since the Boston Red Sox accomplished it in 2004 and the New England Patriots followed suit in February 2005.

Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

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Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, after a busy morning celebrating my 3-year-old’s birthday at the trampoline park. Yee-ha.

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri says that adding toughness was a big offseason priority for the Montreal Canadiens.

*There’s at least one big fan of the Edmonton Oilers trade that brought defenseman Adam Larsson from the New Jersey Devils, and that fan’s name is Mark Letestu.

*Here’s everything you need to know about the Ice Guardians movie premiering this fall that takes a long, balanced look at the NHL enforcers.

*Roberto Luongo has an alibi for the robbery in Winnipeg with one suspect getting away in goalie equipment, and it’s funny as you would expect it to be.

*CSN Washington takes a look at the New York Rangers in their season previews for the Metro Division.

*I’m not entirely sure whether this “RIP Harambe” thing is genuine or meant to be ironic by the largely millenial group that seem so enamored with it, but I think it’s just stupid. I think the same with the crying Jordan meme…also stupid.

*For something completely different: a look at how Triumph the Insult Comic Dog learned how to poop on Trump’s politics.

 

Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension

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Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension

The Patriots have signed linebacker and special teamer Jonathan Freeny to a two-year contract extension through 2018, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported.

Freeney, 27, was originally signed by the Patriots to a one-year free-agent deal in March 2015 after spending the first four years of his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins. He then earned a one-year extension last September and played 13 games, seven starts, with 50 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. 

 

 

Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Danton Heinen.

Danton Heinen exploded into a high-profile prospect for the Bruins after finishing among the NCAA’s top scoring players a couple of years ago as a freshman along with a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin. 

Since then, Heinen has continued to produce offense at the University of Denver and continued to create offense that leads to points. Now, the 21-year-old Heinen will be entering the professional arena for his first full season with the Bruins and he’ll be attempting to transition from the prospect phase to a regular gig in the NHL. That’s the challenge for a talented player who appears headed into a very good opportunity in NHL training camp.

 

What happened last year

Heinen was every bit as explosive in his second season for Denver as he was in his brilliant freshman campaign. He improved on his scoring with 20 goals and 48 points in 41 games. Then Heinen signed with the Bruins at the end of his sophomore season and played in a couple of pro games in the AHL with Providence as a tune-up for this first full pro campaign with the Bruins organization. Heinen finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in four games with the P-Bruins and showed the coaches in Providence that he was ready to play and produce with more talented players. If Heinen surprised a little bit as a breakout freshman two years ago, his sophomore follow-up in Denver last season proved to everybody that he wasn’t a fluke.

 

Questions to be answered this season

The real question surrounding Heinen is about his ceiling as an NHL player and just how good he can become as a player with the skills and playmaking abilities to be a top-six forward. He’s proven he can dominate at the collegiate level while admittedly playing with some pretty good teammates at Denver. Heinen showed at the end of the season in Providence that the pro scene might not be much different for him. At this point, Heinen simply needs to go out and prove it against the best players in the world and show that his speed, playmaking and hockey sense are all elite in the AHL or NHL. Heinen’s biggest obstacle might be his size. He'll need to survive as a targeted skill player despite not being much more than the 6-feet, 180-pound range for a forward. It’s about average for a playmaking wing in the NHL, but the hits and attention will be at a much more intense level than anything he faced in the NCAA world.

 

What they're saying

“He’s the type of player that he can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ and he’s got really good skill. I think anywhere you put him, he’s smart enough to figure it out. I think you’ll notice him during training camp. It will definitely be up to him, but I think he’ll push some guys.” –Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo on Heinen during last month’s development camp where Heinen soared as a performer.

 
Outlook

While Heinen still has some things he’ll need to prove before he’s a regular contributor for the Bruins, he comes into the Boston fold as an experienced player following two very good seasons at the college level. So, Heinen should be a little closer to plug-and-play for Claude Julien than some of the other young players that have come through the system in the past couple of years. Heinen will still need to flash in camp while being handed a big spot to perform with high-end veterans Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand potentially off playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Heinen also has a much greater chance of winning an NHL job sooner rather than later after the Bruins lost out on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes and still have a top-six forward opening that somebody is going to fill. Heinen and Frank Vatrano are the two biggest favorites to fill that position, which became vacant when Loui Eriksson departed for Vancouver. Whichever winger loses that battle should be also be a strong candidate for a role on the third line, as well, barring any late veteran signings by the B’s. That set of circumstances leaves a very good situation for Heinen to potentially walk into with the Black and Gold, but he'll still have to show he’s fully capable of seizing his good fortune and good timing.