Kaepernick's triumph didn't go as planned

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Kaepernick's triumph didn't go as planned

FOXBORO -- It ended up being the difference in the game: A 38-yard touchdown strike from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree with 6:25 left in the fourth quarter. It snapped a Patriots streak of 28 consecutive points and put the 49ers ahead, 38-31, in a game they eventually won, 41-34.
And to think, that wasn't even how the play was drawn up.
"It was a nice job by Colin," said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh afterwards. "That was not where he was supposed to go with the ball. It wasn't the intent of the play. But he saw what he saw and kicked it out to Michael, and Michael made a huge play."
After the Patriots battled back from a 31-3 deficit to tie the game at 31-31, LaMichael James returned a kickoff 62 yards down to the Patriots' 38-yard line.
That set up Kaepernick's lone play on the next drive. It was a short comeback route for Crabtree on the left side that caught Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington off-guard. Kaepernick found Crabtree, who then turned and took the ball 38 yards down the left sideline into the end zone untouched.
And everybody admitted the play wasn't meant to go to Crabtree.
"That was just another option in the play," said Kaepernick. "I saw Crabtree one-on-one with the matchup. I liked it, he's a great player and makes a lot of great plays. And he did on that play."
Kaepernick finished the game 14-of-25 for 216 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. It was just the fifth start of his NFL career. So going into Tom Brady's building was kind of a big deal.
"It is a little bit crazy, a little bit surreal," said Kaepernick after the win. "But I'm just trying to keep my head down and try to keep it going as long as I can."
Kaepernick did that, and he did it in tough conditions.
Not only did he do it in an improbable place like New England. But he also helped put up 41 points in a brutally wet and rainy Gillette Stadium.
"It was a real tough environment," said Harbaugh. "It was raining the entire game. But he did a nice job powering the ball through the elements, and through the defense at times. He didn't make every play, but that's a good football team we played."
Because of the weather, Kaepernick fumbled four snaps from center. But he recovered all of them.
"Just a wet ball, mishandling it," said Kapernick. "One hundred percent my fault."
"Yeah, we were having some difficulties there," said Harbaugh. "We just kept working at it, talking about it. The ball was hitting and squirting off Kaepernick's hand. He moved his guide hand, his left hand a little further to the right, and his top hand a little further to the right, and that helped."
Kaepernick didn't let the weather affect his mindset. He also didn't let his lone interception affect him much. After getting picked off by Devin McCourty when he tried to force one down the middle of the field early in the third quarter, Kaepernick showed his confidence driving the team down field to score a touchdown. Then he went right back to the same throw two possessions later, hitting Crabtree over the middle in between two defenders for a 27-yard strike and a touchdown that put San Francisco up 31-3.
"I was very impressed," said Harbaugh. "After you throw an interception -- I haven't done a study on this, but I just feel this in my bones -- that after you throw an interception, it's very hard to lead a touchdown drive the next possession, and basically step back in there, throw a ball right down the middle, which he had done the previous possession and had it intercepted. That takes some gravel in the guts, and talent of course, because he had to power that ball through the elements and the defense. I think it says a lot."
Kaepernick didn't have much to say after the game. He gave short answers and was straight to the point, especially when it came time to answer questions about his game-winning touchdown pass to Crabtree, which answered and one-upped Brady in his own building.
"This is my 17th year of football," he said. "I've been playing since I was 8 years old. So, to me, when I go out there, I'm going to throw it to the guy who's open. You try to keep football simple so your mind can be clear when you're on the field."
Kaepernick didn't have to say much after the game. He did all his talking on the field.

Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

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Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 10-3 win over the Colorado Rockies:

 

QUOTES

"I felt a little cramp. I'm fine. I appreciate John and everybody looking out (for me). We obviously don't want anything to happen like last year, but I'm good.'' - Dustin Pedroia, who left the game in the fifth after experiencing some tightness in his right hamstring.

"It's nice to be able to get deep into the game. That's my goal every time. My goal is nine innings, so if I don't get nine innings, I'm a little disappointed because I want to be able to go out there and pitch as many innings as I can.'' - Steven Wright.

"I think my release point was just a little off. That definitely makes it hard, especially when it's moving, because it's not a consistent release point.'' - Wright on the early-inning unpredictability of his signature pitch.

"Even when I was catching, I pride myself on running. I want to be an athlete back there. I want to run the bases, steal bases, things most catchers aren't known to do.'' - Blake Swihart, who hit two triples.

 

NOTES

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 29 games.

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 18 games.

* David Ortiz tied Paul Molitor for 12th on the all-time doubles list with 605.

* Ortiz has driven in multiple runs in three straight games

* Dustin Pedroia has a career batting average of .340 in interleague play, the highest ever for someone with 500 or more at-bats.

* Travis Shaw drove in three runs and now has 68 RBI in his first 111 games since Fred Lynn and Jim Rice in 1974-75.

* Blake Swihart became the third Red Sox hitter this season to post two triples in the same game.

* The Red Sox clinched their fifth straight home series win.

* The Sox are 21-8 since April 24 and are 13-2 in their last 15 home games.

 

STARS

1) Steven Wright

Backed by some rare run support, Wright evened his record at 4-4 with seven-plus innings and his eighth quality start this season.

2) Travis Shaw

Shaw produced two hits and knocked in three runs, making him the fourth Red Sox player this season to reach 30 RBI.

3) Blake Swihart

Swihart got to flash both his power and his speed by hitting two triples to the triangle, motoring around the bases.

 

Some questions and answers when it comes to Miller contract

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Some questions and answers when it comes to Miller contract

BOSTON -- A day after the Bruins announced a much-maligned four-year contract extension for defenseman Kevan Miller, B’s general manager Don Sweeney held court with the media to equal parts explain/defend the $10 million deal. Sweeney pointed to the very high character of a hardnosed player in Miller, and the relatively low mileage given that he’s played only 159 games at the NHL level.

There was also mention made of the room to grow in Miller’s game, though it’s difficult to imagine a much higher ceiling for a 28-year-old player than what the former UVM produced showed in 71 games last season.

“Kevan brings incredible character. His signing provides us with the necessary depth on our defense that all teams need. His relative low-mileage, having just played 160 games, we identified that we think Kevan has room for continued growth and development,” said Sweeney. “We certainly saw that in his play this year when he had an expanded role. Relative to the free market place, very, very comfortable with where Kevan fits into our group, and this provides us with the opportunity to explore the marketplace in every way, shape, or form, in having Kevan signed.”

Here’s the reality: Miller is a 5-6, bottom pairing defenseman on a good team, and a top-4 defenseman on a team like last year’s Bruins that finished a weak 19th in the league in goals allowed. The five goals and 18 points last season were solid career-high numbers for a player in the middle of his hockey prime, but he barely averaged 19 minutes of ice time per game as a front top-4 defenseman. Miller struggles with some of the fundamental needs in today’s NHL if you’re going to be a top-4 D-man: the tape-to-tape passes aren’t always accurate, there’s intermittent difficulty cleanly breaking the puck out of the defensive zone and Miller was exploited by the other team’s best players when paired with Zdeno Chara at points last season.

Certainly Miller has done some good things racking up a plus-55 rating during his three years in Boston, but executives and officials around the league were a bit surprised by the 4-year, $10 million contract extension. It’s viewed as a slight overpay in terms of both salary and term, but it’s more the redundancy of the contract that’s befuddling to some.

“Miller is certainly a rugged guy, but you already had one of those at roughly the same value in Adam McQuaid. I believe that you can’t win if you have both McQuaid and Miller in your top 6 because they are both No. 6 D’s in my mind,” said a rival NHL front office executive polled about the Miller contract. “You look at the playoffs and the direction that the league is headed in, and you need to have big, mobile defenseman that can quickly move the puck up the ice. You have too much of the same thing with Miller and McQuaid, and I think you can’t win with that in this day and age.”

The one facet of the four-year Miller contract that might make it okay for some Bruins fans: the tacit connection to the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes. According to several sources around the league, the Bruins taking care of Miller now will very likely have a positive impact on their chances of landing Vesey when he becomes a free agent on Aug. 15, and makes them the front-runner for the Harvard standout’s services. Both Miller and Vesey are represented by the same agent in Peter Fish, and those are the kinds of behind-the-scenes connections that many times factor into free agent signings and trades around the NHL.

So many, this humble hockey writer included, may owe Sweeney a slight apology if paying a $10 million premium for a bottom-pairing defenseman in Miller now pays dividends in landing a stud forward like Vesey that’s drawing interest all around the league.