From Comcast SportsNetSANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- Jim Harbaugh watched how Colin Kaepernick handled himself when things didn't go right for the San Francisco 49ers, and that told the coach plenty more about his second-year quarterback with all of three NFL starts to his name.Enough that Harbaugh is sticking with Kaepernick under center -- for now, anyway -- as his team gears up for Sunday's home game against the Miami Dolphins at Candlestick Park."Just a winning quarterback performance in tough circumstances," Harbaugh said Monday. "In the evaluation, I thought Colin played well, did a lot of really good things, made some good decisions. ... I thought some real positives to take away from his performance."Yet Alex Smith isn't out of this mix yet, either. Another sub-par performance by Kaepernick could have Harbaugh going back to the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick for the final December push toward the playoffs. The reigning NFL coach of the year is leaving every option open down the stretch.A day after a 16-13 overtime loss at St. Louis, Harbaugh accepted the blame for the fourth-quarter pitch that was fumbled by Kaepernick and led to Janoris Jenkins' 2-yard fumble return for a touchdown and ensuing 2-point conversion that tied the game. Harbaugh didn't call the play, but relayed it through the headset to Kaepernick."Responsibility-taking starts with me on that option play that resulted in the nightmare scenario," Harbaugh said. "Position of the game that where I should not let that play be called. So I take responsibility for that."At 8-3-1, the Niners are prepared for a challenge from the Seahawks (7-5) in the NFC West after Seattle won in overtime at Chicago on Sunday. The teams play at Seattle in the second-to-last game on Dec. 23.Everybody around San Francisco is looking for a strong finish by a team that has set its sights on the Super Bowl since moments after last year's near miss: a 20-17 overtime loss to the eventual champion New York Giants in the NFC title game."You're mad to the point where you don't really feel anything right now," linebacker Patrick Willis said Sunday in St. Louis.After this week's home game with Miami (5-7), San Francisco also must travel to New England in another daunting road task. The 49ers are certainly frustrated with the way their two games against the Rams wound up after a 24-24 tie on Nov. 11."We expect to execute," left tackle Joe Staley said. "We didn't execute. Late in the season we shouldn't be having games like this."David Akers missed another key field goal in what has been a difficult stretch for the kicker. His 51-yard attempt with 4:16 remaining in overtime went wide right, only three weeks after he missed left on a 41-yard try also in overtime against the Rams.While Akers was listed on last week's injury report with a pelvis issue, he looked fine during practice from as far out as 50 yards. Harbaugh expects him to play against the Dolphins -- even after the team brought in a couple of backup options for tryouts last Tuesday.Akers, who set an NFL single-season record with 44 field goals in 2011, has made only 15 of his last 24 attempts."We'll see what his health status is this week, but all indications are he's working through something," Harbaugh said. "He's kicked well in practice. He's kicked well in games. I thought the one that he hit in the ball game that was missed was well hit. It just didn't go in."Harbaugh will call on all of his players to improve during practice this week and challenge each other, saying "we don't lay it on anybody's particular doorstep.""It's a tough loss," he said. "It's one you wake up this morning, and that gut-wrenching feeling is still there. The positive things are we still have a quarter of the season to play. Four games, we're in position to control our own destiny and bounce back. Certainly a bit of an edge, I would expect, because we all take responsibility we didn't get it done this week."Notes: Harbaugh said he met with defensive end and special teams regular Demarcus Dobbs regarding his arrest Friday morning -- on his 25th birthday -- for suspicion of driving under the influence and marijuana possession. Harbaugh said Dobbs is expected to be available for Sunday's game after he didn't travel for the Rams game. "That's a situation we're handling internally," Harbaugh said. ... Harbaugh said he had no update on the shoulder injury sustained by WR Mario Manningham.
BOSTON – The Bruins have won seven of eight games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy and are fortifying their position as the third playoff team in the Atlantic Division with each passing victory.
The 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden on Tuesday night probably shouldn’t be all impressive based on the Yotes standing as the second-worst team in the NHL, but it was a classic trap game coming off a long West Coast road trip. Instead of falling for the trap the Bruins exploded for three goals in the second period, energized by a shorthanded Riley Nash strike, and continue to extend the winning stretch they need in order to punch their playoff ticket.
The postseason clincher is still a long way away from reality, but Cassidy said the B’s are starting to achieve the elevated level of play they’re aiming for while finally getting the full potential out of their team.
“I just want the guys to make sure that they play confident, solid hockey and believe in themselves. And play to a [higher] standard,” said Cassidy. “We’re trying to set a standard where we’re one of the better teams in the National Hockey League. They’ve been there before, the leadership group here. That’s where we’re striving to get through in the end.”
They haven’t exactly shied away from the competition either, twice beating the first-place San Jose Sharks and shutting out the first place Montreal Canadiens in the final straw that saw Michel Therrien axed in favor of Claude Julien.
The B’s have now opened up a three-point cushion over the Maple Leafs for their playoff spot and they’ve averaged 4.13 goals per game (33 goals in eight games) while allowing just 2.13 goals per game (17 goals in eight games) in the eight games going from Julien to Cassidy.
The challenge now is to maintain that level of play over the final 19 games of the regular season to drive home their playoff bid and finish strong at a point where in each of the past two seasons they’ve utterly imploded.
Months ago, I was told by someone who’d know that it wasn’t a done deal the Patriots would trade Jimmy Garoppolo.
This was after Garoppolo got hurt and Tom Brady was in the midst of his didn’t-miss-a-beat return. At the time, it made all the sense in the world for the team to start listening to overtures.
And it still does.
- Schefter: Garoppolo 'is going to be on the Patriots in 2017 [no] matter who calls, no matter what anybody offers.'
Despite having it reiterated to me recently that people shouldn’t “expect” Garoppolo to be dealt (and plenty of national media reporting the same thing), I’ve maintained that -- while it may not be likely -- that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
A recitation of the reasons why:
-- First, Garoppolo is a backup behind the best quarterback in NFL history who also happens to be one of its most durable. Regardless if he’s pushing 40, even compared to quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton, Brady is a less prone to injury. So the likelihood the team will need to summon Garoppolo to sub for Brady either because of performance or injury is tiny.
-- Second, value. What good does it have to be in possession of a good player if he never plays? Brady is signed through 2019. The Patriots can control Garoppolo through 2018 if they franchise him, but they’ll have to spend close to $25 million on a one-year deal to do that. And what’s the plan there, spend $25 million to have him watch Brady play at a level Garoppolo still probably won’t be able to approach? When it comes to draft picks, Bill Belichick is like an old guy with a metal detector at the beach. He’ll pocket anything he can find. But he’s not going to flip Garoppolo into possible first-round currency and -- after almost two decades of saving for the future -- just sit on a tradeable asset that may never play?
-- Third, Jacoby Brissett’s ability to play is a helluva lot better demonstrated than Matt Cassel’s, Ryan Mallett’s, Brian Hoyer's and Matt Guttierez's. All those players were the lone backups to Brady at different junctures. The belief the Patriots don’t trust Brissett to back up Brady and need more security is inconsistent with what they’ve done in the past. Further, they seemingly groomed Brissett to be the backup in 2016 in little ways -- bringing him back from IR, taking him on the road when he was on IR.
Finally, does this actually mean that Garoppolo is somehow the player without a price? Completely untouchable in a way Richard Seymour, Logan Mankins, Jamie Collins and whoever else we want to dredge up as a trade example were?
So where’s this leave us?
One of three possibilities. 1) The Patriots do indeed have an asking price and are driving up the market. 2) The Patriots are going to franchise and trade Garoppolo next year. 3) Or they are going to trade Brady before the 2018 season and give the job to Garoppolo.
If the ultimate plan has even crystallized, it’s not going to be shared. Not now. So instead we need to look for bread crumbs to lead us to the team’s mindset.
Perhaps the best insight Belichick gave into his approach was in November of 2009 in an interview with Jason Cole. The interview came a couple of months after the Seymour deal. in which the Patriots grabbed a 2011 first-rounder for the former All-Pro.
“We gave up a significant player and we gained a significant asset,” Belichick told Cole. “There’s a balance of this year and years in the future. Do we consider that? Yes, but in the end you look at the level of compensation and you do it. Had it been for another level of compensation, would we do it? Maybe not. I don’t know. There’s a point where you say yes and a point where you say no and there’s a real fine line in the middle where it really depends on how bad you want to make the trade. It’s like anything else, if you really want to do it, you might take less. If you don’t, it probably would take more.”
The link is dead so here I lean on Mike Florio of PFT, who aggregated the Cole interview from Yahoo!:
Belichick also said that “probably everybody is available at the right price,” but when Cole pressed him about whether he’d really trade Tom Brady, Belichick acknowledged that he’s building a team around a certain core group of players -- and he wouldn’t trade those guys. As an example of a player he wouldn’t trade, Belichick named linebacker Jerod Mayo, last year’s first-round draft pick.
“Now, is Jerod Mayo available? No, not really,” Belichick said. “But there are certain players who are young that have a certain number of years left on their contract that you want on your team, so you’re really not going to trade them. Those guys are realistically not available, no. But is everybody else available for a certain price on every team? I would say, for the most part, they probably are. Who’s willing to give that? What you want and what someone else is willing to give, that’s usually very different. In this case, it worked.”
Bearing that in mind, and understanding the amount of desperation around the league to find the right quarterback, I still believe there’s a price for Garoppolo. But unless someone pays it, we’ll never know what it is.