Tarell Brown injury: 49ers expect CB to return this season

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown will likely miss Monday’s game against the Washington Redskins, but is expected to return this season according to head coach Jim Harbaugh. Brown is suffering from a ribs injury that happened on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. He stayed overnight in New Orleans after the game due to the injury.

Sanders had been ineffective in the offensive slug-fest, catching one pass for two yards before leaving due to the injury. The focus will be on Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown to keep the Steelers on pace with a high-powered Lions offense led by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.

The team will turn to rookie Markus Wheaton in Sanders’ absence. He caught three passed for 26 yards entering Sunday and amassed 38 yards on three catches entering the third quarter against Detroit. He’s a similar receiver with deep threat potential, but it’s unclear whether that will be enough to counteract the Lions offense.

Miami can’t move forward without offensive line help, and it’s an issue that extends beyond Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. The entire Dolphins’ offense breaks down when they can’t throw deep and it turns Mike Wallace into an overpaid deep-speed receiver without any big play potential. This was an unremarkable game against a similarly matched opponent, which is good from a coaching standpoint, but speaks to the larger issues that need to be addressed moving forward.

It’s safe to say the Chargers season is over at this point. Stuck in the AFC West is bad enough, but Sunday’s loss makes it very difficult to project them clawing back into the wild card race. One positive is the play of Ryan Mathews, who has responded to first-year head coach Mike McCoy.

The Titans came away with the win last week, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t questions.

The Colts and the Rams were the two worst teams during the 2011 season, but by way of a tiebreaker, it was Indianapolis that got to pick first in the 2012 NFL Draft. Is that small twist of fate the reason these two franchises seem to be headed in opposite directions two years later?

It was the Colts who selected Andrew Luck in the draft, and since going 2-14 in 2011, they have gone 17-7 with a playoff berth since. The Rams could have chosen Robert Griffin III, but instead opted to trade the pick away for a bounty from Washington and stay the course with Sam Bradford. St. Louis has gone 10-14-1 in the year and a half since, and Bradford is on injured reserve with a torn ACL.

We’ll never know how things could have gone if the Rams had lost 15 games instead of 14, whether they would have chosen Luck and traded Bradford. We only know where they are now and that they’ll meet the Colts in Indianapolis on Sunday, with Luck facing backup Kellen Clemens.

The Titans came away with the win last week, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t questions. Music City Miracles took a closer look at a few of the more perplexing issues:

Why can the Titans not run block and pass protect well in the same game. Is this an either/or thing? The year before last, the line could pass protect all day, but they couldn’t create a gap for a gnat to get through. In yesterdays game we saw the exact opposite.

Tennessee appears to be a legitimate playoff contender, while the Jaguars fans are more focused on the standings for the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Titans are the more talented team and have the benefit of playing at home, so it’s hard to imagine them losing this game.8

Panthers vs. 49ers 2017 odds and lines: San Francisco favored at home

Coming off four straight wins, the Carolina Panthers are arguably playing as well as any team in the NFC. If their win streak is going to continue, the Panthers will have to go on the road and knock off the 49ers (6-2), winners of five straight games.

The two teams appear to match up well on paper, but oddsmakers favor the 49ers who opened as 6.5-point favorites, according to OddsShark.com. San Francisco gets a boost for playing at home and some oddsmakers have the 49ers favored by seven points. Both teams rank in the top four in the NFL in scoring defense. While oddsmakers aren’t predicting a field goal battle, the total opened at 42.5.

Minnesota’s top wide receiver Jerome Simpson was charged with a misdemeanor DWI hot off the heels of the Vikings second win. Simpson was arrested after refusing to take a breathalyzer test and spent time in Hennepin County Jail.

He leads the Vikings with 491 receiving yards this season, and the team issued a brief statement:

The Vikings are aware of the matter involving Jerome Simpson. We are continuing to gather information and will have further comment at the appropriate time.

Lonzo Ball’s dad said his son is better than Steph Curry

LaVar Ball has a reason to be so confident. His oldest son, Lonzo Ball, is a freshman sensation at UCLA, rejuvenating the Bruins while making himself a top NBA draft prospect in the process. His youngest son, LaMelo, is generating just as much hype as a high school sophomore after scoring 92 points in a single game. His middle child, LiAngelo, is also a UCLA commit.

Papa Ball has a reputation for making bold statements that are as entertaining as they are outrageous. His latest claim might be his most audacious yet: Over the weekend, LaVar Ball said Lonzo is better than Steph Curry. Not in the future. Right now.

“I have the utmost confidence in what my boy is doing. He’s better than Steph Curry to me. Put Steph Curry on UCLA’s team right now and put my boy on Golden State and watch what happens.”

If Lonzo and LaMelo are as good as everyone thinks they are, get ready for 20 years of LaVar Ball saying wild things. Here are his greatest hits so far.

LeBron James and the Cavs are ranked 22nd in the league in defensive efficiency this season — a dropoff from last season when they finished the season ranked 10th.

Cleveland’s defense has been particularly reprehensible when it comes to forcing turnovers (only 9.5 per game in March, worst in the NBA), guarding the 3-point line (their 10.3 3-pointers allowed per game this season are 26th in the league) and protecting the paint (their 47.3 points given up in the key per game in March are also 26th).

Considering it took until this, the fourth iteration of the WBC, for the USA to win the whole thing, it seems like there is already a lot of competition out there, too. And that’s good for the worldwide health of baseball.20

Next year could be the year for Louisville basketball

Louisville basketball has a real chance to start next year in the top five of the preseason polls.

Though they caught a red-hot Michigan team in time for an early tournament exit this year, the Cardinals had legitimate Final Four aspirations. They fought through the ACC with a 25-9 record, earning multiple-possession wins over Duke and Notre Dame, as well as a 10-point non-conference win over Wichita State. But their run ended short despite an accomplished season.

The Cardinals currently sit No. 9 on KenPom.com, with the ninth-best defense. They held opponents to just 45.7 percent effective field-goal shooting (19th in the nation) and were 13th in offensive rebounding percentage.

With the chance for minimal roster turnover, those numbers may improve.

It is not worth the electricity needed to type it, or to trot out the stats that say Kaepernick was not terrible in his 11 games last season. It is not worth repeating that he had not played in a year because of multiple surgeries and is healthier now than he has been in two seasons. Not worth the reminder that the 49ers’ new management is rebuilding the entire roster from scratch, which tells you Kaepernick wasn’t exactly working with the same weapons Matt Ryan was.

It is about at least one team in the market for a quarterback, the Giants, with a coach who is on the record as being disappointed in Kaepernick is protest (at the same time he eagerly defended a kicker who abused his wife). The two signings they made essentially scream, Anybody But Kaepernick.

Hensley Meulens wants MLB managerial job after WBC showing

Hensley Meulens has received positive reviews for his communication skills and upbeat approach while leading the Netherlands to two straight extended runs in the World Baseball Classic.

As the Dutch team prepares to play Puerto Rico in the WBC semifinals Monday night at Dodger Stadium, he’s hoping that MLB front offices with managerial openings this winter will be taking notes.

Meulens, who has contributed to three World Series victories since taking over as San Francisco Giants hitting coach in 2010, is up-front about his desire to run a major league club someday. If his success with the Netherlands squad is a springboard to a more prominent role, it will be a welcome fringe benefit to the experience.

On his way to the tunnel he was visibly frustrated, slamming his helmet in anger into the bench. Thomas has been one of the most productive tight ends in the league this season, hauling in 39 passes for 451 yards and eight touchdowns.

Should Thomas be out for any length of time, Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen will see increased action. The Broncos now enter a bye week, coming at a great time for this banged-up team.

If you need to hear something positive about the Falcons, it’s that the team will get better … next year. Injured players will be back in the mix, and GM Thomas Dimitroff will have had a full offseason to fix some of the roster’s biggest problems. Finding pass rushers is one of those tasks. Ditto for fixing the offensive line. Leaning on a running back in his 20s would help too, considering Mike Smith’s preference for old-man style football.


The economics of an athlete’s groin photo

Recently I became unlucky enough to count myself as a member of the elite fraternity of people who have received emails from someone who is trying to sell a picture of a nude male athlete. Now before you go accusing me of an A1 humble-brag let me tell you, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. These guys play hardball.

You may have once been a red-blooded, eight-year old American who found a Danny Tartabull rookie card. Most of us were, but none of us knew that all of our friends also had Danny Tartabull rookie cards because they put them in every goddamn Topps box set. That’s why they were worth one penny, but we thought they were worth hundreds of dollars. I’m not saying that every picture of an athlete’s penis is worth one cent, in fact a rookie year Danny Tartabull dick Polaroid would probably be worth several times more. What I am saying is there is a dick picture bubble and it’s already burst, but no one told the sellers.

If you are currently in possession of a picture of an athletes penis, first of all, please go let your dog out of the car. Second, you probably start with an email like this seeking online penis purchasers:

If the NFL is serious about building a fanbase in the UK, they’re really not making a strong case with a terrible matchup like this one. I imagine most Londoners will look at this game, shrug and go back to talking about their Premier League teams.

The Cowboys’ embattled defense did a surprisingly good job shutting down the Ealges, even without DeMarcus Ware. Will they do it again against Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush? I have my doubts, but this should be a fun game with potential NFC playoff implications down the line.


NFL Draft 2017: Which player do mock drafts project each team to pick?

Now that the 2016 NFL season is over, all eyes turn to the 2017 offseason. The big event is the NFL draft, scheduled for April 27-29 in Philadelphia.

The Cleveland Browns are at the top of the draft order following their 1-15 season, but they also have the No. 12 selection thanks to a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016. While there’s still plenty of time for players to climb up or slide down boards, Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is currently the heavy favorite to be Cleveland’s No. 1 pick.

By surveying as many mock drafts as possible, we can get a good idea of the directions experts expect most teams to go.

Otherwise, Scott Cross’s squad demolished Saint Mary’s in Moraga and won at Texas in a season when that result would ultimately mean nothing. Had UTA managed to reach Sunday’s Sun Belt Tournament final, they could have snuck in with a loss. But Saturday’s 21-point hammering by Texas State, the Mavericks’ second loss of the year to the Bobcats, means they’ll have to settle for an NIT place.

Scheyer added that Tatum’s progress from his injury-slowed start to the postseason has turned him into one of the toughest players in the country to guard.

“He’s a guy who’s so versatile,” Scheyer said. “If you have basketball instincts like his, you just have to let him go sometimes.”

With Tatum starting and starring and Giles coming off the bench to provide increasingly more valuable minutes, Duke is morphing into the team it was supposed to be in the preseason, and it’s happening at the right time. This isn’t a traditional Blue Devils team — Tatum and Giles provide a little more flash than Duke may have had previously — but it’s made it nearly impossible to put them away.

Duke trailed Louisville, North Carolina, and Notre Dame in the second half during the ACC Tournament on consecutive nights. Each time, Duke fought back behind clutch shooting and tough defense.


Jusuf Nurkic’s emergence in Portland could cost the Nuggets a playoff appearance and a draft pick

When the Portland Trail Blazers shipped Mason Plumlee to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first-round pick, it seemed like they were waiving the the white flag in their playoff hunt.

“I expressed my concern that [the Vikings] are at a competitive disadvantage … I feel very strongly about this point,” he wrote. “… I feel that Dr. Fischer is beginning to see my point of view on many issues. I also feel he is willing to change to improve.”

Canada had just six hits to the DR’s 15. Fifteen! And that number includes three doubles, a two-run home run from Welington Castillo, and a three-run home run from Jose Bautista and his luxurious beard.

As for the Bears, the result ended any hope they had of jumping back to the top line of the bracket.

The ball was jumping all night, with six total home runs, four of which belonged to Italy. But down four runs in the ninth, it wasn’t home runs that helped Italy to a surprise walk-off win. It was doubles. They hit three straight doubles to start the ninth, got another man on thanks to a fielding error, and then two straight singles took them over the top for a 10-9 win.

The Jaguars can offer Cutler some luxuries, including the league’s No. 11 offensive line (when it comes to sack percentage) and explosive young receivers in Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee. However, the team has publicly committed to pick-six purveyor Blake Bortles for at least the start of 2017, so any deal the veteran accepts in Florida would peg him as a Week 1 backup.9

Leonard Fournette being real fast for a huge guy is actually a good thing, in my opinion

The talk early in the week at the combine was all about LSU running back Leonard Fournette. When he jumped 28.5 inches, everyone began to question his play. Is he out of shape? Is 240 pounds too big? Then when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds, those questions mostly went away.

Teams do the drills for a reason, so Fournette’s lack of a vertical jump can be concerning. But based on how he plays, should we really expect him to be some athletic marvel? No. He’s a bruising runner who is more prone to throwing defenders aside than running around them.

Johnson, who was only a team consultant at the time, referred Divac to Kupchak, according to Shelburne, since he did not have the authority to discuss trades with opposing executives.

Divac had ownership approval to trade Cousins in a deal that landed Lakers’ rookie Brandon Ingram or New Orleans Pelicans rookie Buddy Hield, per Shelburne. Johnson never heard back from Lakers management regarding a Cousins trade.

Writes Shelburne: Before the mammoth trade that paired Cousins with New Orleans Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis, Sacramento Kings GM Vlade Divac reached out to Johnson to gauge the team’s interest in acquiring its three-time All-Star.

But by the time the Lakers got involved, Divac and Pelicans general manager Dell Demps, both in New Orleans for the All-Star Game, had met four or five times in person to discuss a deal, sources told ESPN’s Marc Stein. He was negotiating over the phone with Buss and Kupchak — despite the fact that Magic was in New Orleans that weekend for ESPN.17