Archive for April, 2012

Beat Navy like this…


After the 49ers‘ offense lagged behind its dominant defense last season, general manager Trent Baalke used his first two picks in the NFL draft to get his unit up to speed.

First, he grabbed Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins with the No. 30 overall pick. He then selected Oregon running back LaMichael James in the second round.

The message was clear: Let’s get out of second gear, guys.

“Our defense does play at a high level and plays fast,” Baalke said after the draft’s final day Saturday. “And we needed to add some pieces to the offense to allow us to do the same thing from an offensive perspective.”

It remains to be seen whether Jenkins and James, who have recorded sub-4.4-second times in the 40-yard dash, are the solutions for an offense that moved downfield deliberately in 2011 before becoming inert in the red zone.

Both speedsters clearly possess such potential, though.

Consider that Jenkins had five touchdown receptions of 50-plus yards last year and James had four runs of at least 50 yards. The 49ers’ offense, meanwhile, managed two 50-yard-plus touchdowns. In fact, San Francisco had only three offensive plays of 50 or more yards, matching the number of 50-yard returns Ted Ginn produced on special teams.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock believes San Francisco’s offense, which ranked 26th in the NFL in yards per game, added a different dimension with James.

The 49ers “did not generate many yards on offense last year,” Mayock said after San Francisco’s second-round pick. “They won with great defense and by protecting the football. (James) gives them the rare ability to hit a home run anywhere in the park.”

Mayock’s colleague, Charles Davis, continued the baseball theme when discussing James, who averaged 6.6 yards a carry at Oregon: “He speeds things up like the old film of Babe Ruth circling the bases after a home run,” Davis said.

When head coach Jim Harbaugh was asked about the infusion of speed, he was quick to note that Jenkins and James were college stars, not merely sprinters. Despite leaving school after his junior season, James was one of three running backs in Pac-12 history to rush for more than 5,000 yards. As a senior, Jenkins had 1,276 yards and 90 catches.

“We didn’t just take guys who were just speed guys,” Harbaugh said. “Not just workout-warrior-type guys, but football players.”

After Jenkins and James, the 49ers’ final five picks lacked similar sizzle as they addressed depth issues along their offensive line, linebacker corps and secondary.

Similar to their first two picks, though, each had a trait that the 49ers prize: consistent college production.

Starting with Wake Forest guard Joe Looney (fourth round) and finishing with Virginia outside linebacker Cam Johnson (seventh), San Francisco’s final five selections each started at least 32 games in college, averaging 35.6 starts between them.

Another trait that links most of them: As Baalke said of Johnson and Michigan State safety Trenton Robinson, they’ll enter the NFL with something to prove.

Robinson, for example, slipped to the sixth round because of concerns about his height (he’s 5-foot-9 1/2). Looney dropped a bit after incurring a Lisfranc foot injury at the Senior Bowl. Sixth-round center Jason Slowey will have to prove he belongs in the big leagues after dominating at Division II Western Oregon.

Finally, Johnson fell to the final round, probably because teams worried about his sickle-cell trait, a genetic disorder that can cause extreme fatigue during physical exertion.

“He’s a guy that believed he should have been a much higher pick,” Baalke said. “For whatever reason, teams passed him over, and you like that. You like that about guys, (who) come in here feeling that they were looked past and have a chip on their shoulder and are ready to compete for a position.”

Eric Branch is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Twitter: @Eric_Branch.


Godfather of global warming cools on it
As predictions fail to materialize, goodbye, junk science
By Don Suber

How tough are times for adherents to the theory that global warming is going to kill us all?

James Lovelock just admitted this week that he does not know what the climate will do.

Lovelock is the godfather of global warming.

Losing him comes after three major discoveries announced this month that refute several gloom-and-doom predictions.

Officials in Canada discovered more polar bears than they thought they had. The reason polar bears are thinner and heading south is classic overpopulation, not melting ice.

The second revelation is that we have twice as many Emperor penguins along the coast of Antarctica as we thought. Using satellite pictures, scientists counted nearly 600,000 penguins in 44 colonies, including seven previously unknown colonies.

The third revelation is that far from disappearing by 2035, the glaciers of the Himalaya Mountains are stable and expanding in some areas.

Now the adherents to this theory have lost Lovelock, the godfather of global warming.

“The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing,” Lovelock told MSNBC on Monday.

“We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened.”

How nice of him to finally admit what was obvious to some of us all along: We don’t know.

Along with microbiologist Lynn Margulis, Lovelock developed the Gaia hypothesis, which holds that everything on the planet is closely integrated to form a single and self-regulating complex system.

Some say it is another New Age religion.

One of the tenets of his hypothesis is that because of man’s sinful activity, Gaia will kill us all in a fiery inferno.

His first book was “Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth Is Fighting Back – and How We Can Still Save Humanity.”

But as his forecasts and those of lesser lights such as Al Gore have proved to be false, the public woke up and smelled the coffee.
It was not always that way.

In 2006, Lovelock wrote a piece in the Independent, a London newspaper, which predicted mankind would not survive the end of the century and there would be 100,000 years of near lifelessness on the planet.

“We are in a fool’s climate, accidentally kept cool by smoke, and before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable,” Lovelock wrote.

In 2006, the theory of Gaia’s revenge was at the height of its popularity.

Polls showed that people believed it, and the next year would bring a Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

But 2006 was also the year that the producers of the satirical cartoon show, “South Park,” created the character ManBearPig, which mocked Gore’s forecasts of doom.

Never underestimate the power of humor.

In 2009, Climategate – the unauthorized release of emails by scientists – showed that scientists manipulated data to make it look as if the world was burning up.

The emails revealed that the science in the Nobel-winning IPCC report was based in part by press releases from the World Wildlife Fund.

While the U.S. government continues to insist that every year is one of the hottest on record, our eyes tell us otherwise.

Alaska and Central Europe suffered record snows and China felt record cold this winter.

“The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium,” Lovelock said.

“Twelve years is a reasonable time . . . it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising. Carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that.”

I should be happy to see this nonsense abandoned, but the benefits of global warming – a longer growing season, more land to farm, and more diversity among the species – far outweigh the risks.

Perhaps the revenge of Gaia is to ignore these little human bugs that crawl upon her surface.

Surber may be reached at donsur…

Strauss : How do you connect with your fans?

Stewart : I keep in touch with my fans through different forms of social media like Twitter and Facebook. I enjoy being connected to people that support me.

Strauss : Did you play youth football?

Stewart : I didn’t play youth football. I was told that I was too big haha.

Strauss : What was your high school football experience like?

Stewart : It was a love/hate relationship. I loved it because my school was huge. We played games on such a big stage in one of the hardest districts in the state of Texas. That was fun. I hated it because even then, football had politics. But it never changed my approach to the game.

Strauss : What was the transition like to Notre Dame?

Stewart : It was very tough. I left Houston, when it was the dead of winter. Few people bothered to tell me how much it snowed up at Notre Dame.

Strauss : What is your favorite memory from Notre Dame?

Stewart : Praying at the grotto is one of my most memorable times, chilling with teammates and other athletes, relaxing with some of my dorm-mates who were athletes, and countless other things. As I look back, I actually had more fun than I thought because I was always running around with football, school, and working on campus.

Strauss : What was something that you learned at Notre Dame that helped you in the NFL?

Stewart : This game is a business. The day you forget that is the day your career ends. Players rent the jerseys, coaches rent the whistle.

Strauss : What were some similarities between Charlie Weis and Brian Kelly?

Stewart : Both men have their own set of great characteristics, things that are tough to understand as a kid. The biggest thing you have to realize is that this is, one of, if not the hardest, college coaching positions in the country. The stress lets you know really quickly who the real person is, whether they think you know it or not.

Strauss : What was your Pro Day like?

Stewart : My pro day was okay. I did some good things and some other things, I would have liked to do better. But all in all, that was the best I was at that time and I could live with it.

Strauss : Even though you went undrafted, what was your draft day experience like?

Stewart : It was way too stressful and way too negative. I watched the entire draft with my girlfriend and her family. For hours, I sat there wondering if I was going to be drafted. I should have enjoyed the moment, not really cared about what was going to happen, but just celebrate the closing of one part of a journey… you know? I regret that some.

Strauss : What was your lockout experience like?

Stewart : I trained everyday and worked in a law firm in Houston. I was making money, and staying in shape, so it was actually quite okay surprisingly. Other than the fact that I was really itching to hit people everyday during training.

Strauss : What was your preseason experience like with the Jets?

Stewart : It was a good experience for me actually. I learned who I am, and who I can become as a player. Everything was positive for me in the sense that without a offseason program and so many other things that could hold a player back, I learned that I have the size, skills, and passion to succeed in this league and do very well. For me it was an affirmation of my abilities to play in the league and flourish, especially having camp with a successful organization.

Strauss : Do you have a favorite memory from JetsCamp?

Stewart : My favorite memory would probably be kicking it with (Greg) McElroy all the time. The guy is the funniest friend that I have made in a long time.

Strauss : What happened with the New York Jets?

Stewart : For that my friend, you would have to ask the Jets. Business is business, and I’ll leave it at that. But, what did happen has made me stronger and more hungry than ever before.

Strauss : What was Coach Callahan like?

Stewart : He is a technical genius and a great coach. Probably the most annoying part about being released was that I miss the opportunity to work with someone as skilled as him.

Strauss : How do you describe your style of play? Do you compare it to anyone?

Stewart : I don’t compare my game to anyone. I am seriously just a student of the game. I love it, and I respect the linemen that have come before that have shape this league. As far as my style of play, I think I’m still in some sense learning that. You can always learn new tricks as a lineman, the skills never end. But I play with a mean streak because its a physical game that’s meant to be smashmouth where only the strong prevail in the trenches. That’s something I have missed some this last year or so, and that’s what I love about the game.

Strauss : What was Coach Rex Ryan like?

Stewart : I didn’t get to know Rex during camp, because it was obviously camp and I’m an undrafted rookie concerned with making the roster. From what I could tell from others guys though, is they respect him and Rex fits the portrayal of a hard-nosed player coach. I respect that in him a lot, because that is hard to do and he does it well.

Strauss : Who has had the most impact on your career? How?

Stewart : I have learned a lot of skills from many people and a lot of people have helped shaped my career. Probably the most important in recent years are my offensive line coaches John Latina and Frank Verducci. I learned a lot of football from them and a lot about myself as a player. Truly remarkable men.

Strauss : If you could describe yourself as any ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?

Stewart : I’d be a swirl. A mix of plain vanilla and a little chocolate because it’s just normal enough, but still stands out among the rest. Plus, I’m all about the blending of cultures, ideas, and people. hahaha

Strauss : For someone aspiring to play football in the NFL, do you have any advice for them?

Stewart : Get ready for a serious business that is fun as hell. There is nothing like it in the world, but as with any job, politics and money run the machine.

Strauss : What are you doing that now that you’re not in the NFL?

Stewart : I am training everyday. I am a lot working as an intern for the Federal District Court here in Houston, Texas.

Strauss : Is there anything you want to tell your fans that I have not asked?

Stewart : Yes… Times like this make a man. When things are down and you depend on entities other than yourself, (mine is God). Keep pushing, you are bound to make it one way or another. This journey of life is unique in that you can’t change the past, but you sure can do something about the future. Whenever my next shot comes, I’ll be ready to fight like hell for what I believe I was born to do. After all, I definitely have nothing to lose and all to gain. I appreciate the fans who have continued to allow me to occupy their time in their busy lives.

Strauss : Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions!

Stewart : Thanks! I hope all of this helps you a bit! You’re a good writer, and I admire what you do, especially given your age. Don’t ever lose that voice and continue to listen to what the people you interview say and continue to give them respect as you have given me, and you’ll go a long way!