Revitalized defense is the key to 49ers' resurgence [7:29 AM]
San Francisco Chronicle reports: 'The 49ers' offense has become an explosive one, with Jeff Garcia throwing to Terrell Owens and Garrison Hearst back in game- breaking form, but the 49ers will go as far as their defense takes them.'
Owens practices, but status is in doubt [7:28 AM]
San Jose Mercury News reports: '"Day to day,'' Owens said when asked to assess his status.'
49ers a different bunch from '94 [7:27 AM]
Contra Costa Times reports: 'The entire NFL is different, too. The era of dynasties is dead. Teams can rise from the ashes or go up in flames in an instant.'
St. Clair's No. 79 jersey to be retired [7:26 AM]
Contra Costa Times reports: 'Hall of Fame tackle Bob St. Clair is bursting with excitement about having his No. 79 jersey retired by the 49ers at halftime of Sunday night's game against the Buffalo Bills at 3Com Park.'
Owens practices, Mariucci upbeat that he'll play [7:23 AM]
Oakland Tribune reports: 'Up to three inches of rain are predicted for Sunday, which means the game may be played in a quagmire.'
Johnson hopes surgery isn't needed [6:03 AM]
D and C reports: '"The doctor I saw in California said it was a breath away from popping through the skin. It wasn't very good. Hopefully, it will heal correctly and I won't have to have surgery."'
Hearst's comeback 'a miracle' [6:02 AM]
D and C reports: 'Hearst is in the midst of writing the NFL's ultimate comeback story, one whose latest chapter plays out tomorrow night at 3Com Park when the 49ers host the Buffalo Bills.'
Confidence separates young 49ers, Bills [9:09 PM]
ESPN reports: 'Looking at the rosters for the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills, who meet Sunday, both teams are among the youngest in the NFL. The 49ers have 13 rookies and nine second-year players; the Bills have 11 rookies and nine second-year players. What's the difference between the two? Confidence.'
Bills will find 49ers balance overwhelming [1:21 PM]
Niagara Falls Reporter reports: 'Even when the San Francisco 49ers were struggling to escape the salary-cap jail in which the Buffalo Bills landed last spring, their offense could cause problems for anybody. But San Francisco is 8-2 and on top of the NFC West two years after crashing to 4-12 in 1999 because the 49ers defense is finally catching up. That can only be bad news for the hapless Buffalo Bills, who head into Sunday night's nationally televised game still reeling from their collapse last week against Miami. None of San Francisco's first seven wins were by more than a 10-point margin, with five coming by six or less -- three in overtime. But last week, playing on the road, the 49ers harassed Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning into throwing four interceptions. San Francisco's 40-21 win sent Colts coach Jim Mora into one of his post-game tirades and likely ended Indy's realistic playoff hopes. Buffalo, of course, said goodbye to such hopes well before Halloween. While plenty of numbers hint at reasons for the Bills' 1-9 record, the most significant is minus-12. That's Buffalo's giveaway/takeaway ratio, and it ties the Bills with Indy, Miami and Minnesota at the bottom of the National Football League.'
Donahoe upbeat as Bills struggle [1:16 PM]
Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports: '"This is a very good situation and will be a great one when we get the team going," Donahoe said. "We have a tremendous owner who's willing to go out and pay for players. We have a great situation with our stadium and facilities. Now, all we have to do is start winning. And we will."'
49ers have a long-running memory of former coach [10:39 AM]
Sacramento Bee reports: 'The presence of longtime offensive line coach Bobb McKittrick is felt around the 49ers' practice facility every day. He coached in San Francisco for 21 years before he died in spring 2000 of bile duct cancer. The team kept his locker intact under a glass encasing inside the coaches' locker room. Every year, the top offensive lineman earns an award named in his honor. The 49ers even have two running plays named after him.'
Garcia named NFC's Player of the Month [10:38 AM]
Sacramento Bee reports: 'Garcia threw for 12 touchdowns in November and led the 49ers to a 4-0 record, including two fourth-quarter comebacks. He did it all while wearing a brace on his left knee following a knee sprain in Chicago on Oct. 28.'
49ers' DeHaven not bitter in facing his former team [9:49 AM]
Contra Costa Times reports: '"There are some people in the organization I'm looking forward to seeing," said DeHaven, a Livermore resident. "I can honestly say there's not one person in that entire organization I hold any ill will to at all."'
Garcia collects award despite playing in pain [9:48 AM]
Contra Costa Times reports: 'Garcia completed 95 of 145 passes -- a 65.5 percentage -- for 1,032 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions this month while leading the 49ers to a 4-0 record, including two fourth-quarter comeback wins. Not bad for a guy who's been battling elbow pain all season and wrenched his knee Oct. 28 in Chicago.'
Johnson in limbo [9:09 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Yeah, if they want me here, I want to be here. If they don't, I don't want to be here. I want to be where I'm wanted.'
Offensive line finally gets it together [9:06 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Bills would have John Fina at left tackle, Ruben Brown at left guard, Bill Conaty at center and Jerry Ostroski at right guard. They played three plays together in the preseason before Ostroski broke his leg.'
Jay Mohr on Bills at 49ers [8:42 AM]
Fox Sports reports: So what if Jeff Garcia takes his dog to a spa. This guy is an absolute killer. Rookie running back Kevan Barlow is listed as questionable. The best case would be to list him as OUT and do as the Skins. Simplify. Center the offense around Garrison Hearst. Terrell Owens will always be open. 49ERS
After a wait, Graham gets his shot [8:04 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: Graham came close to grabbing the Seahawks kicking job this past summer, but Lindell's incumbency was more attractive for Seattle than taking the chance on an unproven quantity.
Despite playing in his first NFL game Sunday, he knows this will be an opportunity for him to build a career and get a chance at something he's worked for for two years.
Meet Gregg Williams at Galyan's [8:01 AM]
TBD reports: Bills head coach Gregg Williams will be at the Galyan's Sport and Outdoor Adventure store at Walden Galleria Mall this Friday from 6 to 7 p.m. Be sure to stop by the store's mall entrance to see the coach!
Bills look for win in SF [7:59 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: The Buffalo Bills head to a prime time showdown on the West Coast for a Sunday night game with the San Francisco 49ers at 3Com Park, with the Bills having a good experience the last time they were featured on ESPN.
Buffalo's passing attack has been performing well in two games since Rob Johnson left the Nov. 11th game against New England with a broken collarbone, as Van Pelt has thrown for 625 yards and 5 touchdowns, and also sports a 106.5 rating as the team's starter.
Buffalo Bills and Waters of New York Donate Van for Red Cross [7:55 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: Despite the downpour of rain Mother Nature had in store for Western New York, the celebration continued as the Buffalo Bills and Waters of New York announced their contribution to the American Red Cross. A new, 15-passenger van to be used for a recently developed program called the LIFE project was unveiled Tuesday afternoon during a press-conference at the Concerned Ecumenical Ministry on Lafayette Avenue in Buffalo.
Former Bills coach Ronnie Jones finds work as HC of Buffaloes [7:33 AM]
Fox Sports reports: Former Buffalo Bills special teams coach Ronnie Jones has been hired as head coach at West Texas A&M University. Jones replaces Stan McGarvey at the Division II school. The Buffaloes went 2-9 this year, and McGarvey was reassigned.
Broken collarbone likely ends Johnson's season [7:30 AM]
ESPN reports: Despite his Thursday assessment on a local radio station that his season is over, Buffalo Bills physicians still want to re-examine the fractured collarbone of Johnson, and then will make a determination on his availability for the balance of this year.
GM Donahoe acknowledged it is possible Johnson will not play again in 2001, but told ESPN.com on Thursday night that such a determination is premature. He suggested that Johnson, who said the injury is healing slowly, might have spoken in part out of frustration.
Rookie Sutherland making an impact [7:18 AM]
San Francisco Chronicle reports: 'Sutherland's gaffe, taking a couple of steps after hesitatingly calling for a fair catch, cost the 49ers a penalty. He more than made up for that last Sunday in Indianapolis, when his 134 yards on four kickoff returns (plus 14 more on a punt return) gave the team advantageous field position in its 40-21 victory over the Colts.'
Garcia named player of month [7:18 AM]
San Francisco Chronicle reports: 'A metal plate above the locker of each 49er mentions the NFL honors they have garnered. Jeff Garcia's has inscriptions for his Pro Bowl selection and for being named the league's Most Improved Player last year.'
'Miracle' man faces Bills for 1st time [7:17 AM]
San Jose Mercury News reports: '"The most wonderful years of my life were in Buffalo," he [Bruce DeHaven] said. "I had two of the greatest special-teams players in the history if the league in Steve Tasker and Mark Pike. We went to four Super Bowls and won 100 games in the '90s. . . . I have no complaints at all."'
Losing starting job eats at Flowers [5:40 AM]
D and C reports: 'Flowers claims he is too light to effectively play defensive end in the NFL, and until he can gain weight and keep it on, his struggles figure to continue.'
Rob probably done for season [5:40 AM]
D and C reports: 'Johnson played eight games, completing 62 percent of his throws. He said he'd like to return to the Bills next year but nothing has been determined. His cap number for 2002 is $11.25 million.'
Johnson: Future with Bills in question [10:04 PM]
AP reports: '"If the Bills want me back, I'd love to be here, but who knows what they'll want?" Johnson said. "I have a lot of free time, and I think about it all the time. And you never know what's going to happen."'
Anticipated Coaching Changes [8:19 PM]
Pro Football Weekly reports: Mike Shepherd is probably going to be replaced as Buffalo's OC after this year. It will be interesting to see if GM Tom Donahoe, who in the past has been a Kevin Gilbride fan, brings Gilbride in as the OC there.
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