--- Sam Farmer of The Los Angeles Times writes that Torrey Smith’s year has been filled with highs and lows.
“The most impressive game of Torrey Smith's NFL career was also the most emotionally wrenching,” he wrote. “Less than 24 hours after learning his younger brother had been killed in a motorcycle accident, the Baltimore Ravens receiver braved his way through a home game against New England, catching six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-30 victory in Week 3. That's the kind of strength the Ravens have come to expect from Smith, a second-year standout from the University of Maryland who overcame a tumultuous childhood -- one in which he had to take on a parental role -- to emerge as one of the Ravens' most respected leaders.”
“Never has an athlete been more ready to grab the bully pulpit provided by the excessive word orgy that is the lead-up to the Super Bowl than Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis,” she wrote. “The question is: Are we ready for what he has to say? Because if the Gospel according to Tebow led to unnecessary controversy, which it did, wait until they get a load of The Gospel according to Ray. He has been preaching God as a Ravens fan for a while now, most recently to Sal Palantonio in the aftermath of the Ravens victory in the AFC Championship game, and many view this as hypocrisy. Or heresy. Or worse. We shushed religion talk from Tim Tebow because he was not a good enough player. Now with Lewis, a Hall of Famer, it is because he is not a good enough man.”
--- Ann Killion of The San Francisco Chronicle is now eating crow for questioning the 49ers' midseason quarterback change.
“I never doubted that Kaepernick would be the 49ers' quarterback of the future, not since the first time I sat down for a long interview with him outside the weight room at San Jose State two months after he was drafted, when the players were locked out,” she wrote. “Quarterback guru Jim Harbaugh had handpicked Kaepernick, trading up to get him with the fourth pick of the second round. The young man was determined, and his future seemed bright. But I didn't expect the future to arrive in the 10th game of this season, not with Alex Smith playing better than he ever had in his career and not with a veteran group poised for a Super Bowl run.”
“The Baltimore Ravens are making noise about winning Super Bowl XLVII for retiring linebacker Ray Lewis. But the 49ers have their own favorite -- and spiritual center -- in veteran running back Frank Gore,” he wrote. “Ask any 49ers player, offense or defense, how they feel about him and it's like tapping into a wellspring of resolve for Gore as he approaches the most important football game of his life. The 29-year-old has persevered through a life of pain and hardship, both on the football field and off. But at long last, he can finally see the mountaintop. Win the Super Bowl next Sunday and he can stand on it for a while.”
“Whether you believe Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is elite or not may become irrelevant within the next month,” he wrote. “Like it or not, he is going to be paid like an elite quarterback. Before the start of free agency, the Ravens have to give him a long-term contract or franchise him. The franchise tag will come in around $14.6 million. A long-term deal would net significantly more. Ultimately, the Ravens have the option of paying him now or paying him later. But they can't escape paying him. Imagine Flacco's leverage. Peyton Manning makes $19.2 million a year, and Flacco and the Ravens beat him in Denver while advancing to the Super Bowl. Drew Brees earned his $20 million contract with his 5,000-yard seasons and Super Bowl ring, but he hasn't won a road playoff game. Flacco has won six.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun