49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

August 13, 2009
London calling on Isaac Bruce

Isaac Bruce isn't exactly Benny Hill, but he's destined to get a lot of air time in the United Kingdom this fall. NFL.com's UK division was in town yesterday to film Bruce for a segment designed to help educate Brits about the intricacies of American football. Bruce's lesson was in catching a ball at its highest point. Earlier, running backs coach Tom Rathman explained how to hit a blocking sled. Players on other teams, from Eli Manning to Joey Porter, also have added to the segment.

The idea is to increase the NFL's popularity in the UK to where it was in the mid 1980s. As NFL.com's Henry Hodgson explained, back then the UK had only four television channels. One of those channels - Channel 4 - used to run American football highlights at the same time its competitors aired Antiques Roadshow, church-based television and similar frumpy fare. (Actually, I'm a big "Roadshow" fan. Is that wrong?) As a result, the NFL's popularity not only shot up but loyalties to teams that were strong in the 1980s - the Cowboys, the Bears and, of course, the 49ers - were born.

The 49ers have what they are calling a "Mock Game" today at 11 a.m. It's basically a walk-through for tomorrow's preseason opener against Denver. Obviously, the quarterback running with the first team will start against Denver. Who will it be? I'm guessing his name rhymes with "Lawn Grill."

Speaking of quarterbacks, here's something I wrote today about Alex Smith. Bottom line: Like most observers, I like Smith and want to see Smith succeed. But I'd also like to see a bit more bite from him this season ...

-- Matt Barrows

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Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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