The San Francisco 49ers won the 1990 Super Bowl with Weber State's Darryl Pollard starting at left cornerback due to a season-long injury to Tim McKyer. But Pollard was by no means in charge of things at that position to start this season, reports Knight-Ridder Newspapers' Ric Bucher.
The 49ers traded McKyer last spring but then signed veteran free agent Hanford Dixon and drafted two cornerbacks this summer. Bucher questions 49ers Coach George Seifert's saying, "It wasn't necessarily to beat Pollard out. We had to get some young players, and we needed more cornerbacks." Bucher notes that Dixon was 32 years old, and CB Eric Davis was the 49ers' highest-drafted defensive back (second round) since Ronnie Lott (first round) in 1981.Dixon retired, Davis was hurt and missed most of training camp, and Pollard's becoming a fixture in the starting lineup.
Bucher quotes Seifert as saying, "I didn't really have any second thoughts about him being the starting corner this year. That's just the way it way it was. Now, every year is a new year, and you've got to earn your spot, but Darryl has a future with us, I'm sure."
"I feel good about what I'm doing," says Pollard. "I work hard at it - concentrating, getting things down, understanding what needs to be done, where people are at, where I need to be at," he told Bucher.
Pollard has been the 49ers' leading tackler much of the season, and, through 13 games, he led linebacker Bill Romanowski, 65 tackles to 63. Pollard's 63 solo tackles were 11 more than second-place Romanowski's, and his nine passes defensed stood fourth on the team.
Vai Sikahema doesn't take off on the big ones, but the Dallas Cowboys were concerned about stopping the former BYU punt/kick returner in Sunday's game against the Phoenix Cardinals. "He doesn't display the dazzling skills that a (Dave) Meggett or a (Walter) Stanley has," said Cowboys' special-teams coah Joe Avezzano to the Dallas Morning News. "There isn't as much concern about him breaking a big one, but you think you're controlling him, then you look up at the end of the game, and he's averaged 10 yards.
"When Meggett hits you, you realize it. He'll break a big one, and it kills you. Sikahema bleeds you to death."
Although the Cowboys remained on their recent roll and beat the Cards 41-10, Sikahema set up Phoenix's only touchdown when his 11-yard punt return plus a Dallas 15-yard personal foul penalty put the Cards on the Cowboy 25.
Avezzano had told the Morning News that he'd hoped Cowboy punter Mike Saxon could neutralize Sikahema with hang time - 4.2 seconds or better was the plan.
"He's not a fast guy," Avezzano continued about Sikahema, "but he is quick and shifty. He always gets something. Whether it's one, three or five yards, somehow, some way, he gets more yards than you think he should. You don't ever stop him unless he fair catches."
Sikahema entered the game averaging 8.5 yards on punt returns and 21.5 yards on kick returns, both among NFC leaders. His longest runs of the season are 20 yards on a punt and 32 on a kick.
Former Cougar Jim McMahon and ex-Wildcat Roger Ruzek have taken up bowling. McMahon, in fact, bowled so much in this season of inactivity for him on the football field that he was voted bowler of the year by Philadelphia teammates.
Much of the team bowls on Monday nights. "It's the new rage here. What else are you going to do in the cold weather?" McMahon told Bob Verdi of the Chicago Tribune. "We've got 12 three-man teams here, and I have to come through or else.
"Our kicker (Ruzek) is really better than me, but I've got to have something to show for this season," McMahon reports. "I've got my trophy and no injuries for a change. Tough to get hurt when you've only handed off eight or nine times in 12 games."
Make that 10 times in 13 games; he did hand off for a TD Sunday in the fourth quarter of Philadelphia's 31-0 win over the Packers. That was after setting up the score with an 8-yard pass. Ruzek's extra point cemented the final score and gave him seven points for the game, although he missed 22- and 37-yard field goal attempts.
McMahon told Verdi his bowling partners are Reggie White and Eric Allen. "They're both black, and I'm white, so we call ourselves the Oreos."
WEEKEND NOTABLES - Ex-Ute H-back Craig McEwen caught a 22-yard pass from Billy Joe Tolliver for San Diego's only TD in a 20-10 Denver win. He caught a 15-yard pass to set up the score and had another reception for a 51-yard day . . . BYU's Kurt Gouveia ran 39 yards for the Redskins' first touchdown with a fumble return in Saturday's 25-10 Washington win over New England . . . Three tackles and an assist each for Denver's Greg Kragen and Houston Al Smith, each of Utah State, and Miami's Rodney Thomas and Tampa's Rodney Rice, both of BYU. Utah's Manny Hendrix had three unassisted tackles for Dallas.