New Seattle Seahawks kicker Blair Walsh is intent on redeeming himself with the franchise that found itself the beneficiary of his most dramatic error.
Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal with less than 30 seconds remaining against Seattle in a frigid Wild Card playoff game with the Minnesota Vikings two seasons ago in Minneapolis. Walsh yanked the kick wide left, allowing the Seahawks to survive for a 10-9 victory. When Walsh’s struggles continued into last season, the Vikings cut him loose after nine games.
“It just wasn’t fun,” Walsh said of his last year in Minnesota. “It wasn’t fun trying to work through it and get better. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to finish out the year. I thought I would be able to correct it and I didn’t get that chance. But it’s all right. I’m happy with the place I’m in and I wouldn’t change anything.”
Walsh had missed four of his 16 field goal attempts with the Vikings last season and four of 19 extra point tries before being let go.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks were looking to make their own change at kicker after Steven Hauschka missed a total of 10 kicks, with six kicks blocked, last season for Seattle.
“We are getting him at a time when he really has something to prove,” coach Pete Carroll said of Walsh. “He has been a tremendous worker for us, really diligent worker. He is a very good athlete too. You can see he has soccer background in him and all that. He has a big leg though, too. We haven’t seen a ball pop up in the air like this in years. We are really excited about what he’s bringing in and now it’s just about consistency.”
Walsh was named a first-team All-Pro and made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season with the Vikings in 2012. He converted 92 percent of his field goal tries and was perfect on extra points. He believes he can recapture that form with the Seahawks.
“I’ve been around the league for a while,” Walsh said. “I’ve been producing at a high level. That’s why I’m here right now in this situation. If that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t have this opportunity to be the starting kicker of the Seahawks. So I’ve got to go out there and continue to earn it and make kicks in the preseason and just show them that I am who they think I am.”
Walsh has all the talent necessary to recapture his early success. He has a massive leg despite his smaller frame and has routinely cleared the top of the uprights from farther than 50 yards out in practice.
“He has a really strong leg and it shows up in the field goal with the elevation he has and then in his kickoffs, too,” Seattle special teams coach Brian Schneider said. “He’s been kicking it 53 yards, over the net.”
Beathard rallies 49ers past Chiefs in 4th quarter
San Francisco rookie C.J. Beathard hit Kendrick Bourne for a 46-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and added a short TD pass to Tyler McCloskey with 10:41 left to help the 49ers rally to a 24-17 win at Kansas City on Friday.
Beathard, a third-round pick, outplayed both quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart.
Brian Hoyer did little to make new 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan feel good about giving the longtime NFL journeyman the starting job at the onset of training camp. He was 1-of-4 for three yards in two offensive series, going three-and-out on both of them.
Defensive tackle and former Oregon standout DeForest Buckner left after the first series with an ankle injury.
NFL suspends Cowboys RB Elliott 6 games
The NFL suspended star Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games Friday, concluding after a yearlong investigation that the league’s leading rusher injured his former girlfriend in three separate incidents last summer.
According to the letter Elliott received informing him of the suspension, the NFL believed he used “physical force” three times in a span of five days in a Columbus, Ohio, apartment last July, resulting in injuries to Tiffany Thompson’s face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, wrists, hips and knees. She was his girlfriend at the time.
Prosecutors in Columbus decided nearly a year ago not to pursue the case in the city where Elliott starred for Ohio State. In announcing the suspension under the NFL’s personal conduct policy, the league said its investigation was based on photographs, text messages and other electronic evidence. Commissioner Roger Goodell made his decision based on the findings and in consultation with four advisers, including Hall of Fame player Ken Houston.