49ers Blog and Q&A

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

January 5, 2009
Robinson takes over for Starkey and other tidbits

Congratulations to Ted Robinson, who will succeed Joe Starkey as the play-by-play radio voice of the 49ers. Robinson has long ties to Bay Area sports having called games for the Giants, A's and Warriors. He also has experience with the 49ers, serving as the third member of the 49ers radio broadcast team in 1983 with Don Klein and Don Heinrich.

During a conference call that wrapped up moments ago, Robinson said he was looking forward to the stability of the job. His 2008 began with college basketball, moved to tennis, travelled overseas for the Olympics (synchronized swimming was one of his sports) and ended with college football. "The bottom line is that by the time I got to Dec. 1, I was pretty well done with travel," he said. The 49ers, he said, will allow him to concentrate on one job from July through -- hopefully, he said -- the end of January.

Starkey's signature phrase was, "What a bonanza!" Asked if he was working on his touchdown call, Robinson recalled the time he covered baseball in Minnesota. Thinking a Midwest play-by-play announcer needed a home-run call, Robinson experimented with a couple of phrases. "I tried one or two and they were horrible," he admitted. "Thank God I figured that out quickly -- it was just not me." Robinson said his philosophy is to be as spontaneous as possible. "To script and rehearse something -- now you're an actor. You're not a live sports caster."

In addition, Robinson has handled pre- and post-game coverage on the 49ers radio network from 1983-86 and anchored the 49ers locker room coverage after the team's 1985 Super Bowl victory. Starkey, who struggled with a bout of laryngitis this year, announced last month that he would stop calling 49ers games but would continue to be the voice of Cal football.

When I went to sleep last night I wrapped up one of the most unproductive weekends in recorded history. Four NFL games, two hockey games and a Discovery Channel show about bear and shark attacks called "I Was Bitten" - it doesn't get any better for the single, superficial male. It was one of those weekends where you say to yourself, 'Let's see, it's already 4:30 so there's probably no point in changing out of my pajamas." I did, however, keep a notebook on the coffee table and jotted down all the 49ers-related thoughts that popped into my head. For example:

  • It's time to pull the plug on Norv Turner and Donovan McNabb. The one remaining shred of possibility that Turner could re-join the 49ers as OC would have been if his Chargers got spanked at home in the opening round of the playoffs. Saturday's win over the Colts means that Turner certainly will keep his job. Ditto McNabb, whose Eagles put together a Chargers-like late-season rally in the NFC. If the 49ers go out and get a veteran West Coast quarterback in the offseason, his last name will be Garcia ...
  • After watching Baltimore on Sunday, suddenly "Ravens West" doesn't seem so unappealing. The Ravens absolutely beat up a Dolphins team that until Sunday had been one of the most physical and blue-collar teams in the league. Mike Singletary said he wants a team that "can impose its will" on its opponents. That's the Ravens in a nutshell, and it's why no team should want to face them in the playoffs.
  • Ah, but the Ravens have plenty of playmakers on defense. It seemed like their defensive backs -- especially safety Ed Reed -- actually had better hands than the Dolphins receivers. The Ravens led the league with 26 INTs this season, nine of them by Reed. The 49ers were 21st with 12, none of them by their safeties.
  • The Ravens have two free agents the 49ers should keep an eye on -- Terrell Suggs and a defensive end named Marques Douglas. Seriously, Douglas -- who was rejected by both the 49ers and Buccaneers in 2008 -- seemed to everywhere yesterday, and you had to wonder how he would have performed opposite Justin Smith this year. As for Suggs, he led the Ravens this season with eight sacks, the same number as Parys Haralson.
  • Back to the Chargers, who showed the importance of having two top-tier running backs. Rotating running backs seems to be a league trend, as shown by the success of the Dolphins, Ravens, Giants and Titans this season. Look for the 49ers to pick up a young running back at some point during the draft. ...

-- Matt Barrows


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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