Around the NFC West: Seattle run game

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks made progress last season with their inside zone running game, something that could carry over to 2010. The outside zone runs weren't as successful. Williams: "Part of the reason for that is the type of running backs the Seahawks have. Justin Forsett is a guy who cannot consistently threaten the edge of a defense because he does not have elite speed, like Tennessee’s Chris Johnson. So it's hard for him to force defenses to commit to getting to the edge of a defense in order for the offense to get the stretch it needs to create cutback lanes. ... Secondly, the Seahawks consistently struggled to get the cut blocks on the backside of the play in order to create those running lanes on the backside."

Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News says Rocky Seto has left USC's coaching staff to join Pete Carroll in Seattle as the Seahawks' quality-control coach for defense. Quality-control coaches generally break down lots of game video featuring opponents, charting each play by a long list of parameters. That allows teams to create the situation-specific video cutups coaches and players rely upon for preparation.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times offers a Seahawks-related chat transcript. O'Neil: "Walter Jones is still attempting to come back. He wants to play. Will he play? No one knows. But if he doesn't come back, Sean Locklear isn't the default option there. The offensive line is going to be reshuffled, and I wouldn't expect to see anyone penciled in for certain at any spot except Max Unger at center. And Alex Gibbs hasn't said that Unger is for sure a center, so perhaps even that conclusion is premature."

John Morgan of Field Gulls explains why the Seahawks paid for allowing a higher completion percentage under Jim Mora. They simply weren't able to produce enough interceptions to offset yardage gains.

Patrick Hooper of 49ers.com looks at Ahmad Brooks' evolution within the 49ers' defense. Coach Mike Singletary: "When you think about it, [Brooks] came to us as an inside linebacker, not really a rush guy. But you begin to see the skill, the speed, that ability to come off the edge, and you go, 'Wow, we need to do something different here.' I think he's found his niche. He is such a talented guy."

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider assesses Jeff Ulbrich's value to the 49ers as a mentor for Patrick Willis and as an overall team player. Ulbrich, now the Seahawks' assistant special-teams coach, was what Lynch calls "the non-star who gives his all, does his best and leads."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' resources are better allocated for re-signing their own players than adding expensive veteran free agents. Maiocco: "After next season, Vernon Davis, Manny Lawson and Dashon Goldson are among the scheduled free agents. ... Alex Smith is entering the final year of his contract. If his production takes another significant leap in 2010, he could solidify his long-term spot as a starter and attract a sizable contract extension. Inside linebackers are generally among the lowest-paid players on the team, but Patrick Willis figures to become the highest-paid defender in team history with his next contract. Willis' current deal expires after the 2011 season."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee continues his look at draft prospects the 49ers might consider.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with former Cardinals safety Aaron Francisco, now with the AFC champion Colts. Francisco's wife hung a picture showing her husband trailing the Steelers' Santonio Holmes as Holmes scores the decisive touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII. Francisco: "It's up there only because she wants to have a Super Bowl memory. I was kind of upset just because I didn't want to see that picture again, but it's everywhere. I don't necessarily look at it, though. I just kind of walk by without glancing."

Also from Somers: Kurt Warner feels great about his decision to retire.

More from Somers: a look at the Cardinals' defensive line, where 35-year-old Bryan Robinson remains the best option at nose tackle. Somers: "The Cardinals need to add a pass rusher, either at linebacker or end. If it's a defensive end, he could play in nickel and dime packages when the club goes to a four-man front. It's doubtful the club would spend the money necessary to attract a free agent such as end Julius Peppers, but the position could be addressed in the first round of the draft."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com looks at the difficulties associated with replacing legendary quarterbacks as Arizona's Matt Leinart prepares to succeed Warner. Urban: "Brian Griese was 6-10 in his first season as Broncos’ starter the year after John Elway left, although he did go 11-5 the season after that. Jeff Garcia came in for Steve Young in 1999 as the 49ers stumbled to a 4-12 record. Two years later, Garcia had the Niners with 12 wins and a division title. Quincy Carter tried to follow Troy Aikman in Dallas, but the Cowboys were already aging (5-11 in Aikman’s last season of 2000) and Carter was never a genuine quarterback prospect anyway."

Also from Urban: Not even Warner can tell whether Leinart will succeed.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Bears' hiring of former Rams coach Mike Martz looks like a high-risk, high-reward proposition. Miklasz: "The bottom line is this: Smith and Martz and Cutler all need each other in the worst way. They have nothing left to lose, really. And that’s why this is worth taking a chance."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says during his latest chat that the Rams might not be the only potential destination for Isaac Bruce if the 49ers receiver goes into coaching. Bruce was expected to speak with Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo. Thomas: "I think once Spagnuolo met Bruce, he would love the guy. I think Spags and Bruce would click on several levels. But I still have to wonder if Bruce, after 16 seasons in the league, really wants to put in the 16-hour days of an NFL assistant. Now that Mike Martz has taken the Chicago job, I wonder if Bruce somehow ends up in the Windy City."