Thanks to those who kept the NFC West chat moving Thursday. The transcript is here. Highlights below:
Mike Sando: Bradford seems to have the right overall makeup to weather the storm that awaits. He's going to get beaten up this year and he's going to struggle some. I think he'll hold up mentally. We'll see how well he holds up physically. The key for Bradford is having a strong organization around him. He needs continuity on the staff. He needs the right staff. Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch took the unusual step of calling for the team to reassign quarterbacks coach Dick Curl. I tend to agree based on what I've heard from a couple NFL quarterbacks who have played under him. The odd thing is that Curl succeeded Terry Shea in Kansas City (indirectly) and St. Louis (directly), yet Shea was the guy Bradford and other quarterbacks have hired to get ready for the draft.
Willie (South Bend): From what I've been reading from the reports from minicamps and OTAs, it seems to me that we are going to have a two new starters at wide receiver. I think Mike Williams will start at flanker and Golden Tate will be the split end. I say this because Mike Williams has the physical size that both Carroll and Jeremy Bates like at flanker, and Golden has the speed to stretch the field. I know it's early, but Mike Williams has been running with the first unit and Golden won't be a real threat if he's only on the field as a situational player. What's your thoughts on this? PS: No, I don't think much of T.J. Houshmandzadeh or Deion Branch and I don't think the coaches do, either.
Mike Sando: Reading about minicamps and OTAs is essential for anyone following teams closely, but the important thing is to read only so much into what you read. Otherwise you might emerge from this offseason thinking Alex Smith is Johnny Unitas, the 49ers will never field a punt successfully, the Cardinals will never attempt another pass and Steven Jackson will be unable to take more than one or two hits. Let's see what Mike Williams and Golden Tate do in August before anointing anyone just yet. Few rookie receivers step in right away and do what Michael Crabtree was able to do last season, or what Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald were able to do in Arizona. I do think Seattle will covet size at receiver, and I do think the new leadership will want to go young. I also think Williams and Tate will contribute this season. But I also need to see more.
Brian Staley (Frederick MD): Thanks Mike for the Chats and Blogs. In your opinion what team in the NFC West do you feel has the strongest coaching staff? Some teams made some small changes, while others have cleaned house. Thanks mike.
Mike Sando: The Cardinals get the edge in this category because Ken Whisenhunt has proven it. The Rams' staff has the most to prove: Pat Shurmur, Ken Flajole, even Steve Spagnuolo. For the 49ers, Mike Singletary still has to prove himself over time, and we need to see more from Jimmy Raye too. Pete Carroll has questions to answer. I think Carroll did a nice job putting together a strong staff featuring Alex Gibbs, Ken Norton Jr., Jerry Gray and the potentially up-and-coming Jeremy Bates. I still come back to Arizona with Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm, at least for now.
Tully (Irvine, CA): Mike, great blog. I am a longtime 49ers fan. I have heard that Nate Clements is doing some personal training in Arizona. Can you explain what exactly is going on and why he is doing this. He was signed from the Bills a few years backc as an "elite corner" but things haven't panned out that way for him. Thanks.
Mike Sando: Players routinely train in Arizona or elsewhere during the offseason. Teams have put more emphasis on attendance rates at their offseason conditioning programs. I think teams just like keeping close tabs on their players. That's why we have all these minicamps and OTAs spread out through the offseason. Some vets aren't going to play that game. They'll get ready on their own terms. You worry as an organization if that player hasn't been a self-starter. Deuce Lutui's situation in Arizona comes to mind. But with a Nate Clements, you know he's going to report in shape.