The latest NFC West chat focused primarily on the one team from the division remaining in the playoffs, with several Pat Shurmur-related questions as well. Transcript here. Highlights below.
Dustin (Salem, Ore.): With recent reports of Pete Carroll's desire to bring Matt Hasselbeck back to Seattle, it got me thinking about a potential win-win situation: sign Matt to a two-year, incentive-laden contract with a low base salary, allowing him to earn the bulk of his salary if he remains the starter and/or leads the team back to the playoffs. In this situation, they keep Whitehurst as backup, as he is still under contract through next season, and draft a QB in the early rounds for Hasselbeck to groom, whether or not he remains the starter both years. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando: The comments Pete Carroll made regarding Matt Hasselbeck were not binding comments. I expect the Seahawks to assess the situation after the season. They have not decided how to proceed. Sure, they would like Hasselbeck to return, but would it be as the starter? Would they assure him a starting job? Would he return as a potential backup? What happens in the draft? These and others questions will come into play. Carroll and Hasselbeck seem to like one another. That is a good starting point. But it's too early to make assumptions. As for your idea, it makes sense to me, although the specifics relating to incentives would likely differ.
Frank (Phoenix): The Cards are seemingly rebuilding now. What could they get for Larry Fitzgerald? Why keep him around if there are no quarterbacks here to throw to him. How likely is it that he gets traded?
Mike Sando: The Cardinals are a quarterback away from not rebuilding, agreed? They have work to do throughout their roster, but this does not have to be a horrible team. As for Larry Fitzgerald, why compound one problem (no quarterback) with another (no elite receiver)? Makes no sense to me. Now, if Fitzgerald were 34 years old and declining, then we might have another discussion.
Mike Sando: Mild surprise. I think Pat Shurmur gives him someone to mold and someone to do the grunt work of installing the offense, attending meetings and the like. Shurmur becomes an extension of Holmgren. Shurmur allows Holmgren to have significant impact over coaching without doing the dirty work. And who knows how things might go down the line? Perhaps there's a time when Holmgren feels as though stepping onto the sideline would help put the team over the top. I do know he likes being de facto team owner with Lerner not very involved.
Ben Roan (Fairfax): With new coaches people always talk about the assistants and coaches that get let go, but not always about the players. We saw with Carroll that a lot of his players were new. What about the 49ers? Who should we expect to be let go? Alex Smith?
Mike Sando: We could see the 49ers' defense get younger through some attrition. But the 49ers have more talent right now than Carroll inherited in Seattle, so I would not expect changes to the same degree.
A month ago, could anyone have seen Shurmur becoming a head coach, Hasselbeck outdueling Drew Brees and Jim Harbaugh reportedly taking less money to join the 49ers than he might have gotten elsewhere? The landscape changes quickly.