<
>

Around the NFC West: Warner on QBs

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic checks in with former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner for thoughts on Marc Bulger, Cam Newton, Kevin Kolb and other potential quarterback options for Arizona this offseason. Warner on Newton: "I think he's a great college quarterback who can throw the ball well and has every intangible you're looking for, but the one thing I always tell people is that, at this level, you don't win with running quarterbacks. It just doesn't happen. As great as Michael Vick played this year, when it came down to it, he had to win games in the pocket. And his team was eliminated in the first round. This is not a knock on Newton or how great a player he is or can be. There's just a big difference in the way the game is played in the NFL."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com looks at where the 49ers are tentatively scheduled to draft in 2011, minus as-yet-unannounced compensatory choices. Maiocco on draft needs: "Cornerback is a definite need for the 49ers. They also need to get new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio someone who can pose a threat as an outside pass rusher. Those are two huge needs. The only position I can see the 49ers addressing on offense is quarterback." The outside pass rush has been a group effort and a fairly successful one, but one dominant outside rusher can open up options for a coordinator.

Also from Maiocco: a look at the 49ers' coaching staff as it stood over the weekend.

More from Maiocco: He expects assistants Mike Solari, Tom Rathman and Jim Tomsula to remain with the 49ers under new coach Jim Harbaugh.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Solari and the newly hired Tim Drevno will share duties coaching the 49ers' offensive line. Barrows: "This past season, Ray Brown served as Solari's assistant offensive line coach. There is no word yet on where Brown will end up."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times offers thoughts on key plays in the Seahawks' 35-24 divisional-round playoff defeat at Chicago. O'Neil on the turning point: "The Bears had the ball at Seattle's 3-yard line later in the first quarter when Cutler threw a quick pass straight to safety Jordan Babineaux. Babineaux saw the ball after it was released, and couldn't respond in time to intercept a pass he very well could have returned for a touchdown that would have tied the game. Instead the pass bounced off Babineaux's hands incomplete, and the Bears scored four plays later on a 1-yard touchdown run from Chester Taylor."

Also from O'Neil: Veteran safety Lawyer Milloy says the Seahawks aren't seeking a consolation prize for reaching the divisional round.

More from O'Neil: injury updates on Marcus Trufant and John Carlson.

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks' defeat to Chicago felt more like reality than their victory over the Saints. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck: "The hard thing is that I don't know if everyone realizes how close we were to doing something special. We had everything there for us. We didn't deserve it, but it was right there for us."

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times sizes up the Seahawks this way: "The Seahawks needed to play their best game to beat the Bears, who are for real, by the way. They needed to perform at a level even higher than they did against New Orleans. Instead, they were a playoff remix of their 2010 season: erratic, fidgety, unworthy. It doesn't make their invigorating run to the divisional playoff round any less special. But, sadly, it does mean their season ends with the type of performance you could've envisioned long ago."

John Boyle of the Everett Herald says the Seahawks were outgunned, particularly after losing Carlson. Boyle: "For his part, Hasselbeck was very good in what could have been his final game as a Seahawk. Hasselbeck, who turned 35 this season, becomes a free agent this offseason, and while he and Carroll have both said they'd like him to stay a Seahawk, nothing is done as of now. And if Hasselbeck was playing his last game for Seattle, he went out in style, throwing a touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley on his final completion of the day. Hasselbeck finished with 258 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers, and those numbers would have been better if not for several drops by receivers."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the injuries to Carlson and Trufant weighed on Seattle players.

John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune says the moment was too big for Seattle. McGrath: "Potential completions went through Seahawks receivers’ fingers. Defensive backs failed to hang onto easy interceptions. Most surprising was how coach Pete Carroll abandoned the go-for-broke aggressiveness of a prohibitive underdog. With nothing to lose, Carroll’s strategy suggested his team had everything to lose." Carroll said he punted on fourth-and-1 in the first half in part because he didn't want to send the signal that his team was in desperation mode after falling behind. Not having Carlson also diminished Seattle's short-yardage options.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' defeat exposed their lack of playmakers. Boling: "No discredit. Making it to the divisional round of the playoffs was far beyond reasonable expectations. Still, getting this far after a 7-9 regular season was equal parts quirk, illusion, fortunate timing and the positive psychological bounce from a late infusion of confidence. Not the least of this was the powerful influence of their home fans. But the sprinkle of pixie dust that made this ordinary team special at home isn’t portable."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune passes along this from Carroll: "It took us the whole season to get to the point where we really understood how hard the work needs to be to get yourself to play at a really high level. We kind of dipped in and out of it at times this year. So I think that’s really important. I think these guys understand where we’re going and what we’re trying to get done. And that’s important for us to move forward with that."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams should hire an offensive coordinator quickly. Miklasz: "Give the new OC as much time as possible to implement his offense and get down to serious meeting-room study with quarterback Sam Bradford before a threatened lockout shuts down the NFL on March 4. If the Rams want continuity and stability and a conservative style, then Childress would be the choice. He'd keep their West Coast offense intact and Bradford wouldn't have to absorb a new playbook. If the Rams prefer excitement and aggressiveness and some risk, then Josh McDaniels is their man. He's creative and edgy. McDaniels can do for the offense what Steve Spagnuolo did for the Rams' defense. But is Spags really willing to go away from the offense and turn it over to McDaniels?"

Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis says the Rams should consider minority candidates for the coordinator's job.