Thursday, January 7, 2010
Around the NFC West: Bulger to retire?
By Mike Sando
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch expects a Rams makeover this offseason. Thomas: "It all starts with the quarterback position, particularly quarterback Marc Bulger. When Bulger went down with a season-ending fractured shin bone in late November, it seemed likely that he had played his last game in St. Louis. But there's a chance that decision may not be in the hands of the Rams' front office and coaching staff. Multiple sources have told the Post-Dispatch that Bulger is considering retiring." The last few seasons have undoubtedly been tough on Bulger. He might have a different outlook once his body heals and he's had time to gather his thoughts.
Also from Thomas: lists of contract statuses for Rams players, pending a collective bargaining agreement.
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com looks at what the Rams learned from the 2009 season. Gordon: "There are consequences for unloading so much talent in a short period of time -– as Rams fans saw -– but it created more room for reconstruction. Now the Rams have to reload in a big way."
Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says the Rams are interested in researching why they had so many injuries this season. Balzer: "Injury issues affected 16 starters, several of whom had become starters because of injuries to other starters. When the 1-15 season mercifully ended, 13 players were on injured reserve, and four others could have been had it been necessary to replace them on the roster. All told, the 13 players on injured reserve missed a total of 122 games. Eight of those 13 were starters and missed 71 games. Another nine players missed 22 games. In that group were seven starters who missed 21 starts."
Also from Balzer: The Rams seek playmakers.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat checks in with the Rams heading into the 2010 draft. GM Billy Devaney: "We're on the clock, yeah. We have a long way to go before the alarm goes off."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat revisits highs and lows from the 49ers' 2009 season. Best play: "It came in the season finale when the 49ers were in danger of losing to the lowly Rams. On a third-and-1 in the midway through the fourth quarter, Alex Smith took the snap under center and took a five-step drop. He looked left, causing the Rams safety to move that way. Then, Smith came back to the right and hit tight end Vernon Davis with a perfectly thrown pass. Davis did the rest with a 73-yard catch-and-run for his 13th receiving touchdown of the season. It tied Antonio Gates' 2004 mark for most touchdowns in a single season from an NFL tight end."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers' top priority this offseason should be to upgrade the offensive line, specifically at tackle. Barrows: "A stout offensive line will make everyone on offense -- primarily quarterback Alex Smith -- look better. As far as tackle talent goes, this year's draft is not as good as the previous two, but there is enough talent that the 49ers should come out of the first round with a right tackle if not a left tackle."
Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic says Steve Breaston and Early Doucet could be important to the Cardinals in the wild-card round while Anquan Boldin battles through an injury. Boivin: "Breaston has demonstrated he's equipped to handle the responsibility. He stepped in last season when Boldin was hurt, starting seven games and finishing with 1,006 yards and three touchdowns. In four playoff games, Breaston caught 13 passes for 148 yards."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' injury situation is a significant concern. Kurt Warner: "You never want to go into games like this not 100 percent and not with your top players."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says top cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Charles Woodson could play key roles Sunday, assuming Rodgers-Cromartie bounces back from a knee injury.
Also from Urban: The Cardinals learned little about their injury situation Wednesday. They'll play a waiting game and know more later in the week.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says there wasn't much new from Jim Mora's news conference. Mora on the offense's lack of progress under coordinator Greg Knapp: "Well, it was disappointing. Yeah, it was disappointing, but once again I remove myself from it emotionally and look at it pragmatically and without going into excuses, I believe there are some reasons for that. Now, we still need to make major advances, but you know we started the season in a very, very -- in a real state of flux up front. It was one of the main questions that you all asked me through training camp was the offensive line, and we never really until the end -- and even at the end there we switched around -- we never had a group that played together all the time."
Also from O'Neil: Mora expects Matt Hasselbeck to return.
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune gave Mora a chance to defend his record as head coach. Sounds like Mora deferred to the next general manager.