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Thursday, January 29, 2009
Around the NFC West: Tillman's dog tags

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic checks in with Pat Tillman's close friend and former Cardinals teammate, who still agonizes over losing the military dog tags Tillman gave him before dying in Afghanistan.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic sizes up Larry Fitzgerald's hands. They're big.

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic shares Terrelle Smith's story. The Cardinals' fullback grew up around the group home his mother operated.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic examines the relationship between Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

Also from Somers and McManaman: Warner's thoughts on the Hall of Fame.

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune looks at the relationship between Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill, who moved the team from St. Louis two decades ago. Told that some longtime fans in St. Louis are breaking out their old Cardinals gear, Bidwill smiled and came through with a classic line: "Please tell them that we have up-to-date merchandise available."

Niners general manager Scot McCloughan answers questions in his latest mailbag entry. He says the 49ers would like Reggie Smith to develop as a corner before they consider him at safety. He describes as a priority adding a big-play receiver. 

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle recaps the 49ers' search for an offensive coordinator before quoting former Raiders executive Mike Lombardi as saying the team erred in firing Mike Martz.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat shows where Jimmy Raye's offenses ranked over the years with Raye as coordinator. Those teams produced three winning records in 12 seasons, including one since 1984.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers coach Mike Singletary has some explaining to do following a prolonged search for an offensive coordinator. Singletary has not spoken publicly since Dec. 31.

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News provides an old quote from Norv Turner hailing Raye for his coaching and communication skills.

John Morgan of Field Gulls explains how David Hawthorne and Will Herring could replace Leroy Hill in the Seahawks' defense next season. He thinks Seattle would suffer some in run defense, improve slightly in pass defense and save lots of money.

Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee says longtime Seahawks assistant Dwaine Board will coach the Raiders' defensive line.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains how the Rams' personnel department will take shape with Mike Williams onboard from the 49ers. Rams general manager Billy Devaney thanks McCloughan, his 49ers counterpart, for allowing Williams to pursue this opportunity. Devaney: "To be honest, Scot McCloughan deserves a lot of credit because it's kind of unusual for a personnel guy to be moving this close to free agency. It's a classy move by Scot, because it's a great opportunity for Mike Williams to advance his career." 

Also from Thomas: The Rams added two more assistants for head coach Steve Spagnuolo. Bruce Warrick fills an operations role. Andre Curtis will help with the defense.