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Saturday, September 4, 2010
Hiring Alex Gibbs costs Seahawks dearly

By Mike Sando

One question following the Seattle Seahawks' hiring of offensive line coach Alex Gibbs was whether the San Francisco 49ers would come out ahead long term.

The decision to hire Gibbs freed incumbent Seattle line coach Mike Solari to join the 49ers. Gibbs had the higher profile, but he was also much older and more volatile, raising questions about how long he might stick around in Seattle.

No one figured Gibbs would quit before the regular-season opener, however. ESPN'S Adam Schefter says that's the case, leaving Seattle with assistant line coach Art Valero in charge with eight days remaining until the regular-season opener. The Seahawks have confirmed Gibbs' resignation.

Why would this happen?

The early word is that the hard-charging Gibbs has burned out, which wouldn't be the first time. Gibbs was known as a strong advocate for guard Ben Hamilton, one of his former players in Denver, and it wasn't clear if Hamilton was going to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. It's natural to wonder if Gibbs resigned in protest of personnel moves, but I have no indication that was the case. But assistant coaches regularly disagree with the choices his team makes. They don't resign.

Gibbs' departure leaves the Seahawks in a tough spot. Valero joined the Seahawks from the St. Louis Rams only this season. He hasn't worked for Gibbs long enough to step in seamlessly.

The Seahawks did try to keep Solari onboard as insurance by offering him a job coaching tight ends, but Solari declined the switch. The 49ers hired Solari quickly after allowing Chris Foerster out of his contract for a chance to join the Washington Redskins.

Gibbs could always decide to come back. Until then, however, the Gibbs-for-Solari tradeoff is looking like a bad one for Seattle.

Update: The Seahawks acquired guard Stacy Andrews from the Philadelphia Eagles. As noted, Andrews weighs 342 pounds, making him an odd fit for Gibbs' zone blocking scheme, which favors much smaller guards. With Gibbs resigning from the Seahawks on Saturday, it's fair to ask whether personnel disagreements played any role in the abrupt departure. The Seahawks were withholding their list of cuts pending league approval on the Andrew trade. But if Andrews is on the team at the expense of Gibbs' hand-picked guard, Hamilton, it'll be tougher to believe that Gibbs walked away purely because he burned out.

Second update: The Seahawks apparently plan to use Andrews at tackle, which would diminish the Gibbs-got-mad angle.