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Sunday, February 15, 2009
Around the NFC West: Shurmur's Rams roots

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur's deep roots in the game. Shurmur's uncle, the late Fritz Shurmur, was the Rams' defensive coordinator years ago. Thomas: "With [Fritz] Shurmur as defensive coordinator, the 1985 Rams registered a league-high 56 sacks. The '85 and '86 clubs both finished fifth in the NFL in total defense. Fritz's signature game with the Rams may have been a 21-7 wild-card playoff victory over Philadelphia in 1989."

Also from Thomas: a bigger-picture look at the Rams under new head coach Steve Spagnuolo.

Turf Show Times' Tackle Box sizes up the Rams' situation at middle linebacker. I'm not seeing many likely solutions in free agency. Perhaps the Rams will prove otherwise.

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind uses Chuck Cecil's promotion as Titans defensive coordinator as an opportunity to revisit Cecil's brief but memorable career with the Phoenix Cardinals. He links to a memorable 1993 Sports Illustrated article with quotes from prominent people supporting tactics that drew a $30,000 fine and would never be tolerated now. One of his targets, tight end Ron Middleton, put it this way: "It was just great lick. That's the nature of the game. Guys dream of licks like that."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers are looking at right tackles, free safeties, quarterbacks and fullbacks. Pass rushers are a given. Barrows also addresses whether the 49ers would have interest in the Cardinals' Karlos Dansby. Barrows: "The 49ers always have held two Cardinals defenders, Dansby and safety Adrian Wilson, in high esteem. The problem is that every other team holds Dansby in high esteem, too, meaning there would be plenty of competition. You would also have to wonder whether Dansby would want to play second fiddle to Patrick Willis. All that being said, a Willis-Dansby inside linebacking corps would be pretty special." I think the Cardinals need to keep Dansby.

Florida Danny of Niners Nation takes a statistical look at the 49ers' defense and special teams. He says the defense was better under Mike Nolan than Mike Singletary. I say this: The 49ers' opponents averaged 9.1 fourth-quarter points per game when Nolan was head coach and 4.3 fourth-quarter points per game when Singletary was head coach. The number under Nolan was 6.8 if we excluded the Eagles' 23-point fourth quarter. Of course, if we excluded that fourth quarter, Nolan might have kept his job a little longer.

Rob Staton of Seahawks Draft Blog links to a few mock drafts, with an eye toward the Seahawks. A few people seem to think the team might draft Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree. Staton: "Another possibility is quarterback. Matt Stafford is very likely to go to Detroit first overall, but if he did fall to the Seahawks would be a steal as a long-term investment to eventually replace Hasselbeck." The long term isn't very long when you draft a quarterback fourth overall. Players drafted that early need to play sooner rather than later.