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Monday, February 16, 2009
Around the NFC West: Spagnuolo's linebackers

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

VanRam of Turf Show Times looks at what Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo might like in a middle linebacker. Jeremiah Trotter and Antonio Pierce played for him in the past. VanRam: "The commonality between Pierce and Trotter is the instinct and tackling/pursuit ability commonly desired in a 4-3 middle linebacker. Trotter's style of play got him to four Pro Bowls, but didn't do anything to prolong his career. Pierce's style of play doesn't get him noticed in a defense marked by high sack totals, but his work made those sacks possible by taking away the run."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat expects the 49ers' Jed York to take an aggressive approach to free agency in York's first offseason as team president. Maiocco: "He is going to want to create some excitement around the team before the draft, so perhaps we should expect the unexpected." I would like to know how the 49ers' favorable salary-cap situation compares to their cash situation given the tough economy and the resources spent pursuing a new stadium. Will the 49ers be as aggressive as they might like to be?

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee lists free safety as the 49ers' top priority in free agency. He says Oshiomogho Atogwe, Jim Leonhard and James Sanders could interest the 49ers. The team could also give the recently added Jimmy Williams a look at the position. Dashon Goldson would be another consideration if he can stay healthy.

Scott Allen of Raising Zona thinks Karlos Dansby and other top players looking to stay with their teams should welcome the franchise player designation. Allen: "I get the fact that it would not allow that player to negotiate with other teams, but if he is serious about wanting to stay, then it shouldn't be a problem. He will be handsomely paid." Players tend to be more serious about getting paid than staying with the same team.

Shaun Dolence of 12th Man Rising revisits the Seahawks' 2005 draft class. Dolence: "Although this draft does verify some draft trends for Tim Ruskell (big schools, best available, high effort players, etc.), he does break on one tendency. Chris Spencer had declared early for the draft, and only started at center for one year at Mississippi. As we've seen in more recent drafts, Ruskell prefers players who've started, or at least contributed, throughout their collegiate careers. This was not the case for Spencer, who has yet to become the impact player the Seahawks envisioned when they selected him in the first round (insert Crabtree comparison here)."