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Saturday, August 1, 2009
Revisiting best, worst moves in division, Part 2

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

As the headlines suggests, this item includes the second part of our conversation covering the best and worst moves in the NFC West this offseason.

I solicited feedback in this item and included my thoughts to some of the responses in part one, which ran Friday. On with part two:

butlerrt97: I don't think AZ made the wrong decision with [Antonio] Smith. Houston overpaid for him. He is a solid player, but not a great player. Calais Campbell will fill in nicely. I would say AZ's worst move was not drafting or acquiring a center to back up Lyle [Sendlein] in case he gets hurt.

Mike Sando: The Cardinals can't know how Campbell will fare over the course of a full season. They like him, but they can't know how much they'll miss him. Paying Smith what the Texans paid him might have been going overboard given the Cardinals' other priorities, but I still think Arizona would be better with Antonio Smith.

At center, Max Unger might have been a nice addition in the second round, but the Seahawks drafted him first.

LilDino11:

Rams Best Move: Drafting Jason Smith (get your offensive line solid first, makes life much easier for your offense no matter who is calling the shots)

Rams Worst Move: Releasing Torry Holt (a roster full of unproven receivers with no veteran leadership and now who does your 'franchise' QB [Marc] Bulger trust in certain situations? Holt was that guy)

Seahawks Best Move: Aaron Curry over Mark Sanchez (we don't know how good Sanchez will turn out to be, but the chances are greater for Aaron Curry, i.e, Mario Williams over Reggie Bush. Give me a great defense and just about any quarterback can get the job done, i.e., Trent Dilfer 2000 Ravens.

Seahawks Worst Move: No running back help or depth (with injury concerns to [Matt] Hasselbeck's back, you don't want to put all of the pressure on him game in and game out depending on him to win you games, no team will fear the running game of the Seahawks, and there isn't any reason to).

Cardinals Best Move: Chris "Beanie" Wells... (if it's a solid ground game the Cardinals want, well, Merry Xmas ARZ becuase thats what you just got).

Cardinals Worst Move: Todd Haley (Ken Whisenhunt is a good coach, but I'm not sold on the fact that they don't need Haley)

49ers Best Move: Mike Singletary (this guy is going to get the job done, You don't wait and see what the market holds, the bottom line is the players love him and playing for him, they'll maximize the talent they have).

49ers Worst Move: Not naming a starting QB yet (you are already behind the competition).

Mike Sando: Torry Holt wasn't going to be a good fit for a new coaching staff developing new players in a new system. I think he had become a bit jaded to his experience in St. Louis, and rightfully so. His price tag was also too high. If anything, I could have seen the Rams keeping Orlando Pace and Pisa Tinoisamoa to improve their depth at those positioins. Again, though, the salary-cap implications were considerations.

I don't disagree with the assessment of the Seahawks' situation at running back. Looks like they are one injury away from not having a long-term starter.

On Haley, the Cardinals couldn't really control that one. They were going to lose him.

egravning: Perspective from a Rams fan:

Best move: focusing on the offensive line in both free agency (Jason Brown) and the draft (Jason Smith). A power running game will aid them on both sides of the ball. It will put the offense into the hands of their best player (Steven Jackson) and keep their rebuilding defense off the field by controlling the clock. Bonus points for signing a big fullback (Mike Karney) and a blocking tight end (Billy Bajema).

Worst move: Cutting a guy like Pisa without having anyone around to take his place. I understand the desire to fully implement a new philosophy, but this makes me nervous. Injuries are a given in the NFL. If you're under the salary cap, who cares if you're paying starter money to a backup? [Tinoisamoa] may have been too small to fit into Spags system, but they should have let him come off the bench and provide a little depth during a transitional year for the roster.

Mike Sando: I agree for the most part. Tinoisamoa would have been too high-priced as a backup, though.

TripleH49er: Arlan likes Mike Singletary as 49ers coach, but he wonders if the team acted too hastily in hiring Singletary before more established coaches such as Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden became available. "I know it was unexpected that those two were fired," Arlan wrote, "but I don't see what the Niners gained by not waiting it out and seeing who would be available."

Those are EXACTLY my sentiments. I've got nothing against Singletary, but [for] a job such as that, [a team] SHOULD NOT hire the first person they see. An EVALUATION process takes place, something that the Rams, Cleveland, Jets, other teams that fired a coach did ... in hiring the replacement. The 49ers continued to show their 'insecure' side in hiring Singletary right away.

Now, some 49er fans may claim that other teams clamored for Singletary and a decision had to be made. That's why 'risks' are taken, and has anybody ever heard of 'loyalty?' Maybe if Singletary did want to stay with the 49ers, he'd decline all other offers and say, 'I want to be with the 49ers.' That to me shows loyalty that other players and coaches fail to show. It's like loyalty is extinct in the NFL next to DEDICATION to one's team.

I would put hiring Singletary a '?' and a reserve. Remember when we hired Mike nolan? remember Win the West? Remember he promised he'd make us better? That's why I do not have a lot of confidence in the Singletary hire.

Worse move: Naming Shaun Hill the QB. That will be a disaster! He can't throw.

Mike Sando: They haven't named Hill the quarterback and I'm not sure they will. The decision to hire Singletary did seem a little hasty to me as well. The 49ers would consider it decisive. They met the one they loved and ran to the altar. That doesn't mean they made a bad decision, even if we find fault with the process.

Bcook122: The best move was Singletary canning Martz. Couple that with the little showdown with Vernon Davis and you have a guy who sets the standard before he even is given the job officially. He's the real deal and players respect a guy like that.

The worst move was have so few training camp sessions open to the public. If their systems are so top secret, then they had better make them all closed. This is not a good way to endear yourself to the people who will be deciding your future.

Mike Sando: The 49ers have reduced access overall. They point to their ongoing facility renovation as the reason for the limited access. We'll find out next summer whether that was indeed the reason. At the same time, the 49ers have shielded their assistant coaches from reporters for stretches and decided not to make Singletary available daily during camp.

waretare2000: Sometimes the worst moves are the moves not taken. The 49ers not going after any pass rushers was a huge mistake. They ranked near the bottom of the league in both sacks and INTs. There were many draftable players and a few key free agents out there. I think most people would agree that the Niners are improved from last year, but getting to the other QB is key.

Mike Sando: supninerfan said in the comments of the previous item that the 49ers should have gone after Everette Brown in the second round. I think that is debateable. The 49ers deserve some acknowledgement for not throwing resources at pass rushers just to throw resources at pass rushers. They clearly didn't see the value. They might be wrong, but I do think they made that decision based on how they valued the available prospects.

dmironov:

49ers best move: There are several candidates for their best move but I'll share one that I haven't see already on the board. Dashon Golston getting the starting nod at free safety. Mark Roman has been good for us, but he simply doesn't have the play-making ability as Golston. Obviously, the jury is out ... not sure how disciplined Golston will be with gambling for pics or otherwise getting himself out of position, but the guy is a baller. I like the move.

49ers worst move: Failure to upgrade the pass rush. We'll see what Lawson can do now that he's healthy and a veteran. Hopefully he breaks out, but that would be more of a pleasant surprise than something I'm comfortable 'counting on'. [Parys] Haralson also has been OK and hopefully gets better, but we didn't make much of an effort to upgrade, we're just kind of banking on what we have will do better. Sure hope [defensive coordinator Greg] Manusky and Sing are right.

I'd love to see us go after a guy like [Vince] Wilfork next off season. He could be the anchor on the interior of our line that brings it all all together, automatically making the existing edge rush better.

Mike Sando: The 49ers' lack of speed at safety was a killer for them several times last season, in my view. The New Orleans game comes to mind. The New England game comes to mind. I'm sure 49ers fans can think of others. It's tough to know if Goldson will become a good safety, but he's more athletic and the 49ers badly needed to become more atheltic at safety, so this seems like a good thing to try.

LAT_euRo: I agree that adding T.J. [Houshmandzadeh], [Ken] Lucas and drafting [Aaron] Curry are good moves, but they were the right moves. Moves that needed to happen. The 'best' move was in the draft when the Seahawks made a trade with the Denver Broncos for their top pick next year. Looking at the Broncos now, I think we'll be getting a pretty good pick. With that pick and the Hawks' pick, we can upgrade next year in safety (Taylor Mays) or quarterback or both.

Mike Sando: The first round of the 2010 draft should be fascinating for this division given that the 49ers also hold an extra No. 1.

XxRamsFanxX: Rams fan!

Best move: signing Jason Brown. The Rams got a proven YOUNG center w/o having to gamble on a draft pick. New center is huge, as the entire OL will benefit.

Worst move: Not trying to get that legit, go-to WR. I know they (and myself) like the young guys we got, but getting the go-to guy would help the entire offense, especially Bulger. I understand there were other higher needs, but still.

Mike Sando: Agreed on Brown. He is a big, physical, charismatic guy. I like what he brings to the line in terms of leadership and power. The receiver position slipped through the cracks a little bit. They may be banking on the fact that West Coast systems have sometimes succeeded without marquee receivers. I haven't done the research to know if that has anything to do with the West Coast system or if other offenses are the same way, but my general feeling is that a Martz-style system put more physical demands on the position.

redng0ld:

49ers' best move: Not hesitating to sign Singletary at seasons' end.

49ers' worst move: Opting out of the league-wide pension plan that is offered to non-player employees.

Mike Sando: I bet some assistant coaches might agree with you on that second one. Thus ends the second part of this installment. The third and final installment will address comments left for this subject on my Facebook page.