Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC West [Print without images]

Monday, May 9, 2011
Around the NFC West: Persistence pays off

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat profiles 49ers assistant coach Jim Tomsula. Branch: "Tomsula, 43, a journeyman coach on a one-of-a-kind journey, has ditched big paychecks and worked an endless string of odd jobs -- janitor and rug salesman among them -- to pursue his passion. ... At one point, Tomsula had four jobs: football coach, janitor at an insurance agency, newspaper deliverer for The Charleston Post and Courier and, finally, he cut firewood, earning $55 for every third truckload. His schedule was seemingly impossible to maintain: running a chainsaw late into the night, picking up newspapers at the Piggly-Wiggly at 3:30 a.m., scrubbing toilets and vacuuming after throwing his last Post and Courier, coaching football, running a chainsaw ..." Branch notes that Tomsula was the only 49ers assistant retained by the team's last two head coaches. It's easier to see why after reading this story.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says there's a good chance Manny Lawson will return to the 49ers despite Aldon Smith's selection with the seventh overall choice. That is because Lawson would not qualify for unrestricted free agency if the NFL used 2010 rules. Maiocco: "Lawson led the 49ers with 6.5 sacks in 2009. But he was used primarily on first and second downs from the final six games of '09 through all of last season. He finished '09 at 230 pounds but put on weight last season to play at least 10 pounds heavier. Lawson was good against the run and held up very well in coverage. When the 49ers drafted Lawson in the first round of the 2006 draft, they converted him from defensive end to outside linebacker. In the NFL, Lawson quickly developed in his new role and never showed consistency as the sack artist the 49ers had envisioned him becoming."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic runs through various quarterback scenarios for the Cardinals. Somers: "During the draft, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and General Manager Rod Graves insisted, again, that the team had a plan for acquiring a quarterback. They talked about how there were many 'avenues' still open to them. It might not have played well with impatient fans, but the draft weakened the market for quarterbacks a bit. At least 12 teams entered last weekend needing one, and six of them took one in the first two rounds of the draft. Some of those teams still want to acquire a veteran, but they don't offer the veteran as much in return. Will a veteran quarterback be eager, for instance, to go to Tennessee, knowing the Titans took Jake Locker with the eighth overall pick?"

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams opened last season with five undrafted rookies on their 53-man roster. NFL teams haven't been able to sign such players this year, thanks to the lockout.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch details Rams players' plans to work out together during the lockout. Thomas: "As the lockout grinds on, cornerback Ron Bartell and other Rams veterans are organizing team workouts in both the Phoenix area and St. Louis. According to Bartell, in an exchange of text messages, the workouts will involve defensive backs, receivers, quarterbacks and linebackers. The Phoenix area workouts would be the first week of June. But the players also are trying to get some work done in St. Louis the week before Memorial Day. Bartell and other Rams veterans have been contacting the team's 2011 draft class to have them participate in the workouts as well."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times compares his 2011 NFL mock draft with those from three more prescient visitors to his Seahawks blog. None had the Seahawks' first-round choice correct. All anticipated the Cardinals' selection of Patrick Peterson. One had the Rams selecting North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn.

J.B. Clark of the Desoto Times says Seahawks rookie linebacker K.J. Wright wasn't a natural, at least initially. Wright's father: "We wouldn't let him carry the groceries when he was a kid because he was so clumsy, he had big feet. But he outgrew it." Wright was walking through his graduation ceremony when Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called with news that the team was about to draft him.