Monday, September 3, 2012
Around the NFC West: Jackson's legacy
By Mike Sando
The St. Louis Rams trailed the San Francisco 49ers 28-0 when their fill-in quarterback, Kyle Boller, fumbled an attempted handoff to receiver Danny Amendola.
Ray McDonald, the 49ers' defensive end, returned the loose ball for a touchdown.
It was a humiliating moment during a humiliating 2009 season. Fourteen minutes remained in the game. I wondered whether the 49ers might win by 50.
What happened next cemented in my mind the greatness of the Rams' proudest player. Steven Jackson over the left side for seven yards. Jackson over the left said again, for 11. Jackson up the middle for six. Jackson to the left for gains of one and five yards.
Jackson ran defiantly and recklessly to prove a point. It was one of the more inspiring individual efforts few will remember.
"Not to say that I was holding anything back," Jackson said after that game, "but you got to understand that when you are down like we were, you don't give up."
Point taken. The Rams would finish 1-15 that season. Jackson would suffer a herniated disc in his back, but he would not relent. Jackson missed only one game that season before undergoing back surgery. He would carry 20 times for 63 excruciating yards during a Week 17 game in which the Rams, 1-14 and reeling, would manage only six first downs.
When Jackson's career is finished and it's time to discuss his Hall of Fame candidacy, that 2009 season should work in his favor, strange as it might seem on the surface.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asks whether the Rams' futility will drag down Jackson's Hall candidacy. He makes a detailed case for Jackson, now the Rams' career leader in rushing yardage. Miklasz: "SJ has received little help from the team, but he's consistently put up good numbers over a long stretch of seasons. Jackson has managed to produce at a high level and accumulate the yards under terrible circumstances that put him at a disadvantage. And that makes his career even more impressive."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams continue to churn their roster, releasing tight end Michael Hoomanawanui and guard Quinn Ojinnaka.
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com notes that Ojinnaka started all four exhibition games this summer.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks have more continuity from last season to this one, a change from the early days under coach Pete Carroll. O'Neil: "Of the 53 players currently on Seattle's roster, 15 were acquired over the offseason. Compare that to last season, when 24 of Seattle's 53 players were in their first year with the team. The year before that, the number was 27, more than half the team."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the running game will be increasingly important for the Cardinals. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: ""We'd like to be a team that can do a little bit of everything, whether it's four wide receivers, two tight ends, whatever it takes. But the bottom line is you have to be able to run the football out of different running groups to give you opportunities in the pass game."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee expects newly added 49ers outside linebacker Clark Haggans to be available against Green Bay in Week 1 despite a scheduled disciplinary hearing with the NFL. Barrows: "Every outside linebacker on the roster missed at least one exhibition game this year, and starter Aldon Smith still is recovering from a hip pointer suffered in the preseason opener. Both he and fellow starter Ahmad Brooks were on the field for the start of practice Saturday." Parys Haralson's status for Week 1 is also in question.
Also from Barrows: a closer look at 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News previews the 49ers' 2012 season. He looks at five impact players, the 49ers' NFC West rivals and the team's offense.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle passes along thoughts from Alex Smith.