NFC West: Adam Archuleta

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers a detailed account of 49ers personnel director Trent Baalke's draft session with reporters covering the 49ers. Barrows after watching clips of first-round tackle Anthony Davis: "When Davis got into a defender, he usually moved him out of the way. And his quickness allowed him to seal off defensive tackles in the running game. In one clip, Davis is lined up facing a DT from Texas Southern. At the snap, he maneuvers to the DT's right side, flips his hips and walls off the defenders, giving the running back a roomy running lane through the middle of the defense. You can picture Mike Singletary and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye watching that particular play with tears of joy running down their cheeks." Also, the differences between 'Ted' and 'Mike" linebacker positions aren't nearly as great since Singletary took over for Nolan.

Also from Barrows: Singletary as stadium salesman.

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat quotes Baalke this way on 49ers first-round choice Mike Iupati: "Look at the quickness. You don't see 330-pound guys come off the ball with this quickness very often, not in college and not in the NFL. You give Frank (Gore) those kind of holes, and you'll be winning a lot more games than not."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says it's clear that Taylor Mays needs to focus more on tackling and less on hitting.

Brian McIntyre of sizes up the Seahawks' defense, position by position.

Clare Farnsworth of previews the team's upcoming minicamp. Offensive line coach Alex Gibbs on new guard Ben Hamilton's role in mentoring Russell Okung: "Ben just went through this with the kid at Denver (with Ryan Clady). You can’t throw them out there without someone to guide them. We needed a player that had done that, and knew the system that I knew, to help with the transfer. That’s what Ben is for. Ben will line up inside of (Okung) and guide him daily through the whole process. So he’s Coach One, I’m Coach Two."

Also from Farnsworth: an appreciation of Walter Jones' exploits. Steve Hutchinson: "Walt was the epitome of an offensive lineman. He didn’t get beat. He never talked. As an offensive lineman, it’s an unwritten rule where you don’t talk to the media; you don’t want to be the quote guy. Walt was all that stuff. When you think of offensive linemen -- big, silent, strong -- that was Walt." See also: document declaring Friday as "Walter Jones Day" in Washington.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times quotes Trent Dilfer on Jones: "It took me a year of being here before I realized this. Every time we lined up, the best player on the field was my left tackle."

Also from O'Neil: Seahawks general manager John Schneider addresses the "Elephant" position in Seattle's defense. Schneider: "It is a position that my roommate in college made up! Kidding, we actually call it the 'leo' position here and yes, it is the weakside defensive end position, much like Charles Haley played in Dallas and San Francisco."

More from O'Neil: a Jones timeline.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Mike Holmgren called Jones the best offensive player he has coached. Holmgren: "I did. And then I got so much flak on that from the quarterbacks, they all started phoning me saying, 'What are you doing?' He's one of the best offensive players I've ever coached, absolutely. And he’s the best tackle. It’s the feeling that you have when you have a left tackle that can play like he does, and you don’t have to monkey with your protections that much that way. You just can say, 'OK, you’ve got that guy and we’ll help in other areas.' Very few teams can say that." Holmgren was fortunate to inherit Jones in Seattle and Joe Thomas in Cleveland.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic thinks Bryan Robinson's re-signing could put Gabe Watson on notice. Somers: "Watson hasn't been able to beat out Robinson the past two seasons, and the club took Dan Williams in the first round. Robinson, who turns 36 this summer, can also play end."

Also from Somers: Alan Faneca was excited to join the Cardinals largely because his "great friend" Russ Grimm is coaching the offensive line. Somers: "He likely will be plugged in at left guard, with Reggie Wells moving to either right guard or right tackle. Deuce Lutui, the incumbent at left guard will be in the mix when, or if, he signs his free-agent tender. So will Rex Hadnot, a free agent signed in the off-season. Brandon Keith and Jeremy Bridges are expected to compete for the right-tackle job."

Darren Urban of checks in with new Cardinals draft choice O'Brien Schofield for a lesson on the origins of the player's name. "Alacce" is his first name. His middle name was bestowed by accident.

Also from Urban: a look at key issues heading into the Cardinals' postdraft minicamp. Somers: "Can Daryl Washington show something early? Will the pressure of replacing Karlos Dansby fall to Paris Lenon? And what about a guy like Ali Highsmith -- can he make a run at playing time while Washington grows up in the NFL?"

More from Urban: a shot of Faneca and Grimm walking through the facility. They look like they could have been teammates. Great mustache on Faneca.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with new Rams tight end Fendi Onobun. General manager Billy Devaney: "We're taking a flier, guys. We know that. It's a project in its truest sense."

Also from Coats: a few words from new Rams safety Kevin Payne.

Jim Rodenbush of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says the Bears thought Payne was better suited to strong safety than free safety. Rodenbush: "The Bears drafted Payne in 2007 out of Louisiana-Monroe, prompting the team to trade his former college teammate and safety Chris Harris to the Panthers. The Bears selected safety Major Wright in the third round of last week’s draft and reacquired Harris on Tuesday in advance of Payne’s trade to the Rams." The Bears had also signed Adam Archuleta in 2007.

By the decade: NFC West safeties

January, 23, 2010
The Cardinals' Adrian Wilson stands above all other NFC West safeties for his efforts during the first decade of the 2000s.

Wilson led all safeties during the decade in starts, interceptions and Pro Bowls. He affected opposing run games with his physical presence near the line of scrimmage. He threatened opposing quarterbacks' health and safety as a blitzer.

I favored playmaking safeties when putting together a list featuring five of the best from the NFC West during the period 2000 through 2009.

Remember Zack Bronson? He probably would have moved up the list if a neck injury hadn't shortened his career with the 49ers. Bronson had seven interception returns totaling 165 yards, returning two for touchdowns, in the 2001 season alone.

Another former 49ers safety, Tony Parrish, was a second-team All-Pro choice in 2003. He had 20 interceptions over a three-year period early in the decade.

Wilson and the Rams' Aeneas Williams were the only safeties to earn Pro Bowl recognition while playing for NFC West teams during the decade. Williams played cornerback and safety. He was good enough at both to finish the decade as the top NFC West cornerback and the second-best safety.

For more on these and other NFC West safeties during the decade, check out the Pro Football Reference archives (Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks, 49ers). And if there's someone you think deserves stronger consideration, let me know. Ken Hamlin, Adam Archuleta and a few others showed flashes of excellence during the decade.

Posted by's Mike Sando


One of John Clayton's recent Insider notes explained how the Bears had penciled in Rams castoff Pisa Tinoisamoa as their starting strongside linebacker over incumbent Hunter Hillenmeyer.

Reports from Rams camp suggested Tinoisamoa lacked the size St. Louis wanted in its linebackers under a new coaching staff (the team also saved millions in salary and cap space). OK, I thought, but you have to line up with someone, and Tinoisamoa was likely to be no worse than the third- or fourth-best linebacker on a team lacking proven depth at the position.

The move appears more dubious from a pure talent standpoint with Tinoisamoa emerging as a starter in Chicago. At the same time, the Bears have erred before in picking up former Rams. I thought Adam Archuleta might help them given that the safety had enjoyed his finest seasons when Bears coach Lovie Smith was his defensive coordinator in St. Louis. It never happened.

Tinoisamoa was also with the Bears under Smith. He appears to have more left than Archuleta had when the Bears signed him. We'll find out how much.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Seattle takes a seven-game winning streak over the Rams to St. Louis for a Week 15 game that will again demonstrate how far these teams have fallen.

The last time the Rams defeated the Seahawks was also the last time the Rams won a playoff game. The date was Jan. 8, 2005. Qwest Field was the setting. Bobby Engram's inability to catch a fourth-down pass from Matt Hasselbeck in the final minute stands as the enduring memory from the Rams' 27-20 victory.

Almost four years seems like forever given how quickly things change in the NFL. When the teams met in that January 2005 playoff game:

So, Rams and Seahawks fans: Are you better off than you were four years ago? It's a fun question but not necessarily a fair one. The Seahawks, though 2-11 this season, have won three division titles and enjoyed their finest season since that game.