NFC West: Adam Timmerman
Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat lists what the 49ers lost Thursday night, from one of their best defensive players to a kickoff return for a touchdown.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers suffered a self-inflicted defeat to San Diego. Maiocco: "And, now, the end appears near -- on so many different levels. The 49ers can be officially eliminated from the playoff hunt as early as Sunday, and coach Mike Singletary's tenure is likely winding to a close."
Also from Maiocco: Justin Smith says he didn't know it was an official he was shoving during a post-play dispute Thursday night.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers a 49ers report card from the team's game against San Diego. This one isn't going on the fridge anytime soon.
Also from Barrows: Singletary considered putting Troy Smith in the game at quarterback.
More from Barrows: The 49ers are pretty much toast.
More yet from Barrows: Broken hands could not sideline Patrick Willis or Takeo Spikes.
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers again had trouble winning outside their division.
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers' performance against San Diego was a defining one for the team.
David White of the San Francisco Chronicle passes along this damning quote from Singletary: "When we have an opportunity to take a step, I look for our team, in spite of the setbacks, to really take a step forward. We continue to stumble. It's a shame we missed a great opportunity right there."
Bob Young of the Arizona Republic explains why the touchdown Darnell Dockett scored for Arizona on a fumble recovery Sunday did not count as a defensive touchdown for fantasy purposes. Young: "Don't ask us to explain the logic on all this, but anytime there is a change of possession then the offense becomes defense and the defense becomes offense. Still, a defense is credited with a touchdown if the change of possession leads directly to a score. However, if the guy who picks up a fumble or intercepts a pass then turns the ball over and a teammate takes possession, he is no longer considered a defensive player. Thus, Dockett isn't credited individually with a defensive touchdown."
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says Jay Feely's performance against Denver has vaulted the kicker into the spotlight. On a side note: "Jay Feely is a direct descendent of one of our country's Founding Fathers, Roger Sherman, an influential member of the Continental Congress who was on the very committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals practiced in rainy weather Thursday, a departure from the norm. Somers also links to a story about quarterback John Skelton. That one is below.
Hank Gola of the New York Daily News offers a profile on Skelton featuring this comment from the quarterback's college coach: "I thought all along that John would be a better pro than Tim Tebow. John is suited to the pro game. He's 6-foot-6 and can throw the ball. I know this, John is not fazed by too many things and he loves to compete. Is he ready to play? Probably not as much as they'd like, but he did an awful lot of nice things out there Sunday and I'm sure he can build on those."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com links to video showing Cardinals teammates Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower racing one another.
Also from Urban: a look at Hightower's unusual season from Hightower's perspective.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Brandon Gibson is growing into a more prominent role in the Rams' offense. Gibson is getting more chances than teammate Danny Amendola, at least lately. Coats: "Over the last six games, Gibson has been targeted 45 times, has caught 32 passes and picked up 331 yards. In the same span, Amendola has been targeted 37 times, has 29 catches and 216 yards."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams could face quite a few Chiefs fans at the Edward Jones Dome in Week 15. Thomas: "When the teams last met here, in 2006, about one in five spectators in the dome was a Chiefs fan decked out in Kansas City red. They weren't shy about cheering for their Chiefs, either." Adam Timmerman, a guard with the Rams at the time, put it this way back then: It's pretty bad when you've got to go silent count in your home stadium."
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the big-game buzz for the Rams-Chiefs matchup isn't something the Rams have experienced in a while. Burwell: "It is starting to feel like a big game now. The governor is coming to practice this morning. Seriously, Missouri's First Fan -- as knowledgeable and passionate a sports fan as any public servant I've ever known -- is hanging out with the Rams today (no word on when or if he will spend equal time with the lesser half on the other side of Interstate 70)."
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams' Steven Jackson badly wants a return to the playoffs. Jackson hasn't been part of the postseason since his 2004 rookie season. Jackson: "I thought it would be an every year thing. I thought the playoffs would be something I'm accustomed to. But God willing, if we make it back this time, I won't take it for granted. I'll play each and every game, and each and every play, like I may not be back."
Jonathan Webb of stlouisrams.com checks in with Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur regarding Gibson's development. Shurmur: "My goodness, what a great improvement he’s made. For a receiver like Brandon Gibson, I think it’s about consistency. He’s been targeted more but he’s been catching more balls. So I think that’s the key. We talk about making the routine plays routinely. He’s embraced that and has found a way to get that done."
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says Brandon Fletcher is coming along in his development as a cornerback.
Also from Wagoner: The Chiefs-Rams game will be televised locally in St. Louis.
Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis says Jackson knows it's crunch time, and he's excited.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Leon Washington is lending support to Deon Butler after Butler suffered a leg injury similar to the one Washington overcame. Washington: "I really felt his pain. I really, really felt his pain. But I told him, ‘Hey man, you’ve got an example. You’ve got somebody who’s going to help you through the whole, entire process. Because you can do it.’ I know everything there is to know about that type of injury. So I’m going to be there for him."
Also from Farnsworth: Washington has returned three kickoffs for touchdowns to go with a healthy average on punt returns.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times lays out how the Seahawks could qualify for postseason at 7-9, 8-8 or 9-7.
Also from O'Neil: Mike Williams is eager to get back on the field for Seattle. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck: "If you were to go back in March and give these hypotheticals: 'OK, here's a guy who has been on the street for two years, that this whole organization and team would be so reliant on him being able to play,' you probably wouldn't believe it. But he has meant a lot to our team. He has really stepped up."
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seattle secondary coach Jerry Gray, who expects more from his defensive backs as they adapt to playing more press coverage.
John Boyle of the Everett Herald says Barbara Babineaux will have a hard time knowing which team to support most when her sons play on opposite sides of the Atlanta-Seattle game at Qwest Field.
John Morgan of Field Gulls takes a closer look at Kentwan Balmer's performance with the Seahawks this season.
101ESPN St. Louis also links to its audio from a recent interview with former Rams offensive lineman Adam Timmerman, who is now selling John Deere farm equipment. Timmerman says he thinks the Rams need to bring along Sam Bradford at the quarterback's own pace, rather than rushing Bradford into the lineup.
Doug Farrar of Shutdown Corner sizes up the Rams on both sides of the ball before concluding with this: "This may be the least-talented team in the NFL right now. That's the bad news. The good news is that the team has elite potential at key positions (left tackle, quarterback, middle linebacker). Rams fans will have more to cheer for in 2010; but they'll need a bit more of the patience they've had in bunches over the last few seasons. Four to six wins is a realistic (and positive) projection for this team." I think most Rams fans would be ecstatic with that type of improvement record-wise.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch does not expect a quick contract agreement between the Rams and Bradford. July 28 is the target because that is when the Rams open training camp. Thomas: "The Rams and No. 1 draft pick Sam Bradford started contract talks (Friday), but a deal isn't expected any time soon, a team official said."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com quotes a radio interview in which Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson says he thinks teammate Darnell Dockett was "unfair" in suggesting new Arizona safety Kerry Rhodes might not be working out hard enough. Wilson also explained why he works so hard: "I don’t know, I think it’s an addiction. My wife told me I need to be on the show 'Intervention.' … It’s the scare factor. You don’t want to be passed up or have people think you don’t got it. I’ve got it. A lot of people are talented, but I’m gifted. To me, that’s important for me to have people understand. There are a lot of talented safeties out there, there are a lot of talented guys in the league, but I’m gifted. And that’s something, for me, if I continue to work hard and if one day my talent begins to diminish, I can fall back on my hard work."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says 49ers owner John York thinks the team will enjoy a home-field advantage for its London game against the Broncos based on how many 49ers fans he saw in the city previously. York also thinks the NFL will eventually hold a Super Bowl outside the U.S. York: "I was excited about coming here. I think we will have a good home-field advantage here in the UK. I was here for the [New England-Tampa Bay] game last year and there were a lot of 49er fans here."
Samuel Chi of Sports Media Exchange ranks Eddie DeBartolo Jr. among the 10 most significant owners in sports history, comparing him to late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Chi: "Eddie D. was the NFL's Steinbrenner. Win at all costs. Spend lavishly. Break the law. But an errant Louisiana casino deal translated into a lifetime ban from the league and now his spendthrift sister runs his beloved 49ers, who won five Super Bowls on his watch."
Zach Ewing of the Bakersfield Californian checks in with Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Joey Porter, who continues to live in Bakersfield with the wife he improbably escorted to their high school prom. Their dates had fallen through and the school required them to attend with someone or not attend at all. Christy Porter: "I said, 'There's no way I'm going to the prom with Joey Porter. 'I just won't go.' But Joey gives me a call, says that if I don't like him as a boyfriend or he doesn't like me as a girlfriend, that's fine. We can get in and hang with friends; we don't even have to ride together. The rest is history after that."
Seahawks.com hosts video from coach Pete Carroll's recent appearance on NFL Network.
John Morgan of Field Gulls doesn't see a bright future in Seattle for linebacker Leroy Hill. Morgan: "Hill can still be a good linebacker, but it's hardly a premium position, his legal troubles are mounting, he is now quite expensive, the injuries that have plagued his career have worsened and Seattle discovered a more than adequate replacement in David Hawthorne."
That made him an easy choice as the best in the NFC West during that time.
Jones was an eight-time Pro Bowl choice and four-time first-team All-Pro selection while making 136 starts for Seattle from 2000 through this season.
The chart, put together with information from Pro Football Reference, lists every NFC West offensive lineman named to a Pro Bowl since 2000. None of the nine players listed appeared in a game for an NFC West team this season.
The 49ers had four, more than any team in the division. Seattle had three. The Rams had two. The Cardinals had none.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Larry Fitzgerald also seemed worthy after posting three 1,400-yard seasons and staking the Cardinals into a late lead with a dramatic 64-yard touchdown reception in Super Bowl XLIII.
"I'm hard pressed to come up with [a tight end] better than Vernon Davis," wrote regular blog contributor Mind of no mind. "But if there is nobody better, then maybe we should drop the TE from the team and go with 3 WR with Bruce."
Such was the give and take as I sifted through nominations left on the blog and on my Facebook page. One request I couldn't quite accommodate: finding a spot for the legendary Kim Il Zong, a ka The Zonger.
A position-by position look at my NFC West all-decade team follows. Thanks to Adam from Mesa, Ariz., for getting the conversation started (download his suggested team here).
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
How convenient of me to skip out on vacation after filing all-decade packages to run in my absence. The all-decade defense entry has more than 1,200 comments. The all-decade teams entry has nearly 600. The most recent entry, ranking the top 25 players of the decade, has nearly 3,000 comments and counting.
In the interests of time, I'll have to assume every comment agreed with every aspect of every item. How gratifying. I'd like your help in the next endeavor: naming an all-decade team for the NFC West based on what we've seen from 2000 through last season.
Blog contributor Adam from Mesa, Ariz., has offered his version, which I'll include below. That should help get the discussion running. We can discuss the dilemmas on the blog. I'll put together my own choices in an item for Wednesday.
I've converted into PDF format and made available for download Adam's fully researched document, complete with charts. I'll summarize his choices below:
Posted by ESPN.com'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:
- The Seahawks had yet to hire Tim Ruskell as team president.
- Mike Martz was the Rams' head coach.
- The Rams' offensive starters included Tom Nutten, Andy McCollum, Adam Timmerman, Blaine Saipaia, Brandon Manumaleuna, Isaac Bruce, Kevin Curtis and Marshall Faulk.
- The Rams' defensive starters included Bryce Fisher, Ryan Pickett, Jimmy Kennedy, Tony Hargrove, Randy Thomas, Tommy Polley, Jerametrius Butler, Travis Fisher, Adam Archuleta and Antuan Edwards.
- Jerry Rice started at receiver for the Seahawks.
- The Seahawks' defensive starters included Chike Okeafor, Cedric Woodard, Brandon Mitchell, Isaiah Kacyvenski, Niko Koutouvides, Chad Brown, Ken Lucas, Michael Boulware and Ken Hamlin.
- The only current starters for either team who started that game were Torry Holt, Marc Bulger and Pisa Tinoisamoa for the Rams, and Hasselbeck, Engram, Walter Jones, Rocky Bernard and Marcus Trufant for the Seahawks.
- The teams combined for 809 total yards and 46 first downs