NFC West: Bill Gates

Seahawks owner Paul Allen adapts a section of his new memoir for use by Vanity Fair. I've read through the piece and learned more about Allen than I had learned in nearly 15 years of covering his NFL team. Allen goes into detail regarding his relationship with Bill Gates during Microsoft's formative years. Allen: "My style was to absorb all the data I could to make the best-informed decision possible, sometimes to the point of over-analysis. Bill liked to hash things out in intense, one-on-one discussions; he thrived on conflict and wasn’t shy about instigating it. A few of us cringed at the way he’d demean people and force them to defend their positions." I found this to be a fascinating look inside the partnership that ultimately armed Allen with the resources needed to purchase professional sports franchises.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times takes an in-depth look at Golden Tate in relation to other rookie receivers drafted in the second round. O'Neil: "The first question is just how bad was Tate's rookie season? And truthfully, it wasn't as awful as many have described. He was one of three receivers drafted in the second round in 2010, none of which caught more than 25 passes last season. Tate's regular-season statistics: 21 catches for 227 yards, an average of 10.8 yards per catch. He did not score a touchdown. In the past four drafts, there were 17 wide receivers chosen in second round. Nine of them finished their rookie season with fewer receptions than Tate's 21."

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle passes along comments from an interview with Seahawks general manager John Schneider. Schneider: "Well, starting any organization or any football team I think you have to look at both sides of your line. So I would say offensive, defensive line are priorities for us, no question. But we're looking for depth at every position."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reflects on the limited quarterback options for the Cardinals, noting that recently injured veteran Chad Pennington had been considered a candidate to compete for playing time somewhere despite age and previous injury concerns. Somers: "So to those who can't believe the Cardinals are considering Marc Bulger, what other free agent intrigues you? Alex Smith? Rex Grossman? Tavaris Jackson? Matt Hasselbeck? A strong case can be made against each of them. When signing a quarterback in free agency, a team needs some vision and a ton of luck. The Saints took a risk on Drew Brees' shoulder in 2006 and it paid off. The Cardinals thought Kurt Warner had a little something left in 2005. It took two-plus years and a coaching change, but Warner proved himself again."

Jason La Canfora of says University of Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed plans to visit with the Cardinals next week. La Canfora: "Reed has been somewhat overlooked in a deep class of elite defensive linemen, but he's generating a lot of interest from teams drafting in the 25 to 40 range, sources said Thursday, and is meeting with many of them."

Matt Maiocco of says the 49ers' coaches -- led by Jim Harbaugh, Greg Roman and Vic Fangio -- are more familiar with college prospects based on their experiences at Stanford last season. Maiocco: "Harbaugh, Roman and Fangio coached or coached against at least 52 of the 329 (15.8 percent) prospects invited to the NFL scouting combine last month in Indianapolis. They recruited countless others. The 49ers are looking to add a quarterback in the draft. Stanford played against three draftable quarterbacks -- Washington's Jake Locker, TCU's Andy Dalton and Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor -- during Harbaugh's time coaching the Cardinal. Moreover, Harbaugh recruited Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, expected to be one of the top two quarterbacks selected."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers general manager Trent Baalke and college scouting director Joel Patten watched Robert Quinn and other North Carolina players work out at their pro day.

Tim Klutsarits of says the lack of consensus atop the 2011 NFL draft suggests this might be a weak year for top prospects. Klutsarits: "This could mean great things for the St. Louis Rams because since there is so much uncertainty with these guys there will be players that fall and will become productive members of teams to the later picks in the first round. The risk of course is that because the bust rate seems higher in this year’s Draft that the Rams have a higher chance of picking the next Adam Carriker or Tye Hill with the 14th pick in the draft."

Aaron Wilson of National Football Post says Hawaii running back Alex Green has a visit scheduled with the Rams. The visit could mean the Rams have genuine interest in Green. It could mean they have unanswered medical questions about him. It could mean nothing much at all. It's tough to say. The team does need a backup running back, however. Green is 6 feet tall and 225 pounds. He's known for his skills as a receiver out of the backfield.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers advice to the Rams in their handling of likely first-round choice Sam Bradford. He thinks offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, not quarterbacks coach Dick Curl, should be the one overseeing Bradford's development. Miklasz: "This is crucial. I realize that QBs coach Dick Curl is Coach Spagnuolo's friend; Spags served on Curl's staff in the old NFL Europe. But developing quarterbacks isn't Curl's area of expertise. So reassign him. There's no shame in that. Dick Vermeil had two guys on his staff (Mike White, Lynn Stiles) who helped him in a variety of ways behind the scenes. Likewise, Curl can serve as an all-purpose confidant for Spagnuolo. But the Rams can't have Curl in the middle of a vitally important working relationship between Shurmur and Bradford."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says most trade rumors involving the Rams have been off-base. Thomas: "Of all the (mostly) ridiculous trade rumors involving the Rams this offseason, the only one that I haven't heard (general manager Billy) Devaney deny was the (Adam) Carriker-to-Washington rumor. But I don't think Carriker would fetch much in a trade -- after all, he didn't play at all last season and is coming off shoulder surgery. As for the second-round pick, I think the Rams will get some calls on the pick, since teams will have an entire day to think about it and readjust their boards."

Also from Thomas: Leonard Little doesn't have much going; no surprise with the draft so near. Also, the Rams' long-anticipated signing of Na'il Diggs is all but done.

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says it's unclear whether Diggs will play weak or strong side.

John Niyo of the Detroit News quotes former Seahawks guard Rob Sims as saying Detroit is more of a football town than Seattle. Sims, who played at Ohio State: "This is a football town. Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit. I mean, that's football. Football and cars. This is more of what I'm accustomed to. Out there (in Seattle), the stars are Bill Gates and Paul Allen and the people that run Boeing. This here is what being in the NFL is supposed to be about, (standing) up here at the mic talking to reporters and stuff. In Seattle, it's not like that. It's drinking coffee, sittin' down and chit-chatting. This is a change, but it's a change that I've been looking forward to." Sims surely felt unwanted in Seattle and it had to mystify him. His comments were probably made out of frustration. The comment about the NFL being about standing at microphones and talking to reporters? Hmmmm. We already knew Seattle's line coach, Alex Gibbs, didn't think Sims fit into his zone-blocking scheme. Gibbs is also media-averse, and his linemen in Denver were known for refusing to speak with reporters.

Brian McIntyre of says the Seahawks want their tight ends to threaten defenses in the passing game, one reason John Owens' release should not come as a surprise.

John Morgan of Field Gulls takes inventory at receiver for Seattle, concluding the position is one of significant need.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with new Cardinals kicker Jay Feely, who reported for work Monday. Somers: "Feely's contract with the Cardinals is worth $3.5 million, including a $500,000 roster bonus and a $1 million salary this year. In 2011, he is due to make $1.75 million with a $250,000 bonus for attending off-season workouts." Also: Matt Ware's re-signing is official.

Darren Urban of says cornerback Michael Adams is helping teammates get acclimated to the offseason program, a role former teammate Ralph Brown often played. Adams: "Ralph always would explain why were doing it. If I can learn something from Ralph, someone can learn something from me, that person can teach someone else, it’s an ongoing cycle and we keep getting pretty good players."

Also from Urban: New Cardinals linebacker Paris Lenon comes from a line of Paris Lenons. His grandfather, father and son share the name. Urban: "The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder fit best when he played his first four seasons in Green Bay (his past four seasons were with the Lions for three before going to the Rams in 2009)."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee thinks the 49ers will select Anthony Davis at No. 13 if the offensive tackle remains available. Also: "As for (Donovan) McNabb, many writers and NFL observers wondered why the 49ers never entered the No. 5 sweepstakes. I think the overarching reason is that the Alex Smith experiment is five years in the making and, by golly, they're going to see it to the end. To state right now that they made a colossal mistake would be folly. But with Smith entering the final year of his contract, we ought to know the answer by January."

Howard Mintz of the San Jose Mercury News updates the 49ers' efforts to build a stadium in Santa Clara. One of the affected parties could renew concerns.