NFC West: Bill Muir

NFL assistant coaches are some of the best people to know for those looking to learn more about the game.

That has been my experience in covering the NFL since 1998.

I've helped push for better media access to assistants through the Professional Football Writers of America. I've also learned more about some of the issues important to coaches, including some outlined in this recent story about the NFL Coaches Association.

The chart shows NFLCA team reps as the association talks about forming a union.

Kevin Spencer (Cardinals), Johnnie Lynn (49ers), Dan Quinn (Seahawks) and Andy Sugarman (Rams) are the reps for NFC West coaching staffs. The 49ers' Jimmy Raye is president of the NFLCA executive committee.

It's not clear yet whether the NFLCA will move to unionize and such an effort would face a challenge even if the association did decide to move in that direction. But as coaches consider their options, these assistants presumably will be active behind the scenes.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Doug Farrar of Football Outsiders takes an in-depth look at the Cardinals' improving offensive line. He also wonders why officials rarely call offensive holding against the Steelers' opponents.

Bob Baum of the Associated Press checks in with Cardinals backup quarterback Matt Leinart.

Stephen Holder of the St. Petersburg Times says the Cardinals plan to stick with their passing game.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic looks at how Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt made roster changes to help Arizona change its losing ways.

Bob Young of the Arizona Republic checks in with Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson, who stayed in Arizona when others bailed.

Craig Harris of the Arizona Republic details how some Cardinals fans are planning to attend the game on a budget.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle looks at Hue Jackson's candidacy as the 49ers' potential offensive coordinator.

Michelle Smith of the San Francisco Chronicle says former 49ers offensive lineman Chris Dalman has stepped down as the offensive line coach at Stanford, citing a desire to spend more time with family.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider considers whether Scott Linehan turned down the 49ers' offer to become offensive coordinator because he didn't like the situation at quarterback.

Ann Killion of the San Jose Mercury News asks whether the 49ers would have followed the same path this offseason had they known Jon Gruden and Mike Shanahan would become available, and had they known the search for an offensive coordinator would last so long.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times continues his look at the Seahawks and Steelers since Super Bowl XL.

Also from O'Neil: Another installment in the series.

John Morgan of Field Gulls makes a case against Seneca Wallace as the Seahawks' starting quarterback.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the Rams' efforts to fill out their coaching staff. Randy Melvin and Bill Muir are potential candidates.

Also from Thomas: Former Rams coach Mike Martz shoots down rumors that the Patriots have shown interest in him.

Steve Korte of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the Rams' new coordinators.