NFC West: Bryant Johnson

NEW ORLEANS -- A mere 3,565 days have passed since the 2003 NFL draft. That's not nearly long enough for Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs to forget about a certain team passing over him in the first round.

Fans of the Arizona Cardinals know what's coming next. They know the Cardinals traded out of the sixth overall slot in 2003, when Suggs was coming out of Arizona State as the top pass-rusher in the draft. They know Arizona used its first-round choices for receiver Bryant Johnson and pass-rusher Calvin Pace instead.

Suggs, speaking Tuesday from the Ravens' hotel at Super Bowl XLVII, thanked the Cardinals for letting him slip in the draft.

This thank you note was delivered unsolicited and with the back of the hand. Suggs was answering a question about his first contact with Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. The two had taped a commercial together before that 2003 draft. The Ravens were picking 10th overall. Lewis told Suggs the two could wind up being teammates. Suggs, admittedly naive at that early stage of his career, figured he'd be long gone by then. He figured the Cardinals wouldn't let him get past that sixth pick.

"Lo and behold, the Arizona Cardinals traded out of the pick," Suggs said. "Thank you all for that. I appreciate that with all my heart. Thank you."

The Cardinals found longtime starters Anquan Boldin, Gerald Hayes and Reggie Wellis later in that 2003 draft. Boldin, traded to Baltimore in 2010, will join Suggs in the Ravens' starting lineup against San Francisco on Sunday.

A look at what makes Fitzgerald so great

October, 11, 2012
Halloween 2004 still haunts Larry Fitzgerald. That day marked the only time Arizona's all-world receiver played an NFL game without catching even one pass.

Buffalo was the Cardinals' opponent that day. With the Bills scheduled to visit Arizona in Week 6, the memory of that 2004 game has been revived.

Fitzgerald could see the question coming during a conference call with Buffalo-area media. This call was different from most in that only one reporter called in for the interview. The one-on-one opportunity produced exchanges revealing just how competitive and driven Fitzgerald can be.

The interview began with the reporter pressing Fitzgerald to discuss the Bills' problems following successive embarrassing defeats. Fitzgerald deflected the questions until finally explaining why the subject wasn't for him. He said discussing the Bills problems would be like analyzing another person's marriage when his own was also troubled. He called the Cardinals' three-point showing at St. Louis in Week 5 an embarrassment. The game was notable for the pass Fitzgerald dropped, his first drop in more than 150 targets. But that 2004 game, played in the wind and rain, was also central on his mind.

Reporter: "It’s funny, I would not have known this, if not for Twitter, which I am not --"

Fitzgerald, interrupting: "Oh, no, no, don’t remind me, please don’t remind me."

Reporter: "I have to."

Fitzgerald: "No, no, I already know. It was the worst day professionally of my career, up there at Ralph Wilson Stadium. We don’t even need to talk about it."

Reporter: [laughing]

Fitzgerald: "We know already what you’re going to ask me, so let’s just -- you know how you were in trouble when you come home with your dad and you already know what you did wrong, he knows what you did wrong? 'Dad, look, I messed up, I apologize, I am going to apologize before you even say it.' "

Reporter: "Larry, it was eight years ago. Come on."

Fitzgerald: "It still eats at me."

Reporter: "Does it really?"

Fitzgerald: "It still bothers the heck out of me. Absolutely. I’m a professional. It would be like you going out and writing a bad column. You take pride in what you do, right?"

Reporter: "Sure I do."

Fitzgerald: "I take a lot of pride in what I do. I worked nine years tirelessly to make sure that never happens again."

Reporter: "Well you’ve done a pretty good job. To whip out another stat, what was it, 159 balls that came your way without a drop? That is --"

Fitzgerald, interrupting: "Oh, man, you see, you’re bringing up another sore subject with me."

Reporter: "No, that’s a compliment."

Fitzgerald: "That is not. That is a lack of concentration, a lack of focus and a lack of execution on my part. I’m better than that. I need to play at a high level, especially if I want this offense to be as good as I know we’re capable of being. Me as the leader of this offense, I have to perform at the highest level in practice, in the game, in my preparation. I have to be a leader by example."

Reporter: "Larry --"

Fitzgerald, continuing: "I take a lot of pride in that."

Reporter: "That was one play. Well, I guess that explains a little bit about why you are successful."

The reporter then asked Fitzgerald if he recalled the most productive day the receiver had ever enjoyed in high school or college. Athletes tend to remember such things, and Fitzgerald recalled three 200-yard games he had while at Pitt. He couldn't recall his exact stats for an Oct. 18, 2003 game against Rutgers, but a little Googling produced the following numbers: eight receptions for 207 yards and two scores -- in the first half.

What did Fitzgerald remember about that day? The fact that he went without a catch after halftime, of course.

Reporter: "And that is still bothering you, I assume?"

Fitzgerald: "Absolutely. Absolutely. That was in 2003. If I would have taken care of business in the second half, I probably would have won the Heisman Trophy that year. So I cost myself."

Fitzgerald went on to explain how his greatest gift -- a consuming drive to be the best -- is his greatest weakness. The failures hurt to a greater degree than he can enjoy the successes.

"This is a make-or-break game for us realistically," Fitzgerald said. "We are sitting there at 4-1. We control our own destiny. We have a tough schedule coming ahead with you guys (Buffalo) and Minnesota and San Francisco, and then we have to go to Green Bay. This is one of the toughest stretches of our season and it's going to define us as a ball club."
The list of available unrestricted free-agent receivers continues to dwindle.

The St. Louis Rams aren't going to find the playmaking help they covet on a list featuring Plaxico Burress, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Patrick Crayton, Rashied Davis, Deion Branch, Jerheme Urban, Bryant Johnson, Roy Williams, Greg Camarillo, Jerricho Cotchery, Mark Clayton, Roscoe Parrish, Michael Clayton, Courtney Roby, Michael Spurlock, David Anderson, Legedu Naanee, Devin Aromashodu, Donnie Avery, Maurice Stovall, Andre Caldwell, Ted Ginn Jr., Steve Smith (Philly version), Jerome Simpson and Devin Thomas.

Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked colleagues how the Rams will address the issue. Jim Thomas: "There’s not much left at the position in free agency. The wide receiver shelves were cleaned out quickly, so barring a trade of some kind -- which seems unlikely -- the Rams are almost limited to getting help via the draft. And at No. 6 overall, there’s no guarantee that Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State will be available. So yes, the team is in a bit of a predicament at wide receiver."

Also from Thomas, regarding Mike Wallace: "He has a first-round tender. And you can only use your original first-round pick as compensation. The Rams no longer have their original first-round pick after trading down with Washington. So they can't acquire Wallace through the regular process of restricted free agency. Now, the Rams could always offer less in a sign-and-trade situation. But why would the Steelers want less than a first-rounder? They put the tender on him in an attempt to keep him." Noted: The Rams could, in theory, offer the sixth overall pick, but that would be a steep price to pay.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks the Rams should steer clear of Tim Tebow.

Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis says the Rams' search for a backup quarterback continues in the absence of attractive options.

Matt Maiocco of quotes 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh regarding Harbaugh's relationship with Alex Smith: "It's been good -- strong relationship, as always. It's a very strong relationship."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee has this to say about the situation with Smith: "It's unclear if Smith agrees with Harbaugh that they are as tight as they've ever been. The team's offer did not exactly mesh with Harbaugh's statements of devotion during and after the season. While it's all but certain Smith will be the 49ers' quarterback this season, it also leaves an opening for backup Colin Kaepernick to take over before the three years are complete. Kaepernick has been a regular at the 49ers' training facility this offseason."

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers have ruled out Tebow, according to CEO Jed York.

Darren Urban of says Early Doucet's re-signing means the Cardinals will return their top receivers from last season. Urban: "Doucet set career-highs in 2011 with 54 receptions, 689 yards and five touchdowns in his fourth NFL season, playing in 16 games for the first time. He came up with a pair of long touchdown catches against Carolina (70 yards) and San Francisco (60 yards) and scored on a game-winning screen pass in Philadelphia."

Also from Urban: The Cardinals have little salary-cap room, and there are tradeoffs associated with gaining flexibility.

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle quotes Seahawks coach Pete Carroll as saying Peyton Manning reached out to the Seahawks while figuring out which team to join. Carroll: "He had contacted me about wanting to talk about coming here. By the time we got down to where we had our chance he had already set his sights on going in the direction wound up going, with Denver."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times looks at the market for free-agent linebacker David Hawthorne. O'Neil: "Hawthorne has led Seattle in tackles each of the past three years, but right now, the market for free-agent linebackers looks to be a little softer than some expected." Noted: Looks like we're approaching that period where players reset their expectations before taking deals for less than they had hoped.

Clare Farnsworth of puts together an overview of free agency from the Seahawks' perspective.
Wide receivers Vincent Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Reggie Wayne, Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, Laurent Robinson, Josh Morgan, Eric Weems and Harry Douglas have found new homes after hitting the NFL's free-agent market.

Franchise tags essentially removed from consideration Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker and DeSean Jackson.

Others, such as Marques Colston, re-signed before free agency.

Teams still searching for help at the position -- that would be pretty much everyone but Seattle in the NFC West -- are left with a picked-over group of free agents.

Jerome Simpson, Plaxico Burress, Brandon Lloyd, Legedu Naanee, Devin Aromashodu, Roy Williams, Mario Manningham and Early Doucet are the only ones remaining to have played at least half of their team's offensive snaps during the 2011 season.

As the chart shows, Burress was particularly effective in the red zone for the New York Jets. He converted first downs 38 times in 45 receptions for the third-highest percentage among wide receivers with at least 40 receptions, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Burress is also up there in age. He's among 12 available wideouts already in their 30s: Hines Ward (36), Burress (34), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (34), Kevin Curtis (33), Patrick Crayton (32), Deion Branch (32), Rashied Davis (32), Donte Stallworth (31), Jerheme Urban (31), Bryant Johnson (31), Lloyd (30) and Williams (30).

Of them, Lloyd has visited the San Francisco 49ers.

Nine more are 29 years old: Greg Camarillo, Keary Colbert, Mark Clayton, Jerricho Cotchery, Roscoe Parrish, Michael Clayton, Courtney Roby, Michael Spurlock and Braylon Edwards.

Still interested?

OK, let's check out 18 others, all younger than 29: David Anderson, Legedu Naanee, Devin Aroshamodu, Donnie Avery, Anthony Gonzalez, Maurice Stovall, Derek Hagan, Mike Sims-Walker, Ted Ginn Jr., Andre Caldwell, Steve Smith, Doucet, Brett Swain, Chaz Schilens, Simpson, Manningham, Devin Thomas and Kevin Ogletree.

Schilens visited Arizona and San Francisco. Manningham visited the 49ers and the St. Louis Rams.

I've also broken down the available wideouts by drafted round:
  • First: Williams, Burress, Ginn, Stallworth, both Claytons, Johnson, Gonzalez and Edwards
  • Second: Avery, Thomas, Simpson, Smith, Parrish, Branch, Colbert
  • Third: Roby, Doucet, Hagan, Stovall, Manningham, Caldwell, Curtis, Sims-Walker, Ward
  • Fourth: Cotchery, Lloyd
  • Fifth: Legedu Naanee
  • Sixth: none
  • Seventh: Houshmandzadeh, Crayton, Schilens, Aromashodu, Anderson, Swain
  • Undrafted: Davis, Urban, Camarillo, Spurlock, Ogletree

Only a handful of the available receivers project as starters. None would qualify as an outright game-breaker.

The Rams in particular need playmakers, but in looking at what is available, how many would qualify as dramatically better than what they already have? Austin Pettis, Brandon Gibson, Danario Alexander, Dominique Curry, Greg Salas and restricted free agent Danny Amendola are their current wideouts.
David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says Ted Ginn Jr. showed good ability in practice Tuesday, a reminder why the 49ers acquired him. White: "Seventy-four percent of quarterback Alex Smith's pass attempts were for 10 or fewer yards. His 6.3 yards per attempt ranked 24th in the NFL. He simply had no deep help outside of tight end Vernon Davis. It hasn't come from Jason Hill, the 40-yard-dash wonder with 40 catches over three seasons. And it didn't come from Ashley Lelie or Bryant Johnson during their stints with the Niners. Johnson enjoyed mild success, but only as a No. 3-type role player."

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat profiles 49ers fullback Brit Miller, who is trying to unseat veteran Moran Norris. Overwhelmed as a rookie trying to attain standards set by running backs coach Tom Rathman, Miller says he's more comfortable in his second training camp. Miller: "When you're not used to Rathman, I mean he can do that to you. Because he expects perfection. But now I already know what he's gonna say before he says it. ... And it's a little more comforting coming into camp having an idea what to do, and not guessing, not getting nervous in the huddle, and just going out and playing ball."

Also from Barber: 49ers camp notes, including one about tight end Vernon Davis challenging defensive teammates to "come and get some" after he dispatched linebacker Ahmad Brooks in the nutcracker drill.

Matt Maiocco of says Davis struggled some in pass protection. He was referring to rookie tackle Anthony Davis, not tight end Vernon Davis, who ranks among the better pass protectors on the team.

Also from Maiocco: a new role for quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson. Maiocco: "Quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson is getting his first taste of relaying the plays, via radio, to the quarterbacks. Last season, offensive assistant Jason Michael handled those duties because he and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye worked together previously for three seasons with the New York Jets and Raiders. Raye said he is trying to figure out which system works best. Raye said he will likely decide which assistant will be on the radio hookup with himself and the quarterbacks after the second exhibition game."

More from Maiocco: Glen Coffee laments his 2.7-yard rookie rushing average.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says some of the 49ers' younger players benefit when the team gives veterans practices off. Barrows: "The 49ers also must groom several young players at safety, primarily Reggie Smith, Curtis Taylor and Taylor Mays. Smith has been getting all of Lewis' first-team repetitions the last two practices while Mays and Taylor have composed the second-string group. Taylor and Chris Maragos have made up the third-string safety tandem. Again, Lewis doesn't need the repetitions, so the coaching staff is giving them to younger players."

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says rookie guard Mike Iupati is well-suited for nutcracker drills. Kawakami: "Generally, Iupati wreaked havoc whenever he was out there, except in one pass-block drill, when veteran defensive end Justin Smith got the jump off the outside edge and sent Iupati twisting backward."

Taylor Price of passes along this Ginn-related quote from Raye: "His presence on the field demands that you have to make a decision about how many you want to commit to the run, from a coverage standpoint. We certainly think that he gives us something defensively that you have to figure out when he’s on the field."

Also from Price: Chilo Rachal was treated for dehydration after collapsing at practice.

Note: I'm giving each team its own Around the NFC West post given the volume of material early in camps. More to come.

The market for Oshiomogho Atogwe appears undefined roughly 12 hours into the former Rams safety's life as a free agent.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said his team isn't interested. Rumblings from Miami and San Francisco suggest those teams aren't suitors. The Redskins do not sound particularly interested.

Of course, Miami wasn't considered the most likely destination for receiver Brandon Marshall before the Dolphins acquired him, as one acquaintance noted. Stuff could be swirling beneath the surface in the absence of visible evidence.'s John Clayton pointed to the Detroit Lions as a potential suitor last week. The Lions seem to love collecting former NFC West players. How many do they currently employ? Thanks for asking.

Maurice Morris, Nate Burleson, Rob Sims, Julian Peterson, Bryant Johnson, Shaun Hill, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Jonathan Wade, Marquand Manuel, Will Heller, Roy Schuening, Jahi Word-Daniels and Trevor Canfield come to mind.

The Lions have also collected former NFC West head coaches, from Steve Mariucci to Scott Linehan to Mike Martz.

The Seahawks, seeking to salvage their season at Arizona in Week 10, last won a road game against the Cardinals on Nov. 6, 2005.

Shaun Alexander carried 23 times for 173 yards and two touchdowns during a 33-19 Seattle victory at Sun Devil Stadium. The Seahawks, headed to Super Bowl XL after that season, picked off Kurt Warner three times and sacked him four times.

A couple things about these teams have changed since that game. I had some fun sifting through those 2005 rosters.

Players no longer with Seattle

Offense (20): Bobby Engram, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Chris Gray, Joe Jurevicius, Jerheme Urban, Mack Strong, Shaun Alexander, D.J. Hackett, Maurice Morris, Leonard Weaver, Floyd Womack, Ryan Hannam, Jerramy Stevens, Peter Warrick, David Greene, Wayne Hunter, Darrell Jackson, Itula Mili, Josh Scobey.

Defense (18): Bryce Fisher, Chuck Darby, Marcus Tubbs, Grant Wistrom, Jamie Sharper, Kelly Herndon, Michael Boulware, Marquand Manual, Jimmy Williams, John Howell, Niko Koutouvides, Kevin Bentley, Isaiah Kacyvenski, Joe Tafoya, Rocky Bernard, Etric Pruitt, Rodney Bailey, Andre Dyson.

Specialists (3): Josh Brown, Tom Rouen, J.P. Darche.

Players still with Seattle

Offense (6): Walter Jones (injured reserve), Sean Locklear, Matt Hasselbeck, Seneca Wallace, Chris Spencer, Ray Willis.

Defense (6): Jordan Babineaux, Craig Terrill, D.D. Lewis, Lofa Tatupu (IR), Leroy Hill, Marcus Trufant.

Players no longer with Arizona

Offense (23): Bryant Johnson, Leonard Davis, Nick Leckey, Alex Stepanovich, Oliver Ross, Eric Edwards, Marcel Shipp, Adam Bergen, J.J. Arrington, Josh McCown, John Navarre, Reggie Newhouse, LeRon McCoy, Fred Wakefield, James Jackson, Obafemi Ayanbadejo, Harold Morrow, Jarrod Baxter, Adam Haayer, J.J. Moses, Elton Brown, Teyo Johnson, Reggie Swinton.

Defense (16): Langston Moore, Ross Kolodziej, James Darling, Robert Tate, Robert Griffith, David Macklin, Antonio Cochran, Darryl Blackstock, Orlando Huff, Eric Green, Antonio Smith, Lamont Reid, Quentin Harris, Isaac Keys, Lance Mitchell, Aaron Francisco.

Specialists (2): Scott Player, Nathan Hodel.

Players still with Arizona

Offense (5): Reggie Wells, Larry Fitzgerald, Kurt Warner, Jeremy Bridges, Anquan Boldin.

Defense (6): Chike Okeafor, Darnell Dockett, Bernard Berry, Karlos Dansby, Adrian Wilson, Antrel Rolle.

Specialists (1): Neil Rackers.

Note: Thanks to spaumi10 for noticing that Aaron Francisco and Lance Mitchell were initially listed on offense. There was a little cutting and pasting involved with this entry. Missed those two. Thanks!

Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Floyd Womack, Jerheme Urban, Leonard Davis, Itula Mili, Joe Tafoya, Wayne Hunter, Josh Scobey, Matt Hasselbeck, Aaron Francisco, Mack Strong, Bryant Johnson, Jerramy Stevens, Larry Fitzgerald, Leroy HIll, Chike Okeafor, Darryl Blackstock, J.P. Darche, John Navarre, D.D. Lewis, Joe Jurevicius, Chris Gray, Lofa Tatupu, Ray Willis, Darrell Jackson, John Howell, Robbie Tobeck, Elton Brown, David Macklin, Marcus Trufant, Leonard Weaver, Seneca Wallace, Kevin Bentley, Karlos Dansby, Oliver Ross, Eric Green, Marcus Tubbs, Nick Leckey, Kurt Warner, Antonio Smith, Josh McCown, Jordan Babineaux, Neil Rackers, Sean Locklear, David Greene, J.J. Arrington, Maurice Morris, Bryce Fisher, Scott Player, Adrian Wilson, Anquan Boldin, Marcel Shipp, Etric Pruitt, Chuck Darby, Antrel Rolle, Niko Koutouvides, Michael Boulware, Andre Dyson, Isaiah Kacyvenski, Bobby Engram, LeRon McCoy, Grant Wistrom, Shaun Alexander, Craig Terrill, Darnell Dockett, D.J. Hackett, Reggie Wells, Chris Spencer, Alex Stepanovich, Jimmy Williams, Lance Mitchell, Nathan Hodel, Josh Brown, Rocky Bernard, Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Jeremy Bridges, Ryan Hannam, Peter Warrick, Jamie Sharper, Kelly Herndon, Marquand Manual, Rodney Bailey, Eric Edwards, Adam Bergen, Reggie Newhouse, Fred Wakefield, James Jackson, Obafemi Ayanbadejo, Harold Morrow, Jarrod Baxter, Adam Haayer, J.J. Moses, Teyo Johnson, Reggie Swinton, Langston Moore, Ross Kolodziej, James Darling, Robert Tate, Robert Griffith, Antonio Cochran, Orlando Huff, Lamont Reid, Quentin Harris, Isaac Keys, Bernard Berry

Posted by's Mike Sando

Joe in the Army (overseas) writes: The blog is great. Keep up the great work. Some of the best 49er and NFC West info around. I was reading the e-mails and see the NFC West fans are getting ready and all seem to feel good about their teams. The 49ers are looking great under Iron Mike. The Cards are coming off a Super Bowl year. The Hawks seem to look strong after a injury-plagued year. The Rams ... well, let's just just say all the NFC West teams have been in that rebuilding state.

So, with at least three teams looking real good, is the NFC West finally going to get some respect? Are we done hearing about the weak west, the soft west or the NFL's worst division? I know I'm tired of hearing that.

NFC West Team 2008 Division Record 2008 Non-Division Record
6-0 3-7
SF 3-3 4-6
SEA 3-3 1-9
STL 0-6 2-8

Mike Sando: Thanks, Joe. NFC West teams need to enjoy more success against non-division opponents. The Cardinals were 6-0 in the division and 3-7 outside the division last season. Their 3-1 postseason record outside the division deserves recognition, but NFC West teams still have much to prove.

An Arizona victory over the Colts in Week 3 would help. A 49ers victory at Minnesota, also in Week 3, would help. The Seahawks visit Indianapolis in Week 4. The 49ers are home against Atlanta in Week 5. Let's see the NFC West win a few of these games before wondering why the division doesn't command respect.

(Read full post)

Posted by's Mike Sando

The first stage in the process of determining compensatory choices for the 2010 draft passed quietly with the June 1 deadline for NFL teams to make qualifying offers to unrestricted free agents. No team extended an offer to a UFA candidate. That means no additional UFA signings this offseason will influence compensatory choices.

The compensatory formula is complex. AdamJT13 has come close to solving it. Basically, the NFL awards additional draft choices to teams that lost free agents more valuable than the free agents teams signed. Values are determined by salaries and on-field contributions.

I had pulled a list of free agents NFC West teams added and lost when I noticed AdamJT13 had already done it on his blog. He notes that it's not yet known whether NFL teams extended qualifying offers to any UFAs. I can provide a small assist here by confirming that no teams extended qualifying offers to any UFAs.

A team-by-team look at the early compensatory picture in the NFC West:
Arizona: The Cardinals added two UFAs from other teams and lost four. They paid $5 million per year to cornerback Bryant McFadden. They lost defensive end Antonio Smith to a deal worth $7.1 million per season. How much those players play and at what level they perform could prove influential. And if former Cardinals cornerback Eric Green enjoys a bounce-back season with the Dolphins, that could improve Arizona's compensatory ledger.

St. Louis: The Rams do not appear to be in strong position in the compensatory race. Center Jason Brown, added from the Ravens at $7.5 million per season, should more than cancel out the Rams' three UFA losses (offensive linemen Brett Romberg, Nick Leckey and Brandon Gorin). The Rams also added Kyle Boller, James Butler and Billy Bajema.

San Francisco: The 49ers also do not appear to be in strong position in the compensatory race. Additions Brandon Jones, Marvel Smith, Demetric Evans and Moran Norris could play quite a bit. The players San Francisco lost -- Bryant Johnson, Ronald Fields, J.T. O'Sullivan, Donald Strickland, Bajema and Sean Ryan -- appear unlikely to cancel out the additions.

Seattle: I would like to hear AdamJT13's analysis on the Seahawks' compensatory situation. The team spent $8 million per season for receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and nearly $4.4 million per season for defensive tackle Colin Cole. The team lost defensive tackle Rocky Bernard ($4 million), running back Maurice Morris ($2.1 million), fullback Leonard Weaver (nearly $1.8 million), receiver Bobby Engram ($1.25 million) and offensive lineman Floyd Womack ($1 million) among its seven departures.

AdamJT13 was good about helping out when I asked for his input earlier this year. Here's hoping we hear from him again.

Posted by's Mike Sando

A quick look at 53-man rosters from Feb. 1, date of Super Bowl XLIII, provides a reference point for seeing how NFC West teams have changed so far this offseason.

I'll start with San Francisco.

Gone from the 49ers' 53-man roster and injured reserve list in the 58 days since the Super Bowl (13):

  Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
  J.T. O'Sullivan is a former 49er.


Jamie Martin, QB

J.T. O'Sullivan, QB

Billy Bajema, TE

DeShaun Foster, RB

Sean Ryan, TE

Bryant Johnson, WR

Jonas Jennings, T

Damane Duckett, T


Keith Lewis, S

Donald Strickland, CB

Roderick Green, LB

Ronald Fields, DL

Tully Banta-Cain, LB

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San Francisco 49ers 2009 UFA Watch
Pos. Status
Allen Rossum
Takeo Spikes
Demetric Evans
Brandon Jones
Moran Norris
Damane Duckett
Jamie Martin
DeShaun Foster
Donald Strickland
Billy Bajema
Roderick Green
Sean Ryan
Bryant Johnson
J.T. O'Sullivan
Ronald Fields
Posted by's Mike Sando

The 49ers have faced few difficult decisions since free agency opened Feb. 27 because most of their important players remained under contract.

Reworking Alex Smith's contract was probably their top offseason priority, but even that move lacked urgency.

Quite a few 49ers fans have expressed frustration over what they consider the team's undue indifference to the market. They see other teams making bold moves and wonder why the 49ers have decided to largely sit out this signing period.

Their frustration can be summed up in three questions. Brandon Jones? Demetric Evans? Moran Norris? Nothing against those guys, but when fans think about upgrading their team, they think about the Rams adding Jason Brown, the Seahawks adding T.J. Houshmandzadeh and other more significant moves. They think about making plays for Albert Haynesworth, Julius Peppers and Jay Cutler.

In retrospect, the 49ers were more aggressive in past offseasons because they were trying to compensate for the previous regime's draft shortcomings. Last offseason, they were also trying to save Mike Nolan's job. General manager Scot McCloughan has subsequently expressed a desire to build primarily through the draft.

Right or wrong, the feeling now is that the 49ers are going to benefit most from making better use of their existing personnel. We started to see the benefits (offense, defense) of this once Mike Singletary took over as head coach. The situation at quarterback will still factor heavily into whether the 49ers show improvement in the standings.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Tracking free-agent visits can become a part-time job during the initial rush of free agency. Now that things have settled, I've put together an unofficial list showing where NFC West free agents have visited and which players the division's teams have visited with.

These visits fall into four basic categories:

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49ers free-agency update: Week One

March, 6, 2009

Posted by's Mike Sando

San Francisco 49ers 2009 UFA List Pos. Age
Jamie Martin
QB 39
Allen Rossum
KR 33
Takeo Spikes
LB 32
J.T. O'Sullivan QB 29
DeShaun Foster
RB 29
Sean Ryan
TE 28
Donald Strickland
CB 28
Damane Duckett
OL 28
Bryant Johnson
Ronald Fields
DL 27
Roderick Green
LB 26
Billy Bajema
TE 26

The 49ers have generated more frenzy during the first week of free agency than their second-tier signings would warrant alone.

Their visit with Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner qualified as bold, puzzling and/or misguided, depending on your point of view.

General manager Scot McCloughan subsequently said the 49ers had not ruled out adding Terrell Owens, although the San Francisco Chronicle cited a source saying the 49ers would not bid for him.

None of the 49ers' remaining unrestricted free agents qualifies as critical to re-sign. Donald Strickland might head the list.

49ers UFA re-signed: Takeo Spikes, LB; Allen Rossum, return specialist.

49ers UFA lost: WR Bryant Johnson (Lions), DL Ronald Fields (Broncos) and QB J.T. O'Sullivan (Bengals).

49ers UFA added: Brandon Jones, WR, Titans; Demetric Evans, DL, Redskins; and Moran Norris, FB, Lions.

49ers restricted free agents: none.

Niners weren't banking on Johnson

February, 28, 2009

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Bryant Johnson experiment in San Francisco unofficially ended when the 49ers showed little concern in letting the receiver hit free agency after one injury-affected season with the team. The official end came Saturday when Johnson agreed to terms on a three-year, $9 million deal with the Lions.

Johnson wound up getting a raise from the $2 million salary he earned from the 49ers last season. The 49ers' acquisition of Brandon Jones from the Titans fills Johnson's roster spot, but San Francisco is not finished making over the position. Isaac Bruce's decision on retirement could also affect the 49ers' plans.

Age before beauty: 49ers free agents

February, 26, 2009

Posted by's Mike Sando

San Francisco 49ers 2009 UFA Candidates
Pos. Age
Jamie Martin
QB 39.0
Allen Rossum
KR 33.3
Takeo Spikes
LB 32.1
J.T. O'Sullivan QB 29.5
DeShaun Foster
RB 29.1
Sean Ryan
TE 28.9
Donald Strickland
CB 28.2
Damane Duckett
OL 28.0
Bryant Johnson
Ronald Fields
DL 27.4
Roderick Green
LB 26.8
Billy Bajema
TE 26.3

The 49ers stand to get younger this offseason as they part with backup quarterbacks Jamie Martin and J.T. O'Sullivan.

Both are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. Neither is expected to return.

The chart ranks the 49ers' scheduled unrestricted free agents from oldest to youngest, with ages rounded down to the tenth.

Only three of the 49ers' scheduld free agents are in their 30s, easily the lowest figure in the division. The Cardinals (nine), Rams (eight) and Seahawks (eight) each rank among the NFL's top five teams in 30-plus UFA candidates.

None of the 49ers' scheduled free agents appears to be critical for the team's future. Re-signing Takeo Spikes would make sense. Most of the others appear to qualify for the dreaded at-the-right-price distinction, meaning the 49ers will probably take their time in re-signing them, if they re-sign them at all.