NFC West: Carmen Policy
The gap between the combine and free agency was once shorter. Years ago, the combine became that time when teams lined up their options, with news breaking about which free agents planned to visit certain teams when the market opened for business.
The most recent combine lacked that feel of impending activity.
But as Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis points out, the St. Louis Rams might want to act sooner when it comes to trading the second overall choice. That is because the quarterback landscape will change once free agency opens. Some teams will fill their quarterback needs, and when they do, they might have less interest in acquiring the second overall choice for a chance to draft Baylor's Robert Griffin III. Balzer: "While trades involving draft picks normally don’t occur until draft day or at best a few days before, (chief operating officer) Kevin Demoff thinks there’s a possibility something could happen before the start of the league year or at the league meeting at the end of March. Of course, trades can’t become official until the league year begins, but the deal can be in place in advance."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have "laid the groundwork" for trading the pick.
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says a quick resolution to Peyton Manning's situation would help the Rams get value for the second overall choice.
Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times suggests Leroy Hill's latest arrest could derail his career with the Seahawks. Noted: I don't think this arrest, for possessing less than one ounce of marijuana, will kill the Seahawks' interest in Hill. The arrest will hurt Hill's market value and give the Seahawks a better shot at re-signing him for less money. The situation would be different, in my view, if Hill had been caught in a more compromising position. In this case, he was hanging out at home when authorities showed up unexpectedly, acting on a search warrant after a neighbor apparently complained about smelling marijuana. The incident reflects poorly on Hill, but this allegation reflects behavior less reckless than, say, driving under the influence.
Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle thinks the Seahawks should consider Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson in the draft.
More from Huard: thoughts on combine quarterbacks.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the team could bring back Deuce Lutui if he meets standards for physical conditioning. General manager Rod Graves: "It’s up to Deuce. We'd like to have him back, but one of the things we have to get worked out with Deuce is with his weight. We had to struggle with him the last couple of years. The bottom line is that Deuce hasn't played as well when he has been heavy. We would love to see Deuce come back, get in shape and play well for us and we’d love to have him under those conditions. But we can’t afford to not give someone else a chance if Deuce is going to come in overweight."
Also from Urban: to what degree the Cardinals could need to add receiver help.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers probably had Baylor receiver Kendall Wright in mind when they interviewed Griffin at the combine. Barrows: "The 49ers have traded up in each of the last two drafts, in 2010 to snag offensive tackle Anthony Davis in the first round, then last year to get quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the second. Wright ran his 40-yard dash Sunday in 4.61 seconds, which is slower than expected. He'll likely run again at Baylor's pro day March 21 when he also will catch passes from Griffin."
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with former 49ers executive Carmen Policy. Kawakami: "As someone who gains nothing from praising the 49ers at this point, it’s very credible when Policy calls the stadium in Santa Clara a fait accompli, talks about Santa Clara receiving possibly the best deal any community has received from an NFL team and points out the twists and turns that solidified the Santa Clara effort. ... Policy confirmed he had dinner with Gideon Yu recently and was very impressed. ... Read over his comments about the Raiders’ situation, and everything points to Mark Davis looking for the best deal in hand, and that continues to feel like Los Angeles, at some point. ... The Jim Harbaugh/Bill Walsh resiliency/emotional comparison is fascinating, and I think probably quite accurate."
Also from Kawakami: Jed York as Mark Zuckerberg? Noted: Talk about comparisons that would not have been made before hiring Harbaugh, going 13-3 and getting a stadium deal done. Yes, times have changed, and quickly.
Also from Somers: The Cardinals have options at inside linebacker. Somers on Stewart Bradley's talent relative to that of former inside linebacker Gerald Hayes: "Bradley's size and athleticism make him versatile. At 6-4, 258 pounds, Bradley gives the Cardinals a physical presence in the middle that they've lacked since Hayes was healthy. At his peak, Bradley is a better player than Hayes at his best. But Bradley can do more than take on offensive linemen. His speed makes him an asset in coverage and a capable blitzer."
More from Somers: O'Brien Schofield took to heart his demotion and criticisms from the Cardinals' coaching staff. Somers: "Schofield, a fourth-round pick in 2010 from Wisconsin, dedicated himself to studying last week. He made flash cards of formations and his responsibilities, and had Sam Acho and fellow linebacker Reggie Walker grilling him constantly. Schofield skipped pre-practice naps to study. He studied as he was receiving medical treatment and before he went to sleep. If other guys were joking during practice, he moved away from them to concentrate."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com links to video from Wilson's return.
Also from Urban: seeking continuity on the Cardinals' offensive line.
More from Urban: on receiver Stephen Williams' progress in Cardinals camp.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Darian Stewart is getting some work with the first-team defense ahead of Craig Dahl at strong safety. Thomas: "Stewart saw most of his action as a rookie on special teams. But late in the season he was worked in on defense, coming in on certain packages in passing situations. Stewart acknowledged that he was a bit overwhelmed at times during his rookie season. He was trying to learn both safety positions as well as his responsibilities on special teams." Dahl has a $1.6 million salary this season. Stewart's salary is $450,000.
Also from Coats: Mike Hoomanawanui could be out for a while, but Danario Alexander is practicing again.
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says Week 3 of the preseason is when the Rams' offense needs to pick up the pace.
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explores football's harsh realities through the eyes of a few Rams players.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers thoughts on the Rams' roster during a recent chat.
Also from Thomas: The Rams are counting on Quintin Mikell. Thomas: "Mikell earned his spurs as a special teams player, twice being named the Eagles' special teams MVP. For most of those early years in Philly, Mikell bided his time at safety, backing up Pro Bowlers Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis. As a young player, Mikell looked up to Dawkins in particular, watching everything he did."
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says the coaching staff "loves" Stewart's potential at safety.
Also from Wagoner: an appreciation for former snapper Chris Massey. Wagoner: "He was an absolute beast in the weight room, regularly registering lifting records that placed him even with or above the biggest and strongest linemen. He was a diligent student in the classroom as he’d be off the practice field and in the film room watching that day’s practice within minutes of the end of the workout."
More from Wagoner: Alexander's fight for a roster spot.
More yet from Wagoner: Mikell's impact. Wagoner: "Mikell went to the Pro Bowl following the 2009 season after he posted 90 tackles, 13 passes defended and two interceptions. Oddly enough, he did not go last year despite bettering that performance with 111 tackles, 14 passes defended, three interceptions and three fumble recoveries. For his career, Mikell has 444 tackles, four sacks, 46 passes defended, 10 interceptions, seven forced fumble and seven fumble recoveries."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com reports from the team's annual closest-to-the-pin competition precipitating the Champions Tour event sponsored in part by the team. Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, who recently defended his title in the Seahawks' annual home-run derby, defended his title in this event as well. But it wasn't quite good enough to beat professional Jay Don Blake. Farnsworth: "For the record, Blake’s winning shot was 2 feet, 4 inches from the pin, while Whitehurst was second at 8 feet, 4 inches. Mike Goodes, another Senior Tour golfer who’s also in town for the Champions Tour’s Boeing Classic at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge this weekend, was next at 12 feet, 3 inches. Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate’s best effort was 15 feet, 4 inches."
Also from Farnsworth: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll acknowledges Whitehurst's progress while recommitting to Tarvaris Jackson as the team's starting quarterback.
More from Farnsworth: The Seahawks see David Vobora as a versatile backup with special-teams value. Farnsworth: "The coaches envision Vobora possibly filling the same role Will Herring did last season, when Herring was the backup at all three linebacker spots but capable of stepping in to start at any of them – and also a big contributor of special teams."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times updates the Seahawks' injury situation. Kam Chancellor missed practice.
Also from O'Neil: thoughts on Aaron Curry's new contract. O'Neil: "Seattle was not going to cut Curry. Not with the amount of money that was guaranteed under the terms of that contract both in 2011 and 2012. So why did this get done? Well, Curry was willing to give up the provision that his 2012 base salary was guaranteed in order to have the final two seasons of the contract removed. Seattle may have seen that like selling the sleeves off a vest as Curry was unlikely to remain on the team for the final two years of the contract as it was. But this kind of forces the issue with Curry's future and creates a clearer timeline that Curry may be able to find a new role -- likely with a different team -- after this season and certainly after 2012."
More from O'Neil: Brandon Browner and Josh Pinkard are making an impact in the Seahawks' secondary.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune offers updates from Seahawks practice. On the injury front, Ben Obomanu and Chris Clemons were back on the field.
Also from Williams: Whitehurst appears to have taken Jackson's promotion as a wake-up call.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee revisits Greg Cosell's scouting report on Taylor Mays to help explain why the safety didn't stick with the 49ers. Cosell now: "The NFL game is about lateral movement and change of direction, and he doesn't have that. ... I thought he was overall a big-time stiff, and I thought he was very lucky to be picked in the second round." Mays most likely would still be on the 49ers' roster if Mike Singletary were the team's head coach. But that would not have assured success for Mays over time. The hard feelings Mays expressed toward Carroll when the Seahawks selected Earl Thomas instead of Mays appeared misplaced at the time, and more now.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says injury issues have prevented Shawntae Spencer from tightening his grip on the starting job at right cornerback. Spencer: "There's no use in being frustrated because it's something you can't control. It's out of my control. All I can do is what Fergie [Jeff Ferguson, director of football operations and sports medicine] tells me to do every day and try to get back as soon as I can."
Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News says coach Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers aren't making any bold proclamations about Alex Smith as their starting quarterback for the regular season. Inman: "Smith has started both exhibition games and is on target to secure the job ahead of rookie Colin Kaepernick and veteran Josh McCown. Smith started the first seven games last season and has a 19-31 record as a starter since being drafted first overall in 2005. Asked when he planned to announce his starting quarterback, Harbaugh replied: 'Before the first game.' That would be Sept. 11 against the Seattle Seahawks at Candlestick Park." Smith is the starter whether or not Harbaugh makes an announcement, based simply on the fact that he continues to start preseason games.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says rookie tight end Konrad Reuland is making a strong push for a roster spot. Harbaugh: "He's really having a great camp. I coached him in college and I've always had great respect for Konrad's game and he's elevated here ... He is doing real well, giving himself a great chance to be in the mix and potentially make the team."
Al Sarasevic of the San Francisco Chronicle passes along Carmen Policy's thoughts on recent violence at Candlestick Park.
Also from Maiocco: highlights from Jed York's news conference. York: "I've spoken to a lot of people that have been in and around the game this season to get their feedback on how to build a team. I think when you look at teams that have been successful out there, it's not about hiring the flashiest name as your head coach or GM or both. It's about making sure the GM and head coach are really working together. you need your general manager, and your general manager is a person who is going to live and die with the coach."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers a Mike Singletary timeline.
Also from Barrows: The 49ers are in a situation similar to the one they encountered in 2005.
More from Barrows: Unlike in 2005, the 49ers plan to hire a general manager before they hire a head coach.
Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat wonders whether York has what it takes to hire the right general manager. Cohn: "Jed cannot allow himself to be alone in the interview room with general-manager candidates. He doesn’t know what questions to ask. So much depends on knowing the questions and evaluating the answers. Jed needs wise old heads in the room with him, men who have done it before. How about Carmen Policy and/or John McVay? How about people from the league office? I know for a fact the league wants to help the Yorks because it wants a stronger team in San Francisco."
Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Singletary's firing was more emotional for linebacker Patrick Willis.
Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group says hiring Singletary was a mistake, with the team rushing into the decision as if eager to appease a fan base.
Monte Poole of Bay Area News Group says hiring a GM before hiring a coach is a wise move.
Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers are in their current mess because York brought them there. Ostler: "Twice in a row, York -- with assists from his mom and dad -- hired spectacularly wrong coaches. York, 29, has to get it right this time, because you know what the rule is in hiring people to lead your team: Three strikes and you're out ... unless you own the team, in which case you can take all the mulligans you want."
David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says York is conceding he needs help to field a winner.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are 2-1 with John Skelton as their starting quarterback even though Skelton has not completed even 50 percent of his passes in a game. Multiple return touchdowns put Skelton in position to win against Dallas. There was little sustainable about the performance on offense. Somers: "It's doubtful that Skelton will have shown the Cardinals enough to keep them from pursuing a veteran quarterback this off-season. Skelton has completed just 46 percent of his passes, and he has just one touchdown pass in 101 throws. But he does not have an interception, and he made two important throws during the game-winning drive against the Cowboys. The first was a 26-yarder to Larry Fitzgerald on fourth-and-15, and the second was a 19-yard pass to Max Komar, a play Skelton made after escaping pressure."
Also from Somers: Skelton does appear to do a good job keeping his composure.
More from Somers: Defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson has rejoined the team after a scare Saturday. Somers: "Secondary coach Donnie Henderson is back at work after missing last Saturday's game. Henderson apparently blacked out while driving down a ramp at the stadium and spent the night at a local hospital. Doctors are still evaluating tests, but it appears Henderson might have been dehyrdrated. He watched the game from the hospital. Given that two of Henderson's DBs returned interceptions for touchdowns, Henderson might have to beg to be in attendance for the finale against the 49ers."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says he thinks the Cardinals' defensive linemen are better suited for the 3-4 than for a 4-3 defense.
Also from Urban: The Cardinals are taking a wait-and-see approach at quarterback. Urban: "There was much praise coming from Whisenhunt Monday toward his young QB, but also much caution. Whisenhunt has repeatedly raved about Skelton’s accountability and temperament for the position. He noted the improvisation skills Skelton showed on the crucial pass to Max Komar -- on the move under pressure -- that set up the game-winning field goal, and the coolness in which Skelton found Larry Fitzgerald on fourth down. He likes the idea Skelton can scramble for a few yards when necessary. Yet there are still issues like calling plays, communicating the offense, even fumbling the snap that teammate Steve Breaston was forced to fall upon to save a turnover."
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo knows what critics might be thinking. Spagnuolo: "Here's what I know about this league: if you have one more point than they do at the end of the game, it all counts the same. The goal is to win the football game. Now again, I would say this. There may be another game going forward where you do it differently. We chose to do it this way, it happened to work out, so this time we were right. Could it have bitten us in the butt? Maybe, yeah. But just all things considered and the way it was going and what we were doing on both sides of the ball, I thought it was the right thing. ... And that's all on me. I'll take the full blame if there is blame, you put it that way."
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Danario Alexander is getting more playing time for the Rams.
Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says moving the Rams' Week 17 game to prime time hurts the local affiliate that had been carrying Rams games this season.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks ahead to the Rams' game at Seattle and wonders whether the team, and specifically Spagnuolo, will be uptight.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams seem fine with the idea of playing in prime time. James Laurinaitis: "I would be lying to you if I said I wasn't excited to play in this game. It's exciting. It's exciting for the fans, and it's exciting for us to be in a situation where all America is watching."
Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asks colleagues why the Rams were conservative with a lead against the 49ers. Thomas: "The Rams have a defensive-oriented head coach in Steve Spagnuolo, and that usually means a conservative approach offensively. Spagnuolo has enough confidence in his defense that he’s more than willing to put the game on their shoulders at various times. The tactic has worked most of the time against lesser teams and mediocre teams, but will it be the right thing to do when the Rams are matched up with elite teams in the future? Maybe we’ll find out in the playoffs."
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says the team hopes to get tight end Mike Hoomanawanui back from injury this week. Also: "The Rams will not be adjusting their travel schedule at all. They will travel on Saturday afternoon to Seattle and get in around the same time they normally would. The only change is a little different game day because of the wait for the game. But other than that, it will be business as usual."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com offers notes as the team prepares to face the Rams in Week 17. Coach Pete Carroll on left tackle Russell Okung: "Russell did reinjure his ankle some. He’s still hobbling a little bit. If you watch him closely, he’s not 100 percent. But he was determined to get back. The docs were trying to sit him down for a bit and let it rest. He said, 'I can go. I can go.' So we shoved him back out there and he did. He did a nice job of finishing the game. It’s a factor in his play. It is what it is. We’ve just got to keep trying to help him get through it."
Also from Farnsworth: Matt Hasselbeck is determined to play against the Rams, but the Seahawks are preparing as though Charlie Whitehurst will start at quarterback."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says, among other things, that the Seahawks cannot run against anyone. O'Neil: "Not even the Bucs, who were allowing a league-high 4.9 yards per carry entering the game with a defense missing defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Marshawn Lynch's 29-yarder in the first quarter was promising. Trouble was that one run accounted for nearly one-third of Seattle's rushing yardage in the game. Seattle still hasn't had a back rush for more than 100 yards this season."
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune offers highlights from Carroll's news conference Monday. Boling: "He acknowledged the oddity of a six-win team still contending for a playoff berth, calling it an 'interesting finish to the season.' "
Also from Boling: thoughts on this strange Seahawks season. Boling: "I saw this as a rebuilding season, with it taking time to assimilate and improve. Not one in which they would peak in October."
More from Boling: Whitehurst is the quarterback for now.
Liz Mathews of 710ESPN Seattle says Carroll was in a similar situation when he coached the Patriots.
XTRA910: fullback Mike Karney
101ESPN St. Louis: receiver Brandon Gibson
101ESPN St. Louis: defensive end Chris Long
101ESPN St. Louis: analyst Jim Hanifan
101ESPN St. Louis: running back Steven Jackson
101ESPN St. Louis: general manager Billy Devaney
KNBR680: center Eric Heitmann
KNBR680: nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin
KNBR680: snapper Brian Jennings
KNBR680: Carmen Policy
KNBR680: Mike Singletary
KNBR680: Ronnie Lott
KNBR680: reporter Matt Maiocco
49ers.com: Singletary video
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Former 49ers president Carmen Policy, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, says the team should do more to make sure its next stadium is in San Francisco. Easy for him to say, and arguably self-serving. Securing public funds to partially finance a football stadium -- the way business has gotten done in the NFL -- has been virtually impossible in California.
David Chiu of the San Francisco Chronicle says political will and cooperation from the 49ers -- not public financing -- should be enough to keep the 49ers in San Francisco. Chiu: "Now is the time for the 49ers to work with Mayor Gavin Newsom and our Board of Supervisors to complete plans for the proposed site in Bayview-Hunters Point. We need to envision a Super Bowl victory parade on Market Street with red-and-gold banners streaming up that great boulevard to a City Hall celebration rather than a march that would end at the Great America parking lot."
The San Francisco Chronicle provides comments from fans as to what San Francisco must do to keep the team's home games in San Francisco. Tony Daysog of Alameda: "Maybe I am just one of those people who don't get it. But, to me, it's not that big of a deal if the Niners leave the city of San Francisco. They will still be the San Francisco 49ers. Do the New York Giants play in New York? No."
Niners vice president Lisa Lang, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, explains why she thinks Santa Clara makes more sense than San Francisco for a 49ers stadium. Lang: "1. New freeway interchanges, roads and public transportation needed for the area would be funded from the sale of 10,000 new homes at Candlestick, which made it unclear when the infrastructure would be complete; 2. The developers' plan for game-day parking did not work for our fans; 3. The scale of the new development would have put fans in a construction zone for many years."
San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, writing in the Chronicle, says it's up to the 49ers to decide whether they want their new stadium in San Francisco. Newsom uses the word "but" four times, generally after indicating a desire to keep the 49ers in San Francisco. He sounded resigned to losing the 49ers to Santa Clara.
John Diaz of the San Francisco Chronicle says influential political consultant Jack Davis could influence the vote for a new stadium in Santa Clara if he chose to get involved.
Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News mocks Newsom and San Francisco, accusing both of "hard drive envy" in their attitude toward Santa Clara's relationship with the 49ers. Purdy: "Ever since the 49ers decided to cast their fate with Santa Clara, the hard drive envy has returned. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom still sounds completely baffled about why the NFL team would reject his city's fabulous plan for a new 49ers stadium to be built on a former toxic waste site that is almost impossible to reach from the nearest freeway."
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have no interest in former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress. Miklasz: "When new head coach Steve Spagnuolo was hired, he stressed the four pillars of his leadership, the four pillars that would rebuild the franchise: (1) Faith; (2) Character; (3) Core Values; (4) Team. Does that sound like Plaxico Burress to you?" Burress could be facing jail time.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says bouncing between nose tackle and three-technique tackle hasn't helped first-round choice Adam Carriker. Thomas: "Carriker's first two seasons were slightly disappointing, but in his defense he was bouncing around [from] NT to UT. He's more suited for UT, or 3-technique, it seems, and if he's left there, he might come around pretty quickly. [Clifton] Ryan has been pretty solid in the middle. The rest of the rotation is pretty much up in the air at this point. Rookie Darell Scott probably will be in there, and Orien Harris, too. As for [Claude] Wroten, I expect the Rams to release him as soon as he's reinstated. Of course, I could be wrong about that. But he doesn't seem to fit the Spags profile."
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Spagnuolo is stressing penalty reduction. Also: "Larry Grant worked with the first unit at strongside LB on Tuesday. That spot is open following the release of veteran Pisa Tinoisamoa. With second-round draftee James Laurinaitis still with the No. 2 unit, Chris Draft was at MLB with the ones."
Mike Swift of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers have reached agreement with Santa Clara on financing for a new stadium. Mayor Patricia Mahan: "I believe we have negotiated as far as we can, and we are ready to bring it to the public." The public could get a look at the deal next week.
Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle sizes up the 49ers' stadium efforts this way:"In this corner, there is Jed York, born to the purple and working on behalf of mom and dad to get the Santa Clara deal moving. In the other, there is Carmen Policy, Eddie DeBartolo's old wing man, working on behalf of Lennar, the folks who are trying to make the 49ers a new home at Hunters Point if the Santa Clara thing collapses. And in the middle -- leaning toward Jed -- is Eddie, who is about to be inducted into the 49ers' Hall of Fame, largely on Jed's initiative. We're sure the development is entirely coincidental and meritorious."
Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' other receivers seem to be embracing first-round choice Michael Crabtree, viewing him more as a threat to opponents than to their own playing time. If veteran Isaac Bruce is concerned, it's not showing. He has skipped the voluntary workouts to this point.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers players keep getting hurt during organized team activities (OTAs). Crumpacker: "The early diagnosis on [Walt] Harris was a sprained knee, with further evaluation to come. The 49ers are not deep at cornerback. Behind Harris on the depth chart is Tarell Brown and after him, there's Shawntae Spencer, who is coming off a 2008 knee injury that cost him 14 games."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the best-case scenario for Alex Smith and the 49ers would be for Shaun Hill to open the 2009 season as the starter. I think that depends on how the quarterbacks look during the offseason, specifically during the exhibition games. Is there a chance Smith wins the job and plays well for 16 games? Also, just to be clear, the 49ers also have no interest in Burress.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers' depth at receiver is being tested with Bruce away, Crabtree rehabilitating a foot injury and Jason Hill suffering a sprained ankle in practice.
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says new Cardinals running back Jason Wright is embracing the opportunity in Arizona. Wright: "It's an offense that puts players in the best position to win. It's an attacking offense, aggressive and it's not reactive. I love that about this offense. It's forward moving and it's very efficient. In fact, I was amazed during our first minicamp at how many completions there were and how few dropped balls and mental errors I saw. That's really rare. But they've got something really crisp going on."
Also from McManaman: Karlos Dansby expresses confidence in the Cardinals' ability to reach a long-term agreement with him.
Carrie Watters of the Arizona Republic details Arizona's failed bid to land the 2013 Super Bowl. New Orleans was more than a sentimental favorite.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Adrian Wilson, Sean Morey, Kenny Iwebema, Bertrand Berry and Chike Okeafor did not attend OTAs Monday. Urban expects them to show up later.
Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind sizes up Cardinals sixth-round choice Will Davis. Hawkwind: "It wouldn't be surprising at all, given the current depth at OLB, for Davis to spend the season on the practice squad. He has zero experience in space [and] his transition to OLB will be more difficult than second round pick Cody Brown. When you add in that he also needs to get stronger and possibly drop some weight, a year on the practice squad seems to make sense. If he does find his way onto the roster, it'll likely be because he's made a name for himself on special teams."
Gregg Bell of the Associated Press says Bryan Pittman's agent confirmed the long-snapper's contract agreement with the Seahawks.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com says vice president Joe Biden, speaking at Wake Forest's commencement, pointed to Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry as reason for optimism. Biden: "As a student of history, it's the history behind me and the people in front of me that give me such a degree of optimism. ... It's about Aaron Curry, a scrawny freshman linebacker recruited by only two schools, who worked his rear off, became a Top 5 pick, and is walking off this stage into an opposing NFL backfield. Aaron, I heard you wanted to go to law school -- you were considering going to graduate school. I also heard that your fellow draftees have taken up a collection encouraging you to go. So I'm sure there's a scholarship there if you want it."
John Morgan of Field Gulls outlines 10 keys for the Seahawks on defense. Darryl Tapp's emergence tops the list.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle looks at some of the 49ers' predraft visitors, noting that Aaron Maybin is the only top pass-rush specialist known to have visited. Crumpacker thinks Ole Miss tackle Michael Oher will be available when the 49ers pick at No. 10.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat isn't sure if Kentwan Balmer will become a good player, but the 49ers' first-round draft choice does seem to work hard. Balmer played about 18 percent of the snaps for the 49ers last seaon, according to a scout I know.
Also from Maiocco: Would the 49ers add a third quarterback to their competition for the starting job in 2009? Mark Sanchez visited team headquarters recently.
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider thinks B.J. Raji will go fourth to Seattle or fifth to Cleveland, assuming the defensive tackle did not test positive for drugs at the combine, as some reports have suggested. I don't see Raji as a likely candidate for Seattle after the team added Cory Redding and Colin Cole, but he would give them an interior defensive lineman to push the pocket.
Florida Danny of Niners Nation takes a look back at how the 49ers drafted under Carmen Policy from 1994 to 1998. An overemphasis on free agency at the expense of the draft might have contributed to the 49ers' eventual fall, he reasons.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals nose tackle Alan Branch is at a career crossroads after a disappointing start to his career. Branch: "Last year I really didn't understand how much the weight was important to the coaches. Last year, I thought even if I was a little overweight, even if I played well, it wouldn't matter. But what Coach Whisenhunt told me was not coming in at the weight he wanted proved that he couldn't fully trust me."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com looks back at Larry Fitzgerald's run through the playoffs. Fitzgerald: "The whole experience, those five weeks, man, the practices leading up to the game, it was just amazing. Simply amazing."
Matt Pawlikowski of the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal says Dan Kreider is happy to enhance the Pittsburgh flavor on the Cardinals' roster. Pawlikowski: "Kreider says he is not sure how much time he will see on the field considering the Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston. But [Ken] Whisenhunt has said he wants to run the ball more, so the Manheim Central graduate might figure prominently in 2009."
John Morgan of Field Gulls sizes up Oklahoma receiver Juaquin Iglesias as a potential choice for Seattle with the 68th overall choice in the draft. Morgan: "I'm a sucker for good route runners, and Iglesias is a good route runner. I'm gaga for players with poor timed speed that excelled at speed-dependent skills like rushing and returning. Iglesias was a top twenty return man his first two seasons, peaking at 28.48 yards per return in 2007, but saw his return production drop as his receiving production improved."
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com previews receivers available in the NFL draft. The Rams could certainly use one. Wagoner: "One year after taking two wideouts in the first four rounds, the Rams will again be on the hunt for help catching the ball in this year's draft. ... Armed with the No. 2 selection in the draft, the Rams have showed at least some interest in Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree and Mizzou's Jeremy Maclin. ... Perhaps more likely, though, is the possibility that the Rams would use a second or third round choice on a receiver."
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider revisits the relationship between 49ers legends Bill Walsh and Eddie DeBartolo. Lynch: "Because of the way things ended, I don't think Eddie ever got the credit he deserved. He was a master at hiring the right people, chief among them, Walsh. Walsh was known in football circles at that time, but that was about it. All he had done up to that point, in the view of many, was take Stanford to the Blue Bonnet Bowl. But Eddie and Carmen Policy saw something in him."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee checks in with new 49ers defensive end Demetric Evans via ESPN 980 in Washington, D.C. Evans on Mike Singletary's impact during the free-agent recruiting process: "Yeah, for one he's a Christian guy and not only did he meet with me privately, he met with me in front of some of the defensive players. He was just cutting it clean and dry [with them] saying, 'Hey, we're bringing Demetric to compete for the starting job. Hey, I want you to meet him. Hey, this is Takeo Spikes, Walt Harris.' So that made me feel more welcome when the team knows why you're coming in there and to have somebody there introducing you to some of the guys. It was very personal."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic quotes Matt Leinart as saying he won't ask for a trade from the Cardinals even though Kurt Warner appears likely to start for the next two seasons.
Also from Somers: A jovial Anquan Boldin shrugged off questions about his future in Arizona. Boldin: "Letting my agent take care of it; I'm completely out of that. I'm enjoying the off-season, and I plan on continuing to do that. When it gets done, it will get done. I can't worry about when, or if, it's going to happen. The only thing I can do right now is take care of myself, continue to work out, stay in shape, enjoy the off-season. Because the season comes around quick."
Matthew Heuett of Seahawk Addicts explains why he thinks safety Brian Russell gets a bad rap. Some Seahawks fans I encounter do hold Russell responsible for a disproportionate number of problems on defense. The coaching staff obviously hasn't agreed with that sentiment, at least not to a strong enough degree to make a lineup change. My primary criticism of Russell relates to his tackling. Sometimes he hits guys with a shoulder, failing to wrap up, allowing receivers and running backs to gain extra yardage.
Free-agent fullback Mike Karney could draw interest from the Rams this week. The Rams are looking for a traditional fullback. The 258-pound Karney could fit the profile. Here is what Scouts Inc. once said about the recently released Saints fullback: "Lacks athleticism after the catch but will get upfield and provide a physical finish. As a lead blocker Karney is inconsistent with pad level on contact and will get upright at times. Has some pop but is not a consistently strong finisher. Does a good job taking advantage of off-balance defenders and he will unload on stationary targets. Doesn't have great adjustment skills and will look slow sifting through traffic to find LBs not in the hole. Struggles against quickness in pass protection, lacking good feet to slide-and-mirror, but will find a way to get a piece of blitzers. Overall, Karney is an effective starter who has size and plays with good effort."