NFC West: Chase Beeler

Our two-day look at NFC West rosters continues with projections for the San Francisco 49ers' offense.

Quarterbacks (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.1

Safest bets: Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Josh Johnson

Leading contenders: none

Longer odds: Scott Tolzien

Comment: Johnson has more experience than Kaepernick and could project as the No. 2 quarterback if an injury forced Smith from the lineup on short notice. Johnson's history with coach Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego probably helps his chances in that regard. Kaepernick gets a chance this summer to prove he's ready to take the next step following a more regular offseason. Tolzien could project for the practice squad.

Running backs (9)

Average number kept since 2003: 4.9

Safest bets: Frank Gore, LaMichael James, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, Bruce Miller

Leading contenders: Rock Cartwright, Anthony Dixon

Longer odds: Jewel Hampton, Cameron Bell

Comment: Moran Norris is out after spending five of the past six seasons as a 49ers fullback. That was one of many changes in the backfield this offseason. Jacobs' arrival suggests Dixon must step up his game significantly to stick on the roster -- and will probably have to demonstrate special-teams value as well. He won't be able to compete with Miller or Cartwright in that regard. If the 49ers find a way to keep six running backs, Cartwright would likely be in the picture almost exclusively for his special-teams value. Hampton could be a candidate for the practice squad.

Wide receivers (11)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.7

Safest bets: Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, A.J. Jenkins

Leading contenders: Kyle Williams, Ted Ginn Jr.

Longer odds: Brett Swain, Joe Hastings, Nathan Palmer, Chris Owusu, Brian Tyms

Comment: The first four appear set as long as Moss continues on his current trajectory. The 49ers kept five at the position in Week 1 last season. Despite talk of opening up the offense, the team could have a hard time justifying six roster spots for wideouts for a coaching staff that seems to relish using multiple tight ends. Williams and Ginn carry obvious special-teams value in the return game, a huge consideration. I have a hard time envisioning the 49ers, stung by Williams' miscues in the NFC Championship Game, taking undue chances in the return game at Green Bay in the opener. Ginn is the most proven return specialist on the team and a game-breaker when healthy. Owusu could be a candidate for the practice squad.

Tight ends (5)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.9

Safest bets: Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker

Leading contenders: Nate Byham, Konrad Reuland

Longer odds: Garrett Celek

Comment: Byham was emerging as a top-flight blocking tight end before a knee injury ended his 2011 season during training camp. Reuland, then an undrafted rookie, had a chance to gain ground while spending last season on the practice squad. Reuland played for Harbaugh and staff at Stanford.

Offensive linemen (15)

Average number kept since 2003: 9.0

Safest bets: Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Daniel Kilgore, Joe Looney

Leading contenders: Mike Person, Jason Slowey

Longer odds: Derek Hall, David Gonzales, Garrett Chisolm, Chase Beeler, Kenny Wiggins, Al Netter

Comment: Boone has become the prohibitive favorite to start at right guard even though he remains in the early stages of a conversion from tackle. Boone could move back to tackle if the 49ers were to lose Staley or Davis to injury. Boone remains the third-best tackle on the team. Kilgore once stood as a candidate at right guard, but he now projects as Goodwin's eventual successor at center. Looney, a rookie fourth-round choice, could be the long-term right guard, but he's recovering from foot surgery.
The following recently released and waived/injured NFC West players are eligible for practice squads if they clear waivers:
Arizona Cardinals

Jared Campbell, Marshay Green, Sean Jeffcoat, Ricky Lumpkin, Jeremy Navarre, Aaron Nichols, Bryant Nnabuife, Kris O'Dowd, Tom Pestock, William Powell, Steve Skelton, Kendall Smith, Thad Turner, Isaiah Williams, D.J. Young.

St. Louis Rams

Damario Ambrose, Tim Atchison, DeMarco Cosby, Tae Evans, Marlon Favorite, Pete Fleps, Cody Habben, John Henderson, Kevin Hughes, Randall Hunt, Thaddeus Lewis, Greg Mathews, Jeremy McGee, Ryan McKee, Jonathan Nelson, Fendi Onobun, Chase Reynolds, Van Stumon.

San Francisco 49ers

Chase Beeler, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Brian Bulcke, Jack Corcoran, Phillip Davis, Derek Hall, Joe Hastings, Chris Hogan, Ronald Johnson, Alex Joseph, Chris Maragos, Cory Nelms, Xavier Omon, Konrad Reuland, Kenny Rowe, Sealver Siliga, Monte Simmons, Curtis Taylor, Kenny Wiggins.

Seattle Seahawks

Pierre Allen, Dorson Boyce, Chris Carter, Paul Fanaika, Maurice Fountain, David Howard, Michael Johnson, Jameson Konz, Mark LeGree, Ricardo Lockette, Michael Morgan, Josh Pinkard, William Robinson, Owen Spencer, Vai Taua, Patrick Williams.

A few younger players are not eligible, including former St. Louis Rams receiver Mardy Gilyard, who spent 11 games on the game-day roster last season. Players with no accrued seasons or fewer than nine appearances on game-day rosters in their only accrued season are among those eligible. Players can spend a third season on a team's practice squad as long as their team keeps its 53-man roster full at all times.
Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle passes along thoughts from John Clayton on Seattle's options in free agency. Clayton: "I think by [Tuesday] Tarvaris Jackson could be agreeing to a deal that's going to make him a Seahawk. ... Everything I heard today, he's on a fast-track waiting for that offer and he's willing to take it."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks have told Stacy Andrews they play to release the veteran tackle. Andrews had an outside shot at becoming the right tackle until the team used a first-round draft choice for James Carpenter. Andrews' salary was a factor. He was scheduled to earn $5.25 million, plus a $500,000 workout bonus. The team will have to pay $100,000 of that workout bonus if it releases Andrews before Friday. Teams can begin releasing players Thursday.

Also from O'Neil: a look at the Seahawks' priorities in free agency. O'Neil: "The team's preference remains re-signing Matt Hasselbeck, but that doesn't mean the Seahawks are inclined to increase the offer they made him in March. In fact, it's quite possible -- perhaps even likely -- they'll hold firm." My understanding is that the offer made before free agency likely will not be there now.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks need to make a decision on Hasselbeck. Brewer: "The Seahawks' challenge is to find the best placeholder until they identify their next franchise quarterback. In this case, it might be more enticing to give someone new a chance rather than stick with the old guy. Can the Seahawks do better than Hasselbeck? It's debatable. Can they do worse? Oh, that's the scary part of this movie."

Ben Malcolmson of seahawks.com posts photos Rod Mar took around team headquarters as the team prepared for free agency. Ken Norton Jr., Pete Carroll and John Schneider were among those making the cut.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com looks back at the Seahawks' 2002 season. Farnsworth: "Matt Hasselbeck led the NFC in completion percentage (.637) and was second in passer rating (87.8) while throwing for 3,075 yards and 15 TDs in 10 starts."

Christian Caple of seattlepi.com rounds up reported contract agreements for Seattle involving rookie free agents.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune catches up with Lofa Tatupu and Golden Tate on the golf course. They were playing in a charity tournament in Tacoma. Tatupu said the team should could win another NFC West title with Hasselbeck. Tatupu: "Absolutely. With the knowledge he has and our new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell coming in and his scheme, it kind of takes him back to from what I’ve heard the Holmgren era, and puts him in that true West Coast system, where he gets to his timing routes. And there’s nobody better than Hasselbeck when you give him protection and a running game, which from my feeling with what we did in the draft, with our first two picks being offensive linemen, I think they are building on trying to get him that protection and get him comfortable. As far as I’m concerned, when you get him protection and get him in his zone, I don’t think there’s much better."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune considers whether Seattle should bring back Hasselbeck. Boling: "As for his place in the market, Hasselbeck is more valuable to an established team lacking only a quarterback than to a Seahawks team rebuilding in so many areas. Another club could easily woo him with a longer and more lucrative deal. It’s clear he’s not the long-range answer here, so he might relish the chance of getting another shot at a ring with another club, despite his often-stated affection for the community."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with the Cardinals for thoughts on free agency and the trading period. Whisenhunt: ""It's going to go from zero to 100 from a working perspective for us. It's going to be 24 hours a day, seven days a week just because of the volume of what you have to get done."

Also from Somers: setting the scene at Cardinals headquarters. Somers: "The second floor of the Cardinals' Tempe facility could look more like a call center Tuesday than the offices of coaches and front-office executives. It's the first day of negotiations for free agents and trades, and by the time the football people see their families again, the kids will have grown a foot, gone off to college, or both. Practically everyone who knows a 3-technique from a 3-iron is being called into duty as the NFL begins its mad season at 7 a.m."

More from Somers: Cardinals players will begin reporting Thursday. They'll head to training camp at Northern Arizona University on Friday.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com passes along a photo showing Larry Fitzgerald on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch expects the Rams to practice beginning Saturday. Coats: "Although nothing is official yet, it looks as if the St. Louis Rams will have their first training camp practice on Saturday -- two weeks before their preseason opener vs. the Colts on Aug. 13 at the Edward Jones Dome. Rams players would report for physicals and other pre-camp activities on Friday. The team will hold training camp at Rams Park for the third year in a row."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams players are ready to dive back into work. Guard Adam Goldberg: "I think here in St. Louis we have a great football season ahead of us, I just hope to be a part of it. I love the locker room. I love my teammates. I love playing for Spags. I love my line coach (Steve Loney). I'm excited to play in (offensive coordinator) Josh McDaniels' system. I think it'll be explosive and dynamic. So this is obviously a great situation for me. Then again it's a business, so we'll have to see how things work it."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com outlines the Rams' upcoming schedule. Wagoner: "The Rams cannot hold a padded practice until Monday, August 1. In addition, they will not hold an actual practice until Saturday as Friday is for reporting, physicals and meetings."

VanRam of Turf Show Times rounds up reported contract agreements for the Rams.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com lists undrafted free agents expected to sign with the 49ers. On Notre Dame nose tackle Ian Williams: "In nine games last season, he recorded 38 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He played against Stanford throughout his career, and said that experience of playing against Jim Harbaugh's team every season was beneficial."

Also from Maiocco: Harbaugh has some nervous energy heading into 49ers camp. Harbaugh: "We had scheduled two-a-days as part of our plan, but the plan has changed. There are new rules that will go into affect this training camp. There's been a lot of thinking, how best to manage the time we have. The teaching, the quality reps on the field, who can do that best will get the leg up. It takes some thinking through."

More from Maiocco: thoughts on Hasselbeck and the 49ers. Maiocco: "Why would the 49ers add Hasselbeck via free agency? The answer is simple: The 49ers believe Hasselbeck would be an upgrade over Carr and he could supply serious competition for Alex Smith."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee looks at undrafted free agents expected to sign with the 49ers. On Stanford center Chase Beeler: "CBS Sports ranked him as the 15th-best center in the draft. Earned second team All-Pac-10 Conference honors in his first season as Stanford's starting center after taking over for Alex Fletcher ... made a smooth transition from left guard to the center position ... started all 13 games and played a key role on a line that allowed the fewest sacks (7) in the Pac-10 and helped pave the way for the top rushing attack in school history (2,837) ... earned second team All-Pac-10 academic honors ... recipient of the Vardell Award as the player who best combines athletics and academics."

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News offers a transcript from Harbaugh's media session. Harbaugh: "As I understand it, our own unrestricted free agents will be allowed in the building tomorrow right up until the time that we start training camp on Thursday then they will not be in the building until Friday when they can sign. That’s the way I understand the rule."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News also reports from Harbaugh's news conference. Harbaugh: "I can’t tell you how good it’s going to be having those guys in the building, face to face, knee to knee, smelling their breath, just getting to know them and letting them know me. That’s what I’m looking forward to most."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com offers more thoughts on Steve Largent and Walter Jones in asking fans to name the best player in franchise history. Both were highly consistent and among the very best at their positions. Both had longevity. I would give the tiebreaker to Jones based on superior talent. He was frighteningly athletic. Not that Largent would be a bad choice. Will Lewis on Largent: "The crazy thing about it, he could come off the line and be looking one way, but the body is going the other way. The body control was just amazing. And then he had those strong ankles. He could just stick his foot in the ground and then be gone. You’d be breaking one way and he’d be breaking the other way, because he could make his cuts at full speed. It was enlightening. And I had a chance to see him every day for two years because I was always the nickel or dime corner with the first defense, so the No. 1 offense was always going against the young guys in practice. So we saw plenty of Steve Largent."

Also from Farnsworth: a look back at the 1980 Seahawks.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune takes a closer look at Seahawks rookie cornerback Byron Maxwell, a sixth-round selection. Williams: "There’s no denying that Maxwell has the physical ability to play in the NFL. At 6-foot-1 and 207 pounds, he bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times, ran a 4.46 40-yard dash and broad jumped 10 feet, 4 inches, all marks that placed him among the top 10 corners at February’s NFL scouting combine. Maxwell, 21, is a hard hitter and was a valuable special teams player at Clemson, finishing with 45 career special-teams tackles. But what Maxwell will have to prove is that he has fluid enough hip movement and route anticipation to remain a corner for Seattle, where he will receive some intense competition for a spot on the final roster with players who already have some experience in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s system."

Monte Poole of Bay Area News Group says Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is making an effort at self-improvement.

ESPN's John Clayton sounds skeptical when asked whether Matt Hasselbeck would want to play for the Titans. I agree, particularly if he's seeking job security beyond one season. Jake Locker projects as the Titans' likely starter in 2012. The situation in Seattle appears less settled for the long term unless the Seahawks make a bold move for another veteran quarterback this offseason.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals and other NFL teams will be slammed once a new labor agreement is in place. Urban: "It’s going to be even more work than normal too, since many reports say the teams will have 90 on the roster instead of 80 for camp, a little more leeway for injuries and such in this uncertain season. You have to figure resolving the QB situation will be at the top of the to-do list, but then which way does it go? Are the Cards able to keep guys like Lyle Sendlein, Steve Breaston and Deuce Lutui? How many undrafted free agents are going to be targeted? More important, which veteran free agents will the team chase? And where does Larry Fitzgerald’s extension fit in?"

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers would sign about 30 players if the next labor agreement included 90-man rosters for the 2011 season. About half of those 30 players would be undrafted college free agents, he estimates. Maiocco on the 49ers: "They can be expected to make an offer to Louisville quarterback and Santa Rosa native Adam Froman, who might also consider the Miami Dolphins as a landing spot. Stanford offensive linemen Chase Beeler and Derek Hall also are possible 49ers targets."

Also from Maiocco: why moving Nate Clements to safety would make no sense for the 49ers or Clements. Cornerbacks do sometimes move to safety later in their careers, but financial and personnel-related realities diminish the likelihood for such a conversion involving Clements in San Francisco heading into the 2011 season.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee looks at one potential NFL calendar from a 49ers perspective.

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says Bruce Miller faces a significant transition in his move from playmaking defender in college to fullback with the 49ers. Miller: "Everything is so different on the other side of the ball. There are all brand-new terms. There are things that are common knowledge for offensive players and fullbacks that I'm just picking up. Learning these things -- the terminology -- is going to be the hardest part."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com confirms reports saying the Rams will hold training camp at their St. Louis-area headquarters for a third time in three seasons under coach Steve Spagnuolo. Wagoner: "Times and dates for this year’s camp will be announced at a later date. As has been the case the past couple of years, the Rams will have open practices for fans to attend throughout camp. Those specific days will also be announced later on." The Rams' headquarters are convenient to the airport. Fans can enjoy clear sight lines to the practice fields. On the downside, hot and humid weather often make camp less enjoyable than if the Rams secured another venue. And the setting within a business park cannot compete with what the Rams would likely encounter if they held camp at a college or university.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com looks at the unsettled nature of the Cardinals' offensive line. Center Lyle Sendlein and guard Deuce Lutui do not have contracts for 2011. Urban: "Free agency will determine the path of the line. Sendlein remains a favorite of the coaching staff and figures to stay in the spot he has had since 2008. Lutui is a much bigger wild card, given his disappointment in the past to not have his contract extended and his desire for a large payday. [Brandon] Keith is a work-in-progress, but the Cards think he can still develop into a solid tackle (and he spent the 2009 season as a backup guard, so he is able to play both positions if necessary). That flexibility could help depending on who the Cards sign and/or re-sign." There were signs Keith was improving before an injury ended his 2010 season. Overall, however, the Cardinals simply haven't invested much in young offensive linemen since selecting Levi Brown fifth overall in 2007. They have not drafted one in the first three rounds of the past four drafts.

Also from Urban: Cardinals staffer Rolando Cantu recently assisted at the scene of a car accident that left a young man with serious injuries.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com revisits Chuck Knox's final season as head coach, explaining why Knox fell out of favor with ownership despite a successful run. Farnsworth: "Call it a clash of strong personalities between Knox -- who was old school, yet still cool -- and owner Ken Behring. After the Seahawks’ early success under Knox, the team never won more than nine games in his final five seasons. His philosophy had morphed into keeping games as close as possible and then trying to make a play to win them in the fourth quarter. Behring wanted more bang for his buck, not bang the drum slowly." That led Behring to push for selecting Dan McGwire in the first round of the 1991 draft, a move that never sat well with Knox.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy, who is putting on a football camp for kids in the Tacoma area. Williams: "Partnering with Sports International Football Camps, Milloy hosted his first camp in Parkland this week, with Seahawks teammates Deon Butler and Marshawn Lynch chipping in to make appearances in order to teach kids the ins and outs of the game. But Milloy didn’t just pop in to show his face and talk for five minutes. He spent quality time working with kids in individual drills." Butler and Lynch also helped out. Butler has recovered from his season-ending knee injury well enough to run routes and catch passes.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says quarterback Alex Smith is taking a stronger leadership role than ever as the San Francisco 49ers hold player-organized practices. Tight end Vernon Davis: "He's more of a leader than he's ever been at this point. I've never seen Alex like this, 'taking charge' is what I call it. It's Alex taking charge. He's in the classroom walking us through everything, talking about all the plays. He's taking all the snaps. And he's really being a leader out there. That's what Alex should've been doing. But it takes time for some guys to get to where you need to be." My thoughts.

The 49ers' website catches up with former player Gordy Soltau, a candidate for the team's Hall of Fame. Soltau: "I was excited when I got traded out here in 1950. I was with Cleveland at the time when Coach Paul Brown told me, 'You can stay here, but Buck Shaw wants you so badly. I’m going to let you go if you want to go.' Then he said, 'You know you probably won’t play much for us this year, but if you go to San Francisco, you can play right now.' So I said, 'I’ll go.' "

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News offers thoughts on the 49ers' practices.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says draft-day stories about Colin Kaepernick using Andrew Luck as a resource never really panned out.

Eric Branch of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with undrafted center Chase Beeler, who played for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. Beeler: "I can tell them what my experience was at Stanford in terms of pairings of plays, particular packages that you might see -- a power paired with a particular pass or what have you. But still I have to assume the circumstances in which they’re implementing the playbook are a little different at the next level in the NFL. So there’s going to be some variance there. I’m sure a certain percentage of whatever I’m able to tell them is ultimately going to be useful, but I don’t know that I’m able to give them some kind of grand insight that’s going to bring the whole offense together."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says finding a center must be a priority for the 49ers after Eric Heitmann's neck surgery. Barrows: "David Baas, who played guard his first five seasons in the league, filled in last year at center and remains the team's top option at the position. Baas, an unrestricted free agent, attended one day of the 49ers' previous player-run minicamp -- a good indication he plans to re-sign with the team -- but has not attended the current camp. The 49ers, who have known since last year that Heitmann's status was uncertain, drafted accordingly. They selected Appalachian State's Daniel Kilgore in the fifth round and Montana State's Mike Person in the seventh round, and they plan to see what each can do at both center and guard."

VanRam of Turf Show Times notes that ESPN.com has made Steven Jackson the Rams' highest-ranked player for fantasy purposes. We've spent a fair amount of time this offseason discussing whether Jackson has lost a step and what he might offer for the future. Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. put it this way earlier in the offseason: "He struggles to run away from tacklers and break long runs. And he just isn't as nifty as he once was. This sounds like I am a Jackson 'Hater,' which I am not. In fact, I think that the new offense being installed by Josh McDaniels could do Jackson a world of good, as could the maturation of Sam Bradford."

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