NFC West: Chris Carlisle

Sizing up NFC West coaching staffs

April, 10, 2012
A few notes on NFC West coaching staffs after the St. Louis Rams announced theirs for 2012 in a news release Tuesday:
  • The Rams are not listing suspended defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on their staff. They did not mention him in the news release. They did not list a defensive coordinator. Coach Jeff Fisher and assistant head coach Dave McGinnis will presumably take the lead. Secondary coach Chuck Cecil has also been a coordinator.
  • Williams' son, Blake, coaches the Rams' linebackers.
  • The Cardinals have 3-4 fewer assistants than the other teams in the division. I've noticed that to be the case in recent seasons. Staff sizes can vary. Arizona has one more than the NFL listed for New England heading into the most recent Super Bowl.
  • Every team in the division has an assistant head coach. Two serve as offensive line coaches. Another coaches special teams. Assistant head coaches might earn more money than they otherwise would, but the title does not distinguish them from other assistants in relation to hiring protocol. The title affords no additional protections against losing an assistant to another team, in other words.
  • Paul Boudreau is the Rams' offensive line coach. His son, also named Paul, is assistant special teams coach. They are not Paul Sr. and Paul Jr., however. It's not yet clear how the Rams intend to differentiate between the two. Middle initials?
  • Niners offensive assistant Michael Christianson is also coordinator of football technology.

The chart lists full-time assistants, not interns or administrative assistants. Strength-and-conditioning coaches aren't involved in football strategy, but I have listed them.
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has this to say about Sam Bradford from the Rams' player-run practices: "He has grown quickly and confidently into the job, and now is well on his way to the same sort of franchise quarterback/quasi-assistant head coach status that only the elite star QBs like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady hold." Bradford said he has tapped into unnamed players familiar with new coordinator Josh McDaniels' offense. Bradford: "I feel pretty good with it. I spent quite a bit of time (studying) since I got (the playbook). Now it's just a matter of getting (repetitions). You can look at something on paper all day and it will make sense, but until you get on the field and actually run through it a couple of times, you don't actually know how it will play out and you don't know what the timing will be. So the more you work on it, the more you get the timing down."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams rookies Lance Kendricks and Greg Salas are staying at Bradford's house and soaking up as much as they can about the offense while attending practices Monday through Thursday. Salas: "It's great to get out here, get to know the guys, and get to know the offense and everything we're going to have to be learning. You can see the difference with the leadership and the maturity of the men out here. I haven't got to experience a full NFL practice yet, with the coaches and pads and everything. I'm looking forward to that as well."

Also from the Post-Dispatch: a photo gallery featuring shots from practice. The second one shows Bradford holding up a play card for Trips Right 64 Bundle Flare.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides an overview from Rams practice. He lists all 30 players in attendance and notes that several others either arrived later Monday or planned to arrive soon. Linemen were not asked to show up because there wouldn't be much for them to do given the non-contact nature of drills. However, five offensive linemen were already working out in the area, so they showed up. Linebacker James Laurinaitis: "We got some good work in. There was a lot of timing stuff for the 'O' (offense). And some refreshers on the calls and stuff for the defense. I was pleased with the turnout."

Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis offers thoughts and details from Rams practice. Softli: "All players were sent through foot quickness drills (a circuit), ropes, short sprints run over and around dummies in individual drill work. While Bradford put his receivers through a fast paced route-tree session and followed that up with a group session, his timing and anticipation was very good, crisp and accurate. Before they ended the last segment because of the storm that rolled in quickly, a 7-on-7 drill with the defense shadowing was running very smoothly."

Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis says Bradford's work ethic and status as a gym rat give him a chance to excel.

Clare Farnsworth of sees parallels between former Seattle receiver Bobby Engram and current 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Engram, now on the 49ers' staff as an entry-level assistant, also hopes to advance through the ranks. Engram: "Jim is just a football junkie. The thing that I really appreciate is before I signed up here I talked to him on the phone for about half an hour and he basically walked the exact same path that I’m walking now. He got done playing, went to Oakland for a few years, went to San Diego and coached there, went to Stanford and now he’s back in the league. That gave me a lot of confidence, just kind of confirming what I was thinking. Having him actually go through it, he knows what I’m going through. So I can go talk to him if I have any questions. He’s walked the path, and it’s a good thing."

Also from Farnsworth: a look at differences between the 25th and 35th all-time teams for Seattle. Mack Strong over John L. Williams was a tough one. Strong was so valuable as a blocker for some of the Seahawks' best teams. Williams was so much more productive as a rusher and receiver. Each went to two Pro Bowls.

More from Farnsworth: Former Seahawks center Robbie Tobeck has no regrets after walking away from football when he had nothing left to give. Tobeck: "One thing I really cherish about playing here, when you’ve got to work for something -- and we did -- there are always those challenges in your path. It’s so rewarding when you work so hard and you finally overcome that mountain. Then there’s another one in your way. But it was fun. It was a fun experience."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seahawks strength-and-conditioning coach Chris Carlisle, who would be much busier if the lockout wasn't preventing players from stepping foot inside NFL team facilities. Williams: "I hate not being around the athletes and not being able to work with them. But instead, I’ve spent time reading, researching and figuring out how to do it better at this level than it’s been done before. And that kind of carries on what Pete talks about."

Matt Maiocco of says the 49ers would normally be finishing up 14 weeks of organized team activities in early June, but the lockout has prevented them from practicing at team headquarters all offseason. Maiocco: "The only time the new 49ers' staff has been able to provide on-field coaching was April 20, when 50 NFL hopefuls attended the local pro day for draft-eligible players. Currently, approximately 15 players are meeting four days a week to work out on their own in the South Bay. They get together to lift weights, condition, throw and catch some passes, and socialize. They must be careful not to push themselves too far and risk injury. If a player sustains an injury during these workouts, the team would not be liable to pay his 2011 base salary."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree plans to join teammates, including Alex Smith, for workouts in the near future. Barrows: "Chemistry issues between the two early last season led to a number of critical interceptions and to 49ers losses. Crabtree, the No. 10 overall draft pick in 2009, has never appeared in a preseason game. He missed the exhibition season his rookie year due to a protracted contract dispute that also wiped away the first five games of the regular season."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News quotes 49ers cornerback Nate Clements as saying he plans to return for the 2011 season, but there's no word on how much of a pay reduction Clements would accept to make that happen.

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick will try to buck a trend of underwhelming second-round quarterbacks. More here.

Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal says the Cardinals and other Phoenix-area sports franchises are redoubling efforts to retain season-ticket holders. Sunnucks: "Part of that Cardinals effort is to have sales representatives reach out to ticket holders to answer questions about the lockout and the Arizona team’s prospects next season. The latest effort in that strategy was Cards ticket reps calling season-ticket holders and prospective buyers after the NFL draft in late April. The Cardinals missed the playoffs last season after two straight post-season appearances. Season-ticket holders have until June 1 to renew their seats with the Cards, though the team may allow some flexibility. The team is promising refunds with interest if the lockout results in missed games." The Cardinals have sold out every game at University of Phoenix Stadium, but their 5-11 record last season could conspire with the lockout to put that streak in jeopardy. Making an aggressive move for a quarterback would help.

Around the NFC West: Bradford meets OC

February, 17, 2011
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels are meeting at team headquarters, as expected. Thomas: "Bradford was at Rams Park on Wednesday, and according to team sources got in a workout in the weight room and said hello to the coaches. There was no indication of any lengthy meeting between McDaniels and Bradford. But at least they've met, and Bradford is back in town after spending the early part of the offseason at home in Oklahoma."

Also from Thomas: The Rams might relocate training camp because coach Steve Spagnuolo likes getting away in an effort to build camaraderie. The team has looked at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, located about 100 miles from St. Louis in Rolla, Mo. Thomas: "Missouri S&T had not come up in discussions of possible training camp sites until now. Spagnuolo and Bruce Warwick -- the Rams' assistant to the head coach for football operations -- have toured the facility. A follow-up meeting was canceled because of bad weather. Missouri S&T's football team, the Miners, competes as an independent in Division II of the NCAA. By NFL standards, the Miners' facilities are said to be so-so. Several grass fields are available but there is not an artificial turf field. The football stadium, Allgood-Bailey Stadium, seats 8,000 and also has a grass surface. Without an artificial turf field, the Rams would be more vulnerable to rain during training camp. And the Miners have a small indoor facility, 40 yards by 40 yards."

Ben Malcolmson of provides a general update on what's happening around the facility during a relatively quiet time during the offseason. Malcolmson: "Although strength coaches aren’t permitted to direct strength and conditioning sessions, they are on hand to monitor for safety and watch over the voluntary player workouts." Strength coach Chris Carlisle says players are working out routinely.

Clare Farnsworth of says the team heads toward the draft and potential free agency hoping to upgrade its offensive line. Farnsworth: "Because the Seahawks are selecting 25th, the top candidates -- Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo and USC tackle Tyron Smith -- are expected to be gone by the time they make their first pick. But it definitely helps that the O-line group is what senior personnel executive Scot McCloughan calls the best he has seen in his 16 years in the NFL; so good that as many as eight could go in the first round."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with draft analyst Rob Rang for thoughts on receivers who might interest Seattle. Rang: "Wide receiver is an area of concern; they need another playmaker. But having invested the picks they have in back-to-back years in Deon Butler and Golden Tate, you’ve got to expect that these guys are going to start to contribute. To me, with the other needs on this team, to invest another pick at the receiver position is almost like a luxury pick at this point, especially considering they don’t have a third-round pick."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt likes the new structure of his coaching staff. Somers: "With [Mike] Miller's promotion, Whisenhunt's staff is set for this season, barring unforeseen developments. Ray Horton, the Steelers secondary coach, was hired as defensive coordinator. Louie Cioffi, the assistant secondary coach with the Bengals, was hired as defensive backs coach, and former Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend was hired as assistant secondary coach. Former defensive coordinator Bill Davis, secondary coach Donnie Henderson and assistant secondary coach Rick Courtright were not retained."

Darren Urban of casts Miller's promotion to offensive coordinator as part of a progression. Urban: "Coach Ken Whisenhunt had said after the season he expected to consider handing playcalling duties to Miller full-time, and the promotion seemingly would be a precursor."

Also from Urban: Miller rolled with Whisenhunt's joke about the head coach calling only the good plays. Miller: "He’s the head coach, so, what do they say? 'It’s good to be king.'"

Matt Maiocco of says the 49ers' Frank Gore plans to resume running Feb. 28 after recovering from a hip injury suffered last season. Gore: "I will be better. I will take it one day at a time. I'm just happy to say that my injury healed perfectly. And right now I'm trying to get some strength, and in another week start running."

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers' coaches expect to have no contact with players during a lockout, and they would not even send home written materials, including a playbook, with them under those circumstances. The Rams' Bradford previously said he expected to have playbook in hand this offseason, no matter what, but Bradford was not speaking definitively on the matter. I'm checking on what is permitted. Coach Jim Harbaugh has repeatedly discussed meeting with quarterback Alex Smith multiple times this offseason.

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers special teams coach Brad Seely also expects no contact with players before March 14 or until a labor agreement is in place, whichever comes later.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee checks in with 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio for thoughts on whether the 49ers need a top cornerback, a top pass-rusher or both, and in what order. Barrows: "Asked about his pass-rushers, it was interesting that Fangio cited Ahmad Brooks -- 'He played some for them last year and showed some potential' -- before starter Parys Haralson." Fangio on Haralson: "Obviously, he's a guy that has some ability, but he hasn't done it to this point. And we have to figure out why he hasn't done it on a consistent basis. Can he or can't he?"

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa-Press Democrat looks at how labor uncertainty affects the 49ers.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman plans to dig up videos showing former coach Bill Walsh installing his offense.

Setting the scene on draft day

April, 22, 2010
RENTON, Wash. -- You aren't the only one biding your time til the NFL draft begins at 7:30 p.m. ET.

NFL people are waiting, too.

The Seahawks have set up their draft-day media center in a defensive meeting room. Peter King of Sports Illustrated is among those here to see how Seattle uses two of the top 14 choices in the draft (no other team has more than one pick that early). ESPN's Brock Huard is hosting a radio show for 101ESPN Seattle from a table nearby. Another former NFL and University of Washington quarterback, Hugh Millen, is here for 950KJR.

Former 49ers linebackers Ken Norton Jr. and Jeff Ulbrich walked past recently as part of a group featuring former Seahawks cornerback Kris Richard. All three are assistants under Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. They've got time to kill.

We're about an hour away from putting St. Louis on the clock.

Should be a fun night.

Update: ESPN's Shelley Smith is here also. She filed this report:
The buzz is starting to pick up at the Seahawks' facility. Just popped into Pete Carroll's corner office with an amazing view of Lake Washington and its own bathroom! He was on the phone talking to his son, Brennan, and then later walked down the hall into the cafeteria to grab a cookie.

A bunch of players were around this morning, working out, watching film. One was Mike Williams, the former USC wide receiver who just signed a one-year contract with the Seahawks. Another was former Oregon center Max Unger, who was headed home to see where his fellow Ducks would land.

Most of the coaches went home early last night and stayed away until lunchtime, some getting a quick workout in in the massive weight facility, which has garage-like doors that open onto the three outdoor practice fields and a hill strength coach Chris Carlisle uses for conditioning.

The draft room is around the corner from where we, the media, are hanging out drinking coffee. I'm told it will contain just a few people to keep it orderly and quiet. That said, I'm sure the noise factor will start to heat up as the first round nears.

Sizing up NFC West coaching staffs

February, 4, 2010
MIAMI -- With the Seahawks announcing their 2010 coaching staff, I went through every NFC West team's staff to produce a chart allowing for easy comparison.

It's pretty clear the Cardinals do more with less than the other teams in the division. They have fewer assistants than the other teams in the NFC West.

In most cases, I have recreated official titles for each assistant coach. That explains why the Cardinals have no offensive coordinator listed (Russ Grimm coordinates the running game, Mike Miller coordinates the passing game and Ken Whisenhunt calls the plays). I did not create a special category for 49ers receivers coach Jerry Sullivan (he also carries the title senior assistant). Seattle's Carroll is also executive vice president. I did not create an extra category to reflect that title.

I have listed no offensive line coach for the Cardinals. Grimm handles those duties. The 49ers do not list a defensive quality control coach, but clearly someone must break down the upcoming opponents' offensive video (I am checking to see which assistant handles those duties). Update: Outside linebackers coach Jason Tarver handles those duties. Also, I updated the chart to reflect Curtis Modkins' departure from the Cardinals to become Buffalo's offensive coordinator. Ray Brown is the new assistant offensive line coach in San Francisco.

The Rams are expected to hire a receivers coach after Charlie Baggett left. They could hire an assistant offensive line coach to replace Art Valero, who took the same job with Seattle. The 49ers might need to find a new offensive quality-control coach (Shane Day is interviewing with the Bears to coach quarterbacks for Mike Martz).

The Rams and Seahawks list special assistants to the head coach. These are largely administrative positions.

Around the NFC West: Rams' sale plans

January, 28, 2010
Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says the Rams' ownership could decide by March whether to sell the team. Balzer: "League sources have told that Rams owners Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez are likely to decide by the start of the league year whether to accept an offer for not only their 60-percent share of the team, but also the 40 percent owned by Stan Kroenke. Should this be the case, it means Kroenke has agreed to sell his portion of the team. He currently holds a right of first refusal on any sale of the remaining 60 percent, but NFL cross ownership rules prohibit him from being the Rams' majority owner and managing partner."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo at the Senior Bowl. The Rams turned down a chance to coach the North squad. Spagnuolo: "I just felt like this year it was more advantageous for us not to do it. That does not mean I'm against doing it because there's some advantages and disadvantages. I just kind of weighed it out, and so we just went this way." Spagnuolo didn't want to get too close to the players he was coaching, for one.

Also from Thomas: The Rams do plan to speak with Isaac Bruce about possibly becoming their receivers coach, assuming Bruce retires, as expected.

Clare Farnsworth of is taking suggestions for plays of the decade. Jordan Babineaux tackling Tony Romo after Romo fumbled the snap in that playoff game seems like one candidate.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times wonders whether USC's Taylor Mays might be a good fit for the Seahawks in the 2010 draft. O'Neil: "Mays is one of the most impressive physical specimens in this year's draft, an anomaly even in a league full of physical marvels. At 6 feet 3 and 231 pounds, he's as big as a linebacker and faster than just about anyone in Seattle's secondary. This is football, but he hits hard enough to be confused with a middle-of-the-order slugger. On the first day of Senior Bowl practice, he drew the loudest reaction from the crowd when he flattened Andre Roberts of the Citadel, preventing a reception."

Greg Johns of says Mays could be a bigger, faster version of Ken Hamlin, according to draft analyst Rob Rang.

Ben Malcolmson of says USC assistant strength and conditioning coach Jamie Yanchar is following Chris Carlisle to Seattle for a job on Pete Carroll's staff.

John Morgan of Field Gulls looks at potential offensive line candidates for the Seahawks. This position will be interesting to monitor now that Alex Gibbs is the offensive line coach. How early will the Seahawks draft to fill a position of obvious need?

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Kurt Warner appears likely to announce his retirement Friday, but the quarterback hasn't told the team of his plans. Somers: "The Cardinals should be prepared for life after Warner, because it wasn't long ago that he didn't seem part of the present. The team took Matt Leinart with the 10th overall draft pick in 2006, and he started over Warner in 2007 until suffering a broken collarbone in the fifth game. Since then, Warner has started 48 of 49 games, missing a game against the Tennessee Titans this season because of the concussion."

Darren Urban of says it's unusual for NFL players to go out on their own terms. Urban on Warner: "With such strong roots with family, faith and his charitable foundation, he’s in a different place than most NFL players. Money is certainly not an issue, and while Warner has always wanted to make sure he was recognized for being a great player (especially when his career dipped there for a while), his ego isn’t as big as many other athletes. Maybe that’s why he’d be strong enough to walk away when he doesn’t have to walk away – a concept many cannot embrace."

Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 checks in with Cardinals tight end Ben Patrick, who had this to say: "Because our offense puts up big numbers and points, the foundation of our offense is overlooked. Our offensive line has been key to our success. We were able to run the ball on almost any team this season. It's something definitely overlooked in the run game and in the pass game. They gave Kurt time to pick apart secondaries all year long."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers need more time to fully evaluate Alex Smith. Maiocco: "How much better can Smith get? I don't know, but I see no reason to believe he will be less productive in 2010 than he was when he split snaps in the offseason with Shaun Hill and then worked his way onto the field in the 49ers' sixth game of the regular season. That question will go a long way toward determining whether the 49ers can make a move in the NFC next season. When I look at how he played in 2009, I see one thing that leads me to believe he can be a good quarterback: He made a handful of very nice and important throws while hanging in there, knowing he was about to absorb big hits. That is something that can't be taught, and it speaks to his toughness. On the down side, there were some passes in which he either missed open receivers (a pass intended for Jason Hill against the Seahawks that sailed high and out of bounds comes to mind) or he waited too long to make some throws at the boundary."

Also from Maiocco: Former 49ers offensive lineman Ray Brown is expected to join the 49ers as assistant offensive line coach. Maiocco: "Legendary offensive line coach Bobb McKittrick coached Brown for four seasons and raved about his professionalism, class and playing ability."

Around the NFC West: Vick, Martz, more

January, 27, 2010
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says during a chat that he thinks the Rams are "seriously considering" making a play for Michael Vick this offseason. Vick would already know the Rams' offense, which Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur brought from Philadelphia. Vick would sell tickets, a challenge for any team coming off a 1-15 record and lacking star power. Shurmur's relationship with Eagles coach Andy Reid could give the Rams access to more reliable information as to how Vick would fit into a new team. Vick would probably be better than any other quarterback on the Rams' roster. General manager Billy Devaney knows Vick from when both were with the Falcons. Those are all reasons for the Rams to consider Vick if the Eagles make the quarterback available.

Melissa Isaacson of says former Rams and 49ers coach Mike Martz could be losing interest in coordinating the Bears' offense after the team has reached out to lots of candidates, but not him. Martz: "It sounds like there's something they want to do. I just want to move on. I just worry about Lovie (Smith). I just want to see him do well. That was the reason for my interest."

Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times says the Bears will hear about it if their offense struggles with someone other than Martz as coordinator. Hayes: "Maybe (Jay) Cutler is nixing Martz because Martz was critical of Cutler's demeanor during a news conference earlier this season. Should the quarterback be making this call? Former Lions coach and current Bears assistant Rod Marinelli butted heads with Martz when they both were in Detroit. Are the Bears going to let their defensive line coach scuttle this hire?"

ESPN's Adam Schefter says former NFC West assistants Al Saunders and Jim Zorn are candidates to interview with the Ravens.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says former 49ers punter Tom Wittum, who passed away recently, still followed the team and attended games periodically.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee passes along comments from 49ers president Jed York. York on playing the Broncos in London: "It's a tough trip, and hopefully we'll be able to have an East Coast road game the week before and be able to cut that trip in half and have a 6-hour flight to London as opposed to a 12-hour flight from San Francisco, which I think the San Diego Chargers did a few years ago."

Scott Kegley of checks in with linebacker Patrick Willis and punter Andy Lee as both arrived at the Pro Bowl.

Greg Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel checks in with new Seahawks general manager John Schneider, focusing on how the Packers will adjust without him. Ted Thompson, Reggie McKenzie and John Dorsey will pick up the slack. However, the Packers were admittedly a bit top-heavy after replacing former coach Mike Sherman, who had doubled as GM. Bedard: "McKenzie will become more involved with college scouting leading up to the draft, while Dorsey will be asked to contribute more to pro personnel during the season. Dorsey will deal more with agents, which was a major component of Schneider's duties. Also, Thompson will become more personally involved in trade talks. He often left McKenzie and Schneider to find deals and bring them to his attention."

John Morgan of Field Gulls links to an item with background information on new Seahawks strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle.

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle says former Seahawks offensive coordinator Greg Knapp is the new quarterbacks coach for the Texans. McClain: "Knapp and new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison are replacing Kyle Shanahan. He was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Shanahan’s contract expired, and he went to Washington to become the offensive coordinator under his father, new Redskins coach Mike Shanahan."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times checks in with new Seahawks linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr., who wanted to coach in Seattle or San Francisco if he couldn't remain at USC. He is reunited with Lofa Tatupu. Norton: "Lofa has always been a very special guy to my heart. He was a guy I coached at USC, one of my first years at coaching. It was unfortunate to see him go down last year with the injury, but I'm expecting him to get this defense back to where it was before."

Cardinals safety Antrel Rolle says he thinks Kurt Warner will retire. Rolle: "Judging from conversations that I've had with him I think he understands that he's had a great, Hall of Fame career. I think football has taken its course. But he's the best teammate I've ever had. He's been a leader on and off the field." Warner has said he wants to feel good about retiring. Can he walk away and feel good about it? That is the key question.

Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 passes along thoughts from Cardinals safety Hamza Abdullah, who played extensively in the divisional-round playoff game after Arizona lost Rolle to injury. Playing with Adrian Wilson was a highlight for Abdullah. Abdullah: "Oh, man, did I learn anything? I could talk to you about two or three hours just strictly on that. Adrian Wilson is a great safety, obviously. ... It's just a privilege. I really believe that God has blessed me to not only be with a great organization but to learn from a veteran like Adrian Wilson. To be honest with you, it doesn't get better than Adrian Wilson."

Around the NFC West: Staff shuffling

January, 26, 2010
Ben Malcolmson of says Chris Carlisle is leaving USC to become strength and conditioning coach for the Seahawks. Mike Clark had held the position for Seattle since January 2004. The Seahawks suffered lots of injuries in recent seasons, leading some fans to ask about the work Clark and his staff were doing. It was pretty much impossible to know whether the team should have done anything different. Carlisle: "I want people to know that I'm walking away, not running. There's not a reason for me to leave except that this is a great opportunity for me to continue my career and take a step in my evolution as a strength coach. Also, this is an opportunity to work with Pete Carroll, which is a heck of an opportunity and one that's very difficult to turn down. Lane Kiffin and the USC administration wanted me to stay and I really appreciate that."

Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette says Packers assistant strength and conditioning coach Mondray Gee will join the Seahawks in a similar role. Dougherty: "Gee, 33, worked seven years as a strength and conditioning assistant for the Detroit Lions before the Packers hired him in 2008. New Seahawks coach Pete Carroll hired Gee presumably on the recommendation of John Schneider, Seattle's new general manager and a high-level personnel executive for the Packers from 2002 until last week."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times checks in with new Seahawks coach Pete Carroll from Mobile, Ala., site of the Senior Bowl practices. O'Neil: "Carroll didn't have to look very far for one idea Monday afternoon when USC safety Taylor Mays had the most ooh-inspiring hit of the South team's practice. Mays kept Citadel receiver Andre Roberts from coming down with the ball. Carroll coached Mays in college. Could Seattle bring Mays back to Seattle, where he attended O'Dea or will Seattle find that bedrock of a left tackle, a quarterback, or an offensive player who's a home-run threat in the open field? Those are the questions Carroll, [general manager John] Schneider and Seattle will be asking in three months of draft preparation that began in earnest on Monday in the opposite corner of the country."

Also from O'Neil: Former Seahawks quarterback and assistant coach Jim Zorn hopes to coach somewhere in 2010.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic takes an in-depth look at the Cardinals' situation at linebacker. Karlos Dansby could leave in free agency. Clark Haggans probably exceeded expectations in 2009. Chike Okeafor probably will not be back. Somers: "The Cardinals likely will replace him with a younger player, perhaps Will Davis or Cody Brown, rookies in 2009. Brown, a second-round pick, suffered a dislocated wrist in training camp and was on injured reserve all year. That basically made his rookie season a wasted one. He is making the transition from defensive end in college, so it's going to take for him to develop. Davis, a sixth-round pick, is further ahead. By mid-season, he was starting to show some pass-rush skills and was taking snaps away from veteran Bertrand Berry, who retired at the end of the season. A knee injury delayed Davis' progress, but he showed signs of being a real steal in the draft."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says longtime Rams trainer Jim Anderson isn't sure why coach Steve Spagnuolo fired him. Anderson: "What did I not do that was expected? Or what can I do differently if I have a situation in the future where I want to be an athletic trainer? Like I said, (Spagnuolo) didn't feel at the time that he had any response to that. He just felt the organization would be better off with a change." That's the way it works in the NFL. It's not always personal. A new coach often wants his own medical people or trainers or strength coaches, etc. Thomas: "Longtime employees at Rams Park are on eggshells again, as their numbers continue to dwindle. The massive organizational shakeup means very few employees are left who moved with the team to St. Louis from California in 1995."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers could use a return specialist with the ability to add punch on offense. Percy Harvin and Reggie Bush stand out as examples. Barrows: "After selecting Michael Crabtree last year with the 10th pick, the 49ers likely will pass on wide receivers this season. But a running back who could complement the between-the-tackles running style of Frank Gore could be a nice fit."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers were neither elite at quarterback or on defense this season, an indication they've got a ways to go before challenging the best teams in the NFC. Coach Mike Singletary also has questions to answer. Maiocco: "Singletary has some incredible traits as a coach. He is tough, demanding and he listens to the needs and wants of those who work for him. Singletary is a self-described 'big-picture guy.' That might be fine, but only if there are extraordinary people taking care of the small details for him. And that's where I have my biggest doubts about whether the 49ers are ready to take that next step." A coach without a strong background as a coordinator will always be more reliant on his staff. That was one of the issues raised when the team hired Singletary over Greg Manusky and others.

John Cote of the San Francisco Chronicle updates the 49ers' efforts to build a new stadium in Santa Clara.