NFC West: Chris Foerster
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams re-signed tight end Daniel Fells after declining to tender him as a restricted free agent.
Also from Thomas: "If Bradford checks out medically, and throws the heck out of the ball during his pro day in Norman, Okla. on March 25, it makes all the sense in the world to draft him at No. 1 overall. And I write this as a guy who absolutely loves what Ndamukong Suh can do on the football field."
Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat offers Rams-related thoughts, including this one: "The debate over whether the Rams should select quarterback Sam Bradford or defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will rage over the next six weeks, but let’s spare the hyperbole that claims Suh is a once-in-a-generation player and that he is a sure thing. There are no sure things in projecting college players to the NFL, and the reality is that high-picked defensive tackles have just as bad or even worse a track record in the NFL than quarterbacks."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times sizes up the Seahawks' quarterback situation after Seneca Wallace's trade to the Browns. O'Neil: "Seattle is in the midst of its first significant shake-up in the pocket since 2005, when backup Trent Dilfer was traded to Cleveland. For the past five years, Matt Hasselbeck and Wallace have been the top two rungs in Seattle's quarterback hierarchy."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Pete Carroll, John Schneider and a full cast of Seahawks personnel people attended the University of Washington pro day. Farnsworth: "The Seahawks are the local NFL team and there is that connection between Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian, who left USC for the UW last year, and Carroll, who left USC for the Seahawks this year.
Adam Schefter of ESPN says former Seahawks and Cardinals receiver Jerheme Urban has signed with the Chiefs, reuniting Urban with former Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' haven't committed to Matt Leinart as their starter. He lists Derek Anderson, Marc Bulger, Charlie Whitehurst, Jake Delhomme and Brian St. Pierre as possible competitors for the job. Somers on Bulger: "He's still on the Rams' roster but they are expected to release him, probably after the draft. The timing is tricky for the Cardinals, who would miss out on some other candidates by waiting. Bulger has a lot of experience and is a good guy who wouldn't cause problems in the locker room. But he has taken a pounding over the past few years." There were rumblings during the season that Bulger might retire, but we haven't heard much on that front recently. If Bulger did decide to stop playing, he would be best off to wait until the Rams release him. Otherwise, he might have to pay back bonus money.
Also from Somers: Anthony Becht re-signs, while Larry Foote and Joey Porter are visiting this week.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Arizona should be pretty much set at tight end after re-signing Anthony Becht and Stephen Spach.
Also from Urban: Adrian Wilson doesn't think the Giants have the best safety tandem in the league, apparently.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers might have only casual interest in running backs Leon Washington and Justin Fargas.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers coach Mike Singletary is taking an active role in scouting. Meanwhile, the Redskins are showing some interest in swing tackle Barry Sims. Maiocco: "The Redskins, who brought in offensive tackle Tony Pashos for a free-agent visit last week, are showing interest in unrestricted free agent Barry Sims. Pashos signed with the Browns, while Sims remains a free agent. The Redskins' offensive line coach is Chris Foerster, who held the same job with the 49ers last year. Sims does not appear to be in a hurry to sign. He's just waiting to see where his best opportunity emerges. The 49ers have expressed an interest in bringing him back -- at the right price.
The moves teams make in free agency can be predictable based on personal connections.
- The Cardinals hired Donnie Henderson to coach their secondary. When Antrel Rolle signed with the Giants, the Cardinals quickly acquired Kerry Rhodes from the Jets. Who was the Jets' defensive coordinator when the team drafted Rhodes in 2005? Henderson.
- The Rams hired Pat Shurmur as their offensive coordinator before last season. When the Rams sought a veteran quarterback this offseason, the team signed A.J. Feeley. Who was the Eagles' quarterbacks coach when Feeley was a backup in Philadelphia? Shurmur.
- The 49ers watched free agent Arnaz Battle leave in recent days. Battle joined recently fired 49ers special-teams coach Al Everest with the Steelers.
- The Seahawks spent Saturday visiting with Broncos restricted free agent Brandon Marshall. Their new offensive coordinator, Jeremy Bates, coached Marshall previously in Denver.
So many of these moves are somewhat predictable if we pay close enough attention to the connections. St. Louis made another reconnection Monday when they signed defensive tackle Fred Robbins, who played for Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo when both were with the Giants. The Cardinals reportedly have interest in linebackers Joey Porter and Larry Foote, who played for the Steelers when Arizona's Ken Whisenhunt was a coach for Pittsburgh. On and on it goes.
It makes sense for teams to seek players they know will fit their systems. I also think teams can value familiarity too much. Sometimes it's easier for a coach to plug in a known part than to put in the work needed to develop a younger or more talented player.
This is an excellent opportunity for Day to progress in his career and work with a talented quarterback, Jay Cutler, in a dynamic offensive scheme.
The staff dynamics in Chicago are certainly curious, with Rod Marinelli coordinating the defense and Martz coordinating the offense. Marinelli fired Martz from his Lions staff two years ago.
The jump from quality control coach to position coach is significant for Day, who spent the last three seasons in the role for San Francisco. Day had been unofficially assisting offensive line coach Chris Foerster in San Francisco, a departure from typical duties for a quality control coach.
Foerster left this offseason and the 49ers hired Mike Solari to replace him. With Ray Brown onboard to assist Solari, it's possible the 49ers will not hire another assistant to replace Day. They could just divide duties a little differently.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com explains why he'll miss retiring Cardinals veteran Bertrand Berry. Urban: "Including playoffs, Berry led the Cardinals with eight sacks this season. In the end, I’ll remember Bertrand’s ability to still have his shining moments on a football field, delivering his trademark whistle pull -- he was the B-Train, after all -- following every sack. I’ll remember Bertrand Berry going out on his own terms."
Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 looks at Neil Rackers' value to the Cardinals. That value is much higher when Rackers is healthy. Coach Ken Whisenhunt sounded frustrated after Rackers' injuries contributed to a poor performance against the Saints in the NFC divisional round, as if Whisenhunt had been told Rackers would be fine.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says former Seahawks assistant and University of Washington head coach Keith Gilbertson has landed with Mike Holmgren in Cleveland. Gilbertson has a job in personnel. He could easily slide over to the coaching staff if Holmgren returned to the sideline or the Browns wanted him to help install Holmgren's offense.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with CEO Tod Leiweke, who expresses relief following an organizational overhaul. Leiweke: "I'm satisfied, but I also would say it’s been super hard. Tim Ruskell is a friend of mine. Jim Mora is a friend of mine. I think there probably are a few things I might have done a little different, but it also was a different circumstance. It's the kind of stuff that keeps you awake at night."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks have hired Sherman Smith to coach their running backs.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says an uncapped year would hurt the Rams by making it harder for them to supplement their roster in free agency. Executive Kevin Demoff: "It limits the player pool. It's going to be a challenging dynamic for all teams on how you get better, how you compete for players, and where you find the players that make your team better. Especially if you're a team that's still rebuilding. ... I think everybody can look at what we did last year in free agency and it was a very discernible pattern. Younger players with great character who weren't injury-prone, who we thought had upside."
Also from the Post-Dispatch: a look at potential free agents who could help the Rams.
More from the Post-Dispatch: a look at players who would become free agents only if the NFL extended the collective bargaining agreement.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wouldn't be surprised if Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke decided to sell his 40 percent share of the team, better positioning Kroenke to buy a soccer team. Miklasz: "Once upon a time, Kroenke was accessible and visible at Rams games, but he’s completely gone underground in an attempt to stay away from reporters. So no one has been able to determine whether Howard Hughes -- I mean, Kroenke -- wants to keep his 40 percent share of the Rams under new ownership or sell that 40 percent to new owners."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers' addition of former Chiefs assistants Jimmy Raye, Kurt Schottenheimer and Mike Solari isn't such a bad thing. Barrows: "The three offenses that Raye ran in Kansas City from 1998-2000 finished No. 19, No. 12 and No. 8 in total offense. They put up some huge yardage totals, particularly through the air. The Chiefs finished fifth in passing in 2000. But as Solari pointed out today in a conference call, he had some sturdy offensive linemen up front. Those Chiefs teams boasted perennial Pro Bowlers in Willie Roaf and Will Shields as well as an up-and-comer in Brian Waters."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers agreed to let Chris Foerster leave for the Redskins after Foerster said he wanted to move closer to family on the East Coast. Having Solari available certainly had to ease the decision. Singletary: "When I talked to Chris this morning, I just told him that I believe things work out for a reason. I told Chris this morning, 'Best of luck to you, and I hope everything goes well.' I had an interview set up with Mike Solari and my wife and I felt like that would be -- everything would work itself out."
Also from Maiocco: Solari was Singletary's first choice for an offensive line coach when Singletary interviewed for head-coaching jobs in 2006 and 2007.
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Solari fits what Singletary wants in terms of promoting "physicality" up front. Brown: "Solari said he would continue to evaluate the 49ers' current personnel. He planned on developing a group capable of multiple styles -- wide zones, tight zones and man-blocking -- because opposing defenses bring so many variations. During his 11 seasons in Kansas City, the Chiefs ranked in the top 10 for rushing offense seven times. Solari was one of just six assistant coaches in Chiefs history to record more than a decade of service with the franchise."
David Fucillo of Niners Nation provides transcripts from conference calls featuring Solari and Singletary.
Skeptical or curious 49ers fans should know Solari earned high marks from the late Bobb McKittrick, one of the 49ers' most acclaimed assistant coaches from their glory years. Solari coached tight ends and served as assistant offensive line coach for the 49ers from 1992 to 1996. McKittrick died in 2000.
"I went up to visit Bobb when he was sick, and he had worked closely with Mike on George Seifert's staff," then-Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said in 2008. "He just said Mike's a special guy and he was really very impressed with Mike early on."
Back in 2008, when the Seahawks still had enough talent to consider a playoff run, Holmgren viewed Solari's hiring in Seattle as a huge step toward that goal. Injuries doomed that Seattle team, accelerating a rapid decline. That Solari's tenure in Seattle was a disappointment affirmed talent shortcomings without reflecting too negatively on his coaching, in my view. That was my read on the situation based on Solari's reputation around the league and the coaching I've witnessed firsthand at practices.
Solari is a natural fit for the 49ers on several levels. He already knows the NFC West inside and out. His mentality should fit well with the mindset 49ers coach Mike Singletary has instilled in San Francisco. The fact that Solari worked extensively with 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye in Kansas City stands as another positive for the 49ers.
This move was clearly in the works. The 49ers allowed their line coach, Chris Foerster, to speak with the Redskins about a job on Mike Shanahan's staff. Foerster took that job Thursday and the 49ers announced Solari's hiring within hours. This hiring falls into the no-brainer category.
Mike Solari, anyone?
The Seahawks replaced Solari with Alex Gibbs. The 49ers could do a lot worse.
Solari and 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye worked together in Kansas City. This makes too much sense not to happen.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The coaching environment can be rich following a 35-0 victory. The positive outcome gives coaches an opportunity to be more aggressive in addressing shortcomings without worrying about affecting confidence too negatively.
Coach Mike Singletary made it clear this would be a tough week for guards David Baas and Chilo Rachal. Singletary did not mention them by name, but he praised the other three offensive linemen while saying he planned to meet with line coach Chris Foerster to figure out some things. Pressed for details, Singletary said he needed to find out whether Baas had recovered from the foot injury he suffered during training camp, alluding to how offensive linemen tend to downplay injuries.
Whatever the explanation, Baas and Rachal clearly struggled against the Rams. Baas has dealt with injuries, as Singletary mentioned, while Rachal is a young player with 10 career starts.
Scouts Inc. on Baas: Baas has adequate initial quickness in the run game, but lacks top athletic ability and body control. He lacks foot quickness to adjust against quicker defenders, but once he locks on, he can create movement off the line of scrimmage. In passing situations, his lack of foot quickness creates problems against quick, change-of-direction rushers. He struggles with second moves and DTs get outside his frame quickly. He has enough strength to sit and anchor against the bull rush. Overall, he is best suited to play in a short area, where his aggressiveness off the ball makes him effective.
Scouts Inc. on Rachal: Rachal has good size and strength, and has excellent finishing skills as a run-blocker. He is most effective when he keeps his pad level down and uses leg drive to create movement. He's limited athletically if he's asked to pull and lead out in space. He lacks speed on the move and adjustment skills on the run. He has adequate foot quickness and short-area strength in pass protection.
Those reports affirm what you see from these players in games. They can appear quite slow when pulling, and quick defensive tackles give them problems.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Cardinals had already hired Curtis Modkins to coach their running backs. They didn't say anything publicly until the Chiefs announced Maurice Carthon's hiring as assistant head coach.
Carthon coached running backs for the Cardinals in 2007 and 2008. Modkins coached running backs for the Chiefs in 2008.
When Todd Haley left his job as Cardinals offensive coordinator to become the Chiefs' head coach, he wanted to bring along Carthon from Arizona.
The Cardinals allowed Carthon to pursue the promotion. They quickly lined up Modkins, who broke into the NFL with Kansas City in 2008 after six seasons coaching running backs defensive backs at Georgia Tech.
The chart provides a general overview of NFC West coaching staffs. Yellow shading highlights changes from last season. Titles are imprecise in some cases.
For example, the Cardinals do not have an offensive coordinator. They have a running game coordinator in assistant head coach/offensive line Russ Grimm and they have a passing game coordinator in Mike Miller.
NFC West coaching staffs are mostly complete after the Rams assigned titles to Frank Leonard, Paul Ferraro, Andre Curtis and Clayton Lopez.
The chart shows which coaches retained their titles from the end of last season (gray shading) and which coaches are new to their current roles (yellow shading). The Cardinals could face additional changes if they fill vacancies from within.
All four offensive line coaches remain in their roles from last season (subject to change if Russ Grimm becomes the Cardinals' offensive coordinator). Every other core staff position features at least one change in the division.
The 49ers and Rams have the largest staffs with 20 members apiece, counting head coaches. The Seahawks reduced to 18 after moving assistant offensive line coach Mike DeBord to tight ends and eliminating the job of assistant special teams coach John Jamison. The Cardinals have 13 coaches, a number that figures to rise by at least three.
The 49ers and Rams have full-time administrative assistants assigned to their head coaches. The Cardinals do not formally list an assistant strength and conditioning coach, although Pete Alosi does help John Lott in that area.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
NFC West coaching staffs are mostly complete. The chart provides a general overview showing which coaches are primarily overseeing key areas.
Some coaches have fancy titles. I'll list those below. Including those titles in the chart would have served them but not us.
The 49ers have two coaches assigned to linebackers and two assigned to the secondary:
- Jason Tarver is a defensive assistant/outside linebackers. Vantz Singletary is coaching inside linebackers. Coach Mike Singletary and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky are former NFL linebackers, so the 49ers have that position covered.
- Vance Joseph and Johnnie Lynn are both listed as secondary coaches.
The Rams have not named coaches at tight
end, linebacker or secondary. However, they have hired Andre Curtis and Paul Ferraro as unspecified defensive assistants. They have also hired Frank Leonard as an unspecified offensive assistant.
The Seahawks and Cardinals do not list administrative assistants as part of their staffs. Bill Nayes and Bruce Warwick fill those spots for the 49ers and Rams, respectively.
The following team-by-team list includes all the fancy titles, plus some coaches who did not appear on the chart:
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Clyde Christensen's candidacy as the 49ers' potential offensive coordinator makes sense if we consider his connections to current and former members of the organization.
Christensen, who interviewed for the job Friday, has served as an assistant under Tony Dungy since 1996, starting with the Bucs and continuing with the Colts. The 49ers hired another longtime Dungy assistant, Chris Foerster, to help with their offensive line heading into the 2008 season. And when the 49ers fired head coach Mike Nolan, they also fired Nolan's line coach, George Warhop, at which point Foerster took over the job.
Those two moves -- hiring Foerster to help with the line, then naming him to replace Warhop when Nolan was fired -- tell us plenty. Management clearly was not happy with the coaching of the line during Nolan's tenure. While the 49ers weren't going to force Nolan to fire Warhop, they were going to make a change the minute Nolan no longer worked for the team.
Foerster remains the offensive line coach. In searching for a coordinator, it's logical for the 49ers to consider candidates with ties to the current staff. Christensen and Foerster spent eight seasons together in Tampa Bay and Indianapolis. Those are strong ties.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Hannan from Hershey, Pa., writes: Hey Mike, I've been reading your blog and I had this wacky thought for next year. What if the Seahawks switched to a 3-4 scheme with Jim Mora Jr.? Think about it, we have Kerney on one end, Jackson/Tapp on the other. We can let R. Bernard walk in free agency, I think Mebane has earned a starting job. J. Peterson can be our pass rushing OLB, while Hill (he must be resigned), Tatupu, and another ILB to be named (possibly DD Lewis) can stop the run. It's a crazy and bold idea, but to me it makes sense.
Mike Sando: The Seahawks are looking at coordinator candidates with 3-4 backgrounds, but Jim Mora will run the defense. His background is with the 4-3.
This sets up the possibility of at least running hybrid-type schemes or having the flexibility to use some 3-4 fronts and packages. I see no advantage in making a full conversion to a 3-4, based on the personnel and based on Mora's background.
Patrick Kerney and Darryl Tapp aren't nearly as big or physical as the typical 3-4 defensive ends. Brandon Mebane might be able to play the nose, but the rest of it would be a stretch on a full-time conversion, in my view.
Running a hybrid defense sounds good in theory, though I would rather have a defense play one style effectively than two styles less effectively.
Rich from Bellevue, Wash., writes: Heya, Mr. Mike. About the Cards-Panthers game this weekend. Everyone is talking about how the Cardinals' defense will have to match its intensity and discipline and all from last week in order to have a chance this week. But is that really realistic? How much of last week's heroic defensive effort was due to intensity and discipline, and how much was due to them having a "tell" that let them anticipate the snap? Since they won't have that against Carolina, how much of a chance do they really have to match up?
Mike Sando: The Cardinals' ability to get a jump off the snap helped but was not necessarily the difference in that game against the Falcons. More broadly, though, I do think it's unrealistic to expect the Arizona defense to have the same energy level for a full game, minus the home crowd. But we shall see.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Jim Haslett has a plan to fix the Rams in one offseason, but it's unclear whether the team will indulge him.
Also from Thomas: A scouting report giving the Rams an edge over Seattle when St. Louis passes the ball.
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Haslett is the right man for the job, even though he might not be a popular choice. Burwell blames executive John Shaw for getting the Rams into their current mess, one reason he thinks Shaw should have no input in naming the next head coach.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes Seattle players complaining about Richie Incognito's allegedly dirty tactics.Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat quotes Rams cornerback Ron Bartell as saying he wouldn't buy a ticket to the Seahawks-Rams game.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals have avoided serious injuries, one reason the team was able to clinch the NFC West title so early.
Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals want the third seed in the NFC playoff race. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "History dictates the higher seeds have a better chance in the playoffs." Except for the time Whisenhunt and the sixth-seeded Steelers won the Super Bowl.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com quotes Kurt Warner as saying the Cardinals can't be content winning a division title. Warner: "It will take some time to convince guys who haven't been here before that this isn't the pinnacle."
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle looks at how the 49ers plan to block Dolphins pass-rusher Joey Porter. Offensive line coach Chris Foerster: "Hopefully, we can win our share of one-on-ones and get help when we need it."
Also from Crumpacker: A look at key matchups, including the one between the 49ers' Justin Smith and the Dolphins' Jake Long.
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says the Dolphins' defense might be most vulnerable through the air. That was certainly the case when Miami faced the Cardinals in Week 2.
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says running back DeShaun Foster is unusually fresh for this late in the season. He'll finally get extensive work now that Frank Gore is injured.
Also from Brown: Niners linebacker Patrick Willis appreciates the team's new approach to offense. San Francisco possessed the ball for nearly 40 minutes against the Jets in Week 14.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers are in no rush to hire Mike Singletary as coach beyond this season, in part because rules prevent them from doing so.
Also from Barrows: A scouting report noting that the Dolphins lead the NFL in turnover differential, having surrendered only four fumbles and six interceptions.
Jose Romero of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks hope to beat the Rams for an eighth consecutive time. The Rams blitzed Seattle frequently when the teams met previously this season.
Also from Romero: A scouting report suggesting Seattle should be able to end its six-game losing streak. Deion Branch, coming off a breakout game against New England, had five catches for 92 yards and a touchdown in the Edward Jones Dome last season.
Doug Farrar of Field Gulls takes an initial look at Sean Locklear's prognosis at left tackle. The final three games give Locklear a chance to show whether he can play effectively on that side.
Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' patchwork offensive line is looking for another better-than-expected performance. Floyd Womack has played particularly well.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Tom Robinson of the Virginian-Pilot names Kurt Warner his MVP on offense so far this season: "You wouldn't have thought this. Heck, Warner's not even supposed to be starting, but that bust Matt Leinart couldn't hold the job Arizona's trying to hand him. Enter Warner, who at 37 is pretty much channeling the player he was at 30, when he won the second of his two MVP awards and his St. Louis Rams went to the Super Bowl." For the record, Leinart has started 16 regular-season games. He is 25 years old. He might qualify as a bust so far, but he still has time to change the perception.
Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune expects Anquan Boldin to play against the Panthers in Week 8.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat checks in with 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who is saying all the right things after ownership fired head coach Mike Nolan. Frank Gore hits on a familiar theme, saying Martz is doing an outstanding job and the offense is much better prepared this season.
Also from Maiocco: Mike Singletary put his career on hold for his family.
Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with 49ers offensive line coach Chris Foerster, whose role increased following George Warhop's firing.
John Ryan of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers are going to great lengths to keep alive a home sellout streak dating to 1981.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle highlights Rocky Bernard's role in the decline of the 49ers. Bernard, the Seahawks' defensive tackle, knocked out 49ers quarterback Alex Smith last season.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer quotes Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren as saying Seneca Wallace threw the ball better in practice this week.
Also from Farnsworth: Seattle coaches have gone back to basics in preparation for the 49ers.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at Steven Jackson's chances of playing for the Rams at New England. Coach Jim Haslett was noncommittal.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks the Rams' defense holds the key to the game against the Patriots. He points to seven sacks and seven takeaways during the Rams' two-game winning streak.
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com looks at Haslett's impact on the Rams so far, noting that Haslett had success in New Orleans despite difficult circumstances.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Mike Singletary may or may not become a quality NFL head coach. The 49ers' decision to hire him on an interim basis became logical in one respect because it didn't weaken the most critical positions on the staff.
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky might have been more qualified than Singletary in the traditional sense; Singletary has never been an NFL coordinator. But hiring Martz or Manusky as head coach might have prevented either man from dedicating as much time to his current job.
The situation in St. Louis was different because Jim Haslett had extensive experience as a head coach, making him the most logical choice for the job once Scott Linehan was fired. The Rams could promote Haslett from defensive coordinator to head coach without as much worry because linebackers coach Rick Venturi, since promoted to defensive coordinator, had coordinating experience dating to the 1980s.
Niners general manager Scot McCloughan borrowed his philosophy on coaches from his former boss, Ron Wolf. The thinking goes like this: If your head coach has a defensive background, offensive coordinator becomes the next most important hire. McCloughan, like Wolf, also places high value on the offensive line coach. That explains why the 49ers brought in Chris Foerster to assist George Warhop as line coach this season. The 49ers fired Warhop, a Nolan hire, and promoted Foerster once the team fired Nolan.