NFC West: Derek Schouman

2011 UFA market: NFC West scorecard

August, 23, 2011
With training camps winding down, I've found time to update rosters and put together team-by-team reference material for unrestricted free agency.

The names below match official NFL counts.

These are for players with at least four accrued NFL seasons whose contracts expired following the 2010 season. I've added comments for each team.

Arizona Cardinals

Re-signed (8): Ben Graham, Matt Ware, Hamza Abdullah, Ben Claxton, Lyle Sendlein, D'Anthony Batiste, Deuce Lutui, Stephen Spach.

New to team (7): Chansi Stuckey, Richard Marshall, Daryn Colledge, Nick Eason, Stewart Bradley, Floyd Womack, Jeff King.

Still unsigned (3): Alan Faneca, Jason Wright, Bryan Robinson.

Signed elsewhere (5): Steve Breaston (Kansas City), Gabe Watson (New York Giants), Ben Patrick (Giants), Trumaine McBride (New Orleans), Alan Branch (Seattle).

Comment: Sendlein, Colledge and Bradley were the big signings. Marshall provides needed depth at cornerback. Faneca and Wright announced their retirements. The Cardinals weren't aggressive in trying to re-sign the players they lost to other teams. The biggest move Arizona made, acquiring Kevin Kolb from Philadelphia, did not involve a UFA.

San Francisco 49ers

Re-signed (4): Ray McDonald, Tony Wragge, Dashon Goldson, Alex Smith.

New to team (5): Braylon Edwards, Jonathan Goodwin, Donte Whitner, Carlos Rogers, David Akers.

Still unsigned (5): Brian Westbrook, Troy Smith, Demetric Evans, William James, Barry Sims.

Signed elsewhere (6): David Baas (Giants), Travis LaBoy (San Diego), Jeff Reed (Seattle), Aubrayo Franklin (New Orleans), Takeo Spikes (San Diego), Manny Lawson (Cincinnati).

Comment: Re-signing McDonald signaled Franklin's departure. Getting Goldson back on the relative cheap was a victory. The 49ers wanted to keep Baas, but not at the price he commanded. The team thinks NaVorro Bowman has a bright future in Spikes' old spot at inside linebacker. Lawson wasn't strong enough as a pass-rusher to stick around. Safety depth is improved.

Seattle Seahawks

Re-signed (7): Raheem Brock, Junior Siavii, Brandon Mebane, Leroy Hill, Matt McCoy, Michael Robinson, Kelly Jennings.

New to team (8): Branch, Zach Miller, Robert Gallery, Jimmy Wilkerson, Atari Bigby, Sidney Rice, Tarvaris Jackson, Reed.

Still unsigned (7): Jay Richardson, Craig Terrill, Chester Pitts, Brandon Stokley, Ruvell Martin, J.P. Losman, Lawyer Milloy.

Signed elsewhere (8): Will Herring (New Orleans), Olindo Mare (Carolina), Matt Hasselbeck (Tennessee), Chris Spencer (Chicago), Jordan Babineaux (Tennessee), Sean Locklear (Washington), Amon Gordon (Kansas City), Ray Willis (Washington).

Comment: Adding Jackson as the starting quarterback was the most significant move for the 2011 season. Mebane was the most important re-signing for the longer term. Hill was a bargain relative to how he's playing right now. Miller and Rice were the types of young, talented players who rarely change teams in free agency. The Seahawks were outbid for Herring and Mare. Can street free agent David Vobora fill some of the void Herring left?

St. Louis Rams

Re-signed (2): Adam Goldberg, Gary Gibson.

New to team (9): Daniel Muir, Quinn Ojinnaka, Harvey Dahl, Ben Leber, Zac Diles, Jerious Norwood, Cadillac Williams, Quintin Mikell, Mike Sims-Walker.

Still unsigned (5): Chris Hovan, Michael Lewis, Darcy Johnson, Clifton Ryan, Mark Clayton.

Signed elsewhere (4): Daniel Fells (Denver), Laurent Robinson (San Diego), Derek Schouman (Washington), Kevin Dockery (Pittsburgh).

Comment: Dahl and Mikell were the big additions. Clayton could return if and when his surgically repaired knee allows. Sims-Walker is a wild card. The team didn't flinch when any of its own UFAs signed elsewhere. Most of the moves made on defense were designed to improve St. Louis against the run. Remember that newcomer Justin Bannan was not a UFA. Denver released him.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic thinks Kevin Kolb tops the Cardinals' list of quarterbacks to pursue this offseason. Somers: "There is no question the Cardinals are interested, and I get the feeling Kolb is their first choice to be their starter in 2011. The Cardinals liked Kolb when he was coming out of the University of Houston, and he has the type of personality (gym rat) that Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt likes in a quarterback. The Cardinals are leery, however, of what the Eagles might want for Kolb." Somers says the Cardinals would likely go along with a trade similar to the one Houston orchestrated for acquiring Matt Schaub from the Falcons. I don't recall any reporter from the Arizona market previously saying without qualification that Arizona has more interest in Kolb than it has in other options, and enough interest in Kolb to trade for him. Might be time to update the Cardinals' QB timeline.

Nick Wagoner of passes along initial jersey numbers for the Rams' 2011 draft class. First-round choice Robert Quinn gets No. 94. Second-rounder Lance Kendricks gets No. 88. Wagoner: "No player on the active roster wore 94 last year. DT Jimmy Saddler-McQueen wore it on the practice squad. Victor Adeyanju had it previously. Tight End Derek Schouman wore 88 last year. He is not under contract for 2011."

Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis looks at DeAngelo Williams, Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Bush, Darren Sproles, Tim Hightower, Ronnie Brown, Jerome Harrison and Mewelde Moore as running backs for the Rams to consider in free agency.

Matt Maiocco of says the 49ers have fired Lal Henhegan, their executive vice president of football administration since 2006. Maiocco: "The departure of Heneghan is not believed to be related to any hiring in the team's personnel department. When Heneghan was hired in March 2006, owner John York cited the valuable experience he would bring to a youthful front office and coaching staff. Heneghan was vice president of football operations and general counsel for the Cleveland Browns from 1998 to 2004 prior to joining the 49ers. Heneghan spent seven years with the NFL Management Council as director of labor relations. He supervised the daily operation and interpretation of the NFL salary cap." The 49ers continue to tweak their front office. Henhegan had always worked in the background. I cannot recall hearing his name associated with any decision regarding the 53-man roster, the draft or free agency.

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat takes a closer look at Bruce Miller, the player San Francisco is projecting as a fullback. Miller played defensive end at Central Florida. One of the defensive assistants there, John Skladany, had this to say about Miller: "The biggest thing is he’s just relentless. He really enjoys that part of the game. He goes and looks for the contact. He just keeps going and going and going. You’re going to have to shoot him to stop him. If he’s going to be blocking, some linebacker is going to have a long day."

Clare Farnsworth of says defensive tackle Craig Terrill is headlining a concert in the Seattle area Saturday night. Farnsworth: "Terrill’s previous musical adventures have included singing the National Anthem prior to the Seahawks’ wild-card playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2007 and a show-stopping performance at the team party in Detroit after the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL. He also has played the House of Blues in Chicago and Orlando, as well as several venues in Seattle."

Also from Farnsworth: Seahawks draft choice Kris Durham was working out with quarterback Charlie Whitehurst before the draft. Farnsworth: "It was a revelation that slipped through the cracks on a very busy third day of the draft for the Seahawks -- when they selected seven prospects in the final four rounds and also held an introductory news conference with first-round pick James Carpenter, a tackle from Alabama. But the Whitehurst-to-Durham connection definitely is worth revisiting. Whitehurst was born in Green Bay, when his father, David, was playing for the Packers. But he grew up in the Atlanta area and went to Clemson. He spends time there in the offseason."

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle says there's a better than 50-50 chance Matt Hasselbeck will re-sign with Seattle, according to's John Clayton. Henderson: "Clayton thinks the market shrunk for Hasselbeck when Tennessee and Minnesota, the two teams with the "most urgent" quarterback needs, filled those vacancies by drafting quarterbacks in the first round. Arizona, which didn't draft a quarterback and has a clear need at the position, would seemingly have at least some interest in Hasselbeck. But Clayton believes Marc Bulger would be the Cardinals' preference over Hasselbeck."

Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News says Matt Leinart could be an option for the Seahawks. Wolf says the Seahawks spoke with Leinart about joining the team next season. I'm not sure when this would have happened, given that there has not yet been a free-agent signing period. It's also worth noting that Seattle has shown no apparent interest in Leinart previously. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has been selective in pursuing his former players at USC. He placed strict conditions on receiver Mike Williams. He quickly released running back LenDale White after determining White wasn't serious enough in his approach. He traded defensive end Lawrence Jackson to Detroit, where Jackson appears to be a much better fit.

Around the NFC West: Singletary on QB

November, 10, 2010
Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat passes along thoughts from 49ers coach Mike Singletary regarding perceptions Singletary slammed Alex Smith's leadership recently. Branch: "Singletary suggests his lack-of-offensive-leadership comment was misconstrued. Last week, he was asked about his lack-of-leadership comment and didn't say it was misconstrued. ... Last week, in other words, he was more direct in implying that Alex Smith wasn't the type of take-charge, in-your-face leader he preferred. This week, on the heels of Alex Smith's pointed response, he is saying the exact same thing but couching it much more politely. After some verbal bouquets, he says Alex Smith's 'idea of leadership' is to lead by example. He won't order his teammates around, but will invite them to watch film. In contrast, Troy Smith's idea of leadership is to take charge and get in the faces of Mr. Crabtree and Mr. Davis if they start squawking too much in the huddle. In your face. Or inviting the whole gang to study film. Which sounds more like Singletary?" Production is what matters. Alex Smith can have whatever leadership style he wants if he's a good quarterback. He hasn't been good enough to this point in the season.

Matt Maiocco of says the 49ers think Thaddeus Gibson has long-term potential.

Also from Maiocco: thoughts on why Dashon Goldson hasn't had a great season so far.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says he found it strange for Troy Smith to spend the bye week at home in Ohio instead of studying at 49ers headquarters. I had the same thought. Shouldn't a new quarterback be doing everything possible to maximize a rare opportunity?

More from Barrows: The Miami Dolphins signed offensive lineman Matt Kopa from the 49ers' practice squad.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News reviews Singletary's role in a series of coaching videos released this week. I've seen the videos advertised on TV. They were obviously in production before the 49ers lost six of their first eight games.

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says Singletary has good things to say about Alex Smith, but the coach would not name him his starting quarterback.

Also from White: a look ahead to the 49ers' game against the Rams. White: "Remember all that Niners talk about how quarterbacks taken No. 1 overall need two seasons in the same system to flourish? Umm, never mind. Rookie Sam Bradford is 4-4 with a Rams team that lost 24 of 25 before he arrived." Having two high draft choices at tackle and millions invested in the guard and center positions helps, too.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers a chat transcript featuring these thoughts on the Rams' mindset under coach Steve Spagnuolo: "I think Spags doesn't mind the team being aware of the big picture. After all, their goal has always been to win the West. But I don't think he wants them to dwell too much on that. He wants them to focus on the task at hand, which is San Francisco. One practice, one day, one week at a time. That's the Spags way, and it's really not much different than most football coaches. After all, it's impossible to get to, say, nine victories until you get to five victories first. This is the team's most important game since at least the '06 season, maybe even earlier than that. Fitting isn't it, that it's against the Rams' old West Coast rivals, the 49ers."

Also from Thomas: Eric Dickerson offers favorable reviews for Steven Jackson. The Hall of Famer does expect Jackson to pay off a longstanding bet, however.

More from Thomas: Tight end Eric Schouman paid a free-agent visit to Rams Park.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers thoughts on every NFC West team.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders whether the Rams will run the ball effectively against the 49ers. San Francisco has occasionally been vulnerable to runners with the quickness to stretch the perimeter. The Rams have more of a power running game.

Clare Farnsworth of says Lawyer Milloy remains productive as his 37th birthday approaches Sunday. Coach Pete Carroll: "He’s a joy to coach. He loves the game so much. He’s so tough. And he’s adding to the fire of what we’re all about, but he’s adding to it scheme-wise, too."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times has this to say about Charlie Whitehurst during a Seahawks chat: "His accuracy is a problem, though. That combined with the fact that he was the 3rd-string quarterback for four seasons in San Diego is enough to make me think that it's premature to turn over the offense to him and say, 'Well, let's see what we got.' Especially if the team is 4-4 like the Seahawks are and tied for first place in the NFC West."

Also from O'Neil: priorities for the Seahawks heading into the second half of the season.

Gerry Spratt of links to a Wall Street Journal piece describing the NFC West as the worst division in sports.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune posts Brian McIntyre's offensive personnel stats for the Seahawks through the first half of the season. Center Chris Spencer was the only offensive player to play every snap. That makes Spencer the most durable offensive lineman on the roster.

Also from Williams: a C-minus grade for Seattle's quarterbacks to this point in the season.

John Boyle of the Everett Herald says the Seahawks have done "very little" on offense to this point in the season.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says a weak NFC West gives the Cardinals a good opportunity. Bickley: "The nauseating loss at Minnesota cancels out the gift from Sebastian Janikowski and the Raiders. The standings paint an accurate picture. The Cardinals deserve to be 3-5. They have an inferior quarterback, a puzzling defense and an enigmatic running game. And yet someone in this awful division is going to host a playoff game."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic has more nice things to say about the NFC West: "Through the first half of the season, the NFC West has been the NFL's equivalent of a YMCA youth league in which scores and records aren't kept. All four teams finished feeling pretty darn optimistic about the future. All that was missing were the postgame treats of Capri Sun and Rice Krispies squares." Whose mom is bringing the snacks again this week?

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals placed defensive lineman Kenny Iwebema of injured reserve, a blow to Arizona on special teams.

Also from McManaman: a conversation with Cardinals underdog receiver Max Komar.

Darren Urban of goes out on a limb by saying an argument could be made that NFC West play qualifies as "less than stellar" to this point in the season.

Thoughts on the Rams' new tight end

February, 18, 2010
The Cardinals' signing of veteran center Melvin Fowler last offseason seemed to upgrade their depth on the line.

Fowler didn't last. The Cardinals cut him. Detroit signed him. Fowler still hasn't played in an NFL game since 2008.

The lesson: There's usually a reason teams release players.

That context should help Rams fans from getting too excited about the team's addition of former Bills tight end Derek Fine, recently claimed off waivers. Fine's addition is still a move worth monitoring, based on the potential he has shown when healthy. Unlike Fowler, an older player with 60 regular-season starts, Fine has played in only 18 games over two NFL seasons.

Before a knee injury ended Fine's 2009 season, Allen Wilson of the Buffalo News had this to say about him:
"Fine gives the Bills a bigger and more physical body at tight end than (Derek) Schouman or (Shawn) Nelson offers. A 6-foot-3, 250-pounder, Fine should be an asset in the running game because he is a tenacious run blocker who plays with good strength, leverage and technique at the point of attack. He's also an underrated receiver. He doesn't have the same burst to separate from defenders like Schouman or the speed and raw athleticism that Nelson possesses. But Fine has very reliable hands, runs good routes and has shown the ability to make himself an available target by finding soft spots in coverage."

The Rams were happy with backup tight end Billy Bajema, late of the 49ers, last season. They probably need to replace Randy McMichael, who is scheduled to become a free agent. Fine, a fourth-round pick in 2008, helps their numbers at the position while giving them another prospect to develop.