NFC West: E.J. Wilson

RENTON, Wash. -- Tis the season for NFL general managers to talk about the upcoming draft without tipping their hands.

The Seattle Seahawks' John Schneider and the San Francisco 49ers' Trent Baalke took their turns during pre-draft news conferences Wednesday. I was able to attend Schneider's session, which the team also streamed live on its website. A few notes and observations:
  • Personalities: Schneider's occasional references to movies such as "Step Brothers" and "Tommy Boy" show why he fits so well with coach Pete Carroll, who counts comedian Will Ferrell among his buddies and occasional visitors to team functions (including, presumably, any Catalina Wine Mixers). These guys like to have fun. Schneider joked that he was hoping to spend the draft's first round at Dino's Pub across the street from team headquarters until team officials talked him out of it. Seattle doesn't have a first-round pick after trading it to Minnesota for Percy Harvin. Schneider said the revised first-round plan was to watch Harvin highlights on YouTube while other teams made their picks.
  • Draft lessons: Schneider, asked about the boom-and-bust nature of players the team has drafted in the fourth round or thereabouts, pointed to a couple draft-related missteps he hoped to avoid in the future. Comparing a draft prospect to a veteran player with similar attributes has backfired in the past, he said, because it's tough to measure what's in a player's heart. Schneider also said it's a mistake to let a prospect's excellent production in college lull a team into asking fewer questions about the player. Schneider indicated that had happened to him in the past. He did not name names, but Kris Durham, E.J. Wilson and Mark LeGree were three underwhelming players the team selected in those rounds. Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and K.J. Wright were among the success stories.
  • Clemons' health: Schneider sounded optimistic about defensive end Chris Clemons' recovery from ACL surgery. He noted that Clemons proved to be a quick healer from foot/ankle surgery years ago. Clemons has a reputation on the team for being exceedingly tough when it comes to playing through pain. However, the team appears in position to carry Clemons on the physically unable to perform list, buying additional time before working Clemons into the lineup during the season. Adding Cliff Avril in free agency added flexibility.
  • Carpenter's confidence: James Carpenter is a wild-card player for the Seahawks on their offensive line. The team would love for him to emerge as a starting guard. Health is the No. 1 concern. Carpenter has struggled to regain quickness and range after suffering a serious knee injury. Schneider said Carpenter is the strongest player on the team, but the challenge will be for Carpenter to regain confidence and flexibility in his legs. Carpenter did stay in the Seattle area this offseason, which should help from a conditioning and rehabilitation standpoint.
  • 49ers watching: Fans and reporters have been paying close attention to the moves Seattle and San Francisco have been making since finishing one-half game apart in the standings last season. Schneider said he doesn't get caught up in what other teams are doing, but he did say he thought the 49ers fared well in adding Anquan Boldin, Glenn Dorsey and Colt McCoy specifically.
  • Winfield fit: Seattle announced cornerback Antoine Winfield's signing. The Seahawks see Winfield as a slot defender whose addition fills a specific need while improving the team's defense against run and pass alike. He said Winfield's agent was very aggressive in pushing for a deal with Seattle. Schneider considered that an indication players are eager to join a strong Seattle defense. He theorized that Carroll's reputation for treating players as men has gotten around the league, making Seattle a more attractive destination.
  • Grading the draft: Seattle and Washington are the only teams without first-round picks. Teams grade players differently, of course, and there will usually be players graded as first-round talents still available in the second round. Schneider said the number is usually two or three in a given year. He said there will usually be five to 15 players his teams gave second-round grades still available in that round. When the Seahawks used a 2010 second-round choice for receiver Golden Tate, they said at the time they had him rated as a first-round player.

That's it from here. Time to dive into that rush-hour traffic for the trip home.
The Seattle Seahawks announced Dexter Davis' release from the team Tuesday. This was not big news. Davis was a seventh-round choice in 2010. Injuries had diminished his effectiveness. The team had released and re-signed Davis previously.


In the bigger picture, Davis' release provided an opportunity to revisit that 2010 draft. Three Seattle choices from that year have earned Pro Bowl honors, most in the league and one more than the division-rival San Francisco 49ers. Both teams had two first-round picks that year.

Pro Bowl selections can be a bit arbitrary as the league scrambles to fill holes in its all-star rosters. They're not a definitive measure of draft-class success. Having three draft choices achieve that status within three seasons is a good thing, however.

Sixteen teams drafted in 2010 at least one player who has subsequently achieved Pro Bowl status. The other 16 teams combined to draft zero from their 126 combined selections.

Russell Okung, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor earned Pro Bowl honors for Seattle. Mike Iupati and NaVorro Bowman did so for the 49ers. Daryl Washington did so for the Arizona Cardinals. Bowman and Washington have already signed contract extensions. The others are candidates for extensions in the not-too-distant future.

Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh Ric Tapia/Icon SMIPete Carroll's Seahawks and Jim Harbaugh's 49ers have continued their rivalry into the offseason.
The 2012 battle for NFC West supremacy between the San Francisco 49ers' and Seattle Seahawks' has turned into a perceived battle this offseason.

"It just feels like the Seahawks make a move, then the Niners make a move," former NFL quarterback Damon Huard said Wednesday during our conversation on 710 ESPN Seattle. "The Seahawks sign Percy Harvin, then the Niners go get Anquan Boldin. The Niners just signed Nnamdi Asomugha, they signed Colt McCoy, and now it's the Seahawks' turn to sign a quarterback. It really feels like this competition that was so fun to watch last fall has carried over into the offseason between the Niners and the Seahawks."

That's what it feels like from this angle, too. So, when ESPN's Bill Polian listed 49ers general manager Trent Baalke among his top six executives Insider without a mention of Seattle counterpart John Schneider, I knew some Seahawks fans would take offense.

"Schneider should be on there," SamW9801 wrote in commenting on the Polian piece.

I'm going to ratchet up the discussion with an assist from Tony Villiotti of draftmetrics.com. Tony identified ranges of picks by how frequently teams have found five-year starters within those ranges.

Using those general ranges, displayed at right, I've put together a chart at the bottom of this item comparing the 49ers' and Seahawks' draft choices since 2010.

Baalke took over the 49ers' draft room roughly a month before the 2010 draft. Schneider became the Seahawks' GM that offseason. The 49ers then underwent a coaching change after the 2010 season, at which point Baalke assumed the GM title officially. We might cut Baalke some slack for selecting Taylor Mays, a player then-coach Mike Singletary valued. There were surely other times when both GMs followed their coaches' input, for better or worse.

Seattle has drafted 28 players during this period, three more than San Francisco has drafted. The Seahawks had more to work with from a qualitative point as well. Their median choice was No. 130 overall, compared to No. 165 for the 49ers.

It's pretty clear both teams know what they are doing in the draft.

Aldon Smith, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati and NaVorro Bowman have earned Pro Bowl and/or All-Pro honors for the 49ers. Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Russell Wilson, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman have done so for the Seahawks.

Both teams have found franchise quarterbacks after the first round. Colin Kaepernick was chosen 36th overall in 2011. Wilson went to Seattle at No. 75 last year.

Neither team has missed in that first category, which includes players taken among the top 13 overall picks. Smith and Okung are elite players at premium positions.

Both teams have unanswered questions in that 14-40 range. The 49ers are waiting on receiver A.J. Jenkins to produce. The Seahawks haven't gotten much from guard James Carpenter. But in Iupati and Thomas, the 49ers and Seahawks, respectively, found players among the very best at their positions. Kaepernick's selection puts this group over the top for San Francisco. Seattle got eight sacks from Bruce Irvin as a rookie in 2012, so the Seahawks aren't far behind. It's just impossible to overlook the value a franchise quarterback provides.

Seattle has the edge in the 41-66 range. Mays is long gone from the 49ers. That leaves LaMichael James for the 49ers against Bobby Wagner and Golden Tate for Seattle. Wagner was an instant starter at middle linebacker and a three-down player who commanded consideration for defensive rookie of the year. Tate blossomed with Wilson at quarterback.

The Seahawks also have an edge in that 67-86 range, having selected Wilson.

Seattle holds a 7-3 lead in number of picks used between the 87th and 149th choices, a range producing five-year starters 16 percent of the time, according to Villiotti.

Both teams used picks in that range for players whose injury situations dragged down their draft status: Joe Looney in San Francisco, Walter Thurmond in Seattle. Both teams found starting linebackers in this range: Bowman to the 49ers, K.J. Wright to the Seahawks. Both teams found developmental running backs in that range: Kendall Hunter to the 49ers, Robert Turbin to the Seahawks. Both teams found Pro Bowl players: Bowman in San Francisco, Chancellor in Seattle.

Sherman, arguably the NFL's best cornerback, gives Seattle an edge in the 150 through 189 range of picks. Both teams found backup tight ends there. Anthony Dixon (49ers) and Jeremy Lane (Seahawks) have the potential to expand their roles.

The 49ers found starting fullback Bruce Miller in the final pick range, which runs from 190 to the end of the draft. Seattle found a projected starting guard there in J.R. Sweezy. Malcolm Smith is a candidate to start at linebacker for Seattle. Miller and Sweezy both played defense in college. Miller already has successfully transitioned to offense. Seattle believes Sweezy will do the same.

Summing it up: Both teams can feel good about their draft performance in the past three seasons. I doubt either team would trade its picks for the other team's. That makes sense. Teams draft the players they like best. The 49ers have six projected 2013 starters to show for their choices. The number is eight for the Seahawks, not counting Irvin or Tate. Seattle has had more choices and higher choices, and more openings in the lineup to accommodate those players. I think that shows in the results.

Trading down in the NFL draft to acquire additional picks sounds good in theory.

Sometimes, it's tough finding a trading partner. Other times, sacrificing quality for quantity hurts a team's prospects.

But in every case, making an effort to trade down requires a team to trust its ability to find quality players later in a draft -- often in the middle rounds.

This is the range where the Seattle Seahawks' Pete Carroll and John Schneider have fared well since taking over the team before the 2010 draft. The team has used seven fourth- and fifth-round choices during that time, most in the division. Those picks have produced a Pro Bowl safety (Kam Chancellor), a very good starting cornerback (Richard Sherman), a starting linebacker (K.J. Wright) and two players coming off injuries (Kris Durham, Walter Thurmond).

I would expect Durham to make a push for playing time in 2012 and make it tougher for Mike Williams to keep a roster spot.

Arizona has also done well drafting in the fourth and fifth rounds. Sam Acho came on strong as a pass-rushing outside linebacker last season, collecting seven sacks, the second-most for a Cardinals rookie since sacks became an official stat in 1982. Another outside linebacker, O'Brien Schofield, gained momentum as the 2011 season progressed, finishing with 4.5 sacks. Anthony Sherman met expectations as a starting fullback while John Skelton finished the season with four fourth-quarter comeback victories.

I've included in the chart below information for St. Louis, but the Rams have new leadership, so those choices tell us nothing about the team's ability to maximize draft choices in the middle rounds. The San Francisco 49ers have used only two picks in the fourth and fifth rounds since 2010. They have one in each round this year.

Overall, I'd say Seattle and Arizona have done well enough in the middle rounds recently to consider trading back in the draft to acquire additional picks in that range. It's a little early to make any declarations about the 49ers or Rams along those lines.

Hitting on picks in this range provides insurance against the occasional whiffs early in a draft, while also building critical depth.
The Seattle Seahawks can thank the division-rival San Francisco 49ers for adding a high-gloss shine to their 2010 draft class.

Kam Chancellor, a fifth-round pick for Seattle that year, is headed to the Pro Bowl after the 49ers' Dashon Goldson withdrew from the game, citing injury. Chancellor's presence on the NFC roster gives Seattle two Pro Bowl safeties from its 2010 class. Earl Thomas, chosen sixth overall that year, was named to the team as the starting free safety.

I went back through that 2010 class and noticed the St. Louis Rams (Mardy Gilyard) and Seattle Seahawks (E.J. Wilson) were the only NFC West teams to release players chosen earlier than the fifth round that year.

Chancellor and the Rams' Mike Hoomanawanui are the only current projected starters chosen later than the fourth round (they were taken one pick apart in the fifth). Hoomanawanui might not start; it's too early to say.

Taylor Mays and Jorrick Calvin were the only NFC West picks traded.

Seattle's Golden Tate, chosen 60th overall, is the highest choice remaining with his team as a backup, not a starter.

A quick run through the 2010 class for the NFC West:

Arizona Cardinals

Starters: Dan Williams, Daryl Washington, Andre Roberts.

Backups: John Skelton, Jim Dray, O'Brien Schofield.

Traded: Jorrick Calvin.

Released: none.

Comment: The Cardinals were picking later than their division rivals after winning the 2009 NFC West title. They still found four projected starters. Washington, a second-rounder, stands out as the best selection. Williams and Roberts have much to prove. Schofield appears to be ascending. He did not start in 2011, however, and will have to win the job.

San Francisco 49ers

Starters: Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, NaVorro Bowman.

Backups: Anthony Dixon, Nate Byham, Kyle Williams.

Traded: Taylor Mays.

Released: Phillip Adams.

Comment: Bowman's emergence as an All-Pro inside linebacker strengthens this class and helps offset Mays' disappointing stint with the team. Byham was emerging as a top blocker before suffering a season-ending injury. Iupati is a first alternate to the Pro Bowl. Williams is coming off a rough NFC Championship Game.

Seattle Seahawks

Starters: Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor.

Backups: Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, Anthony McCoy, Dexter Davis, Jameson Konz.

Traded: none.

Released: E.J. Wilson.

Comment: Thomas and Chancellor are making this a successful class. Okung might be the best of the three, but only if he can get healthy. Thurmond was a starter until suffering an injury at Cleveland. He'll have a hard time winning back a starting job now that Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman have locked down jobs. But he could still factor. Tate made strides late in the 2011 season.

St. Louis Rams

Starters: Sam Bradford, Rodger Saffold, Mike Hoomanawanui.

Backups: Jerome Murphy, Eugene Sims, Marquis Johnson, Josh Hull.

Traded: none.

Released: Mardy Gilyard, Hall Davis, Fendi Onobun, George Selvie.

Comment: This class will succeed or fail based on how Bradford develops under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Bradford and the rest of this class -- and the entire roster, pretty much -- struggled this past season.

The first chart breaks down NFC West teams' picks by projected status for 2012.

The second chart provides context. The Rams have released four players from their 2010 class, which could look bad. But they also had far more later-round picks than their division rivals. Those players have a harder time earning roster spots.

Assessing 2010 NFC West draft classes

August, 31, 2011
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The Arizona Cardinals' division rivals selected five players among the first 17 overall selections in the 2010 NFL draft.

The Cardinals weren't on the clock until they made nose tackle Dan Williams the 26th overall choice.

A year later, Arizona expects to have three members of its 2010 class starting in Week 1, a number that compares favorably within the division.

With the regular season less than two weeks away, I'll revisit the 2010 NFC West draft classes, pointing to injury considerations and key variables.

St. Louis Rams

Total 2010 picks: 11

No longer with team (1): Hall Davis, LB, fifth round (traded to Washington).

Projected starters (2): Sam Bradford, QB, first round; Rodger Saffold, LT, second round.

Others (8): Jerome Murphy, CB, third round; Mardy Gilyard, WR, fourth round; Michael Hoomanawanui, TE, fifth round; Eugene Sims, DE, sixth round; Fendi Onobun, TE, sixth round; George Selvie, DE, seventh round; Josh Hull, LB, seventh round; Marquis Johnson, CB, seventh round.

Injury considerations: Murphy underwent ankle surgery and is out indefinitely, a setback for the secondary. A series of injuries to Hoomanawanui makes it tougher for the team to count on him. If healthy, he's a key role player.

Key variable: Gilyard's development, discussed in some detail Tuesday. The Rams have other options at receiver. Gilyard suffered when the Rams lost their offensive coordinator heading into the NFL lockout.



Seattle Seahawks

Total 2010 picks: nine

No longer with team (1): E.J. Wilson, DE, fourth round (waived).

Projected starters (4): Russell Okung, LT, first round; Earl Thomas, FS, first round; Walter Thurmond, CB, fourth round; Kam Chancellor, SS, fifth round.

Others (4): Golden Tate, WR, second round; Anthony McCoy, TE, sixth round; Dexter Davis, DE, seventh round; Jameson Konz, DE, seventh round.

Injury considerations: Okung's repeated ankle sprains have kept him off the field for long stretches. The team needs him healthy to stabilize the line.

Key variable: Tate's development, discussed in some detail Tuesday. The section on Gilyard applies here. The Seahawks have other options. Tate suffered when the Seahawks fired their offensive coordinator heading into the lockout. It's looking like an upset if Tate becomes a key contributor this season.



San Francisco 49ers

Total 2010 picks: eight

No longer with team (1): Taylor Mays, SS, second round (traded to Cincinnati)

Projected starters (3): Anthony Davis, RT, first round; Mike Iupati, LG, first round; NaVorro Bowman, LB, third round.

Others (4): Anthony Dixon, RB, sixth round; Nate Byham, TE, sixth round; Kyle Williams, WR, sixth round; Phillip Adams, CB, seventh round.

Injury considerations: A season-ending knee injury will sideline Byham, who was looking like one of the better young blocking tight ends in the league.

Key variable: Davis' development. The 49ers need their young right tackle to gain consistency in his second season. Like other members of the 2010 draft class, Davis could have used a fuller offseason to develop in an organized setting. Instead, he's pretty much picking up where he left off last season.



Arizona Cardinals

Total 2010 picks: seven

No longer with team (1): Jorrick Calvin, CB, sixth round (traded to Philadelphia)

Projected starters (3): Williams, NT, first round; Daryl Washington, LB, second round; Andre Roberts, WR, third round.

Others (3): O'Brien Schofield, OLB, fourth round; John Skelton, QB, fifth round; Jim Dray, TE, seventh round.

Injury considerations: A high-ankle sprain has sidelined Skelton, the No. 2 quarterback. The team signed Brodie Croyle as insurance in the short term. Rich Bartel could push for the No. 2 job as well.

Key variable: Schofield's development. The Cardinals knew Schofield would require time to more fully recover from the knee injury he suffered during 2010 Senior Bowl practices. They've seen flashes from Schofield during the preseason and badly need whatever he can give them from a pass-rushing standpoint.
NFC West teams have drafted 22 defensive ends since 2002, a number smaller than I would have anticipated.

An even smaller number -- two! -- start for the teams that drafted them.

One, Antonio Smith, starts for another team.

A few notes relating to this latest item in a series examining various positions:
  • Kentwan Balmer appears as a defensive end because the San Francisco 49ers drafted him to play that position. Balmer played defensive tackle in college.
  • Darnell Dockett does not appear as a defensive end because the Arizona Cardinals drafted him to play defensive tackle. Yes, Dockett plays defensive end in the Cardinals' current scheme, but the NFL lists him as a tackle for Pro Bowl voting and he is not a typical defensive end even by 3-4 standards.
  • Of the 22, only Chris Long and Calais Campbell are starting for their original teams. Smith is starting for the Houston Texans.
  • Six of the eight most highly drafted ends since 2002 came from teams most recently affiliated with the ACC.
  • Long was the only player on the list drafted before the 28th overall choice.
  • Will Davis and Parys Haralson were listed as defensive ends coming out of college, but both projected as outside linebackers. That is why they do not appear below. Cody Brown also projects at linebacker.
  • I've used the term "not active" loosely in the charts to describe players who weren't on active rosters during the regular season recently.

Now, on to the charts. I've broken them up with italicized comments representing what NFL teams might have been thinking at corresponding stages of these drafts.

Playing it safe and hoping those NFL bloodlines pay off ...


Defensive linemen are at a premium, and we might find out why ...


The pure pass-rushers are gone by now ...


If these guys don't pan out, it'll be a while before we take another third-round end ...


It's an upset if we find a starter at this point ...


Time to fill out the practice squad, but you never know ...

The lockout will force NFL teams to rely more heavily on the draft than free agency, for now.

They'll need the players they chose in 2010 to step forward as well. That will be more challenging if the lockout prevents second-year pros from participating in the meetings and workouts that come with a typical offseason. It's still possible to make projections based on what 2010 draft choices showed as rookies.

I'll begin with the Seattle Seahawks.

"Our guys all the way through the picks, not everybody has stuck, but for the most part, we were counting on guys to play," coach Pete Carroll said from the NFL owners meeting last month. "You put together another year like that and another year like that, and your roster should be really be adjusted well."

The chart breaks down the Seahawks' 2010 draft choices based on how they could fit in 2011.

Perspective on 2010 draft pick's release

November, 23, 2010
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The Seattle Seahawks sought depth on their injury-depleted defensive line as they tried to shore up their run defense.

Part of their plan included releasing the first defensive lineman they selected in the 2010 draft.

E.J. Wilson, a defensive end from North Carolina, becomes a rare first-year casualty among 2010 NFL fourth-round choices.

The Pittsburgh Steelers released 116th overall choice Thaddeus Gibson, an outside linebacker was claimed off waivers by the San Francisco 49ers. The New Orleans Saints released defensive tackle Al Woods (123rd overall). Wilson became the third member of that fourth-round class to receive his release. Seattle drafted him with the 127th choice.

The Seahawks released Wilson to re-sign veteran defensive tackle Amon Gordon. There were no indications the Seahawks planned to sign Wilson to their practice squad.

Also: The Seahawks released guard Allen Barbre to sign tackle Will Robinson off the Washington Redskins' practice squad, an indication guard Mike Gibson could return from the injured list to replace left guard Chester Pitts (sprained ankle). Backup tackle Tyler Polumbus might also work at guard for Seattle.

The chart shows NFC West fourth-round draft choices from 2010. The 49ers traded their fourth-rounder to the Denver Broncos as part of a deal to acquire the 11th overall choice, used for tackle Anthony Davis.

NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints named Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, Jeremy Shockey and Darren Sharper inactive against the Seattle Seahawks.

Seattle, meanwhile, has left tackle Russell Okung and slot receiver Brandon Stokley back from injuries.

Inactive for New Orleans: Thomas, Bush, Shockey, Sharper, cornerback Patrick Robinson, safety Malcolm Jenkins, linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar and tackle Charles Brown. Former Seahawks Julius Jones starts at running back for the Saints. Usama Young starts at free safety. Jimmy Graham starts at tight end.

Inactive for Seattle: running back Michael Robinson, guard Mike Gibson, receiver Golden Tate, receiver Ruvell Martin, tight end Anthony McCoy, defensive tackle Colin Cole and defensive lineman E.J. Wilson. J.P. Losman is the third quarterback.

Having Okung available for the first time since Week 7 gives Seattle a shot at improving its offensive line, particularly in run blocking. Okung has battled ankle injuries this season. He has been active for only three regular-season games previously.

Playing without Robinson and McCoy, a backup tight end, limits some of the personnel groups Seattle might otherwise employ. The team used four tight ends at times last week, including with John Carlson lining up at fullback.

Making sense of major Week 10 injury news

November, 14, 2010
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SAN FRANCISCO -- The St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers announced their list of inactive players for Week 10 without making waves.

The situation was much different in Arizona, where the Cardinals named defensive lineman Darnell Dockett (shoulder) and running back Beanie Wells (knee) inactive against Seattle. The Seahawks named left tackle Russell Okung inactive, no surprise but a significant development nonetheless.

A look at NFC West inactives:

Arizona Cardinals: Wells, Dockett, receiver Max Komar, cornerback A.J. Jefferson, safety Hamza Abdullah, linebacker Cyril Obiozor and center Ben Claxton. John Skelton is the third quarterback. Paris Lenon is starting at linebacker despite an ankle injury. Alan Branch starts for Dockett. Branch has played well this season; he had two sacks against the Seahawks earlier this season in a breakout game for him.

Seattle Seahawks: Okung, receiver Brandon Stokley, fullback Michael Robinson, guard Mike Gibson, receiver Golden Tate, nose tackle Colin Cole and defensive lineman E.J. Wilson. Gibson provided quality depth on the offensive line. Ruvell Martin is active at receiver while Stokley and Tate recover from injuries.

St. Louis Rams: cornerback Justin King, cornerback Quincy Butler, safety James Butler, tight end Fendi Onobun, linebacker David Vobora, guard John Greco, receiver Danario Alexander and defensive end Eugene Sims. The Rams are thin in the secondary, as usual, but the 49ers aren't likely to spread the field with wide receivers all afternoon, either.

San Francisco 49ers: receiver Kyle Williams, quarterback Alex Smith, cornerback Tramaine Brock, linebacker Keaton Kristick, linebacker Thaddeus Gibson, tackle Barry Sims, tackle Alex Boone and receiver Jason Hill. The 49ers are keeping four wide receivers active, the minimum. They are healthier at tight end.
SEATTLE -- The Seahawks' list of players named inactive Sunday featured no surprises.

Cornerback Kelly Jennings and defensive end Brandon Mebane missed practices, so their inclusion on the inactive list had been expected. Mebane will have missed two games in a row after suffering a calf injury. Jennings suffered a hamstring injury in Week 6.

Also inactive for Seattle: Nate Ness, Dexter Davis, Allen Barbre, Chester Pitts, Anthony McCoy and E.J. Wilson.

Mebane, Pitts inactive for Seahawks

October, 17, 2010
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CHICAGO -- The Seattle Seahawks' list of inactive players Sunday includes starting defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and veteran guard Chester Pitts.

Mebane has been recovering from a calf injury. Pitts is attempting to come back from microfracture knee surgery; he has not yet played this season.

Mebane is one of the Seahawks' better defensive players. Junior Siavii will start in his place. Update: Kentwan Balmer starts in Mebane's place. My bad.

Also inactive for Seattle: defensive back Nate Ness, cornerback Kennard Cox, offensive lineman Allen Barbre, tackle Breno Giacomini, tight end Anthony McCoy and defensive end E.J. Wilson.

2010 NFL Draft: NFC West player updates

October, 8, 2010
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St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is commanding most of the attention among NFC West rookies.

A quick look at Bradford and the division's other 2010 draft choices through Week 4:

Arizona Cardinals: First-round nose tackle Dan Williams was named inactive Sunday after failing to make weight requirements. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Williams got the message. Arizona has drafted its share of disappointing nose tackles. It's too early to know whether Williams will break the trend.


St. Louis Rams: The Rams' offensive line struggled in its only road game this season. Let's see whether rookie left tackle Rodger Saffold fares better at Detroit in Week 5. Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui practiced some this week for the first time since suffering a high-ankle sprain. He could become a factor if the ankle allows.


San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers' top six picks are already making positive contributions. Coaches trusted Anthony Dixon on a third-and-1 carry against Atlanta in Week 4. Dixon picked up the first down. He scored a touchdown against New Orleans on his first carry this season.


Seattle Seahawks: Left tackle Russell Okung started but did not finish the St. Louis game. He's still working his way back from a high-ankle sprain. Walter Thurmond did not play even in a nickel or dime role when Marcus Trufant was cleared following an ankle injury, a bit of a surprise. Thurmond had worked as the starter in practice, so he might have faced a difficult adjustment to a more specialized role on game day.

Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. ranks his 10 best pass-rushers -- and 10 more worth of honorable mention -- without listing anyone from the NFC West.

It's tough to claim Williamson erred. I probably wouldn't list any NFC West players among the 10 or 20 best, either.

But four games into the season, Seattle's Chris Clemons and St. Louis' James Hall have 4.0 sacks apiece, ranking tied for fifth in the NFL with Williamson's No. 1 pass-rusher, DeMarcus Ware, among others.

The Seahawks' move to acquire Clemons from Philadelphia for Darryl Tapp looks like a big win for Seattle. The Seahawks also acquired the Eagles' fourth-round choice, which Seattle used for E.J. Wilson. Tapp has 1.0 sack in two games for the Eagles this season.

Perceptions at the time of the trade suggested the Eagles were acquiring Tapp and Seattle was getting a lesser player, plus a pick. The reality is that Seattle needed Clemons more than the Eagles needed Tapp, and Clemons has outplayed Tapp to this point in the season. The Seahawks would be in trouble without Clemons, in my view. He is clearly their best pass-rusher.

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