NFC West: Frank Leonard

Sizing up NFC West coaching staffs

February, 4, 2010
2/04/10
3:33
PM ET
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.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic says there's a market for the lifestyle Kurt and Brenda Warner promote in their new book. Recent events have created what she calls an uneasy juxtaposition: "On the same day police declared that a former NFL quarterback died at the hands of his mistress, I am staring at an active NFL quarterback luring hundreds to a book signing that celebrates his relationship with his wife and seven children."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com, in response to SI.com's Don Banks, thinks it's no big deal if Matt Leinart spends another year on the bench. The team just paid big bucks to Kurt Warner. There's no way Leinart should get on the field if Warner is able to play.

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind sizes up the Cardinals' linebackers and how they fit into a 3-4 defense. He mentions nine other 3-4 teams. I would add the Broncos and Chiefs to the list.

Taylor Price of 49ers.com says kicker Joe Nedney expressed concerns for former teammate Steve McNair's family following the retired quarterback's murder. Nedney: "I'm still trying to wrap my mind about the whole situation. But ultimately my heart goes out to his family, especially to his wife Mechelle, and his four sons. I hope they can get through this whole thing, too."

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News runs the 49ers' practice schedule for training camp. Only four practices open to the public this year.

David Fucillo of Niners Nation solicits votes for the best outside linebackers in team history. Dave Wilcos was a seven-time Pro Bowl choice and five-time All-Pro during the 1960s and 1970s. He had prototypical size (6-foot-3 and 240 pounds) and missed only one game to injury.

Turf Show Times' VanRam projects the Rams' 53-man roster. I love these exercises and will do them for each team periodically as the season approaches. VanRam gives the Rams four running backs, six wide receivers and 10 offensive linemen. I think keeping 10 offensive linemen would be a luxury. All but five NFL teams kept nine or fewer on the initial cutdown to 53 players last summer. Every NFC West team kept nine. But we shall see.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com checks in with tight ends coach Frank Leonard as part of his continuing series on the Rams' assistants. Leonard is one of the louder assistant coaches I've heard as far as how he projects himself during practices.

Tim Klutsarits of examiner.com breaks down some of the best players in Rams history by various positions.

John Zenor of the Associated Press says former Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander is traveling the country on a Christian mission trip while hoping an NFL team requests his services as a player. Alexander says he has received no offers yet.

Art Thiel of seattlepi.com reports in detail from Mount Rainier following the recent climb featuring Roger Goodell and Jim Mora. Thiel: "Breaking through, Goodell and the rope teams continued at a measured pace onto the summit, arriving not long after sunrise. It was 9 degrees. The wind was picking up, clouds were back to re-sock the mountain, uncharacteristic for July. The celebration was brief in order to make safely the long slog down by mid-afternoon."

Dan Arkush of Pro Football Weekly says early signs suggest Max Unger could start for the Seahawks as a rookie. I've felt this way since draft day. Unger's versatility allows him to play any of the three interior positions, where the incumbent starters are coming off injury-shortened seasons.

Chris Sullivan of Seahawk Addicts is excited about the possibility of Unger becoming a starter.

John Morgan of Field Gulls reflects on Patrick Kerney's lost 2008 season while trying to project the Seattle defensive end's future. Morgan: "Kerney's got about as bad a bunch of injuries as a defensive lineman can have without losing his back or knees. I don't expect a precipitous drop, though it's happened to better ends than Kerney, but anything approaching his 2007 is far fetched."

Carthon's departure was in the works

February, 19, 2009
2/19/09
6:59
PM ET

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.

Title Cardinals 49ers Seahawks Rams
Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt
Mike Singletary
Jim Mora
Steve Spagnuolo
Off. Coord.
(shared)
Jimmy Raye
Greg Knapp
Pat Shurmur
OL Russ Grimm
Chris Foerster
Mike Solari
Steve Loney
QB Chris Miller
Mike Johnson
Bill Lazor
Dick Curl
WR John McNulty
Jerry Sullivan
Robert Prince
Charlie Baggett
RB Curtis Modkins
Tom Rathman
Kasey Dunn
Sylvester Croom
TE Freddie Kitchens
Pete Hoener
Mike DeBord
Frank Leonard
Def. Coord.
Bill Davis
Greg Manusky
Gus Bradley
Ken Flajole
DL Ron Aiken
Jim Tomsula
Dan Quinn
Brendan Daly
LB Matt Raich
(shared)
Zerick Rollins
Paul Ferraro
DB Teryl Austin
(shared)
Tim Lewis (shared)
Special Teams
Kevin Spencer
Al Everest
Bruce DeHaven
Tom McMahon

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.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

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.

Title Cardinals 49ers Seahawks Rams
Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt
Mike Singletary
Jim Mora
Steve Spagnuolo
Off. Coord.
(open)
Jimmy Raye
Greg Knapp
Pat Shurmur
OL Russ Grimm
Chris Foerster
Mike Solari
Steve Loney
QB (open)
Mike Johnson
Bill Lazor
Dick Curl
WR Mike Miller
Jerry Sullivan
Robert Prince
Charlie Baggett
RB Maurice Carthon
Tom Rathman
Kasey Dunn
Sylvester Croom
TE Freddie Kitchens
Pete Hoener
Mike DeBord
Frank Leonard
Def. Coord.
(open) Greg Manusky
Gus Bradley
Ken Flajole
DL Ron Aiken
Jim Tomsula
Dan Quinn
Brendan Daly
LB Bill Davis
(shared)
Zerick Rollins
Paul Ferraro
DB Teryl Austin
(shared)
Tim Lewis (shared)
Special Teams
Kevin Spencer
Al Everest
Bruce DeHaven
Tom McMahon

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.

(Read full post)

Around the NFC West: York to open up

February, 13, 2009
2/13/09
9:28
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Niners president Jed York and other leading team officials plan to take fans' questions during a 90-minute event for season-ticket holders Monday. Mike Singletary, Scott McCloughan and Andy Dolich will also be available. The team plans to stream the event live on its Web site. 

McCloughan's mailbag features answers to fans' questions, including an explanation for the three-digit offense. McCloughan: "The digit system is a numbering system for routes in the passing attack. It's the same system Norv Turner ran. I believe that Raye and Turner learned it all from Don Coryell. It's a numeric system for the route ran on a particular play."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers were in no hurry to re-sign Roderick Green even before the pass rusher's recent arrest.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides an update on Steve Spagnuolo's first weeks on the job as Rams coach. Thomas: "Spagnuolo also clarified the job descriptions of three coaches who when hired were given generic titles of offensive or defensive assistants: Frank Leonard will coach tight ends, Paul Ferraro will coach linebackers and Andre Curtis will coach safeties."

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Spagnuolo is spending his time getting familiar with the Rams' personnel.

VanRam of Turf Show Times expects Spagnuolo's staff to avoid the types of differences that marked former coach Scott Linehan's relationship with former defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic quotes Kurt Warner's agent as saying the quarterback wants to continue playing. Contract talks have commenced.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com links to Warner's appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 singles out Steve Breaston as the Cardinals' most improved player during the 2008 season.

John Morgan of Field Gulls stands by the Seahawks' strength and conditioning coaches despite an injury-plagued 2008 season. He also thinks the Seahawks should have drafted a quarterback last offseason, even if the college crop appears worse now than it did in 2008. Morgan: "Seattle is again at square one in preparation for life after [Matt] Hasselbeck. It's not a great group of quarterbacks, and I think I overestimated them before getting a better look, but if Seattle's unwilling to take a plunge on a top quarterback talent, continually drafting marginal talent and seeing if one develops beats the hell out of effectively doing nothing."

Rams' coaching staff grows by three

February, 9, 2009
2/09/09
5:41
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams' coaching staff is tied for the largest in the NFC West after the team added Clayton Lopez, Andy Sugarman and Derius Swinton in moves announced Monday.

The hirings give the Rams 20 coaches, counting head coach Steve Spagnuolo. That matches the 49ers' total. The Seahawks have 18. The Cardinals have 14 after losing offensive coordinator Todd Haley and firing defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast.

The Rams' and 49ers' totals are higher in part because both teams list their head coaches' administrative assistants -- Bruce Warwick in St. Louis and Bill Nayes in San Francisco -- as staff members. The Rams listed 20 coaches entering last season as well.

Lopez, a Seahawks assistant from 1999 to 2003, joins the Rams as a defensive assistant. A specific title was not given. His background is in the secondary. The Rams have not named a secondary coach. Lopez coached with new Rams defensive coordinator Ken Flajole in Seattle.

Sugarman, a former Lions and 49ers assistant who was out of the league in 2008, will serve as offensive quality control coach. Swinton spent the past two seasons at the University of Tennessee. He will serve as quality control coach for special teams. Quality control coaches tend to work extremely long hours logging formations, personnel groupings and a long list of other parameters while breaking down video of upcoming opponents, among other often underappreciated duties.

The Rams have not named coaches at tight end, linebacker or secondary. Andre Curtis and Paul Ferraro were hired as unspecified defensive assistants. The Rams have also hired Frank Leonard as an unspecified offensive assistant.

Full Rams staff below:

(Read full post)

Sizing up NFC West coaching staffs

February, 5, 2009
2/05/09
4:20
PM ET
Title Cardinals 49ers Seahawks Rams
Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt
Mike Singletary
Jim Mora
Steve Spagnuolo
Off. Coord.
Todd Haley
Jimmy Raye
Greg Knapp
Pat Shurmur
OL Russ Grimm
Chris Foerster
Mike Solari
Steve Loney
QB Jeff Rutledge
Mike Johnson
Bill Lazor
Dick Curl
WR Mike Miller
Jerry Sullivan
Robert Prince
Charlie Baggett
RB Maurice Carthon
Tom Rathman
Kasey Dunn
Sylvester Croom
TE Freddie Kitchens
Pete Hoener
Mike DeBord
(unnamed)
Def. Coord.
C. Pendergast Greg Manusky
Gus Bradley
Ken Flajole
DL Ron Aiken
Jim Tomsula
Dan Quinn
Brendan Daly
LB Bill Davis
(shared)
Zerick Rollins
(unnamed)
DB Teryl Austin
(shared)
Tim Lewis (unnamed)
Special Teams
Kevin Spencer
Al Everest
Bruce DeHaven
Tom McMahon

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:

(Read full post)

Coaching staff update: Rams

February, 3, 2009
2/03/09
12:58
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams are close to completing their coaching staff under Steve Spagnuolo. I've been keeping track of the hires as they become official.

Here's where the Rams stand on coaching hires (2008 employers and job titles in parenthesis):

Head coach: Steve Spagnuolo (Giants, defensive coordinator)

Assistant head coach/quarterbacks: Dick Curl (Chiefs, quarterbacks)

Assistant to the head coach/football operations: Bruce Warwick (University of Tennessee, assistant athletic director for football operations)

Offensive coordinator: Pat Shurmur (Eagles, quarterbacks)

Offensive line: Steve Loney (Rams, offensive line)

Assistant offensive line: Art Valero (Rams, running backs)

Receivers: Charlie Baggett (University of Washington, receivers)

Tight ends: open

Running backs: Sylvester Croom (Mississippi State University, head coach)

Offensive assistant, title undetermined: Frank Leonard (Kansas State University, tight ends)

Defensive coordinator: Ken Flajole (Panthers, linebackers)

Defensive line: Brendan Daly (Vikings, assistant defensive line)

Linebackers: open

Secondary: open

Defensive assistant, title undetermined: Andre Curtis (Giants, defensive quality control)

Defensive assistant, title undetermined: Paul Ferraro (Vikings, special teams)

Defensive quality control: Matt House (Panthers, assistant special teams and assistant strength and conditioning)

Special teams: Tom McMahon (Falcons, assistant special teams)

Strength and conditioning: Rock Gullickson (Packers, strength and conditioning)

Assistant strength and conditioning: open

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic explains why Larry Fitzgerald's comments about restructuring his contract to accommodate a new deal with Anquan Boldin were as irrelevant as they were well-intentioned. The Cardinals have more than $40 million in salary-cap space. They do not need additional space to create room for a new deal with Boldin. The hard part will be reaching a new deal with Boldin, not figuring out how to make that deal fit within the salary cap.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers could be leaning toward hiring Ravens assistant Hue Jackson as offensive coordinator. Jackson received a second interview. Meanwhile, Mike Johnson interviewed as a potential quarterbacks coach. He was out of the NFL last season after working for three NFL teams. Jimmy Raye is another potential candidate, although the team would not confirm whether he would interview.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides an update on the Rams' new coaching staff. Charlie Baggett will coach receivers, as expected. The team has now hired offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, quarterbacks coach Dick Curl, offensive line coach Steve Loney, Baggett, offensive assistant Frank Leonard and defensive coordinator Ken Flajole. The team has not hired coaches for the defensive line, secondary, running backs, tight ends and special teams.

Nothing on the Seahawks at present, as far as I know.

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