NFC West: Gary Plummer
The St. Louis Rams are one of those teams.
They drafted 10 players and are close to adding 23 undrafted free agents.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams cut five veteran players Thursday -- Demarco Cosby, John Henderson, Nate Ness, Quinn Porter and Chris Smith -- to make room for the influx. Thomas: "The Rams attempted to address their shortage of linebackers by adding undrafted rookies Sammy Brown of Houston, Derrick Choice of Stephen F. Austin, Alex Hoffman-Ellis of Washington State, and Noah Keller of Ohio. Brown led the nation in tackles for loss (30), while also registering 13.5 sacks for Houston. He's 6-2, 242 and ran a 4.63 at his pro day. Hoffman-Ellis was named Washington State's defensive MVP for the 2011 season after recording 88 tackles and two sacks, and returning his only interception for a touchdown." Noted: Releasing veteran kicker Josh Brown also contributed to the youth movement.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the San Francisco 49ers "have not ruled out" moving right tackle Anthony Davis to right guard, allowing Alex Boone to take over at right tackle. But Boone might be the front-runner at right guard for now. Maiocco: "The 49ers were fine letting Adam Snyder get away to sign a five-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals because the team believes a promotion from within will result in an upgrade. If Boone wins the starting job at right guard, he could still serve as the team's swing tackle. It would be easier for the 49ers to move Boone to one of the tackle positions and bring someone off the sideline to take over at guard than to groom another player to back up at both tackle spots."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says rookie Josh Looney faces stiff competition in his push to start at right guard.
Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with former 49ers linebacker and broadcaster Gary Plummer regarding the death of Plummer's friend and former teammate, Junior Seau. Plummer estimated he had suffered more than 1,000 concussions during his career, and that Seau probably suffered more than that. Plummer: "In the 1990s, I did a concussion seminar. They said a Grade 3 concussion meant you were knocked out, and a Grade 1 meant you were seeing stars after a hit, which made me burst out in laughter. As a middle linebacker in the NFL, if you don't have five of these (Grade 1 effects) each game, you were inactive the next game. Junior played for 20 years. That's five concussions a game, easily. How many in his career then? That's over 1,500 concussions. I know that's startling, but I know it's true. I had over 1,000 in my 15 years. I felt the effects of it. I felt depression going on throughout my divorce. Junior went through it with his divorce." Noted: I'd be interested in hearing what a doctor would say about Plummer's estimates.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com looks at all the starters who have been in the lineup with Leroy Hill.
Also from Farnsworth: a look at the unusual pieces the Seahawks have put together on defense. Coach Pete Carroll: "Our defense is a 4-3 scheme with 3-4 personnel. It’s just utilizing the special talents of our guys."
Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle runs the Robert Turbin photo Carroll was marveling over during draft weekend. Does any player in the NFL have more muscular arms?
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' decision to draft a cornerback early added competition to a position that wasn't hurting in that area. Somers: "At least four cornerbacks, including Greg Toler and Jamell Fleming, have a legitimate shot at starting at left cornerback. Toler was contending for the job last summer when he suffered a torn ACL and missed the season. A.J. Jefferson, who lost the starting job after seven games, is returning. William Gay signed as a free agent."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the team has recommitted to quarterback fundamentals with John McNulty coaching the position. John Skelton: "In years past, it seemed like, if the ball’s on the money and where it needs to be, we could let everything else slide. Now, I am throwing some good balls but my feet are messed up and that’s when I get coached up. Not only with coach McNulty but coach (Ken Whisenhunt) back there and coach Mike (Miller) sometimes."
Also from Somers: About 20 Cardinals players attended the first workout. Guard Rex Hadnot: "Fitz put the word out and guys have responded. This is what being a pro is about, when things aren’t going the way they’ve always gone, you must continue to do what you must do to put yourself in a successful situation."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks out the team's exhibition schedule. Urban: "It’s the seventh time in eight seasons the Cards have closed with the Broncos, with only last year – when the Broncos were on the regular-season schedule – left without a preseason meeting. The Cardinals faced the Packers in the preseason in 2009, when the teams completed a trifecta of meeting in the preseason, regular season and playoffs. All three games were at University of Phoenix Stadium. The last time the Cards traveled to Green Bay was in 2006 during the final season of coach Dennis Green’s tenure."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says University of Washington linebacker Mason Foster visited the Rams this week and could be an option for the team in the second or third round of the draft. Foster: "I know they're an up-and-coming team, led by a great linebacker in the middle with (James) Laurinaitis. So, I'm excited to meet the Rams, and I think it'll be a good fit for me. And I definitely know they need the help at the linebacker position, so it's just a great opportunity for me." As Thomas notes, pre-draft visits aren't reliable indicators of how a team will proceed. For example, the Rams did not bring in linebacker James Laurinaitis for a visit the year they drafted him in the second round.
Stlouisrams.com says the team's scheduled appearance in the Hall of Fame Game will be the fourth in franchise history. Coach Steve Spagnuolo: "It’s an honor to play in Canton and pay tribute to the careers of our own Marshall Faulk and Les Richter, as well as the other outstanding individuals who are being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. What a great NFL event to be a part of and a tremendous experience for our team. We are excited to kickoff the 2011 season by competing against our preseason slate of opponents as well as participating in the Hall of Fame game."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times sizes up the Seahawks' exhibition schedule. O'Neil: "The Seahawks went 1-3 in exhibition games last season, their first under coach Pete Carroll. It was Seattle's first losing record in the exhibition season since 2002. This is the sixth consecutive season Seattle will conclude its exhibition schedule against Oakland, and the sixth time in eight years the Seahawks are playing the Vikings before the regular season."
Joe Kazmar of The Record passes along thoughts from Seahawks scout Matt Berry regarding safety Earl Thomas, the team's first-round choice in 2010. Berry: "Earl is one of my favorite players. The first thing that sticks out about Earl on the field is how hard he practices and just the tempo he carries himself with. Texas is a little bit different place. You walk out and there are athletes everywhere. Earl sort of stuck out in my early visits. Then you watch him play and you see the instincts, you see the range."
Wday.com says Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley was back at North Dakota State University, where he used to coach, for an annual coaching clinic. Bradley: "I pulled up our facilities and showed them to coaches like Ken Norton and Pete Carroll, they said, 'That's better than what we've got at USC.' They said that place is something special. It’s unbelievable, the passion that the people, the community, the state have for this program. And I think people don’t fully realize that. Once they see those pictures and they realize what the program is all about, it hits you."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com checks in with former South Florida coach Jim Leavitt, the 49ers' new linebackers coach. Maiocco: "Leavitt had the appearance of a lifer at South Florida before getting fired under a cloud of controversy 15 months ago. He took a $20,000 pay cut from his job as defensive coordinator at nationally ranked Kansas State to return to his hometown of Tampa to take on the daunting challenge of creating the South Florida football program in 1997. Under its charismatic leader, South Florida played in five consecutive bowl games and rose to as high as No. 2 in the BCS standings in 2007. But Leavitt's head-coaching career came crashing down when he was fired in January 2010 after a university investigation concluded he hit a player during halftime of a November 2009 game." I feel confident saying Leavitt will not strike Patrick Willis during halftime or any other time.
Also from Maiocco: a look at which college players are visiting the 49ers before the draft.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Alex Smith has a one-year offer on the table, pending the lockout, to stay with the 49ers. Coach Jim Harbaugh said he's not concerned about fans booing every Smith misstep. Harbaugh: "Well, the question is, 'Do you have baby deer skin or skin like an armadillo?' That's where the rubber meets the road there. If someone doesn't like me or doesn't cheer loud for me -- is he going to be deep and emotionally scarred by that? I mean, most true competitors, most men like that would take offense to somebody inferring that about him."
Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says a raunchy radio interview played a role in Gary Plummer's departure from the 49ers as the team's color commentator. Brown: "Deadspin.com on Tuesday unearthed a recent interview in which Plummer recounts his sexual exploits -- in sometimes graphic detail -- and tells the story of how team employees helped arrange postgame trysts for players during his days as a 49ers linebacker in the 1990s." Plummer said the 49ers cited the interview in terminating him, but he blamed his firing primarily on the team's dissatisfaction with on-air criticisms of the team. Plummer said the team warned him repeatedly last season. Plummer: "I literally asked them, 'How much powdered sugar do you want me to put on dog (waste) to make it taste good? We're 0-5. We're last in the league in offense, and we've had three players quit.'"
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com introduces the Cardinals' latest video in their "All In" series. The video shows the Cardinals meeting with Blaine Gabbert and others at the combine.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com looks back at the team's inaugural season. Jim Zorn: "We only won two games that first year, but you would have thought we almost went to the playoffs. That’s how enthusiastic not only we were, but the fans were. Everybody was excited."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times lays out draft expectations for the Seahawks during his latest chat. O'Neil: "Well, if Seahawks are on the clock at No. 25 and Mark Ingram is still there, the Seahawks would have to look long and hard at that one, and it would be tough to justify passing up a young back with that power and that talent just because you have Marshawn Lynch signed for another year. Remember back in 2006 when a quarterback went tumbling down the draft order, and Green Bay -- with John Schneider in that front office -- didn't have a pronounced need at quarterback. But they took Aaron Rodgers. I think the evidence points to the fact that say all you want about drafting to fit the team, but if you've got a player who is seen as a significant value at an important position, they're going to draft him." O'Neil thinks Seattle is most likely to select a defensive end.
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune thinks the Seahawks should address their defensive line in the first round. Williams: "I would take Corey Liuget if he is on the board at No. 25 if I was Seattle. He will be an impact player, and with all the injuries they had along the defensive line last year, with Brandon Mebane, Red Bryant and Colin Cole missing a combineed 19 games, I think he makes some sense. Both Pete Carroll and John Schneider said getting more physical up front on both sides of the ball is the team's top priority."
John Clayton tells 710ESPN Seattle he thinks there's a good chance Matt Hasselbeck will not re-sign with the Seahawks. Clayton: "I'm not optimistic now. I'm starting to think that it may not happen. It seems like they did put a good effort in, but they didn't come to the right number. And now it's put the Seahawks in a position where I think what'll happen is, if free agency would start -- and we all don't know when -- I think they'll let him test the market. And that could be dangerous because he could go someplace else. But at this stage I'd say the odds are now slipping away that Matt's going to be here (in Seattle)."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch previews visits the Rams have set up with draft prospects. Thomas: "Heading the list of scheduled visitors is Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones, but several other potential Rams selections at No. 14 overall are scheduled to visit Rams Park today and Wednesday. Among them are Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith, Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget, North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn and California defensive end Cameron Jordan. At least four scheduled visitors are running backs, a sign that the Rams may mean business this year in finding a bona fide backup to Steven Jackson."
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com looks at receiver options for the Rams in the draft. Wagoner: "Should A.J. Green or Julio Jones somehow fall into the Rams’ range, though, they would both almost certainly draw serious consideration for the pick. More likely, should the Rams opt to land a pass catcher; it will have to come after the first round barring a trade down in the first round. There are some intriguing options after Green and Jones. Boise State’s Titus Young, Maryland’s Torrey Smith, Kentucky’ Randall Cobb and Indiana’s Tandon Doss figure to land somewhere in the second round or early in the third."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com revisits Gary Plummer's dismissal as the 49ers' radio color commentator. Maiocco: "Plummer certainly did not sugarcoat what he witnessed. There were two separate episodes last season in which Plummer's words on the broadcasts angered many in the organization. In games against Seattle and Philadelphia, Plummer stated flatly that receiver Michael Crabtree and guard Chilo Rachal should be benched. The organization, which controls the broadcasts on flagship station KNBR, does not deny there was friction over those isolated occurrences. But the man in charge of the move is adamant Plummer was not fired because he criticized the team. He says Plummer was given freedom to criticize as he saw fit."
Also from Maiocco: a look at how fans envision the first seven picks of the draft unfolding.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says ex-49ers quarterback Gio Carmazzi decline to participate in an ESPN piece looking at the six quarterbacks drafted ahead of Tom Brady in 2000. Barrows: "The second quarterback taken that year was Hofstra's Gio Carmazzi, who was selected by the 49ers in the third round. The 49ers were so jazzed about Carmazzi that one of the offensive coaches at the time -- I will spare him the embarrassment and not identify him -- stood up on a table during a draft meeting and passionately extolled Carmazzi's virtues. He was the 49ers' quarterback of the future, the heir to Joe Montana and Steve Young. Carmazzi, as any decade-long suffering 49ers fan knows too well, never threw a regular-season pass for the 49ers. (And if you saw his preseason passes, you know why). The Boston Herald, which had a sneak preview of the 50-minute feature, writes that 'Carmozzi (sic) is now a yoga-obsessed farmer who has five goats. He was the only one who did not agree to an interview.' "
Also from Barrows: Two running backs are scheduled to visit the 49ers.
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says Cam Newton's ability to lead comebacks at Auburn reminds him of Joe Montana's comeback efforts at Notre Dame.
Doug Farrar of Sports Press Northwest has a hard time envisioning Ryan Mallett fitting in the Seahawks' offense. Farrar: "The 5.47 40-yard dash Mallett ran at his pro day is a concern to a degree, but it’s more about his extremely slow 10-yard splits – quarterbacks don’t generally run 40 yards in a straight line, but they are often asked to get outside the pocket and make shorter runs to stay alive and continue to make plays. Because of his height, Mallett takes too long to reset his body after moving in and out of the pocket, and quarterbacks have to have quicker reactions than ever before."
Adam Caplan of Foxsports.com says the Seahawks' contract with receiver Mike Williams is filled with incentives designed to protect the team. Earlier: Williams contract details. The Seahawks set up the deal so they could get out of it at any time without much complication. I was a little surprised Williams accepted it, but his willingness to do so showed he was serious about holding up his end.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com is sticking with LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson as his choice for the Cardinals at No. 5. Urban: "The idea Von Miller will be selected before the Cards pick is gaining steam (at this point, I also tend to believe it). The way things break down, QB Blaine Gabbert has been popular as a remaining candidate -- along with Patrick Peterson -- and guys like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay are saying the Cards will/should take Gabbert. I’ll stick with the idea of Peterson in such a scenario."
Also from Urban: Cardinals quarterbacks coach Chris Miller reflects on how pro days have changed since he entered the NFL in 1987. Urban: "After Miller finished at Oregon, he played in three postseason all-star games – the Blue-Grey, the Senior Bowl and the Hula Bowl. He attended that year’s version of the combine. Then he waited. There were no pre-draft visits to take, even though he was one of the elite quarterbacks (Miller was taken 12th, Vinny Testaverde went No. 1 while the Cards, picking sixth, took the infamous Kelly Stouffer). He didn’t go to the draft either. Instead, he had about 60 family and friends at a local spot in Oregon, getting up at 4:30 a.m. – the draft was on Saturday at 8 a.m. EST, or 5 a.m. on the West Coast. No prime-time event then."
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider has this to say about the 49ers' new radio commentator, Eric Davis: "Davis was greatly influenced by Ronnie Lott and kept Lott's spirit alive in the locker room with his work ethic and the seriousness with the way he went about his task. Davis will likely provide more insights on what it means and what it is like to be a player, something he relayed often in his work at Comcast Sportsnet."
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News recalls a couple classic calls from Davis' predecessor, Gary Plummer. Brown: "Plummer irritated the 49ers by admonishing receiver Michael Crabtree for his lackadaisical play. He said on the air that Crabtree ought to be benched for a Week 1 effort that included misplaying two balls into interceptions and drawing two penalty flags. Later in the season, Plummer openly questioned offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye's play-calling against the Raiders. Plummer wondered why the 49ers kept running the ball up the middle against a makeshift defensive line that was vulnerable on the edges. After Bill LaFleur shanked his final punt of a miserable 2003 season, Plummer blared: 'So long, Bill LaFleur. Get back to the sidelines, keep going and don't stop until you're on a plane.' "
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com checks in with Rams general manager Billy Devaney for thoughts as the team dives into staff meetings to discuss draft prospects. Devaney, coach Steve Spagnuolo, assistants and personnel people are meeting to discuss a different position each day. Devaney: "It’s kind of fun because everybody has their say. Nobody is dogmatic. I usually don’t say anything and Spags may voice an opinion a little bit here and there but we want coaches and scouts to have the freedom to express themselves without thinking, 'Oh God, the general manager or head coach doesn’t like this guy.' We want them to be absolutely comfortable giving their opinions on a player."
Gary Horowitz of the Statesman Journal catches up with Rams running back Steven Jackson, who attended an Oregon State practice recently while on business for Nike. Jackson addressed the team after practice. Jackson: "I'm not sure how long it's been since I've been on campus, but I did not know there was a weight room right there. These things that you guys have the privilege to have, understand that guys have laid the groundwork for that. And you guys will lay the groundwork for the next generation."
- Why past performance mattered more for head coaches, specifically Mike Shanahan, than it did for players in our previous power rankings;
- How I could justify leaving off the Atlanta Falcons' Mike Smith based in part on playoff losses to teams with inferior records, since those teams advanced to the Super Bowl;
- Why Tom Coughlin ranked third despite enjoying the organizational support and stability that contributed to a lower ranking for Mike Tomlin.
The point you make on Coughlin and Tomlin is compelling. The Giants have strong ownership. They have had only three general managers in the last 30-plus years. I stand by the No. 3 ranking, but acknowledge that I might have considered ranking him lower if this conversation occurred prior to voting.
Coughlin ranked higher than Tomlin on my list for a few reasons I haven't explained:
- Coughlin brought quick success and stability to Jacksonville when the Jaguars were an expansion franchise. That was impressive.
- The Giants became more productive offensively under his watch, even with a young, inconsistent quarterback. Eli Manning is not the greatest passer. The Giants have ranked among the NFL's top eight in scoring four times under Coughlin after never ranking higher than 12th over a 15-year span under four other coaches.
- Coughlin showed a capacity to change during his Giants tenure, becoming more responsive to players.That was important during the Super Bowl season.
Your question about Shanahan is easier to answer. The abilities a coach possesses early in his career do not necessarily deteriorate the way a player's physical skills deteriorate. Shanahan's 152-108 regular-season record, 8-5 postseason record, nine winning seasons and two Super Bowl titles worked in his favor.
Doug from Newbury Park, Calif., wonders whether I thought the San Francisco 49ers replaced Gary Plummer because they felt he was too critical as the team's radio color commentatory.
Mike Sando: Plummer has been outspoken for years. If his outspokenness were a problem, the team presumably would have replaced him years ago. He had handled the job since 1998 and never held back. Fans accustomed to Plummer will be paying close attention to see how his replacement, Eric Davis, couches his criticisms. I expect Davis to speak his mind in his own style -- a style less combative than the one Plummer brought to the job as a former linebacker.
Joe from Phoenix wonders whether the St. Louis Rams could trade out of the 14th overall choice with a team looking to draft running back Mark Ingram in that spot. He thinks teams are better off with one dominant runner than a committee approach, and he wonders specifically whether New England might be a team to watch from a trade standpoint.
Mike Sando: The Patriots traded up to get Daniel Graham in 2002. They traded up into the 13th spot for Ty Warren a year later. New England has been much, much more likely to trade down in the first round over more recent drafts, however.
- 2003: The Patriots traded down from the 19th spot with Baltimore, which took Kyle Boller.
- 2007: They traded out of the 28th spot with San Francisco (Joe Staley).
- 2008: They traded down from the seventh pick with New Orleans (Sedrick Ellis).
- 2009: They traded out of the 26th spot with Green Bay (Clay Matthews).
- 2009: They traded out of the 23rd spot with Baltimore (Michael Oher).
- 2010: They traded out of the 22nd pick with Denver (Demaryius Thomas).
- 2010: They traded out of the 24th spot with Dallas (Dez Bryant).
The Patriots would likely have to part with their third-round choice, 92nd overall, to jump three spots to No. 14. Recent history says that is unlikely.
As for running backs, the trend has been toward having multiple backs share the load. No more than seven backs in one season have reached 300 carries since 2007. There were at least nine backs with 300 or more carries in 10 of the previous 12 seasons, peaking with 13 in 2003.
The Patriots have had only one such player -- Corey Dillon in 2004 -- since Bill Belichick became head coach.
None of this prevents New England from climbing three spots to nab Ingram. If it happens, however, it'll be a little surprising.
Rob from Phoenix wonders whether the Cardinals would select Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley with the fifth overall choice, if available, even though the team doesn't have obvious needs on its defensive line. Texas A&M pass-rusher Von Miller would not be available under this scenario.
Mike Sando: The scouting reports say Fairley projects better in a 4-3 defense. The same could be said for Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett, however, and the Cardinals have learned the hard way about favoring need (tackle Levi Brown) over value (running back Adrian Peterson) when picking fifth.
So, if Fairley is available and clearly the best player, the Cardinals would have to consider him. But I tend to think he projects as a higher-risk prospect based on concerns over his emotional stability and the consistency of his effort. That could scare off Arizona. Throw in other factors -- fit and need specifically -- and I envision the Cardinals going in another direction.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times continues his look at Golden Tate's rookie season. O'Neil: "It's not unprecedented for a receiver to take a huge jump in his second season. (Chad) Johnson and (Steve) Smith (of the Giants) are proof of that. In fact, of the 45 receivers chosen in the second round from 2000 to 2009, 11 of them increased their receptions by 20 or more catches in their second season. But that upward progression is hardly a sure thing. Just look at the above list for proof that for some second-round picks, a mediocre rookie season foreshadows an unremarkable sophomore season, too."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with former pass-rusher Jacob Green, who landed on the franchise's 35th anniversary team. Joe Nash: "The guy was just amazing. The one thing that stands out the most about Jake in my mind is how he took Henry Lawrence back in one of those playoffs games and just dominated him with his great athleticism."
Rob Rang of NFL Draft Scout has the Rams selecting Alabama receiver Julio Jones in his latest mock draft. Rang: "The Rams have their young franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford and a workhorse runner in All-Pro Steven Jackson, but desperately need help outside. Jones isn't as fast on the field as he was at the Combine, but his size, strength and three years of consistent standout play in the ultra-competitive SEC make him an ideal candidate to make an immediate impact." Rang has Arizona taking Robert Quinn, San Francisco taking Patrick Peterson and Seattle taking Corey Liuget.
Eric Davis tells Niner Insider he'll be able to speak his mind as the 49ers' new color commentator for radio. Davis: "I said flat out, 'If I say something negative, will I go to the principal's office?' They said, 'We want you to say what you want.'" Davis says he hasn't spoken with Gary Plummer, his former teammate and the man he'll replace in the booth.
Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat looks at potential quarterback candidates for the 49ers. On Matt Hasselbeck: "No other QB on the market is more familiar with the intricacies of the West Coast offense than Hasselbeck, 35, a free agent who has played in a West Coast system since 2001." Hasselbeck's experience in a West Coast system goes back even farther, to his practice-squad days with Green Bay in 1998.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was there when Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi worked out for NFL teams. Barrows: "He's got a quick release and makes good decisions having thrown 25 touchdowns against six interceptions last season. However, he does not have the athleticism -- something Harbaugh covets -- or the arm strength of other prospects. It should be noted that Harbaugh and Stanzi are represented by the same agent, Jack Bechta. (In fact, Harbaugh had two agents when he was hired by the 49ers in January, Bechta and David Dunn, who also represents Jake Locker)."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com ranks the 49ers' 18th in terms of draft classes over the past five years. Maiocco: "The 49ers accumulated more than half of their starters through the draft in the past five years, but that has not reflected improvement on the field. The main reason is because the 49ers did not acquire standouts at impact positions, such as quarterback, cornerback and pass-rusher."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals cannot forget about their offensive line even though quarterback and pass-rusher are positions of more immediate need. Urban: "The Cards aren’t going to go offensive lineman with their first pick, but after that, I could see it at any point. Finding someone to begin grooming – a la Keith – now that Herman Johnson has left seems crucial. There seems to be some line depth in the draft, especially at tackle, again with the knowledge decent interior guys can often be found later or undrafted."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic had this to say during a Cardinals chat: "If all reports are true, Von Miller would be a wise choice in the first round. In second round, I'd look hard at the next tier of quarterbacks. I like Andy Dalton." Somers thinks Marc Bulger is the favorite to start at quarterback for Arizona in 2011, and that the team will not draft a quarterback in the first round.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Michael Crabtree stands no chance in the court of public opinion.
It's a privilege to play in the NFL, the thinking goes, and draft choices should just take what teams are offering. When players refuse to sign, teams control the story lines through the media because their employees -- coaches, executives and sometimes players -- are the ones framing the subject publicly.
49ers radio analyst and former linebacker Gary Plummer did more than frame the subject during his recent conversation with Dave Mahler and Hugh Miller of KJR 950 in Seattle. He took on Crabtree the way he might have taken on an opposing guard in his playing days.
Plummer: The 49ers were shocked to see him fall to them at the No. 10 position. He wasn't even in their sights. They didn't think they would have a shot at him. So they have to take a little bit of the blame for being so enamored with his skills. But Michael Crabtree, Deion Sanders, their agent in Eugene Parker, the cousin of Michael Crabtree, they are all morons. They are all ridiculous idiots as far as I am concerned. You take 100 guys who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. This league was built on their backs. And yet, I guarantee, you take 100 Hall of Famers, add up the total amount of money they made in their entire career, it's not even close to what that signing bonus is that the 49ers are offering. This guy hasn't done a thing in the NFL. Dude, break a sweat first, prove yourself and then you are going to get big bucks. Right now, you have done nothing. Sign your contract, get into a 49er uniform, prove you deserve that money and the 49ers will take care of you on the next one.
Crabtree would have a better chance getting open against Eric Wright and Ronnie Lott in their primes than he would winning the public relations battle as an unsigned draft choice heading into Week 2. His image will continue to take a pounding until he signs.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The latest in our periodic spin around the NFC West radio dials:
KNBR680: Keena Turner
KNBR680: Coach Mike Singletary
101ESPN St. Louis: Gary Plummer
azcardinals.com: Ken Whisenhunt
KJR950: John Randle
101ESPN St. Louis: linebacker Chris Draft
710 ESPN Seattle: D'Marco Farr
As always, please leave links to additional audio in the comments section. I'll add items as needed.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The latest in our periodic spin around the NFC West radio dials:
101ESPN St. Louis: Chiefs broadcaster Mitch Holthus
101ESPN St. Louis: Reporter Brian Stull
KJR950: Reporter Dave Boling
KNBR680: Radio analyst Gary Plummer
KTAR620: Ken Whisenhunt
azcardinals.com: Cardinals Underground
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Aaron Weinberg of Seahawk Addicts says recent history is against Matt Hasselbeck staying healthy enough to produce at age 34. I looked from 1983 through 2008 for quarterbacks 34 and older who started at least 10 games and finished with passer ratings of 90 or higher. Randall Cunningham, Steve Young, Vinny Testaverde, Rich Gannon, Joe Theismann, Warren Moon, Steve DeBerg, Brett Favre, Trent Green, Jeff Garcia, Steve Beuerlein, John Elway, Brad Johnson, Phil Simms, Dan Marino and Kurt Warner combined to do it 25 times in 26 seasons. Can Hasselbeck join the list?
Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press checks in with former Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson. Peterson: "Football is an adverse sport anyway. But coming from 0-16, a lot of people in the sports world, analysts, have written us down as the 32nd team already, knowing that anything can change, subject to change, injuries can happen, anything. But we're not looking upon that and try to say, 'Oh, we're going to be the same old Lions from last year.' It's a whole new year. We've got a whole new coaching staff, whole new players, a whole new mentality. So this is going to be great for all of us."
Gary Plummer of the 49ers' radio team breaks down a Rams-Seahawks play from last season illustrating the experience that helped Walt Harris make an interception. He also points out areas where Rams receiver Donnie Avery could stand to improve.
Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' scouts think fifth-round linebacker Scott McKillop could be a steal. They'll have a much better idea two weeks into training camp.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says rookie draft choices Glen Coffee and Nate Davis are close to signing contracts. Once they sign, first-rounder Michael Crabtree will become the 49ers' only unsigned draft choice.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee expects the 49ers to sit out the supplemental draft Thursday.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says rookies Cody Brown and Will Davis, making the switch from college defensive ends to NFL outside linebackers, aren't the first Cardinals players to change positions. Antrel Rolle did it entering last season. Roy Green and Fred Wakefield also made successful transitions.
Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind thinks Pat Ross is the favorite by default to back up Lyle Sendlein at center for the Cardinals this season. Seems to me the Cardinals should be looking to upgrade their depth at that position.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' contract negotiator would be "shocked" if any of the team's rookies failed to sign in time for training camp. Kevin Demoff also left open the possibility of a deal for safety Oshiomogho Atogwe before the July 15 deadline for franchise players to sign long-term deals. Demoff: "We've been talking with O.J. since January. We value O.J. as a player, and we understand where the market is. ... We're not there on a long-term deal yet, but we could be there by Wednesday."
VanRam of Turf Show Times expresses excitement upon reading Football Outsiders' forecast for the Rams. Not that Rams fans should schedule vacation time for Super Bowl week -- yet.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers would draft Michael Crabtree with the 10th overall choice, if available. He says the 49ers would draft Knowshon Moreno over Chris Wells in the unlikely event they decided to draft a running back early. The team would be happy to draft Andre Smith at No. 10, but taking Michael Oher in that spot might not be a slam dunk. LSU's Tyson Jackson could be the preferred defensive lineman, over B.J. Raji. The team probably wouldn't take Malcolm Jenkins at No. 10. Brian Orakpo? Probably not. And it's unlikely the team would take Aaron Maybin or Everette Brown that early, either. Rey Maualuga or Brian Cushing could be higher priorities than Maybin or Brown.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee forecasts which players he thinks the 49ers will select with each of their picks. The list: Oher, running back Shonn Greene, outside linebacker Paul Kruger, quarterback Stephen McGee, inside linebacker Scott McKillop, receiver Brandon Gibson, outside linebacker Pierre Walters, receiver/quarterback Julian Edelman and tight end Bear Pascoe.
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says there's value in the later rounds. He points to Pat White, Brian Hoyer, Chase Patton, Austin Collie, Ramses Barden, Kory Sheets and Ian Johnson as later-round prospects to watch.
Gary Plummer of 49ers.com says NFL teams can't measure a player's heart. Plummer: "I was never even invited to the Combine and I was never drafted, but I went on to play 12 seasons in the NFL. With those experiences, I've always rooted for guys who don't get drafted."
Niners scout Todd Brunner says the team has spent recent days making sure it has discussed every draft-eligible player.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' public-relations department shielded coach Mike Singletary from reporters in the days leading to the draft. Crumpacker: "It's just as well. General manager Scot McCloughan put the 49ers' draft board together and will be making the call for the club."
Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle made me chuckle with this description of the NFL draft: "Today is the worst day of the entire NFL draft process, because it is the day that all the speculation ends and your favorite team is stuck with the choice it made rather than awash in the dozens it could have."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic previews the Cardinals' draft in general terms. Forget about getting specifics from Rod Graves or Ken Whisenhunt.
Also from Somers: It appears receiver Anquan Boldin will remain with the Cardinals through the draft. Trades are often contingent on a player passing a physical. The acquiring team also needs time, in many cases, to work out a new contract with the player. Somers: "The Cardinals are surprised there hasn't been more interest from teams, who apparently think the cost is too high, considering they would also have to come to terms with Boldin on a contract that would pay him an average of $8 million to $10 million a year."
More from Somers: The Cardinals would have no interest in Titans running backs LenDale White or Chris Henry if Tennessee offered either player as part of a trade for Boldin.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com previews the Seahawks' draft options. Johns: "As much as teams talk of drafting the best player available regardless of position, there is an impetus to pick athletes who will be in line to earn starting roles before long in order to justify their draft position and salary slot."
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' first-round picks haven't panned out all that well under general manager Tim Ruskell, who has one year remaining on a five-year contract. Yes, this draft is important for him and the organization.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com takes a peek inside the Seahawks' draft room at their new facility. It's 1,600 square feet, twice the size of the old one. The rapport between Ruskell and vice president Ruston Webster transcends location. Webster: "You know what's sad? When we say something at the same time. That scares me. But it really is good. I know how he thinks. And I think for him, it's important to have somebody who understands that. And he knows how I think. For the most part, we were kind of brought up in this business the same way, so our philosophy is the same."
Tyler Dunne of Scout.com says the Seahawks would draft Wake Forest safety Chip Vaughn in the third round if available.
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says the Rams are putting an emphasis on character in this draft. Wagoner: "Fortunately for the Rams, most of the players they are considering in this year's draft are about as well rounded and mature as any crop of recent potential draft picks. Offensive tackles Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe, linebacker Aaron Curry and USC quarterback Mark Sanchez have received rave reviews for their personality and attitude at every stop they've made along the way. Taking Curry as an example, he has invited 12-year-old Bryson Merriweather, a leukemia survivor from Madison, Ala., to be his special guest at the draft in New York City."
VanRam of Turf Show Times warns against dismissing talk that the Rams could draft Sanchez with the second overall choice.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says he would draft Curry from Wake Forest with the second overall choice if he were making the decision for the Rams. However, all signs point to the team selecting an offensive tackle.
Also from Thomas: The Rams' need at tackle appears too great to ignore early in the draft. Thomas: "Michael Crabtree, the wide receiver from Texas Tech, basically eliminated himself from consideration with what Rams Park sources said was a diva attitude during his pre-draft trip here. Apparently, his rock star mentality was a big turnoff to coaches and front office personnel. Couple that with his foot injury, and the feeling in Earth City was that he wasn't worth the trouble. As for Sanchez, what first looked like pure smokescreen seemed to turn into downright infatuation. To some at Rams Park, Sanchez possesses the leadership qualities -- the 'it' factor -- that may be lacking in Marc Bulger. But at the end of the day, the Rams appear committed to Bulger for at least one more season."
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Jim Haslett isn't just talking a good game. The coach's hit on a Redskins player revealed the new coach as putting money and mouth in the same place.
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says Rams guard Richie Incognito was fortunate the team overcame Incognito's inexplicable fourth-quarter penalty Sunday.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams will lose fullback Brian Leonard for the season. Receiver Dane Looker has resumed practicing. Kicker Josh Brown has accounted for more than half the Rams' points this season.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat hits on issues ranging from Incognito to Cowboys quarterback Brad Johnson.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers will not make lineup changes on defense. Former linebacker Gary Plummer, now part of the 49ers' radio team, would shake up things if he were coach. Also, Nolan rolls on safety Dashon Goldson in defending his decision to stick with veteran Mark Roman. Ouch.
Also from Barrows: Eagles fans made themselves heard at Candlestick Park, a bad sign.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle has a tough time finding likely victories on the 49ers' upcoming schedule, no matter what Nolan says.
Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle thinks the 49ers' coaches should turn to players for potential answers to what ails the team.
Ann Killion of the San Jose Mercury News explains why, in her view, Nolan should be fired. She points to alleged incompetence, lack of accountability, defensive collapses, offensive problems and window dressing.
Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News points to J.T. O'Sullivan's fourth-quarter passer rating (48.1) as one reason for the 49ers' problems.
Also from Brown: A look at everything from replay challenges to Nolan's game-day attire.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Kurt Warner will use the Cardinals' bye week to recover from injuries. His hands remain a problem.
Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic measures Steve Breaston's contributions to the Cardinals' offense. She thinks his emergence affects long-term thinking on Anquan Boldin.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals will try to break through on the road in the coming weeks. Three of their next four games are away from home.
Bob Young of the Arizona Republic explains why it's safe to jump on the Cardinals' bandwagon this season (as opposed to past seasons).
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer tries to make sense of Matt Hasselbeck's injury situation. Good luck. Also, Mike Holmgren disputed the holding call that wiped out Julius Jones' 51-yard touchdown run. The coach also singled out several players for performing well against the Packers: defensive tackle Rocky Bernard, middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, defensive end Patrick Kerney, safeties Deon Grant and Brian Russell, tight end John Carlson, receiver Koren Robinson and guard Mike Wahle.
Also from Farnsworth: A power outage at Seahawks headquarters seemed fitting.
Greg Johns of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the odds are against any team that loses four of its first five games. The Seahawks are no different.
Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune sees a "complex backdrop of misinformation" in the Seahawks' previous comments about Hasselbeck's back.
Jose Romero of the Seattle Times says Holmgren is keeping his message optimistic. A coach can beat up on his team only so much. Also, the coach might give Maurice Morris additional playing time.
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Gary Plummer of the 49ers' radio team says the 49ers' defensive players aren't trusting one another, leading to big plays. He draws on personal experience in saying Eagles running back Brian Westbrook won't be effective if he plays through a rib injury. And he says the 49ers' defensive front gets pushed around when it plays a 3-4. Interesting stuff.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee quotes 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz in defense of tight end Vernon Davis. Martz says Davis helps create opportunities for teammates.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says Davis is frustrated after catching only five passes through five games. Fellow tight end Delanie Walker also has only five catches.
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider quotes Manny Lawson as saying the 49ers are simplifying their defense. Some of the coverages had gotten a little complicated, with cornerback Walt Harris playing safety and giving up that deep ball to Randy Moss.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' defense lacks an identity after five games.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says veteran Cardinals running back Edgerrin James is mentoring rookie Tim Hightower.
Also from Urban: Cardinals cornerback Eric Green busts on rangy rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for eating only mashed potatoes and cookies. "That's why he's 125 pounds," Green said. Rodgers-Cromartie weighs more than that, but he's about as skinny as NFL players come.
More from Urban: Former Cardinals offensive lineman Leonard Davis returns to the desert as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.
Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says it would be a shame for the Cardinals if Dallas fans packed University of Phoenix Stadium in Week 6.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are bracing for the Cowboys' ground game. "Big-boy pads" are needed.
Also from Somers: Do not expect Anquan Boldin to play against the Cowboys.
Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals need to win some games before they complain about fans selling tickets, particularly in rough economic times.
Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says the Cowboys' circus is coming to town.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer checks in with Seattle receiver Koren Robinson for a scouting report on Packers receiver Greg Jennings, a big-play threat with the potential to hurt the Seahawks' struggling defense.
Also from Farnsworth: Newly signed quarterback Travis Lulay was eating at a steakhouse in Missoula, Mont., when the Seahawks called.
Michael Steffes of Seahawks Addicts takes a look at the team's problems in pass coverage.
Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune quotes Seahawks safety Deon Grant as saying defensive players are trying to do too much instead of trusting one another.
Also from Hughes: Missing practice again means Matt Hasselbeck hasn't been able to develop a rhythm with an ever-changing group of Seattle receivers.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks aren't happy with their production in the return game.
Also from O'Neil: Seattle needs more from Pro Bowl linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who hasn't played for a losing team in 18 years.
Jose Romero of the Seattle Times suggests Robinson might make his 2008 receiving debut for the Seahawks against his former team.
VanRam of Turf Show Times says the Rams need a massive makeover on defense, with emphasis on linebacker, safety and cornerback.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Jim Haslett expects to do a better job as a head coach in his second shot at the job. As Saints coach, Haslett said he erred in sticking with struggling quarterback Aaron Brooks when Jake Delhomme was on the bench.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says second-year defensive lineman Adam Carriker is learning a new technique. He is playing less nose tackle and more 3-technique, which means he can focus more on getting up the field.
Also from Coats: Steven Jackson, on pace for 80 receptions, wants more production in the ground game.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat also checks in with Jackson.
Also from Korte: New Rams tight end Daniel Fells has suffered from "some sort of a virus" this week.
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Gary Plummer of the 49ers' radio team says the team needs to change its sight-adjust routes to prevent the Patriots from taking away J.T. O'Sullivan's hot reads. Plummer, a former linebacker, says failing to adjust proved costly against the Saints. Plummer also thinks the 49ers are making a mistake sticking with the same personnel on defense. He thinks that's what teams do in preseason.
Dan Brown of 49ers Hot Read revisits the Patriots' success against Mike Martz in the Super Bowl, suggesting Martz's refusal to run the ball played into New England's hands.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says a bad offense can set up a punter for inflated averages. The reverse has possibly been true for 49ers punter Andy Lee.
Also from Barrows: a conversation with tight ends coach Pete Hoener. Vernon Davis was the subject.
Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers checks in with running back Frank Gore, who figures to be a focal point of both team's game plans when the Patriots visit San Francisco. Gore says two linebackers shadowed him at all times during the Saints game.
Also from Maiocco: Tully Banta-Cain has a better chance of playing this week. Holding him out against his former team would qualify as cruel and unusual punishment, particularly with Manny Lawson out this week.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle weighs the high-risk, high-reward nature of the 49ers' offense. O'Sullivan is completing a high percentage of longer passes, but he's taking sacks and coming off a rough game.
Also from Crumpacker: Gore's in a happy place now that he's leading the league in yards from scrimmage.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sizes up Rick Venturi, the Rams' new defensive coordinator. This is a fun read. Venturi still has the note he left for his wife after the Browns fired him and the Saints called to set up an interview: "Honey, I've just been fired. I'm on my way to New Orleans for an interview. Call you from there."
Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says Adrian Wilson's injury status is a big concern for the Cardinals heading into their game against the Bills. Also, nose tackle Gabe Watson is working with the starters following an extended absence.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com revisits the biggest hit Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald has taken. This one came during the final 2 minutes of a blowout defeat in 2005. Fitzgerald's helmet flew off, but he popped up and handed the ball to the official.
Also from Urban: The Cardinals' secondary needs to do a better job reading its keys. Improved preparation is also important.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are tempering their evaluation of pass-protection issues against the Jets because the lopsided score allowed New York to rush the passer without accounting for the run.
Also from Somers: If the Cardinals and Anquan Boldin ever want to talk about an extension, Lee Evans' deal with Buffalo could help set parameters. Boldin's agent has dismissed that type of talk in the past, reiterating Boldin's desire to leave Arizona when his contract expires in three seasons.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Koren Robinson wasn't able to practice Thursday. A sore knee continues to bother the recently re-signed receiver.
Also from O'Neil: Seattle defensive tackle Brandon Mebane can do the splits. Really.
Frank Hughes of Seahawks Insider caught up with Seahawks president Tim Ruskell, who said the team will not make dramatic changes to its offensive system when Jim Mora becomes head coach next season. The Seahawks think a carryover will help Matt Hasselbeck.
Greg Johns of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer checks in with Seahawks receiver Billy McMullen, who went from stopgap player to legitimate member of the receiving corps.
Art Thiel of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer revisits the recruiting tactics that helped Tom Coughlin lure Hasselbeck to Boston College. Hasselbeck was headed for UCLA until Coughlin made an effective last-minute appeal.