NFC West: Geno Atkins

The Associated Press and Pro Football Weekly/Professional Football Writers of America have announced their all-NFL first teams for the 2012 season.

I've compiled the results here and compared them against our all-division team.

As expected, Seattle's Richard Sherman earned all-league honors from both the AP and PFW/PFWA despite failing to land on the NFC's Pro Bowl squad. Pro Bowl voting took place before the NFL overturned a four-game suspension against Sherman for alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The NFC West is heavily represented on all-league teams despite no representation for the St. Louis Rams or Arizona Cardinals on these first teams (I did not list the AP second-team honors). The 49ers (six) and Seahawks (four) gave the NFC West 10 of 27 representatives on the AP first team.

I used slightly different position names for some spots on the all-division team. Those are noted parenthetically next to the players' names.

Mike Sando's MVP Watch

December, 12, 2012
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Five of our eight NFL divisional bloggers think Peyton Manning stands as the favorite for league MVP through Week 14.

Two of the bloggers favoring Tom Brady have something in common: Both were at Gillette Stadium for Brady's four-touchdown performance during a 42-14 victory over the previously 11-2 Houston Texans on Monday night. Sometimes, seeing in person is believing.

"Peyton Manning's comeback story is amazing," AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky said, "but Brady's been a small notch better in my eyes."

Those eyes saw firsthand what Brady wrought against the Texans' defense. Our AFC East blogger, James Walker, was there as well.

Brady posted his fifth game of the season with a Total QBR score in the 90s. Only Manning has more of them (seven). Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson are next with three apiece.

Brady has 29 passing touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns and only four picks.

"I will go with Brady," AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley said. "Manning is a better story, but Brady's spectacular year shouldn't be downgraded because of it."

The gap between the elder Manning and Brady might be small, but the gap between those two and everyone else continues to grow. Manning (82.4) and Brady (80.6) have a commanding lead over Matt Ryan (73.7) for the QBR lead. They are on pace to post the sixth and seventh full seasons in the 80s since 2008. Manning has done it twice previously, Brady once.

"I'll go with Peyton Manning," NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas said. "John Fox has an elite quarterback for the first time in his career and that could mean a Super Bowl title for the Broncos."

Manning's Broncos have won eight in row after winning eight games all last season.

"Brady did this last year too," NFC East blogger Dan Graziano said. "And the year before. Last year's Broncos were 8-8. This year's may be the best team in the league. Valuable."

What makes an MVP candidate? NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert and I will discuss that subject during our "Inside Slant" podcast later Wednesday. You'll be able to find it at the Podcenter. First, let's take a look at the MVP Watch list through Week 14.

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this item.

2011 49ers Week 3: Five observations

September, 26, 2011
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Five things I noticed while watching the San Francisco 49ers during their 13-8 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3:
  • Brooks commanded double-teams. The Bengals funneled significant resources toward blocking 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, particularly on passing downs. Brooks made them pay for failing to double him on a first-quarter play deep in 49ers territory. Brooks chased down quarterback Andy Dalton and forced a poor throw that was nearly intercepted. Later, the Bengals paid for leaving running back Bernard Scott alone against Brooks in pass protection. Brooks beat Scott easily and blasted Dalton hard enough to knock off the quarterback's helmet. Brooks was active against the run as well.
  • Offensive line struggling. Right tackle Anthony Davis and right guard Chilo Rachal were erratic in all phases. Alex Smith and Frank Gore would have been more consistent if the 49ers had even average players on the right side of their line, provided those average players were consistent. Geno Atkins and Frostee Rucker were among the Bengals' defensive linemen feasting on the opportunities. The Bengals also pushed back center Jonathan Goodwin, impinging upon the pocket. Left tackle Joe Staley drew a false-start penalty. He also gave up a critical sack in the red zone, allowing immediate pressure against Smith's blind side. The 49ers have too many early draft choices invested in their line to suffer through these sorts of performances.
  • Michael Crabtree up and down. The 49ers receiver finished with only three catches for 24 yards. He also dropped a third-down pass while the 49ers were trailing 3-0 in the second half. There was good to go with the bad. Crabtree made difficult catches to sustain drives. I'm still not sure whether he stepped out of bounds on the touchdown reception officials disallowed. The official standing in the back of the end zone did throw his cap right after Crabtree stepped on or near the end line. Replays were inconclusive. Earlier, I noticed Crabtree making an effort as a blocker.
  • Carlos Rogers very active again. The 49ers have to be happy with Rogers after another solid performance from the veteran corner. Rogers seems to be everywhere. He had two pass breakups and an interception.
  • Nate Clements should hear from the NFL. The former 49ers cornerback, now with Cincinnati, blasted Smith with a hit that included helmet-to-helmet contact. The only flag on the play was for holding against Rachal. This looked like an illegal hit under current rules. Smith suffered a mild concussion a week earlier. How he avoided one here was a mystery to me.

Having no Monday night game or travel during the day is letting me get to these "five observations" items earlier in the week.

Around the NFC West: Carroll in charge

January, 21, 2010
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Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says there's no mistaking who's in charge of the Seahawks. It's new coach Pete Carroll, who appeared alongside CEO Tod Leiweke and general manager John Schneider at the news conference to introduce Schneider. Boling: "Leiweke was standing between them, so we may assume that Carroll didn’t actually have his hand up the back of Schneider’s jacket so that he could somehow operate controls to make his lips move."

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says former Seahawks running back Sherman Smith could be returning to the organization as running backs coach. That would leave receivers coach as the most significant opening on the staff.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com takes a look at Carroll's first Seahawks coaching staff, offering mini-bios for known hires.

Also from Farnsworth: Carroll and Schneider hit it off right away. Leiweke: "I would say most compelling for me is the amazing energy between the man to my right and the man to my left. They connected. They saw eye-to-eye. They had a similar philosophy on how we’re going to do this. It was just fantastic to witness that, because that’s really, ultimately what we wanted to create."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Schneider was short on details when pressed for information on how the Seahawks might proceed in upgrading their roster.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times looks at the budding relationship between Carroll and Schneider. Brewer: "There's nothing like a good man crush to emphasize how much the Seahawks have changed in the past two weeks. PC and The Schneid didn't finish each other's sentences Wednesday, but they did expound on each other's thoughts. Forget the past. Feel the love. Embrace the unity. Of course, buried beneath the hype of this epic partnership was the unveiling of the Seahawks' worst-kept secret — Carroll runs the show. The franchise finally admitted it. For all the talk of collaboration, the Seahawks will be molded in Carroll's image."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Carroll and Schneider cannot work "shoulder to shoulder" if Carroll has the ultimate authority. Someone has to make the call. Carroll made it clear he would be the guy. Everything about Schneider's past says he'll have no trouble working alongside Carroll or most head coaches.

John Morgan of Field Gulls sizes up UCLA's Brian Price as a potential Seahawks draft choice in 2010. Morgan: "There's plenty of talent behind (Ndamukong) Suh and (Gerald) McCoy, enough that a patient front office could wait and pick someone like Geno Atkins, Earl Mitchell or Lamarr Houston and still get value, but between Suh and that final tier is a group of defensive tackles of great talent and ability. And no tackle looks half as good as Price."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic begins a position-by-position look at the Cardinals' roster with a look at the offensive line. On Levi Brown: "The expectations are high for Brown, the fifth overall pick in 2007. He hasn't lived up to that draft status. He was inconsistent in pass blocking, but coaches feel like that was a matter of bad technique rather than lack of athleticism. It was interesting that Ken Whisenhunt challenged Brown after Brown was named a Pro Bowl alternate. The Cardinals want, and need, more from him. But people in the know tell me he was the team's most consistent offensive lineman in 2009, and coaches were especially pleased with the way he improved over the final month of the season."

Also from Somers: Adrian Wilson, Larry Fitzgerald and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have withdrawn from the Pro Bowl.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams face key questions as the team's leadership gathers in Los Angeles. He poses this one to general manager Billy Devaney: "There's a concern that you're taking an overly conservative approach in building a roster. Your previous two No. 1 draft picks -- defensive end Chris Long and offensive tackle Jason Smith -- are reflective of that. Do you have it in you to make bold and daring decisions? Are you willing to take intelligent gambles? Or is this all about doing the safest thing in order to cover yourself and protect your job?"

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat provides an overview for the Rams' meetings. Balzer: "At one point, there were indications that potential buyers might be trying to low-ball (Chip) Rosenbloom and (Lucia) Rodriguez. Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t an immediate urgency for them to sell the team, and there has always been the feeling that the family would like to continue the legacy begun by their parents, Carroll Rosenbloom and Georgia Frontiere, and keep the team. That might be a longshot, but not impossible if a new agreement results in what the owners hope eventually will be a decreased percentage of the revenue going to the players."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers' Justin Smith would be headed to the Pro Bowl if the Vikings advanced to the Super Bowl. Frank Gore has already been promoted. Gore: "To be in the Pro Bowl, it means a lot. I felt that missing some games this season, and to still be able to make a special game like this is a great opportunity. All I can say is that it's a blessing."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat takes a closer look at the 49ers' defensive backs. Shawntae Spencer, Dashon Goldson and Tarell Brown appear to form the core. Maiocco: "But there are some questions about all of the others, including veteran performers Nate Clements and Michael Lewis. Clements was demoted from the lineup for the Nov. 1 game against the Colts. Then, he sustained a broken shoulder blade that ended his season. His scheduled salary for 2010 is a whopping $6 million. Lewis has been among the 49ers' leading tacklers in each of his three seasons with the club. But three concussions last season in short period of time is a reason for concern."

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