NFC West: John Matthews

2012 NFL Draft Machine: WRs catch on

March, 31, 2012
The recently activated 2012 NFL Draft Machine lets us quickly play around with various mock scenarios.

The other eight divisional bloggers and I are working on one for publication Monday.

I'm picking for the NFC West teams and couldn't help but notice how frequently wide receiver factored into the decision making for the St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers in particular.

Justin Blackmon was an obvious consideration for the Rams at No. 6. Michael Floyd entered into consideration for the Cardinals at No. 13. The 49ers do not pick until No. 30, making it less clear which wideouts might be available.

The chart shows current wide receivers for NFC West teams. The Rams' Danny Amendola is a restricted free agent. The others are signed and active.

Enjoy the draft machine. I'll break out my thoughts on NFC West possibilities when our mock runs Monday.

Ted Ginn Jr.'s return to the San Francisco 49ers on a one-year contract, announced by the team Thursday, restores experience and breakaway speed to the return game.

The 49ers badly missed Ginn when an injury sidelined him during the playoffs last season.

The chart ranks the 49ers' current wide receivers by games started last season.

49ers buy flexibility with Manningham

March, 18, 2012
Mario Manningham scored go-ahead touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10 and again in the NFC Championship Game.

If those plays did not get the 49ers' attention, Manningham's clutch 38-yard reception to sustain the winning touchdown drive in Super Bowl XLVI surely did.

The 49ers' contract agreement with Manningham came as the receiver market was drying up Saturday. It also kept Manningham from signing with an upcoming 49ers opponent. Manningham, 25, visited the St. Louis Rams after meeting with the 49ers.

San Francisco has now added Randy Moss and Manningham to a position that had subtracted Josh Morgan. The 49ers now have Michael Crabtree, Moss, Manningham, Kyle Williams, John Matthews, Joe Hastings, Dontavia Bogan and Kyle Nelson at the position.

Adding Moss and Manningham gives the 49ers flexibility heading into the draft. They should face less pressure to add a receiver in the first round.

The Scouts Inc. report on Manningham heading into the 2011 season said he "runs well but is quicker than fast and gets separation out of his break points with great burst and agility. ... He isn't a physical blocker but is effective at walling off on the perimeter. Manningham is a good, young receiver with big-play ability."

The 49ers will presumably have the 6-foot, 185-pound Manningham work on the blocking part. Morgan was a ferocious blocker for years. Crabtree developed into one last season.

Manningham agreed to a two-year deal. That indicates the 49ers got him at a reasonable price. Most big-money deals run longer, allowing teams to spread out the salary-cap impact.
Ten thoughts as NFL free agency moves through its sixth hour:
  • Red Bryant's re-signing in Seattle stands as the biggest NFC West-related signing to this point, trailed by Josh Morgan's departure from San Francisco to Washington. News on the quarterback front remains slow. If the Seahawks consider former Miami starter Chad Henne, they will not be talking big money.
  • The Chaz Schilens market should be fascinating to watch unfold over the next month. Alas, for all the hype surrounding the few big-name free agents hitting the NFL market Tuesday, lesser-known role players such as Schilens are carrying much of the conversation in this division. Schilens, a part-time starter in Oakland with 72 catches over four seasons, visited Arizona and plans to visit San Francisco.
  • San Francisco appears increasingly justified for signing Randy Moss as free-agent options dissipate. We can remove Vincent Jackson's name from the list of prominent receivers potentially under consideration; he's headed to Tampa Bay on a five-year deal. Pierre Garcon is also off the market, having joined Morgan in reaching agreement with the Redskins. The chart below shows current and recent 49ers receivers, ranked from oldest to youngest. Moss and Michael Crabtree could use some company.
  • Deals for Jackson and other wideouts stand to affect Mike Wallace's asking price, but market conditions are far less favorable for restricted free agents. Wallace, arguably the NFL's top deep threat, remains available for any team willing to make an offer the Steelers would not match. The signing team would have to part with a first-round pick. The 49ers appear less likely to do so after signing Moss.
  • Jim Thomas is pointing to Tennessee's Cortland Finnegan as the Rams' top priority at cornerback in free agency. That means the 49ers' Carlos Rogers is not the Rams' top priority at the position, despite Rogers' ties to Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. What is the market for Rogers? Might the 49ers sign him in the future? They appear to be moving on at the position, though it's too early to say for certain. Update: The Rams have agreed to terms with Finnegan, Adam Schefter reports.
  • The Cardinals, having done well to land Daryn Colledge in free agency last offseason, are in the market for another guard. The Titans' Jake Scott is visiting, Thomas and Kent Somers note. Scott turns 31 next month and has started 120 consecutive regular-season games, the second-longest streak for an active guard. Scott played at Idaho while Colledge, 30, was at Boise State.
  • Looks like Seattle and St. Louis have interest in Titans defensive tackle Jason Jones. The Rams would presumably have the inside track. Jones played for new Rams coach Jeff Fisher. St. Louis also has the greater need. The Rams are starting over at defensive tackle.
  • It's tough to know for sure just how hard teams are chasing after certain players. Agents tend to err on the side of overstatement while attempting to build markets for their clients. Too frequently, the same goes for contract figures. Arizona's Kevin Kolb supposedly received $21 million in "guaranteed" money last offseason, but if the Cardinals cut him this week, he'll leave with $12 million -- great money for one partial season as a starter, but not $21 million.
  • The Seahawks could not justify naming tight end John Carlson their franchise player, but re-signing him would give them very good depth at the position. The fact that Carlson visited Kansas City right away shows he's eager to check out opportunities elsewhere, however.
  • The Rams have so far held onto 2009 first-round pick Jason Smith. They could keep him, but with Houston unexpectedly releasing Eric Winston, the Rams will visit with him, Schefter reports. The Rams could do much worse than having Winston and Harvey Dahl on the right side.

Now, on to the chart showing 49ers wide receivers with the team currently or in the recent past ...

NFC West injury situations that matter

December, 28, 2011
Arizona: It's looking like John Skelton will remain the Cardinals' starting quarterback while Kevin Kolb continues to work through concussion-related symptoms. Kolb is practicing on a limited basis. Skelton was the player Cardinals officials made available to Seattle reporters on a conference call Wednesday. Patrick Peterson's injured Achilles' tendon will not require surgery, but his availability for Sunday remains in question. Peterson, right tackle Brandon Keith and free safety Kerry Rhodes missed practice Wednesday. Playing without Peterson on Sunday would affect the Cardinals significantly in the return game and on defense. Running back Beanie Wells was limited. His knee injury remains a factor. Wells has not exceeded 15 carries in any of the Cardinals' past three games. He has had no runs longer than 9 yards in the four games since setting a franchise record with 228 yards against St. Louis.

St. Louis: Kellen Clemens appears likely to finish the season as the Rams' starting quarterback while starter Sam Bradford (ankle) and backup A.J. Feeley (thumb) remain sidelined. The Rams, having already placed 10 cornerbacks on injured reserve this season, lost another one when learning Justin King's shoulder injury would require surgery. An abdominal injury continues to limit another cornerback, Josh Gordy, although he has picked off passes in consecutive games. Defensive tackle Fred Robbins and linebacker Brady Poppinga have been ill this week. Expect defensive end Chris Long to continue playing through an ankle injury. He has 13 sacks and had two against San Francisco when the teams met previously this season.

San Francisco: The 49ers need to beat the Rams to ensure themselves a first-round playoff bye, but they also need to guard against aggravating existing injuries. Linebacker Patrick Willis, sidelined by a hamstring injury suffered against the Rams in Week 13, returned to practice this week. Receivers Ted Ginn Jr. (ankle) and Kyle Williams (concussion) are not practicing. The team will likely sign Joe Hastings or John Matthews from the practice squad. Both are receivers. One could get playing time against the Rams. San Francisco's offense faces a transition while tight end Delanie Walker recovers from a broken jaw.

Seattle: The Seahawks, like the Rams, have a long list of players on injured reserve. Unlike the Rams, their 53 active players are relatively healthy, and they have developed young depth throughout the roster. Linebacker David Hawthorne and receiver Ben Obomanu missed practice Wednesday. Both have knee injuries. Depth at receiver is a concern for the Seahawks now that Sidney Rice and Mike Williams are on injured reserve. The team expects to have Obomanu against Arizona on Sunday. Linebacker Malcolm Smith (concussion), defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (concussion), quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (pectoral) and defensive back Kennard Cox (hamstring) practiced fully.