NFC West: John Shaw
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams training camp could return to the team's facility near St. Louis. Coats: "Rams Park always was an option, but the club had considered Missouri Science & Technology in Rolla and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Time is growing short for the club to make a commitment to one of those schools, and without a labor agreement in place, the league schedule is up in the air. Training camp normally gets under way in late July. The Rams would be permitted this year to open camp a week early because they are scheduled to play the Chicago Bears in the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio."
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com profiles Rams rookie receiver Greg Salas. Wagoner: "Spent the majority of his time at Hawaii working out of the slot where he rarely faced press coverage. Has the hands and physical skills to be an impact pass catcher but will need to become a sharp route runner capable of beating press coverage to become a high level wideout in the NFL."
Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis foresees no sophomore slump for the Rams' Sam Bradford.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com offers a few Cardinals-related notes, linking to a story about former tight end Leonard Pope saving a child from drowning. The boy's mother was watching her child, who suddenly went under. Said the mother: "I started screaming. Leonard was inside, and he came out of nowhere and dove into the water without any hesitation, cell phone in his pocket and all. He saved my son’s life, and I am so thankful that he was there for me and my child."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic thinks the Cardinals' team-oriented defense will still require strong play from its stars.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com offers thoughts on the 49ers' recent practices. Maiocco: "Remember the talk a week after the draft that rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick was going to learn the 49ers' playbook from Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck? 'Yeah, that was blown way out of proportion,' Kaepernick said. The 49ers' playbook is different from the Stanford playbook. Kaepernick said there was never any talk of getting Luck to teach him the playbook. Luck doesn't even know the 49ers' playbook. If Kaepernick has any questions, he's asking Alex Smith."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says conditioning should not be a problem for 49ers first-round choice Aldon Smith. Barrows: "On Thursday, Justin Smith had the group running two-by-two races up the east arch of Spartan Stadium, a grueling routine that lasted 40 minutes. Today, they were back on the east side of the stadium, this time sprinting up the bleachers from the bottom row to the top. Outside linebacker Parys Haralson was leading those drills. For Aldon Smith, it was no sweat. (Actually, his t-shirt was drenched like everyone else's). Smith was consistently among the first few players to the top on each run. The Smith boys -- Aldon, Alex and Justin -- seemed to excel at this drill."
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana had to cancel a scheduled appearance before the Santa Clara City Council after requiring stitches following an ATV accident. Brown: "Montana was scheduled to discuss his plans for building a hotel, restaurants and sports bars near the proposed new 49ers stadium."
Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat says 49ers kicker Fabrizio Scaccia has hit another long field goal try, this one from 57 yards, while playing in the Arena League.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com revisits Steve Largent's contributions to the team. Farnsworth: "While doing some research for something that is only partially Largent related, this new are-you-kidding-me nugget was uncovered: In 1979, when Largent scored nine touchdowns, he averaged 36.3 yards on those scoring plays; and in 1978, when he had eight TDs, the average per scoring play was 36.1. Largent also soared around the 30-yard average in 1980 (30.2 on six scoring catches); 1977 (28.3 on 10 scoring catches); and 1981 (27.1 on nine scoring catches)."
How else to explain such freakish timing?
With ESPN.com's ongoing power rankings series focusing on helmets later Tuesday, I decided to visit the UniWatch blog to see whether those concerned with "the obsessive study of uniform aesthetics" might have anything to say on the matter.
By dumb luck, the blog was currently leading with an interview featuring helmet- and uniform-related reflections from longtime Rams equipment manager Todd Hewitt. The interview, which originally appeared at helmethut.com, is a fascinating read for any Rams fan or anyone interested in football lore.
I'll break out a few highlights below, but please do check out the full transcript. Great stuff. Among the revelations:
- The team used only Riddell helmets for years because Hewitt's father knew John Riddell. But Dennis Harrah had other ideas.
- At one point, the Rams settled on a certain shade of yellow they liked, but then-owner Dan Reeves forced a change upon learning the color carried a sissified name -- "buttercup" yellow.
- The Rams considered 15-20 color combinations when changing uniforms in 2000. Frontiere went with "new century gold" and "millennium blue" because the combination "made cosmic sense" entering the 21st century, even though she thought other colors looked better.
- The team favored blue-and-white uniforms, without gold, beginning in the 1960s because the combination reproduced better on black-and-white TV.
- Carroll Rosenbloom had an eye toward Hollywood when pushing to incorporate gold after taking over the team in 1972.
- The team has never, ever considered removing the iconic horns from its helmets. Hewitt and his father had been the only ones to apply the helmet decals since the team went away from painted horns nearly 40 years ago. That is changing now that Hewitt no longer works for the team.
- Former coach Ray Malavasi favored white jerseys at home because he thought they made players look bigger. Comfortable pants were a higher priority for former coach John Robinson. Mike Martz loved white uniform pants, but team exec John Shaw hated them (not that the Rams went through any front-office turmoil during those years).
I listed the Rams' helmets among the top five in the NFL in balloting for the power rankings, which ran on Bill Williamson's AFC West blog Tuesday.
John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune explains the Qwest phenomenon: "The stadium name with the silly spelling has grown on me. It’s got an identity so vivid, even the downtown Seattle cab drivers understand 'Qwest Field,' especially if you add: 'For the football game, where all the traffic is. Three blocks away is close enough.' CenturyLink sounds like a industrial company that manufactures ugly fences separating old tires and crab grass from the sidewalk. Then I see those words cramped together with the capital letter in the middle -- CenturyLink -- and I need some space."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic updates the Cardinals' efforts to renew and sell season-ticket packages. The team, like the league, is proceeding as though the regular season will begin on time. I'd be curious to know the retention rate for the Cardinals in a tough economy and following a 5-11 season. Somers: "The Cardinals don't disclose the number of people on their season-ticket waiting list but say it's in the thousands."
Also from Somers: a look at Pro Football Focus analysis showing a lack of elusiveness from Cardinals running back Beanie Wells. Said analyst Sam Monson: "As I'm sure you know, the Cardinals' run blocking is pretty poor. When a halfback starts to lose confidence in the blocking, he'll start to hesitate behind the line, look to bounce runs outside and away from designed holes, and generally makes everybody look worse. Also, as you pointed out, the Cardinals poor QB play will have been a factor. Teams didn't respect the passing game at all, and they were able to key in on the running back. It's not all Wells, and this probably isn't a fair comparison, (but) Adrian Peterson has graded out much better in the past with similar problems." Peterson is better, obviously, but he also hasn't played a full season with Derek Anderson, Max Hall and John Skelton as his quarterbacks, or for a team that has struggled so badly on defense.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says during a chat that he gets no sense new Rams owner Stan Kroenke is preparing a big shakeup that would affect general manager Billy Devaney or top executive Kevin Demoff. Thomas suggests both would likely remain even if Kroenke hired a team president. Thomas: "My strong sense is that neither Devaney nor Demoff is in any kind of job jeopardy. If Kroenke brings in HIS guy, I think it will be as someone to oversee the day-to-day operations. Keep in mind, Demoff essentially has replaced three people (John Shaw, Jay Zygmunt and Bob Wallace) so you could make a case that the Rams are a little light on upper management."
Also from Thomas: Devaney explains what he said to James Carville after the political commentator said he thought the 2012 Republican presidential field looked as bad as the NFC West. Devaney: "If I wasn't working in the NFC West, it's a great line. ... Here we're sitting in this big hall, you got owners, head coaches, general managers, and they're laughing their (rear ends) off. So you know, it burns you a little bit. And I care about my team. ... I said, 'Carville.' He came over and said, 'Hey, how are you?' I said, 'I'm Billy Devaney. I work for the Rams in the NFC West. And that comment about the NFC West, you can take it and shove it up your (rear end).'"
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com has the 49ers selecting LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson in his updated mock draft. Maiocco: "Nice size, great speed ... huge need."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Von Miller's visit with the 49ers is scheduled for April 13-14. Barrows: "The 49ers also have a visit scheduled with North Carolina's Ryan Taylor on April 6 and 7. Taylor is a 6-4, 250-pound fullback/H-back, who is intriguing as a receiver out of the backfield. Last season, Taylor caught 36 passes for 330 yards and two touchdowns. The 49ers are interested in fullbacks, which were a big part of Jim Harbaugh's Stanford offense. Running backs coach Tom Rathman spent a long time with Stanford fullback Owen Marecic at that school's pro day last week."
Andrew S. Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle says Santa Clara is acting in the interests of a new 49ers stadium in defiance of California Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to strike down publicly funded redevelopment groups. Ross: "In an ad hoc meeting Monday night, the Santa Clara City Council voted to transfer $4 million in redevelopment agency funds to a San Francisco 49er entity, Forty Niners Stadium LLC, for 'make ready' work on a new 49er stadium that may never get built."
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider looks at the 49ers' tight ends. Lynch: "Now (new coach Jim) Harbaugh has possibly the most talented tight end in the league in Vernon Davis and a brilliant understudy in Delanie Walker. Harbaugh is catching Davis just when the four-year starter is starting to blossom. Davis could always pull off the spectacular, but he struggled at the mundane, like running the proper route, catching the pass, and remembering the snap count. But last season, Davis cut down on all of those mistakes."
Michael Lombardi of NFL.com says the 49ers, not just the Cardinals, could have interest in Marc Bulger this offseason. Lombardi: "The 49ers are thinking about bringing Alex Smith back as a backup, allowing new coach Jim Harbaugh to determine if he can become the player they hoped he would become when they drafted him. The 49ers must be divergent in their thinking. They are in a bad spot in the first round and must hope for a mistake from the teams in front of them needing a quarterback. The 49ers need to address the short- and long-term issues, and might even think about trying to move up in the draft to put themselves in position to acquire either Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert. However, without a mistake, the 49ers will have to rely on their evaluation skills deciding which 'other' quarterback can fit their scheme. Is it Jake Locker? Colin Kaepernick? Christian Ponder? Don't rule the 49ers out of the Carson Palmer sweeps if the Bengals decide to draft one. And I would fully expect them to make a play for Bulger once the free-agent market opens."
The Rams' website says team executive Kevin Demoff will participate in a chat March 2.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com does not expect Troy Smith or Brian Westbrook to return to the 49ers. Maiocco: "Jim Harbaugh always cites accuracy high on the list of attributes he wants from his quarterback. Troy Smith completed 50.3 percent of his passes. Also, Harbaugh's brother, John, released Troy Smith prior to the start of the regular season last year and decided to stick with just two quarterbacks (Joe Flacco and Marc Bulger) on his Baltimore Ravens roster. As for Westbrook, Harbaugh made it clear he likes Anthony Dixon as Frank Gore's backup. He also noted Gore will not be spending too much time on the sideline. At the conclusion of the regular season, I asked Westbrook what kind of situation he was looking to find in 2011."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers thoughts on the 49ers' draft options from NFL Network's Mike Mayock. Mayock: "I think that Von Miller from Texas A&M is the prototype 34 rush linebacker. He's got an innate ability. He not only has a great get off and quickness, he also can bend his body and twist and turn and flatten the corner to get to a quarterback. He's a tiny bit undersized. You've got to get yourself comfortable with that. He's not as big as, say, DeMarcus Ware was when he came out, but I think he's tough enough to overcome that. And I think if you're talking about the first round at No. 7 and you're looking for an edge rusher, I think Von Miller's the guy as far as the outside linebacker's concerned."
Eric Branch of Santa Rosa Press-Democrat notes that the 49ers' new assistant secondary coach, Greg Jackson, played with Harbaugh.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says using the franchise tag for Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane would cost more than $12 million, according to NFL.com. That is consistent with what Brian McIntyre of Mac's Football Blog projected in late January. O'Neil: "Mebane's value goes beyond Seattle, though. He plays a position that is becoming increasingly expensive across the league to the point that the franchise tag is no longer as economical of a solution. Certainly not like it was last year. Six players were designated with the franchise tag in 2010. Three played defensive tackle. Going back to 2007, 46 players have been designated with a franchise tag. Seven were defensive tackles, which matches the most at any one position."
Also from O'Neil: a round-by-round look at draft choices the Seahawks hold, including the fifth-rounder acquired from Baltimore in the Josh Wilson trade. That pick would have upgraded to a fourth-rounder had Wilson made 10 starts.
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic passes along thoughts on the Cardinals' draft options from Mayock. Mayock: "If you believe there is a franchise quarterback, that trumps every other need. And since Kurt Warner retired, that underscores that point better than anything I can say. So if you believe Blaine Gabbert is the guy, you've got to take him right there. I think they have to be evaluating him right now. But they also have to be evaluating Von Miller, who is the prototype rush linebacker and a guy who immediately becomes a headache and a guy you've got to game-plan for every week coming off the edge. And Patrick Peterson is definitely the third guy I think you have to be looking at because of his ability to play the corner position and possibly kick inside a little bit down the road like Antrel Rolle did a few years back. But if they believe like I believe that Gabbert is a top 10 pick, that would be my guy at No. 5." That is the easy part. The hard part is determining whether Gabbert is or is not worthy of "the guy" status.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Kerry Rhodes is headed for Kentucky's hall of fame for pro football.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
TAMPA, Fla. -- The hiring of Kevin Demoff as the Rams' executive vice president of football operations and chief operating officer provides a bridge to the past while adding a creative salary-cap manager for the future.Demoff's father, prominent agent Marvin Demoff, represented former longtime NFL executive Bobby Beathard, who advised Rams general manager Billy Devaney on the team's recent search for a head coach. The elder Demoff also has a long-standing relationship with John Shaw, who remains close to Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom after resigning as team president.
Chris Long, the player St. Louis selected with the second overall choice in the 2008 draft, signed with the Rams in time for training camp. His agent? Marvin Demoff.
Kevin Demoff spent the last two seasons as senior assistant to the general manager for the Bucs, overseeing contract negotiations, salary-cap management, scouting and strategic planning. He previously spent one season as a Bucs consultant after four years as director of football operations for the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League.
"Demoff will be responsible for all player contract negotiations and will serve as a liaison to ownership on football and business operations," the Rams said in a news release.
Demoff's strong ties to the agent community give him a wider base of experience to draw upon. He showed creativity in how he constructed contracts for the Bucs, who spent $13 million in cash less than the $116 million salary-cap limit for 2008. The team has roughly $41 million in 2009 cap space despite having a roster laden with veterans.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have hired Pat Shurmur as their offensive coordinator. He also expects Ken Flajole to become defensive coordinator. The Rams have requested permission to speak with Vikings special-teams coach Paul Ferraro. Also, outgoing Rams offensive coordinator Al Saunders has an interview with the Raiders.
Also from Thomas: He checks in with USC linebacker Rey Maualuga, the type of player who could help the Rams become more physical.
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com revisits what Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom said about Scott Linehan, Jay Zygmunt and John Shaw last offseason. Things change.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat profiles new Rams coach Steve Spanguolo, who leans heavily on his Catholic faith. Spagnuolo recounts what it took to get married at the Vatican after initially planning to exchange vows in Rome.
VanRam of Turf Show Times expects the Rams to run more than the Eagles did when Shurmur was with Philadelphia.
Niners scout Todd Brunner checks in from the Senior Bowl. He likes quarterback Pat White.
Lisa Goodwin of 49ers.com relays players' thoughts about the King holiday and the presidential inauguration.
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says Jeff Jagodzinski's grounding in zone blocking schemes could make him a good fit for the 49ers as offensive coordinator.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee updates the 49ers' search for an offensive coordinator. Barrows: "The 49ers also have interviewed Indianapolis Colts wide receivers coach Clyde Christensen and former Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski for the job. The fact that neither candidate has been called in for a second interview -- as Linehan was last Thursday -- is telling."
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers' search for an offensive coordinator appears stuck in neutral.
Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic has some advice for Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin. She thinks he needs to strike a conciliatory tone.
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says NBC's Cris Collinsworth backed off comments about the Cardinals being the worst team in postseason history.
The East Valley Tribune outlines 10 key moments in the Cardinals' season.
Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind breaks down the Eagles' final two offensive plays against Arizona in the NFC Championship Game.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks could have a hard time keeping linebacker Leroy Hill. Farnsworth: "The club already has talked to Hill and his agent about signing a long-term deal, but all that did was show just how far apart the two sides are. And any time Hill has discussed the situation, he has sounded like a player who is eager to test free agency."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times revisits the Seahawks' and Steelers' Super Bowl lineups from after the 2005 season.
More from O'Neil: a statistical comparison between the Steelers and Seahawks, then and now.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Rams have confirmed reports of Billy Devaney's ascension to general manager at the expense of longtime executives John Shaw and Jay Zygmunt.
The team hired Devaney as vice president of player personnel in February. Shaw will remain with the team as senior adviser/owners' representative. According to the Rams:
Devaney, who has 23 years of NFL scouting experience, will be responsible for all player personnel decisions, including the college draft, acquisition of free agents, player trades and other personnel transactions. He will also be in charge of a search for a new Rams head coach, which will begin at the conclusion of the 2008 season.
The current coaching staff predates Devaney in St. Louis. Devaney was most recently with the Falcons. He has also worked for the Redskins, Chargers and 49ers.
It's not immediately clear what this move means for the coaching search. Who the Rams want and who they can get might not be the same thing. After several down seasons, the organization will have to convince candidates that the franchise is committed to winning. That might be easier to do now that Devaney, with recent ties outside the organization, is in control.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Jim Haslett has a plan to fix the Rams in one offseason, but it's unclear whether the team will indulge him.
Also from Thomas: A scouting report giving the Rams an edge over Seattle when St. Louis passes the ball.
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Haslett is the right man for the job, even though he might not be a popular choice. Burwell blames executive John Shaw for getting the Rams into their current mess, one reason he thinks Shaw should have no input in naming the next head coach.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes Seattle players complaining about Richie Incognito's allegedly dirty tactics.Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat quotes Rams cornerback Ron Bartell as saying he wouldn't buy a ticket to the Seahawks-Rams game.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals have avoided serious injuries, one reason the team was able to clinch the NFC West title so early.
Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals want the third seed in the NFC playoff race. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "History dictates the higher seeds have a better chance in the playoffs." Except for the time Whisenhunt and the sixth-seeded Steelers won the Super Bowl.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com quotes Kurt Warner as saying the Cardinals can't be content winning a division title. Warner: "It will take some time to convince guys who haven't been here before that this isn't the pinnacle."
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle looks at how the 49ers plan to block Dolphins pass-rusher Joey Porter. Offensive line coach Chris Foerster: "Hopefully, we can win our share of one-on-ones and get help when we need it."
Also from Crumpacker: A look at key matchups, including the one between the 49ers' Justin Smith and the Dolphins' Jake Long.
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says the Dolphins' defense might be most vulnerable through the air. That was certainly the case when Miami faced the Cardinals in Week 2.
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says running back DeShaun Foster is unusually fresh for this late in the season. He'll finally get extensive work now that Frank Gore is injured.
Also from Brown: Niners linebacker Patrick Willis appreciates the team's new approach to offense. San Francisco possessed the ball for nearly 40 minutes against the Jets in Week 14.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers are in no rush to hire Mike Singletary as coach beyond this season, in part because rules prevent them from doing so.
Also from Barrows: A scouting report noting that the Dolphins lead the NFL in turnover differential, having surrendered only four fumbles and six interceptions.
Jose Romero of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks hope to beat the Rams for an eighth consecutive time. The Rams blitzed Seattle frequently when the teams met previously this season.
Also from Romero: A scouting report suggesting Seattle should be able to end its six-game losing streak. Deion Branch, coming off a breakout game against New England, had five catches for 92 yards and a touchdown in the Edward Jones Dome last season.
Doug Farrar of Field Gulls takes an initial look at Sean Locklear's prognosis at left tackle. The final three games give Locklear a chance to show whether he can play effectively on that side.
Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' patchwork offensive line is looking for another better-than-expected performance. Floyd Womack has played particularly well.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
1. Jim Haslett, head coach, Rams. A promotion from defensive coordinator gives Haslett a chance to breathe life into the Rams -- and his own career.
2. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams. He reached 100 yards rushing for the first time this season.
3. Marc Bulger, QB, Rams. The likelihood of Bulger regaining the starting job improved when Haslett became head coach.Leonard Little, DE, Rams. A two-sack performance against the Bills showed Little was sufficiently recovered from a hamstring injury.
7. Arnaz Battle, WR, 49ers. Seven catches for 120 yards against the Saints marked season highs by wide margins.
8. Joe Nedney, K, 49ers. He made all three field-goal tries, his first game without a miss since the opener.
1. Scott Linehan, former coach, Rams. Linehan will be better off for this move in the long run, but getting fired had to hurt.
2. John Shaw and Jay Zygmunt, Rams executives. Linehan's firing looks like the first step in an organizational overhaul that could remake the front office.
4. Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals. Six turnovers against the Jets raised old questions about protecting the football. Warner needs better protection, too.
5. Mike Martz, offensive coordinator, 49ers. The genius talk subsided after J.T. O'Sullivan took six more sacks to go with two end-zone interceptions.6. Ken Whisenhunt, head coach, Cardinals. The decision to spend a week on the East Coast played no obvious role in the team's defeat, but a victory would have raised Whisenhunt's gravitas.
7. 49ers safeties. These guys were no match for crafty Saints quarterback Drew Brees.8. Al Saunders, offensive coordinator, Rams. He lost out to Haslett for the head-coaching job, and now it's unclear if his preferred quarterback, Trent Green, will remain the starter.
9. Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers. Getting reprimanded for yelling at coaches isn't a good sign.
11. Courtney Taylor, WR, Seahawks. Remember him? The Seahawks will not when it comes time to set lineups now that Branch and Engram are back.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat revisits Mike Martz's worst day as an NFL coach, pinning the blame largely on Bill Belichick. Martz and Belichick meet again when the Patriots visit the 49ers in Week 5.
Dan Brown of 49ers Hot Read quotes ESPN's Keyshawn Johnson as saying Martz, the 49ers' first-year offensive coordinator, won't be able to stick with the run because a pass-happy approach is in his blood.
Also from Brown: New England has beaten 29 of 31 NFL teams on the road. The 49ers are one of them. This week marks the first time the Patriots have visited Candlestick Park under coach Bill Belichick.
Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers tight end Vernon Davis blamed his emotions for an outburst during the Saints game.
Also from FitzGerald: The 49ers' pass protection "leaked like a bad trumpet valve" in the Big Easy. Coach Mike Nolan defended the protection schemes, comparing them to the ones the Saints use. One huge difference: Drew Brees gets rid of the football as quickly as any quarterback in the league.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the word "interim" isn't part of Jim Haslett's title as head coach of the Rams. That comes as a surprise to me after the Rams sent out a news release beginning this way: "Chip Rosenbloom, owner and chairman of the St. Louis Rams, announced the appointment this morning of Jim Haslett as interim head coach of the Rams, effective immediately." The title is a matter of semantics because there's no such thing as a permanent coach.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Rams rookie Chris Long planned to call outgoing coach Scott Linehan and thank him for his contributions.
Also from Korte: Haslett initially feared for his family when his phone rang in the middle of the night. Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom was on the line with a job offer.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says an NFL team owner doesn't become a true owner until he fires a coach. Rosenbloom has done that now.
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams ownership made the best possible move in elevating Haslett to head coach. He suggests executives John Shaw and Jay Zygmunt are no longer running the football operations.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch assesses Haslett's intensity, noting somewhat surprisingly that the fiery coach might be teaching elementary school if football weren't an option.Also from Coats: Rams players blame themselves for Linehan's firing.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks have an abundance of receivers now that Deion Branch and Bobby Engram are healthy.
Also from O'Neil: Look for Sean Locklear to start for Seattle at right tackle against the Giants in Week 5. Also, defensive tackle Craig Terrill is resting a sore knee.
Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says Branch expects to play against the Giants. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck: "He looks really fast and seems really fast. I don't know how to measure it, but the routes we have been running, he has looked good."
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer provides a medical update on the Seahawks. The team is in much better condition following its bye week.
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says injured Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin is resting at home. The team doesn't know when Boldin might return to the field, but all tests have produced encouraging results.
Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals aren't sure if Boldin suffered a concussion against the Jets.
Also from Tulumello: Just how bad were the Cardinals in Week 4?
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com said the team would stay on the road for back-to-back games on the East Coast if coach Ken Whisenhunt had the opportunity again.
Scott Allen of RaisingZona.com looks ahead and looks back on each team in the NFC West.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Rams' unsettled ownership situation has cost them power at the league level, Daniel Kaplan of the St. Louis Business Journal reports.
Lions owner Bill Ford Jr. has replaced Rams executive John Shaw on the labor comittee. Pat Bowlen (Broncos) and Jerry Richardson (Panthers) co-chair the committee, which tackles the most important issues facing the league. Other members include Mike Brown (Bengals), Clark Hunt (Chiefs), Jerry Jones (Cowboys), Robert Kraft (Patriots), John Mara (Giants), Mark Murphy (Packers), Art Rooney II (Steelers) and Ford.