NFC West: Keary Colbert

Aaron from Chicago wants to know why the Seattle Seahawks keep acquiring personnel from his favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings.

Cornerback Antoine Winfield was the latest addition to the "Minnesota West" roster in Seattle.

"Ever since we controversially signed Steve Hutchinson from them," Aaron writes, "it has seemed as though the Seahawks go out of their way to snatch whatever Vikings they can to stick it to us. It started with them signing Nate Burleson, then Sidney Rice and Heath Farwell, Darell Bevell and Tarvaris Jackson (for whatever reason). They even outbid us for T.J. Houshmanzadeh a few years back. They signed Ryan Longwell at the end of this past season. Obviously, it has continued with Percy Harvin and now Winfield."

Sando: It's a remarkable pattern, but there's likely no revenge factor. The people running the Seahawks during the Hutchinson controversy are long gone from the organization. They were involved in adding Burleson and Houshmandzadeh, but they had nothing to do with the Seahawks' more recent deals for Rice, Farwell, Bevell, Jackson, Harvin or Winfield.

Bevell's hiring as the Seahawks' offensive coordinator stands out as a factor behind the team's decisions to sign Rice and trade for Harvin.

John Schneider's presence as the Seahawks' general manager since 2010 provides a strong link to the NFC North in general. Schneider, after spending much of his career with the Green Bay Packers, played a role in Seattle adding former NFC North players such as Breno Giacomini, Will Blackmon, Cliff Avril, Steven Hauschka, Brett Swain, Frank Omiyale and others. Also, Schneider and Bevell were together in Green Bay. However, Seattle has added many more players without ties to the Vikings or the NFC North.

For a while, the Detroit Lions signed or otherwise acquired a long list of players with Seahawks ties. There were some connections between the organizations -- former Lions coach Rod Marinelli and former Seahawks GM Tim Ruskell shared a history with Tampa Bay, for instance -- but some of the overlap defied explanation.

Tyler Polumbus, Burleson, Will Heller, Rob Sims, Lawrence Jackson, Maurice Morris, Julian Peterson, Trevor Canfield, Marquand Manuel, Kole Heckendorf, Kevin Hobbs, Logan Payne, Chuck Darby, Keary Colbert, Billy McMullen, Travis Fisher, Cory Redding, John Owens, Joel Filani, T.J. Duckett, Kevin Kasper, Etric Pruitt and Mike Williams were among the players to play for both organizations.

Update: The Burleson signing did have a retaliatory aspect, as ZippyWasBanned noted in the comments section. Seattle signed him to an offer sheet featuring "poison pills" similar to the ones that helped the Vikings land Hutchinson.

Challenging the 49ers' divisional dominance

September, 11, 2011
The San Francisco 49ers have changed head coaches and coordinators multiple times in recent years, but there has been at least one constant.

The team keeps defeating division opponents at home.

The 49ers have won their last seven NFC West games at Candlestick Park. The average final score: 31-12.

It's something to keep in mind when the Seattle Seahawks visit later Sunday. Seattle is the most recent NFC West team to defeat the 49ers at Candlestick, back in Week 8 of the 2008 season.

Eight 49ers starters from that 2008 defeat remain in the lineup or at least part of the game plan this week: Josh Morgan, Joe Staley, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Parys Haralson, Isaac Sopoaga, Justin Smith and Patrick Willis. Several 49ers backups and inactive players from that game also remain with the team, including Ray McDonald and Delanie Walker. Alex Smith was on injured reserve and did not play that season.

The Seahawks have had almost zero carryover. Koren Robinson, Walter Jones, Mike Wahle, Keary Colbert, Seneca Wallace, Jordan Kent and current 49ers assistant Bobby Engram were among their offensive starters that day. They're hoping a nearly all-new team can produce different results against the 49ers on the road.

New 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh inherits a team that has gone 11-3 in its last 14 divisional games, home or away. Seattle has accounted for two of those three defeats, including in the 2010 opener.

Shock! Another Seahawks-Lions deal

August, 31, 2010
The Seattle-Detroit pipeline keeps pumping, albeit with less-than-spectacular results this time.

The latest move between the teams is particularly chuckle-worthy (surely there must be some reason these teams keep hooking up, but I can't find any hard ties). The Lions recently won a waiver-claim battle with Seattle over former Denver Broncos offensive lineman Tyler Polumbus. The Lions held Polumbus for a few days, then traded him to the Seahawks, presumably for something of minimal or even conditional value. Polumbus and Seahawks offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates were with the Broncos in 2008.

The Seahawks and Lions have made multiple trades and shared multiple players spanning multiple coaching staffs and front offices in recent years.

Among the players to spend time on both rosters: Polumbus, Nate Burleson, Will Heller, Rob Sims, Lawrence Jackson, Maurice Morris, Julian Peterson, Trevor Canfield, Marquand Manuel, Kole Heckendorf, Kevin Hobbs, Logan Payne, Chuck Darby, Keary Colbert, Billy McMullen, Travis Fisher, Cory Redding, John Owens, Jon Kitna (OK, not recently in Seattle), Joel Filani, T.J. Duckett, Kevin Kasper, Ike Charlton (again, not recently in Seattle), Etric Pruitt, Mike Williams and probably a few others.

Reggie Williams and the Seahawks

April, 9, 2010
Initial thoughts after ESPN's John Clayton told me that former Jaguars receiver Reggie Williams will participate in the Seahawks' upcoming minicamp on a tryout basis:

[+] Enlarge Reggie Williams
Fernando Medina/US PresswireReggie Williams will try out for the Seahawks in their upcoming minicamp.

  • Seahawks coach Pete Carroll appreciated Williams' talents when both were in the Pac-10.
  • Williams has some local appeal in Seattle after dominating at the University of Washington.
  • Seattle has nothing to lose by giving Williams a shot.
  • Williams has much to prove.
  • The Seahawks' new regime probably will not rule out players with troubled pasts to the degree previous general manager Tim Ruskell once did.
  • Seattle needs help at receiver, pending the addition of Brandon Marshall or another proven talent at the position.
I went through the 2004 class of drafted receivers and noted that, well, it wasn't a great class all the way through. Larry Fitzgerald and Roy Williams are the only guys with Pro Bowls. Lee Evans has done good things for the Bills. A couple of others have shown flashes.

Some background info from Clayton: "The former Lakes High School and former University of Washington star was the ninth player selected in the 2004 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He caught 189 passes during his Jaguars career. Williams had some off-the-field problems in Jacksonville that included an arrest for marijuana possession, a DWI and another possession charge. Williams didn’t play football in 2009 but he’s ready to return to the field. At the age of 26, Williams welcomed the chance to return to his home turf. To participate in the minicamp, Williams had to sign an injury waiver with the team. If the three-day workout does well, he could be offered a contract."

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Rams might be able to get receiver Donnie Avery back from a foot injury in time for the regular season. Here's a quick look at available veteran receivers, with potential concerns listed for each player:

I'd be stunned if the Rams considered any receivers with significant off-field issues. Looking at the list, Hilliard might be the most logical consideration, if healthy.

Travel note: I wrote this item Sunday night and scheduled it to appear Monday while I was traveling to St. Louis for Rams camp. I'll revisit this item at some point Monday if the Rams sign a veteran replacement for Avery.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Chris from parts unknown writes: Sando, Wassup man. I wanted to know, will the rams pick up a free agent WR heading towards the draft or do you think they will draft a WR? If so, who do you think they will pick up??

Mike Sando: Adding a veteran receiver sounds like a good idea until you take a closer look at the 14 unrestricted free agents at the position:

Amani Toomer, age 35
Dane Looker, 33
Dante' Hall, 31
Darrell Jackson, 30
Justin McCareins, 30
Ashley Lelie, 29
Koren Robinson, 29
Edell Shepherd, 29
Shaun McDonald, 28
Drew Carter, 28
Tab Perry, 27
Keary Colbert, 27
Reggie Williams, 26

Plaxico Burress and Torry Holt are probably the best available receivers among those released by their teams (released players do not qualify as unrestricted free agents). Given that the Rams have said they will not pursue college prospects with known off-field issues, I would not expect them to consider Burress, whose legal troubles are significant. And Holt's time in St. Louis has passed.

Toomer would make sense for the Rams if they were desperate for a mentor. His Giants career overlapped with Steve Spagnuolo's time there. So far, however, the Rams have appeared more determined to get younger than to add aging veterans. That type of move would probably wait until after the draft.

I see no sure-fire way to fix this position in one offseason. The Rams probably would have drafted Jake Long if given the opportunity last year. I would expect them to draft a tackle with the second overall choice this year. The team might then need to help its defense. Under that scenario, it becomes harder to find a likely starter at receiver in the draft. And I do think the Rams need a starter to pair with Donnie Avery, even if the coaches like Keenan Burton's potential.

Bottom line: As much as the Rams need help at receiver, I'm not sure they can afford to address the position aggressively at the expense of other needs. The value would have to be strong -- a possibility at the top of the second round -- or they would have to surprise us by selecting Michael Crabtree or Jeremy Maclin early. Perhaps we'll see them looking for a veteran stopgap after the draft.

The team's current receivers include Avery, Burton, Chad Lucas, Nate Jones, Joel Filani, Travis Brown and the rehabbing Derek Stanley.

UFA Receiver Age
Amani Toomer
Dane Looker
Dante' Hall
Darrell Jackson
Justin McCareins
Ashley Lelie
Koren Robinson
Edell Shepherd
Brandon Lloyd
Shaun McDonald
Drew Carter
Tab Perry
Keary Colbert
Reggie Williams

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Rams and 49ers could still use help at wide receiver through the draft, free agency or both.

One problem: We're down to 14 unrestricted free-agent wide receivers. Eight of the 14 are NFC West castoffs (see chart): Dane Looker, Dante' Hall, Darrell Jackson, Ashley Lelie, Koren Robinson, Brandon Lloyd, Shaun McDonald and Keary Colbert.

The oldest UFA receiver, former Giants mainstay Amani Toomer, has ties to St. Louis through new Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo. However, the Rams have been dumping older players, not adding them. At 35, Toomer is older than any player on the Rams' roster (Leonard Little is 34).

A few notable non-UFA receivers are still without teams for 2009, including NFC West alumni Torry Holt, Reche Caldwell, Joe Jurevicius and D.J. Hackett.

What should the Rams and 49ers do? Holt isn't coming back to the Rams. He might make sense for the 49ers if Isaac Bruce were to retire. But the harder I look at the list of available receivers, the better the draft appears as an alternative.

Scouts Inc. lists five draft-eligible receivers with grades higher than 90 (see Insider rankings), signifying a "rare prospect" with the ability to "take over a game and play at a championship level." The five: Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin, Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks and Darrius Heyward-Bey.

The Rams would be defying convention if they selected a receiver with the second overall choice. If they go in another direction, as expected, the top five receivers could be off the board before St. Louis picks again. That marks quite a departure from 2008, when the Rams made Donnie Avery the first receiver selected in the draft -- at No. 33.

I co
uld see the 49ers considering a receiver at No. 10, particularly if the top tackles are gone and they thought pass-rush help could be found later.

2009 Draft Round Rams Overall Hawks Overall 49ers Overall Cards Overall
2 4 10 31
35 37 43 63
66 68 74 95
Posted by's Mike Sando

NFC West teams enter the 2009 draft with every one of their original selections except the fifth-round choice Seattle sent to Denver for Keary Colbert.

No teams in the division are holding choices from another team.

The draft order for the first three rounds is set. The order for the fourth through seventh rounds will change once the NFL awards compensatory choices during its annual spring meetings, which begin the week of March 22.

Mailbag: How the Rams can rebuild

November, 20, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

Hiztory from St. Louis writes: now that the rams are out of playoff contention can we look to the future? we obviously need a QB for the future so what about JP Losman? we need at least two more like three good lineman, one to replace pace, challenge barron and an interior lineman, one more DE to back up little and another DB.

who do you see that the rams would go after? any coaches? and i know this makes this a rather long post but, i think the rams should become a zone blocking offense with a one cut and go system. and a hybrid 3-4/4-3 system and stand little up. get a bigger back to pair with jackson and a young qb. it's like a smash mouth philosophy where we run %60-%70 and throw %40-%30. wha do you think? sorry for the long message. thanks for reading.

Mike Sando: Thank you. Your note gets moved to the front of the line given that we don't hear from Rams fans all that frequently.

I'm not sure the organization can afford to give up on Marc Bulger even though you find it "obvious" that the team needs a new quarterback. The financial commitment to Bulger is such that I think he's the guy for next season. Given that resources are finite, I would focus on building a better team around him. Some of this is going to be dependent on what happens with the coaching staff.

You are absolutely right about the Rams needing to focus on upgrading the offensive line. They need players at every position on the line. I would look to find at least three new starters for 2009. They paid Jacob Bell, so he probably needs to be there at left guard. And Richie Incognito has come on a little at right guard. Still, I would want to upgrade at center, one guard spot and at least one tackle spot. Orlando Pace can't stay healthy, so it's time to develop a prospect at that position.

The Rams should be OK at the skill positions with Bulger, Steven Jackson, Donnie Avery and Randy McMichael. They'll probably need another receiver given that they are phasing out Torry Holt. I would want another tight end, particularly if Al Saunders' system remains. Could be time to part with Joe Klopfenstein and give someone else a chance to grow into that position.

Defensively, the Rams need bulk in the middle. Otherwise their linebackers aren't big enough. They need to turn over the strong safety position. They could use cornerback help.

(Read full post)

Around the NFC West: Gore backtracks

November, 14, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says Frank Gore expects to play against the Rams without limitation. The 49ers disputed Gore's initial claim that he suffered a concussion against the Cardinals.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says officials erred in spotting the football outside the 2-yard line following Gore's final run Monday night.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat quotes Gore as saying he underwent no tests to see if he suffered a concussion Monday night. Gore, accompanied by a public-relations employee, withdrew his previous assertion that he suffered a concussion.

Also from Maiocco: Whatever was bothering Gore likely affected him on his final carry.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee quotes 49ers coach Mike Singletary as saying Gore will play against the Rams. 

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News offers a complete breakdown of Gore's comments and clarification.

Vernon Davis of the 49ers answers questions from fans, noting that the Saints' Will Smith posed his toughest matchup in pass protection. I thought Davis fared well in that matchup.

Gary Plummer of the 49ers' radio team breaks down the Rams-49ers game. He expects to see more of Chilo Rachal at guard. He thought Rachal looked "amazing" in limited work against the Cardinals.

Darren Urban of looks at what Clark Haggans and Bryan Robinson have brought to the Cardinals in terms of leadership and experience.

Also from Urban: The Cardinals' tight ends are fighting for playing time after coach Ken Whisenhunt put them on notice.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic quotes Mike Holmgren as saying a "perfect storm" has hit the Seahawks this season.

Also from Somers: a short notebook leading with the tight end situation. Also, Edgerrin James entered the University of Miami's Hall of Fame on Thursday night.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals' penalty problems haven't subsided despite Whisenhunt's efforts.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks' secondary coach knew nothing about Steve Breaston until watching the Cardinals on video Monday. Not that coaches have tunnel vision or anything.

Also from Farnsworth: The Seahawks sound excited about Courtney Taylor's second chance with the offense this season. Seattle signed Taylor from the practice squad after releasing Keary Colbert. The team also put in a waiver claim for receiver Adam Jennings, released by Atlanta, but the Lions' claim prevailed based on Detroit's inferior record.

John Morgan of Field Gulls breaks down a screen play the Cardinals used against the Redskins in Week 3 (play also referenced here).

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seahawks defensive coordinator John Marshall, who says Seattle must pressure Kurt Warner on Sunday.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Holmgren is hurting on the inside during a difficult final season with the Seahawks.

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times says Seahawks cornerback Kelly Jennings is trying to build his confidence heading into the Arizona game.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams will likely be without Steven Jackson in Week 11.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat was there when the Rams met with a 16-year-old high school player who suffered a series of strokes after a blood vessel in his brain burst. Rams coach Jim Haslett: "We've been kind of waiting for him to get out of the hospital so we could have him over as a guest. He's a great kid."

NFC West stock watch: falling

November, 13, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

1. Jim Haslett, interim coach, Rams. Every blowout defeat increases the odds of an offseason overhaul.

2. Marc Bulger, QB, Rams. The fumble-forcing, blind-side shot he took from the Jets was bad enough. The fact that it was his fault made it worse.

3. Mike Martz, offensive coordinator, 49ers. By his own admission, Martz tried to do too much when setting personnel for a late spike play. The team wasted precious seconds.

4. Keary Colbert, WR, Seahawks. He went from part of the rotation in the fourth quarter against Miami to the waiver wire.

5. Mike Singletary, interim coach, 49ers. Despite some good signs on the field, the team's disorganized approach to the final minute Monday night falls on the head coach.

6. Leonard Pope, TE, Cardinals. The team wants more production from the position. Pope, coming off injury, wasn't at his best Monday night.

7. Leonard Weaver, FB, Seahawks. Rib injuries are painful. Weaver will need time to heal. Seattle will give more playing time to rookie Owen Schmitt.

8. Mike Wahle, LG, Seahawks. Two more penalties gave him six this season. The false start prior to the 2-point try hurt.

9. Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals. The 49ers pretty much shut him down.

10. Maurice Morris, RB, Seahawks. Seattle went almost exclusively with Julius Jones against the Dolphins. Morris was the odd man out.

Around the NFC West: 49ers reflect

November, 12, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle dissects the final seconds of the 49ers' defeat Monday night. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz takes the blame for trying to do too much.

Nancy Gay of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers quarterback Shaun Hill handled himself well during the frantic final seconds against the Cardinals. Spiking the ball before the final play probably would have drawn a penalty and 10-second clock runoff.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat also breaks down the final seconds. Also, Martz blames running back Frank Gore for failing to turn around on the ill-fated shovel pass that resulted in Adrian Wilson's interception.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee picks apart Martz's explanation for the late-game confusion, calling into question various yard-line assumptions.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News breaks down the final seconds before noting that receiver Josh Morgan suffered a strained groin. Morgan's status for Week 11 is unclear.

Darren Urban of explains why Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt insists upon accentuating the positive following a sloppy victory Monday night.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals would rather address mistakes following a victory than wallow in them following a defeat.

Also from Somers: A look at the Cardinals' penalty-prone ways.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic mulls Whisenhunt's chances for NFL coach of the year.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says Whisenhunt has the best 25-game record for a Cardinals coach since the 1920s.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wonders how quickly Matt Hasselbeck can get up to speed upon returning to practice Wednesday.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times expects the Seahawks to sign Courtney Taylor to their 53-man roster after the team released Keary Colbert.

Also from O'Neil: The Seahawks haven't led the NFC West at any point this season. Over the previous four seasons, Seattle owned at least a share of first place for all but six weeks.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are facing an opponent with a losing record for only the second time this season. Also, knee problems will sideline cornerback Tye Hill for another week.

Colbert pays for drops -- with job

November, 11, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando


PHOENIX -- The Seahawks liked what they saw from Keary Colbert in practice in the days after they acquired him from the Broncos in September. There wasn't much to like from him during games, however, and that's apparently why Seattle released him Tuesday.

Colbert dropped what should have been a routine completion for a first down on a critical third-and-12 play against the Dolphins in Week 10. The Seahawks expect Deion Branch to return this week. Releasing Colbert appears to be a direct response to his struggles. Seattle remains relatively thin at the position. The depth doesn't improve without Colbert.

Around the NFC West: Rams, Seahawks edition

November, 11, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

The 49ers-Cardinals game Monday night threw off the usual morning rhythm in terms of rounding up news and notes throughout the division. A look at what's happening with the Rams and Seahawks heading into Week 11:

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Jim Haslett expressed anger during his day-after-game news conference. Haslett doesn't want to hear about the team's allegedly fragile psyche.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams center Nick Leckey played well against Jets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins. Leckey has struggled at times this season.

VanRam of Turf Show Times understands why the Rams are sticking with Bulger. The team simply doesn't have viable alternatives. Handing the ball to Brock Berlin would qualify as a little too desperate.

Jeff Gordon of says Haslett can't afford to lament the Rams' inadequacies. He needs to win somehow, some way.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks expect Matt Hasselbeck to start against the Cardinals in Week 11. Receiver Deion Branch also could return.

Michael Steffes of Seahawk Addicts comes to Keary Colbert's defense by providing perspective on the team's decision to acquire the receiver.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Hasselbeck's return comes at the right time because backup Seneca Wallace is hurting with a groin injury.

Also from Williams: The lineup at receiver could change in Seattle after the team suffered several dropped passes in Miami.

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times quotes Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren as saying he should probably wait until later in the week before declaring Hasselbeck the starter. But the team does think Hasselbeck will play this week.

Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 21, Seahawks 19

November, 9, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Seahawks' inability to catch the ball consistently renewed questions about the team's ability to bounce back even after Matt Hasselbeck returns from injury.

Seattle wasted one of its most competitive efforts of the season in falling to 2-7.

Coach Mike Holmgren, dispirited following a home defeat to the Eagles last week, vowed to gut it out with this team even though his final season as head coach isn't going as planned. The Seahawks answered by gutting it out against the Dolphins, but the Seahawks' personnel deficiencies on offense caught up to them eventually.

Hasselbeck could return from a back injury in Week 11 against the Cardinals. His return might not matter a great deal if the receivers keep dropping passes.

Koren Robinson dropped one in the end zone during the third quarter Sunday. The Seahawks settled for a field goal. Keary Colbert dropped what should have been a 19-yard reception on third-and-12 to kill a drive in the fourth quarter. And with Seattle trying to get into field-goal range in the final seconds, tight end John Carlson couldn't handle a pass that hit his hands.