NFC West: Kris Richard

Sizing up NFC West coaching staffs

April, 10, 2012
A few notes on NFC West coaching staffs after the St. Louis Rams announced theirs for 2012 in a news release Tuesday:
  • The Rams are not listing suspended defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on their staff. They did not mention him in the news release. They did not list a defensive coordinator. Coach Jeff Fisher and assistant head coach Dave McGinnis will presumably take the lead. Secondary coach Chuck Cecil has also been a coordinator.
  • Williams' son, Blake, coaches the Rams' linebackers.
  • The Cardinals have 3-4 fewer assistants than the other teams in the division. I've noticed that to be the case in recent seasons. Staff sizes can vary. Arizona has one more than the NFL listed for New England heading into the most recent Super Bowl.
  • Every team in the division has an assistant head coach. Two serve as offensive line coaches. Another coaches special teams. Assistant head coaches might earn more money than they otherwise would, but the title does not distinguish them from other assistants in relation to hiring protocol. The title affords no additional protections against losing an assistant to another team, in other words.
  • Paul Boudreau is the Rams' offensive line coach. His son, also named Paul, is assistant special teams coach. They are not Paul Sr. and Paul Jr., however. It's not yet clear how the Rams intend to differentiate between the two. Middle initials?
  • Niners offensive assistant Michael Christianson is also coordinator of football technology.

The chart lists full-time assistants, not interns or administrative assistants. Strength-and-conditioning coaches aren't involved in football strategy, but I have listed them.

Around the NFC West: Charging ahead

February, 20, 2012
Good morning. It's great to be back following a one-week break.

I'll be heading to the NFL scouting combine Wednesday and beginning coverage from Indianapolis the following day. In the meantime, offseason storylines abound.

Let's take our usual morning spin around the division.

Clare Farnsworth of checks in with general manager John Schneider for thoughts on Seattle's efforts to land a franchise quarterback. Schneider: "I've been blessed to be around a lot of really good quarterback people that have taught me a lot about the position, so I just kind of incorporate that with the quarterbacks I've been around. I just know if you panic at the position, it can set the organization back. So we're not going to do that." Noted: Wanting a franchise quarterback and finding one are not the same thing. The Seahawks realize they're not drafting early enough to land Andrew Luck or even Robert Griffin III. They know health concerns make Peyton Manning a risky proposition. Matt Flynn is another option, but an unproven one.

Also from Farnsworth: Walter Thurmond's injury rehab comes after the position he once manned changed substantially in his absence.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says a long-term deal for Calais Campbell would make more sense than using the franchise tag, which could send the team down a road similar to the one used for Karlos Dansby. Somers: "The amount the Cardinals pay Campbell now in a long-term deal will seem like a lot. Heck, it will be a lot. But in two or three years, if Campbell continues to play as he did in 2011, it won't be unreasonable. The cap is going to increase dramatically. Someone is going to have to be paid. It might as well be a 25-year-old defensive end who's done everything anyone could ask in his first four seasons." Noted: The franchise tag will tempt teams this offseason because prices have fallen. Campbell should have considerable staying power, however, and he is ascending. He appears to be a prime candidate for a longer-term deal.

Darren Urban of says cornerback Greg Toler finished his college degree in criminal justice this offseason. Urban: "Rehabbing his knee, Toler -- a restricted free agent who is expected to be back with the Cards -- has every expectation to be ready for training camp. But he also likes the idea of having a degree. He said he was good in forensics in school, and while he didn’t necessarily see himself following his sister as a second lawyer in the family, he could see himself in some part of law enforcement."

Also from Urban: Coordinator Mike Miller's thoughts on the Cardinals' offense.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have been noncommittal regarding Randy Moss, who played for Rams coach Jeff Fisher in Tennessee. Fisher: "I thought the world of him over the six or eight weeks that I think we had him. I thought he was a terrific teammate and he did a great job in our locker room." Noted: Moss caught six passes for the Titans and 28 during the entire 2010 season, his most recent in the NFL. The Rams are weak enough at the position for Fisher to keep open all options whether or not Moss has a realistic shot at playing for the team at any point in the future.

Nick Wagoner of says the Rams' draft plans remain in their formative stages given all the work Fisher and new general manager Les Snead face ahead of them.

Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis explains why the Rams aren't flush with salary-cap space. Balzer: "The reality is that Chris Long, Jason Smith and Sam Bradford ($15.595 million) count a combined $47.17 million against the cap, which is 37.5 percent of the projected cap space. Include Steven Jackson ($8.899 million) and the total is $56.069 million/44.6 percent. Finally, the percentage for five players goes over 50 percent when Ron Bartell’s $7.663 million is factored in. Those five players have a total cap figure of $63.732 million, which is 50.7 percent of the expected cap." Noted: The Rams held high draft choices at the wrong time. Had the current labor agreement been in place earlier, the Rams could have signed Long, Smith and Bradford at far lower rates.

Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis points to Cortland Finnegan, among others, as potential good fits for the Rams in free agency.

Matt Maiocco of has this to say about the 49ers giving cornerback Shawntae Spencer permission to explore trade options: "The day after the season ended, Spencer expressed his intent to switch agents. Spencer's agent was David Dunn, whose close ties to coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke, represented a potential conflict of interest, Spencer said. ... Among the teams that could be interested are the Houston Texans, whose defensive backs coach, Vance Joseph, coached Spencer six years with the 49ers; Seattle Seahawks, whose secondary coach, Kris Richard, played with Spencer with the 49ers in 2005; and the St. Louis Rams, another NFC West team whose secondary needs strengthening." Noted: Spencer is scheduled to earn $3.2 million in base salary for the 2012 season. I have a hard time envisioning another team acquiring that contract.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee does not expect the 49ers to be big spenders in the free-agent market for receivers. Noted: Last offseason, the 49ers took a low-keyed approach to the market before going 13-3, winning a playoff game and securing funding for a new stadium. The team has zero incentive to overspend now.

Jill Tucker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers appear on course to open their new stadium for the 2014 season, a year earlier than once expected.
With the San Francisco 49ers in the market for cornerback help and our offseason power rankings focusing on the position later Tuesday, I'll look back at the corners current NFC West teams have drafted over the last decade.

This is the second part in a series that began with a look at 15 classes of NFC West quarterbacks. Then as now, I'll break up the charts with narration from teams' perspectives.

These guys had better start early and challenge for Pro Bowls ...

Some prospects aren't ideal in one area or another, but they could shine in the right scheme ...

Still not too late to find decent starters ...

Last chance to find a likely contributor ...

Time to fill out the 80-man roster ...
Todd Wash's shared history with Gus Bradley in Monte Kiffin's Tampa Bay defense made him a natural hire for Pete Carroll and the Seahawks.

Wash, announced Tuesday as the Seahawks' defensive line coach, broke into the NFL with Tampa Bay when Kiffin was the Bucs' defensive coordinator in 2007. Bradley coached the Bucs' linebackers when Wash was coaching their defensive line.

Kiffin and Carroll were together with the Minnesota Vikings in the 1980s. Carroll referenced their shared coaching lineage when explaining why he retained Bradley as defensive coordinator from the Seahawks' previous staff.

Wash replaces Dan Quinn, who left to become defensive coordinator at Florida. Wash was the Bucs' defensive line coach for the past three seasons. He was a quality control coach in 2007.

The Bucs' defensive line struggled in 2010.

In November, NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas offered the following thoughts when asked whether the team should fire Wash:
The Bucs are 5-3 and you’re talking about firing assistant coaches? Give it some time and try to be realistic. The Bucs drafted defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price with their first two draft picks and second-year pro Roy Miller has been one of the starting defensive tackles. Price got hurt. McCoy hasn’t been dominant, but it’s not realistic to expect him to be dominant right off the bat. Besides that, he’s got nothing around him.

The Bucs probably have the league’s worst set of defensive ends. They knew coming in that defensive end was not a position of strength and I’m sure that position will be addressed in the offseason. I can’t put the blame on a coach when he’s got nothing to work with. His job the rest of this season is to keep working on McCoy. Next season, the Bucs can bring in help at defensive end and McCoy should take a big step forward.

I don't know much about Wash. The Seahawks thought highly of Quinn, enough so that Carroll held him over from the previous staff.

Seattle also announced that assistant secondary coach Kris Richard would coach cornerbacks, and defensive quality control coach Rocky Seto would coach safeties. They replace secondary coach Jerry Gray, who left for a job at the University of Texas.

Richard played for the Seahawks. He and Seto came to Seattle with Carroll from USC last offseason.

Setting the scene on draft day

April, 22, 2010
RENTON, Wash. -- You aren't the only one biding your time til the NFL draft begins at 7:30 p.m. ET.

NFL people are waiting, too.

The Seahawks have set up their draft-day media center in a defensive meeting room. Peter King of Sports Illustrated is among those here to see how Seattle uses two of the top 14 choices in the draft (no other team has more than one pick that early). ESPN's Brock Huard is hosting a radio show for 101ESPN Seattle from a table nearby. Another former NFL and University of Washington quarterback, Hugh Millen, is here for 950KJR.

Former 49ers linebackers Ken Norton Jr. and Jeff Ulbrich walked past recently as part of a group featuring former Seahawks cornerback Kris Richard. All three are assistants under Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. They've got time to kill.

We're about an hour away from putting St. Louis on the clock.

Should be a fun night.

Update: ESPN's Shelley Smith is here also. She filed this report:
The buzz is starting to pick up at the Seahawks' facility. Just popped into Pete Carroll's corner office with an amazing view of Lake Washington and its own bathroom! He was on the phone talking to his son, Brennan, and then later walked down the hall into the cafeteria to grab a cookie.

A bunch of players were around this morning, working out, watching film. One was Mike Williams, the former USC wide receiver who just signed a one-year contract with the Seahawks. Another was former Oregon center Max Unger, who was headed home to see where his fellow Ducks would land.

Most of the coaches went home early last night and stayed away until lunchtime, some getting a quick workout in in the massive weight facility, which has garage-like doors that open onto the three outdoor practice fields and a hill strength coach Chris Carlisle uses for conditioning.

The draft room is around the corner from where we, the media, are hanging out drinking coffee. I'm told it will contain just a few people to keep it orderly and quiet. That said, I'm sure the noise factor will start to heat up as the first round nears.

Sizing up NFC West coaching staffs

February, 4, 2010
MIAMI -- With the Seahawks announcing their 2010 coaching staff, I went through every NFC West team's staff to produce a chart allowing for easy comparison.

It's pretty clear the Cardinals do more with less than the other teams in the division. They have fewer assistants than the other teams in the NFC West.

In most cases, I have recreated official titles for each assistant coach. That explains why the Cardinals have no offensive coordinator listed (Russ Grimm coordinates the running game, Mike Miller coordinates the passing game and Ken Whisenhunt calls the plays). I did not create a special category for 49ers receivers coach Jerry Sullivan (he also carries the title senior assistant). Seattle's Carroll is also executive vice president. I did not create an extra category to reflect that title.

I have listed no offensive line coach for the Cardinals. Grimm handles those duties. The 49ers do not list a defensive quality control coach, but clearly someone must break down the upcoming opponents' offensive video (I am checking to see which assistant handles those duties). Update: Outside linebackers coach Jason Tarver handles those duties. Also, I updated the chart to reflect Curtis Modkins' departure from the Cardinals to become Buffalo's offensive coordinator. Ray Brown is the new assistant offensive line coach in San Francisco.

The Rams are expected to hire a receivers coach after Charlie Baggett left. They could hire an assistant offensive line coach to replace Art Valero, who took the same job with Seattle. The 49ers might need to find a new offensive quality-control coach (Shane Day is interviewing with the Bears to coach quarterbacks for Mike Martz).

The Rams and Seahawks list special assistants to the head coach. These are largely administrative positions.

Around the NFC West: Jackson's accuser

January, 29, 2010
Elizabethe Holland of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch updates the Steven Jackson situation, passing along thoughts from the running back's accuser, Supriya Harris. Harris: "Steven is my son's father and I want him to be a part of his life, but I want him to just get the help that he needs to address those issues of violence so that he doesn't pass those same ideologies on to my son. I just want to make sure that whatever he's dealing with ... can be addressed so that he doesn't affect my son -- his mind-set on women and violence -- in a negative way."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch isn't expecting a happy conclusion to the Jackson saga.

Jim Rodenbush of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says the voluntary statement from Harris wasn't part of the public record, a possible indication Harris might have provided it to

Clare Farnsworth of looks at four potential special-teams plays of the decade for Seattle, including Nate Burleson's 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown during the fourth quarter of a 24-22 victory over the Rams in 2006.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times caps his Senior Bowl coverage by posing a few Seahawks-related questions, including one about whether Justin Forsett will get a chance to win the starting job at running back. I thought the Seahawks would address that position in the first three rounds last year.

Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times says former Seahawks cornerback Kris Richard is leaving USC to become assistant secondary coach for Seattle under Jerry Gray. He was a graduate assistant for the Trojans.

Art Thiel of says Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke has become a big believer in front-office "alignment" after watching the team struggle recently.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says Matt Leinart is about to receive one last chance to become the Cardinals' starting quarterback. Bickley: "Yet here's why it might work going forward, allowing the Cardinals to pursue more banners in the near future: Leinart really likes being 'the guy.' Depending on the quality of backup the team acquires, Leinart will be liberated from the pressure of in-house competition. It might make a profound difference. Remember his pedigree. He once succeeded Carson Palmer at the University of Southern California, and won 37 of 39 games. He's had big games and big NFL moments before, proving the game isn't too big for his shoulders. There's been just enough stardust to make this transition interesting."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic updates Brian St. Pierre's recovery from a back injury while looking at veteran quarterbacks eligible to become free agents. Somers: "Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt likes St. Pierre, but the quarterback obviously has to resolve his back problem to attract offers in free agency. With Kurt Warner retiring, it would be logical for St. Pierre to re-sign with the Cardinals, where he could begin the season as Matt Leinart's backup."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers quarterback Alex Smith will provide Super Bowl analysis for the BBC in advance of San Francisco's 2010 game against the Broncos in London.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says it's too early to tell whether Mike Singletary will succeed as the 49ers' head coach. Like most teams, the 49ers will ultimately go as far as their quarterback can take them. Maiocco: "Where I see a problem is that Singletary was never a coordinator. He is a self-described 'big picture' coach. He can tell his assistant coaches and players what he wants, but he does not give them the specifics on how to get there. All head coaches are reliant on their assistant coaches, to be sure. But because Singletary can't just take over on one side of the ball -- such as Arizona's Ken Whisenhunt when offensive coordinator Todd Haley left to become Chiefs head coach -- his success is almost always dependent on his coordinators."

Posted by's Mike Sando

Jeff McLane's story on suggests the Cardinals sought first-, third- and fifth-round choices from Philadelphia for receiver Anquan Boldin, according to Eagles coach Andy Reid.

"That's a lot of picks, No. 1," Reid said in McLane's story. "And then you're going to pay the guy $10 million. So you get hit on both sides of it."

Such a price would seem prohibitive, but what if we knew which players those first-, third- and fifth-round choices would become? We cannot know this in advance, but we do know which picks the Eagles held in those rounds. I singled out the 21st, 85th and 157th choices for the sake of this exercise. I then looked at which players those picks returned in past drafts to see if a team might rather have those picks or Boldin.

Sometimes the picks hold more promise before teams make forgettable selections with them. I think the Eagles would rather have Boldin than the players those picks returned in 2005.


21st pick: Alex Mack, C, California (Browns, with pick from Eagles)

85th pick: Ramses Barden, WR, Cal Poly-SLO (Giants, with pick from Eagles)

157th pick: Victor Harris, CB, Virginia Tech (Eagles)


21st pick: Sam Baker, T, USC (Falcons)

85th pick: Craig Stevens, TE, California (Titans)

157th pick: Roy Schuening, G, Oregon State (Rams)


21st pick: Reggie Nelson, S, Florida (Jaguars)

85th pick: Brandon Mebane, DT, California (Seahawks)

157th pick: David Clowney, WR, Virginia Tech (Packers)


21st pick: Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota (Patriots)

85th pick: Brodie Croyle, QB, Alabama (Chiefs)

157th pick: A.J. Nicholson, LB, Florida State (Bengals)

(Read full post)