NFC West: Marcus Hudson

Parys Haralson and Delanie Walker departed the San Francisco 49ers' roster this offseason after entering the NFL has 2006 draft choices with the team.

Another member of that 49ers draft class, fullback Michael Robinson, was a valued contributor to the division-rival Seattle Seahawks when the team released him Friday with age and salary-cap considerations in mind.

The 2006 class has been good to the 49ers. The team continues to get top-shelf contributions from tight end Vernon Davis, one of the team's two first-round picks from that 2006 class.

Mike Nolan was coach and Scott McCloughan was general manager for the 49ers back then. Some of the personnel moves they made continue to sustain the team. Frank Gore, Tarell Brown, Patrick Willis, Joe Staley, Ray McDonald and Davis remain as players drafted under Nolan. All are valued contributors. Another Nolan-era pick, Adam Snyder, is back with the team as a reserve offensive lineman after spending 2012 with Arizona.

Davis is one of 10 first-round picks from 2006 playing with his original team. The list also includes A.J. Hawk, Haloti Ngata, Chad Greenway, Tamba Hali, Davin Joseph, DeAngelo Williams, Marcedes Lewis, Nick Mangold and Mathias Kiwanuka.

Definitive look at NFC West turnover

September, 8, 2010
Roster turnover is a leading topic for discussion in Seattle following the release of T.J. Houshmandzadeh in particular.

I've addressed the subject in depth across the division -- first May 26 and again July 30 -- and it's worth another look now that teams have reduced to 53 players for the regular season.

This time, I'm going to break down the changes by position, listing players no longer on the active roster at each main position group (with new players in parenthesis). Departures outnumber replacements because some players finished last season on injured reserve, meaning they were not part of the 53-man roster.

Some players no longer on the active roster remain with the team (they could be suspended, deemed physically unable to perform or part of the practice squad).

St. Louis Rams (34 off roster)

Defensive back: Eric Bassey, Quincy Butler, Danny Gorrer, Clinton Hart, Cordelius Parks, David Roach, Jonathan Wade (added Kevin Dockery, Jerome Murphy, Darian Stewart)

Defensive line: Victor Adeyanju, Adam Carriker, Leger Douzable, Leonard Little, LaJuan Ramsey, James Wyche (added Jermelle Cudjo, Fred Robbins, George Selvie, Eugene Sims)

Linebacker: K.C. Asiodu, Paris Lenon (added Na'il Diggs, Josh Hull)

Offensive line: Roger Allen, Alex Barron, Ryan McKee, Mark Setterstrom, Phillip Trautwein, Eric Young (added Renardo Foster, Hank Fraley, Rodger Saffold)

Quarterback: Kyle Boller, Marc Bulger, Keith Null, Mike Reilly (added Sam Bradford, A.J. Feeley, Thaddeus Lewis)

Running back: Samkon Gado, Chris Ogbonnaya (added Keith Toston)

Special teams: Ryan Neill

Tight end: Randy McMichael (added Mike Hoomanawanui, Fendi Onobun)

Wide receiver: Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton, Brooks Foster, Jordan Kent, Ruvell Martin (added Mark Clayton, Dominique Curry, Mardy Gilyard)

Seattle Seahawks (33 off roster)

Defensive back: Jamar Adams, Deon Grant, Ken Lucas, Josh Wilson (added Kam Chancellor, Kennard Cox, Nate Ness, Earl Thomas, Walter Thurmond)

Defensive line: Lawrence Jackson, Patrick Kerney, Cory Redding, Nick Reed, Darryl Tapp, Craig Terrill (added Kentwan Balmer, Raheem Brock, Chris Clemons, Dexter Davis, Junior Siavii, E.J. Wilson)

Linebacker: Leroy Hill, Lance Laury, D.D. Lewis (added Matt McCoy; note that Hill is suspended for the first regular-season game)

Offensive line: Trevor Canfield, Brandon Frye, Walter Jones, Damion McIntosh, Rob Sims, Steve Vallos, Ray Willis, Mansfield Wrotto (added Stacy Andrews, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Ben Hamilton, Russell Okung, Chester Pitts, Tyler Polumbus)

Quarterback: Mike Teel, Seneca Wallace (added Charlie Whitehurst)

Running back: Justin Griffith, Louis Rankin, Tyler Roehl, Owen Schmitt (added Quinton Ganther, Michael Robinson, Leon Washington)

Special teams: Kevin Houser, Jeff Robinson (added Clint Gresham)

Tight end: John Owens (added Chris Baker, Anthony McCoy)

Wide receiver: Nate Burleson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh (added Golden Tate, Mike Williams)

Arizona Cardinals (24 off roster)

Defensive backs: Ralph Brown, Bryant McFadden, Antrel Rolle (added A.J. Jefferson, Trumaine McBride, Brandon McDonald, Kerry Rhodes)

Defensive line: Jason Banks (added Dan Williams)

Linebacker: Monty Beisel, Bertrand Berry, Cody Brown, Karlos Dansby, Gerald Hayes, Chike Okeafor, Pago Togafau (added Paris Lenon, Cyril Obiozor, Joey Porter, Daryl Washington; Hayes can return from the physically unable to perform list after six games)

Offensive line: Mike Gandy, Herman Johnson, Reggie Wells (added Alan Faneca, Rex Hadnot)

Quarterback: Matt Leinart, Brian St. Pierre, Kurt Warner (added Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton)

Running back: Justin Green, Dan Kreider (added Jerome Johnson)

Special teams: Neil Rackers (added Jay Feely)

Tight end: Anthony Becht (added Jim Dray)

Wide receiver: Anquan Boldin, Sean Morey, Jerheme Urban (added Andre Roberts, Stephen Williams)

San Francisco 49ers (24 off roster)

Defensive backs: Dre' Bly, Walt Harris, Marcus Hudson, Mark Roman (added Phillip Adams, Tramaine Brock, William James, Taylor Mays)

Defensive line: Kentwan Balmer, Derek Walker

Linebacker: Scott McKillop, Jeff Ulbrich, Matt Wilhelm (added NaVorro Bowman, Travis LaBoy)

Offensive line: Tony Pashos, Chris Patrick, Cody Wallace (added Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati)

Quarterback: Nate Davis, Shaun Hill (added David Carr, Troy Smith)

Running back: Thomas Clayton, Glen Coffee, Brit Miller, Michael Robinson (added Anthony Dixon, Brian Westbrook)

Special teams: Shane Andrus, Ricky Schmitt

Wide receiver: Arnaz Battle, Isaac Bruce, Jason Hill, Brandon Jones (added Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams, Dominique Zeigler)

The first chart shows how many players are back -- at least for now -- from Week 17 rosters and injured reserve lists. Seattle has the fewest number back with 26.

The second chart shows how many players each team has shed since Week 17 last season. This counts players who were on injured reserve. Teams with lots of players on injured reserve had more players to lose.

San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Leonard Little, Jerheme Urban, Isaac bruce, Owen Schmitt, Josh Wilson, Justin Green, Derek Anderson, Walt Harris, Tony Pashos, Brian St.Pierre, Darryl Tapp, Sam Bradford, Mark Roman, Dan Kreider, Steve Vallos, David Carr, Randy McMIchael, Ralph Brown, Lawrence Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, Shaun HIll, Leroy HIll, Chris Patrick, Matt Leinart, Chike Okeafor, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Brian Westbrook, Bertrand Berry, Dominique Zeigler, Ricky Schmitt, Eric Bassey, Eric Young, D.D. Lewis, Nate Burleson, Alex Barron, Samkon Gado, Kyle Boller, Brit Miller, Patrick Kerney, Quincy Butler, Michael Robinson, Arnaz Battle, Ray Willis, Jerome Johnson, Derek Walker, Glen Coffee, Brooks Foster, Monty Beisel, Renardo Foster, Mansfield Wrotto, Seneca Wallace, Donnie Avery, Karlos Dansby, Alex Boone, Marcus Hudson, Adam Carriker, Cody Brown, Kurt Warner, Cordelius Parks, Jeff Ulbrich, Chris Ogbonnaya, Neil Rackers, Pago Togafau, Scott McKillop, Kentwan Balmer, Lance Laury, Sean Morey, Mike Gandy, Mike Reilly, Anquan Boldin, Trevor Canfield, Marc Bulger, Nate Davis, Cory Redding, Antrel Rolle, Matt McCoy, Brandon Jones, Alan Faneca, Anthony Davis, Keenan Burton, Jason HIll, Joey Porter, David Roach, Phillip Trautwein, Tyler Roehl, Taylor Mays, Mark Setterstrom, Travis LaBoy, A.J. Feeley, Craig Terrill, Keith Null, Cody Wallace, K.C. Asiodu, Jordan Kent, Kyle Williams, Stacy Andrews, James Wyche, Reggie Wells, Victor Adeyanju, Jonathan Wade, Thomas Clayton, Deon Grant, LaJuan Ramsey, John Owens, Bryant McFadden, Matt Wilhelm, Gerald Hayes, Jeff Robinson, Herman Johnson, Walter Jones, Mike Williams, Justin Griffith, Jason Banks, Jamar Adams, Kevin Houser, Anthony Becht, Damion McIntosh, Louis Rankin, Brandon Frye, Ruvell Martin, Paris Lenon, Leger Douzable, Ryan Neill, Danny Gorrer, Russell Okung, Anthony McCoy, Clinton Hart, Earl Thomas, Leon Washington, Andre Roberts, Chester Pitts, Dan Williams, Mike Iupati, Ben Hamilton, Ryan McKee, Kennard Cox, Kerry Rhodes, Fred Robbins, Chris Baker, William James, Rex Hadnot, Hank Fraley, Mark Clayton, Quinton Ganther, Na'il Diggs, Chris Clemons, John Skelton, Mardy Gilyard, Rodger Saffold, Daryl Washington, Golden Tate, Jerome Murphy, Navorro Bowman, Walter Thurmond, E.J. Wilson, Mike Hoomanawanui, Nate Byham, Fendi Onobun, George Selvie, Thaddeus Lewis, Stephen Williams, A.J. Jefferson, Anthony Dixon, Eugene Sims, Kam Chancellor, Dexter Davis, Jermelle Cudjo, Darian Stewart, Keith Toston, Tramaine Brock, Dominique Curry, Phillip Adams, Trumaine McBride, Kevin Dockery, Shane Andrus, Tyler Polumbus, Clint Gresham, Roger III Allen, Cyril Obiozor, Brandon McDonald, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Junior Siavii, Troy Smith, Ted Jr. Ginn, Raheem Brock

Bad teams aren't the only ones churning their rosters during the offseason.

The defending NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals have parted with 15 of the 53 players on their Week 17 roster from last season. Only the rebuilding Seahawks have parted with more -- 16 -- among division teams this offseason. The Rams have parted with 11. The 49ers, seeking continuity as they try to build on an 8-8 season, have parted with only three.

The first chart shows how many Week 17 starters and backups have returned to each NFC West team.

The second chart shows how many Week 17 starters and backups have left each NFC West team.

I'll first list the players by team.

Seattle (16): receiver Nate Burleson, quarterback Seneca Wallace, linebacker Lance Laury, defensive end Cory Redding, guard Trevor Canfield, quarterback Mike Teel, tackle Damion McIntosh, linebacker D.D. Lewis, snapper Jeff Robinson, fullback Justin Griffith, cornerback Ken Lucas, safety Deon Grant, defensive end Darryl Tapp, guard Rob Sims, tight end John Owens and defensive end Patrick Kerney.

Arizona (15): linebacker Pago Togafau, safety Antrel Rolle, receiver Jerheme Urban, receiver Sean Morey, kicker Neil Rackers, linebacker Bertrand Berry, fullback Dan Kreider, cornerback Ralph Brown, quarterback Brian St. Pierre, defensive end Jason Banks, receiver Anquan Boldin, linebacker Karlos Dansby, quarterback Kurt Warner, cornerback Bryant McFadden and linebacker Chike Okeafor. Note that Rolle did not start in Week 17.

St. Louis (11): defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey, cornerback Jonathan Wade, receiver Ruvell Martin, quarterback Mike Reilly, defensive end Leonard Little, safety Clinton Hart, snapper Ryan Neill, running back Samkon Gado, linebacker Paris Lenon, tackle Alex Barron and tight end Randy McMichael.

San Francisco (5): receiver Arnaz Battle, cornerback Marcus Hudson, quarterback Shaun Hill, safety Mark Roman and cornerback Dre Bly.

The third chart shows what happened to players who were on injured reserve in Week 17.

I'll first list by team the players who were on IR but are no longer with their teams.

San Francisco (5): tackle Tony Pashos, punter Ricky Schmitt, linebacker Jeff Ulbrich, cornerback Walt Harris and running back Thomas Clayton.

Seattle (4): running back Tyler Roehl, tackle Walter Jones, snapper Kevin Houser and tackle Brandon Frye.

St. Louis (3): quarterback Marc Bulger, defensive tackle Adam Carriker and safety Eric Bassey.

Arizona (2): tackle Mike Gandy and fullback Justin Green.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers could be more likely to draft C.J. Spiller, among others, since Scot McCloughan's departure as general manager. The same could be true for USC safety Taylor Mays. Maiocco: "Word was that McCloughan was not sold on Mays as a first-round pick. McCloughan seemed to prefer a cover safety, more along the lines of Earl Thomas of Texas, than the physical marvel of Mays who recorded just five interceptions as a four-year starter. McCloughan seemed to value safeties with cover skills. He drafted cornerback/safeties, such as Dashon Goldson, Reggie Smith and Marcus Hudson. Mays showed virtually no cover skills in college, but he is freakishly big, strong and fast. Perhaps with a different group of folks making the decisions, Mays becomes a serious option with the No. 17 overall pick." As Maiocco notes, coach Mike Singletary's role is surely growing to help fill the void left by McCloughan's exit, even as Trent Baalke takes over control of the draft.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Marc Bulger asked for his release a week ago, once it became clear Sam Bradford's pro day went well enough for the Rams to draft the Oklahoma quarterback first overall. Thomas: "Chicago, where former Rams head coach Mike Martz is now the offensive coordinator, could be the most logical destination for Bulger, where he would have to go in as Jay Cutler's backup. Martz is thought to be open to the possibility of working with Bulger. Bulger still credits Martz with most of his development as an NFL quarterback, although by the end of Martz's tenure in St. Louis (in 2005) Bulger had grown weary of Martz's hard-driving style. But that was five years ago. Another possibility could be Pittsburgh, Bulger's hometown, where starter Ben Roethlisberger is facing legal troubles and a potential league suspension because of allegations of sexual assault."

Jeff Gordon of describes Bulger's demise this way: "Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Orlando Pace left . . . but Bulger remained behind, trapped, as an unpopular reminder of better times. The guaranteed portion of his $65 million contract kept him on the job longer than was prudent for either side."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks handled Rob Sims' departure professionally, according to Sims. Sims, following his trade to the Lions: "The only thing I'm upset about is that I didn't get another shot to show that particular coaching staff what I can do. I feel like I'm hot right now. I feel like my talent is ready to take off. I wanted to show that to them, too. But I'm going to get a fresh start in Detroit, and the opportunity there."

Greg Johns of suggests the Seahawks gave up too much for Charlie Whitehurst relative to what the Redskins paid for a much more established player in Donovan McNabb. Johns: "Given Whitehurst has never thrown a pass in the NFL while McNabb has tossed 4,722 passes and played in 150 games, including 12 playoff tilts, it's hard to think these two have anywhere near similar value." That is true. I think it's also true that their values weren't very close in terms of what the acquiring teams paid. The Redskins paid between 570 and 600 points on the draft-value chart for McNabb. Seattle paid about 270 points for Whitehurst.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Brian St. Pierre plans to re-sign with the Cardinals as their third-team quarterback. St. Pierre has adjusted his workout regimen to overcome a bad back. St. Pierre: "I feel a lot better. The organization has given me time to work out and get my health."

Also from Somers: a look at planned changes on the Cardinals' offensive line. He suggests Herman Johnson probably remains a year away from seriously contending for a starting job. Guard Reggie Wells battled through a thumb injury last season. Wells: "I've never been one to shy away from being the best that I could be. That's what I appreciate about Russ (Grimm) and Whiz (Ken Whisenhunt). They recognize that it was a struggle, but I kept fighting the fight, I guess you could say. Definitely, I'm coming into this off-season with idea of getting my body ready for a season like I had the year before last and the year before that."

NFC West: Free-agency primer

March, 3, 2010
Arizona Cardinals

Unrestricted free agents: TE Anthony Becht, LB Monty Beisel, LB Bertrand Berry (retired), LT Jeremy Bridges, CB Ralph Brown, LB Karlos Dansby, LT Mike Gandy, FB Dan Kreider, WR Sean Morey, LB Chike Okeafor, K Neil Rackers, NT Bryan Robinson, QB Brian St. Pierre, S Matt Ware.

Restricted free agents: SS Hamza Abdullah, WR Steve Breaston, G Ben Claxton, FB Justin Green, LG Deuce Lutui, TE Ben Patrick, C Lyle Sendlein, TE Stephen Spach, WR Jerheme Urban, NT Gabe Watson.

Franchise player: none

What to expect: The Cardinals generally do not pursue marquee free agents from other teams. That trend figures to continue. The Cardinals have too many of their own free agents to re-sign for them to worry about chasing other teams' castoffs. We might see Arizona plug the roster with a few lower-tier free agents. They had success doing that last offseason, particularly with Becht at tight end. Dansby leads the list of 2009 starters expected to depart. Arizona is reportedly interested in quarterback David Carr.

St. Louis Rams

Unrestricted free agents: QB Kyle Boller, DE James Hall, SS Clinton Hart, LB Paris Lenon, DE Leonard Little, LS Chris Massey, TE Randy McMichael.

Restricted free agents: S Eric Bassey, S Craig Dahl, TE Daniel Fells, LS Ryan Neill, DT Clifton Ryan, CB Jonathan Wade, DE Victory Adeyanju, FS Oshiomogho Atogwe, T Alex Barron, RB Sam Gado, DT Gary Gibson, WR Ruvell Martin, G Mark Setterstrom.

Franchise player: none

What to expect: The Rams could be in the market for a veteran quarterback such as Chad Pennington. Beyond quarterback, coach Steve Spagnuolo said the Rams could use a little more seasoning in the form of veteran role players. The Rams will remain a young team, but they could add some experience. The team parted with players fitting that profile last offseason, but most had inflated salaries. The ones St. Louis adds this year figure to carry lower price tags in most cases. The Rams have said they want Little and Hall back. McMichael figures to be gone.

Seattle Seahawks

Unrestricted free agents: WR Nate Burleson, FB Justin Griffith, LS Kevin Houser, LB D.D. Lewis, CB Ken Lucas, T Damion McIntosh, S Lawyer Milloy, DE Cory Redding, LS Jeff Robinson.

Restricted free agents: T Brandon Frye, WR Ben Obomanu, LB Lance Laury, G Rob Sims, G Chris Spencer, DE Darryl Tapp.

Franchise player: K Olindo Mare

What to expect: The Seahawks are a little difficult to figure. Their owner has the money to bankroll aggressive spending if Seattle chooses to go that route. Coach Pete Carroll surely realizes the team could use talent upgrades. The new general manager, John Schneider, comes from the Ted Thompson school of personnel. Thompson's aversion for free agency is well established, although Schneider has characterized himself as slightly more aggressive. The problem, of course, is finding good players on the market. Burleson will hit the market. He could return if the price is right. Carroll has said nice things about Redding, who should be affordable.

San Francisco 49ers

Unrestricted free agents: WR Arnaz Battle, CB Dre Bly, CB Walt Harris, T Tony Pashos, FS Mark Roman, T Barry Sims, LB Jeff Ulbrich (retired), LB Matt Wilhelm.

Restricted free agents: LG David Baas, LB Ahmad Brooks, CB Marcus Hudson.

Franchise player: NT Aubrayo Franklin

What to expect: The 49ers have largely turned their back on free agency now that they feel better about their roster. I would expect the team to lay low again when the signing period begins late Thursday night on the West Coast.

Around the NFC West: QB questions

March, 2, 2010
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says issues surrounding quarterbacks cloud the draft for the Rams and the rest of the NFL. Burwell: "The NFL rumor mill in Indy was working overtime concerning what the Rams will or should do. There is a school of thought out there that if (Sam) Bradford doesn't test out medically, or if they believe he is injury prone, or if they don't like what they see on his pro day March 25, the Rams will explore trading for a veteran quarterback. According to more than one well-informed source, the Rams have had intense internal conversations with the Philadelphia Eagles about a trade for Pro Bowler Donovan McNabb." The Rams denied they had had any discussions with the Eagles.

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says prospective Rams owner Shahid Khan was surprised by a report suggesting the NFL had concerns about his bid. Balzer: "It is believed that should he be approved, Khan would be making one of the largest personal cash purchases in the history of sports."

Doug Franz of says an interview with Matt Leinart made him think the Cardinals might fare better than expected in 2010. Franz: "Leinart's comments grabbed me in a way few radio conversations do. I was amazed by his confidence. It's easy to say a Heisman trophy winner and 1st round pick should have plenty of confidence. It's much harder to keep that confidence after the way his professional career has gone. I wouldn't be impressed if his confidence was based on his college success. ... His confidence seemed based on the work he's done as a Cardinal to prepare for this moment."

Darren Urban of links to a video tribute honoring retired Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner.

Greg Johns of wonders whether Jason Pierre-Paul could be a good fit for the Seahawks in the draft, noting that Rob Rang of has penciled in Pierre-Paul to Seattle at No. 14. One question to consider is whether the Seahawks have neglected drafting offense for too long. The talent around Matt Hasselbeck has withered away in recent seasons.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune looked at the Seahawks' priorities in finding a running back during a recent chat. Williams: "I think Ryan Mathews running as fast as he did was surprising. Along with [Toby] Gerhart running 4.53. Those guys moved up the board based on their performance. There's a lot of big backs who can move in this year's draft. And I think Carroll wants to be physical in the running game, so I could see them taking a big back." Pete Carroll did say recently he wants a "physical presence" in the run game.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says recently tendered restricted free agent Ahmad Brooks could compete with Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson for a starting job, according to Mike Singletary. I think Brooks seems at his best focusing on his role as a situational pass-rusher. It's unclear whether Brooks would remain effective in an expanded role.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers hold no negotiating rights to Marcus Hudson after declining to make him an offer as a restricted free agent. Making an RFA offer to Hudson would have set his price at $1.176 million, too steep for a player on the fringes of the roster.

Also from Maiocco: He compares the 49ers' Aubrayo Franklin to the other nose tackles named franchise players this offseason. Maiocco: "The 49ers have set aside $7.003 million to pay Franklin's one-year franchise salary for 2010. As the 49ers appropriate their funds for player compensation, they must determine where they're going to spend their money. After all, as has been noted, the club has several players nearing the ends of their contract who will likely command hefty salaries, such as Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis, Dashon Goldson and, perhaps, Alex Smith."

Around the NFC West: Rams' sale update

February, 1, 2010
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says one of the potential buyers for the Rams is from Canada. Miklasz: "One of the three potential buyers is a group of investors organized by St. Louis Blues chairman Dave Checketts. Multiple sources tell me that another group has strong ties to Toronto, which should concern those who want to see the Rams remain in St. Louis. As for the third potential buyer ... candidly, I've been unable to nail down that part. But I know it isn't anyone from St. Louis. And I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the bidder is based in Chicago." That makes Checketts' bid the one most likely to keep the Rams in St. Louis for the long term.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom as saying the team is closer to being competitive than some people think. "I think fans should be optimistic about the direction of this organization," Rosenbloom told the Post-Dispatch in a rare interview. "We made a sweeping restructuring of the entire organization so that we could be winners on the field — to put us in position to start winning games. Now, this is not a one-season fix. This past season was sort of an interim year in my opinion before we see a more successful on-field product. I think this year it was necessary to get through a lot of stuff."

Also from Thomas: says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo expects a good Super Bowl game after facing both participants during the regular season. Rams defensive end Leonard Little: "Drew Brees has great receivers, and he's one of the best quarterbacks in the league. But Peyton Manning is a totally different beast. I'm not saying that because me and him went to school together [at Tennessee]. He's a totally different animal at quarterback because he's so aware of what the defense is doing. I don't know if he calls his own plays, but sometimes it seems like he calls his own plays because he knows where the defense is going. And when he does that, when he gets on a roll like that, he's hard to stop."

Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times says Rams and 49ers alumnus Mike Martz flew to Jay Cutler's home following an interview with the Bears, but it remains unclear which candidate the Bears will hire as their offensive coordinator.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers safety Dashon Goldson has hired Drew Rosenhaus as his agent, dumping Peter Schaffer. Maiocco: "Rosenhaus also represents Frank Gore, Jason Hill, Demetric Evans, Moran Norris and Marcus Hudson" in addition to guard Chilo Rachal, another recent convert.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers should make a strong play for Donovan McNabb this offseason. Kawakami: "Instead of cautiously tiptoeing into playoff contention, why shouldn't the 49ers embrace this opportunity and try to make a bold quarterback move that might vault them beyond the confines of their paltry division? By the way, that's exactly what they tried last year when they attempted to steal Warner away from Arizona. Why not check with the Philadelphia Eagles and see what it would take to pry loose Donovan McNabb? Would it cost a second-round pick? More? Would McNabb, whose contract expires next season, want a massive new deal, or would he be OK with a more moderate two- or three-year tack-on?" Going after McNabb should be an easy decision. Whether or not the Eagles would trade him -- within the conference, no less -- is another question.

Tom Pedulla of USA Today quotes former 49ers receiver Terrell Owens as saying he would be chasing Jerry Rice's records if only he had played with better quarterbacks. Owens: "I know hands-down I'd be close to Jerry Rice's records if I had been with quality quarterbacks like he had," Owens said. "He had Joe Montana and he finished with Steve Young. That wasn't a drop-off. Say I had been with a guy like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees all of my career. Are you kidding me?"

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Pete Carroll is holding his first staff meeting as Seahawks head coach Monday. O'Neil: "Carroll has assembled a staff that includes one of the league's most respected rushing-game architects in Alex Gibbs and a passing-game whiz kid of an offensive coordinator in Jeremy Bates."

Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the Browns have hired former Seahawks offensive coordinator Gil Haskell as a football adviser. With former assistant Keith Gilbertson already on staff in a scouting capacity, Browns president Mike Holmgren has the makings of a future offensive coaching staff in place. No one should be surprised if Holmgren returns to the sideline at some point in the future. He is a coach at heart. Gilbertson and Haskell are coaches at heart, not football advisers.

Bob Young of the Arizona Republic looks at reasons for worry and reasons for hope as the Cardinals enter the 2010 offseason with Matt Leinart as their starting quarterback. Young: "Maybe the thing we like most about Coach Ken Whisenhunt is that when he came here, entitlement went right out the door along with Dennis Green. Leinart has a team around him that should be able to move the ball without depending solely on his left arm. We expect to see a more run-oriented, grind-it-out offense featuring running back Beanie Wells, especially if the Cardinals can make defensive improvements so that they don't have to depend strictly on piling up the points to win every Sunday. When Leinart shows that he can operate the offense efficiently and protect the ball, then we'd expect Whisenhunt to start letting him open it up. It's sort of an earn-as-you-learn program."

Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register says Kurt Warner is probably the best Iowa product to play in the NFL. Ed Podolak: "Without question. Kurt was more of a major factor in a team getting to and winning a Super Bowl than any of us. It makes me proud to be an Iowan, because of the way he's represented our state and what I think is good in an athlete at the professional level today. He seems to be somewhat of a throwback from earlier days in sports -- where good athletes were also good guys."

Players affected by uncapped year

December, 30, 2009
NFC South maestro Pat Yasinskas has acquired and shared a list featuring NFL players scheduled to become restricted free agents again if the league and its players fail to extend the collective bargaining agreement.

Basically, these players might have to wait an extra couple seasons to become unrestricted free agents.

Among NFC West players, this could prove particularly costly for Ahmad Brooks, Oshiomogho Atogwe and Deuce Lutui.

49ers left tackle Staley inactive

December, 14, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers will be without starting left tackle Joe Staley against the Cardinals.

This comes as little surprise.

While Staley hoped to return from a knee injury for this game, he hadn't done enough in practice to make it likely.

Barry Sims remains the starter while Staley recovers. Sims has played better than anticipated this season.

Also inactive for the 49ers: Nate Clements, Marcus Hudson, Diyral Briggs, Cody Wallace, Baraka Atkins and Isaac Bruce.

Around the NFC West: 49ers' problems

November, 23, 2009
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee blames the 49ers' coaching staff for a poor game plan against the Packers. Barrows: "The 49ers had what amounted to a second bye week to get ready for a game with all sorts of NFC playoff implications. It's not that they swung and missed Sunday. It's that they didn't start swinging until they were down." When the 49ers hired Mike Singletary, team president Jed York said the team needed more intensity. I didn't think that was the problem at all. The team played hard for Mike Nolan. Singletary was going to make the 49ers play smarter. That has happened, but the offensive line has failed to develop, the 49ers remain unsettled at quarterback and the team failed to acquire a legitimate pass-rusher. Those are the real problems facing the 49ers.

Also from Barrows: a report card and a 49ers injury update. Barrows: "Eight players landed on the report, including starting left guard David Baas (ankle) and return man Arnaz Battle (leg strain). The others are: Michael Robinson (stinger), Mark Roman (rib), Reggie Smith (groin), Marcus Hudson (back) and Delanie Walker (forearm)."

More from Barrows: Rookie Michael Crabtree offers advice to the 49ers' coaching staff. More fast-break offense, please. Crabtree: "It enabled everybody to get open and make plays. It kind of opened it up for all the playmakers we have."

(Read full post)

Silver linings: 49ers at Colts

November, 2, 2009
Posted by's Mike Sando

The facts: The 49ers fell to 3-4 with an 18-14 road defeat to the Colts in Week 8.

The upside: Even the worst defeats tend to feature a bright spot or two.
  • Rookie receiver Michael Crabtree led the team with six receptions for 81 yards. Two games into his career, Crabtree is easily the best wide receiver on the team, in my view. He doesn't just catch the ball. He snatches it.
  • Tight end Vernon Davis caught another touchdown pass, giving him an NFL-leading seven through seven games.
  • Quarterback Alex Smith showed good command in his first regular-season start since 2007.
  • Barry Sims played much better than anyone could have expected after replacing Joe Staley at left tackle on the 49ers' second offensive play. Sims battled Colts pass-rusher Dwight Freeney without significantly compromising the offense.
  • Embattled left guard Chilo Rachal threw a key block to help spring Frank Gore's latest long touchdown run, a 64-yarder that gave the 49ers a 7-0 lead.
  • The 49ers' defensive front manhandled the Colts much of the game, sacking Peyton Manning three times and making him work for everything. The Colts failed to score a touchdown on any of their four red zone possessions.
  • The 49ers again showed they could hang with an elite NFL team on the road. They led the Vikings in Minneapolis with only a few seconds remaining. They led the Colts in Indianapolis after three quarters.
  • Marcus Hudson made four tackles on special teams. Those tackles came after a 16-yard kickoff return and punt returns covering only 7, 4 and 7 yards.
Looking ahead: The 49ers face the Titans at home in Week 9.

49ers WR Brandon Jones inactive again

September, 27, 2009

Posted by's Mike Sando

MINNEAPOLIS -- The 49ers and Vikings submitted their list of inactive players for their Week 3 game in the Metrodome.
No big surprises for the 49ers. They have four receivers active (Josh Morgan, Isaac Bruce, Arnaz Battle and Micheal Spurlock). Linebacker Ahmad Brooks is active, as coach Mike Singletary suggested the case would be.

Jones has returned to practice following a shoulder injury, but the 49ers did not find a spot for him on the 45-man roster. They have not used more than three wide receivers at a time through two games this season.

Seahawks' defense without top tackle

September, 20, 2009

Posted by's Mike Sando

SAN FRANCISCO -- Seattle defensive tackle Brandon Mebane's calf injury will prevent him from playing against the 49ers, a significant loss for the Seahawks.

Seattle has good depth on its defensive line. Tackle Red Bryant, a good player, wasn't even active for Week 1. Bryant is active for this game at Candlestick Park.

Inactive for Seattle: Travis Fisher, Leroy Hill, Chris Spencer, Walter Jones, Deion Branch, Mebane and Michael Bennett. There was an extremely slim chance Jones was going to return for this game. I would have been quite surprised, however. Mike Teel is the third quarterback for the Seahawks.

Inactive for the 49ers: Marcus Hudson, Cody Wallace, Brandon Jones, Ricky Jean-Francois, Jason Hill, Ahmad Brooks and Curtis Taylor.

Posted by's Mike Sando

The 49ers' roster appears most interesting at running back and receiver.

The more I think about how much the 49ers want to pound the ball on offense, the more I see them keeping two fullbacks on the Week 1 roster.

Zak Keasey's broken forearm prevents him from becoming part of the equation early, and it's tough to see a team waiting two months for a backup fullback to get healthy. Enter Bill Rentmeester. Formerly of the Chargers, Rentmeester offers what preseason touchdown machine Brit Miller does not: experience at fullback. For the sake of this roster exercise, I'll pencil in Rentmeester for Week 1.

The numbers at receiver figure to swell while the team waits for Brandon Jones to heal and Michael Crabtree to sign and get ready to contribute.

San Francisco 49ers Week 1 Roster Counts since 2003 QB RB WR TE OL DL LB DB ST
Fewest 3 4 5 2 8 5 6 7 2
Most 4 7 7 4 10 9 8 11 4
Average 3.2 5.2 5.8 3.2 8.8 7.2 7.3 9.3 3.0
Currently on roster
8 12 4 14 9 12 14 4

The chart provides a framework for how many players the 49ers might keep at each position heading into the regular-season opener against the Cardinals.

Here's a quick look at which 49ers players I might keep on the cutdown to 53 players (I made one change, moving Cody Wallace into the group of offensive linemen at Joe Toledo's expense):

(Read full post)

Posted by's Mike Sando

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The 49ers' afternoon practice concluded with team medical personnel steadying Chilo Rachal and guiding the starting guard to a cart for a ride into the training room.

The initial diagnosis was an unusual one: headache. Rachal wore a towel over his head and sat in the cart's passenger seat. The 49ers will evaluate him further.

The 49ers' other starting guard, David Baas, will undergo additional tests Wednesday on the foot he strained during nutcracker drills Tuesday morning.

Others notes from the fourth 49ers practice I've watched since arriving in Santa Clara late Sunday:

  • Those who requested information on linebacker Scott McKillop should know he's going through what most rookies experience, a transition. I watched him charge toward the hole to stop a running play, only to take the wrong angle, buckle and fall to the ground as Glen Coffee burst into the secondary. Later, McKillop broke up a short pass to tight end Vernon Davis.
  • Speaking of Davis, he continued to catch everything thrown his way, but he did lose a fumble when cornerback Marcus Hudson popped the ball free.
  • The offensive linemen seemed to fare better on the whole during pass-rush drills. Outside linebacker Manny Lawson seemed to know instantly that he'd made a mistake against left tackle Joe Staley. Lawson yelled out in frustration while the drill was ongoing. Staley froze Lawson and controlled him convincingly on the play. One exception: Justin Smith, perhaps fresh after sitting out the morning session to save his veteran legs, drove Tony Wragge into the quarterback area with a powerful punch.
  • Evaluating right tackle Marvel Smith can be difficult because the 49ers are limiting him to one practice per day. Even when Smith practices, he shares reps with Alex Boone.
  • Defensive end Kentwan Balmer participated in inidividual drills after spraining his left knee in the morning session, a good sign for the team.
I'll be going through my notes and audio files to process interviews with multiple players conducted over the last couple days. Back at 49ers camp Wednesday before heading to Seattle for a few days with the Seahawks, followed by a trip to see the Rams.