NFC West: Marques Harris

Around the NFC West: 49ers' priority

February, 16, 2010
ESPN's Adam Schefter says the 49ers will use the franchise tag on nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin if they cannot sign him to a long-term deal. Schefter: "Their newest long-term offer for Franklin is expected to come in this week. However, one league source highly doubted that any type of long-term agreement could be struck and the 49ers will franchise Franklin, who would have been one of the most desirable free agents had he been allowed to test the market." Franklin is the only 49ers free agent worthy of the franchise tag this offseason. I question how much the 49ers are interested in signing him to a lucrative long-term deal amid the current labor uncertainty. The franchise tag buys them time while giving Franklin an opportunity to prove he wasn't a one-year wonder in 2009.

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Franklin wants to stay with the 49ers, according to comments the nose tackle made after the season. Franklin: "I'd like to be back here, but me and my agent are going to sit down and talk and look at the possibilities of the franchise tag. We’ll figure out the possibilities ... I enjoy playing with these guys and I feel like we have a really good defense."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat points cites a Nov. 18 report as evidence that the 49ers have planned to franchise Franklin for the past several months.

Also from Maiocco: a look at the 49ers' outside linebackers and pass-rushers. Maiocco: "Currently, the 49ers have five of these hybrid outside linebacker/defensive ends on their roster. They will add another couple players via free agency and/or the draft. It's wide open whether they invest highly in this position (with a high draft pick) or they attempt to uncover a player who has slipped through the cracks. I doubt the 49ers will spend much money to sign a free agent, but they could add a minimum-salary-type player, such as they did a year ago with Marques Harris. One of the reasons I don't think they would be interested in signing a big name veteran guy (Julius Peppers or Joey Porter) is because that would take away from the development of the younger guys, and those are the players who figure into the short-term and long-term plans of the organization."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks see CFL star Ricky Foley as a situational pass-rusher. O'Neil: "After hearing Pete Carroll mention the "elephant" pass-rusher position as somewhere Darryl Tapp could fit, it would seem Foley would have the same tools to be that roving pass-rusher." Prototypical elephant rushers tend to be heavier than Foley's listed weight of 245 pounds. Brian Cushing is listed at 260. Tapp is listed at 270.

Also from O'Neil: The Packers used six of their last eight first-round choices for defense when new Seahawks general manager John Schneider was with the team.

Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times says the Bears' firing of personnel man Brian DePaul has fueled speculation that GM Jerry Angelo plans to hire former Seahawks president Tim Ruskell. The fit would appear right. Ruskell and Angelo have been close friends over the years. They worked together in Tampa Bay.

Greg Johns of questions whether Jordan Babineaux's pay raise will lead Seattle to release the safety. A team with a billionaire owner and no salary cap would seem to have some flexibility on such matters.

Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis says the Redskins would have interest in Leonard Little if the Rams' veteran pass-rusher decides to return for another season. Little has 87.5 career sacks. The Rams would like him back if he decides to keep playing, but with Jim Haslett in Washington, the Rams could have competition for Little's services.

Ameet Sachdev of the Chicago Tribune looks at Shahid Khan's fight with the IRS over millions in disputed tax payments. Sachdev: "The IRS said in court papers that the Khans hired the Chicago-based BDO Seidman accounting firm and met with tax partner Robert Greisman. The Khans engaged in at least five questionable tax shelters, with names like Son-of-Boss and Dad, and paid BDO $8.5 million in fees, about 10 percent of the alleged tax savings, according to court documents. Yet when the revenue agency questioned Khan about his returns, he was unable to identify what services BDO provided, an IRS agent said in court documents." offers a partial transcript and audio link to Russ Grimm's recent interview with XTRA910 radio in Phoenix. Grimm on earning a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: "Over the past couple years, I’ve had several people tell me that I need to hire an advertising firm to send pamphlets out to all the voters and things like this. I didn’t play the game for that, I think it’s based on what I did. You look at the list every year and you see the guys that are on, and the guys that make the Finals, there’s a lot of great football players on that list -- all deserving to get in. So, it’s a process that I don’t really have a hand in, I can't control it. So, on one hand, you wish it comes through so everyone quits asking you every year, 'So, you think this year’s the year, are you going to make it?' And on the other hand, it's an honor obviously to be a part of that group."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo can exercise an opt-out clause in his contract if the Rams change ownership. A coach can step down at any time, of course. In this case, Spagnuolo could presumably take another job elsewhere. As Miklasz notes, however, such a scenario seems highly unlikely.

Posted by's Mike Sando

SAN FRANCISCO -- Linebacker Marques Harris (left hamstring), cornerback Dre Bly (left elbow contusion) and linebacker Jeff Ulbrich (concussion) suffered injuries for the 49ers in Week 4.

Safety Dashon Goldson returned after getting the wind knocked out of him. Linebacker Manny Lawson returned after getting hit in the nose. Bly returned to the game.

The Rams lost safety Craig Dahl to what coach Steve Spagnuolo called a head injury. Receiver Danny Amendola returned after suffering cramps.

"That's pretty much it for injuries," Spagnuolo said. "We have plenty of guys banged up that we need to get back to healthy. That's important in this whole thing."

Also: I've filed a column focusing on the Rams, with input from the 49ers, following San Francisco's 35-o victory. That will appear on the blog shortly. I felt the Rams' situation deserved further explanation. Input from Steven Jackson proved helpful in assessing their mindset.

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.

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

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune saw good things from Seahawks offensive lineman Max Unger against the Chargers. Boling: "First-round pick Aaron Curry, who missed eight days of training camp while holding out, showed that he's not entirely up to speed with his responsibilities when he got lost in coverage on a crossing route in the first period. Second-round pick Max Unger had a much more impressive outing. At right guard in the first half, Unger looked solid enough for a first appearance in both run and pass situations. He seemed to know where to go and was able to get the job done once he got there."

John Morgan of Field Gulls singles out winners and losers from the Seahawks' exhibition opener. That would be Nick Reed among the winners.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune offers notes and observations from the Seahawks' first exhibition game. Williams: "The pass defense is still in a work in progress. The Seahawks finished last in the league in pass defense last season, and gave up a league-leading 59 plays of 20-yards or more. That disturbing trend continued on Saturday, with the Seahawks giving up four plays of 20-yards or more through the air. Cornerback Kevin Hobbs was twice victimized, and Kelly Jennings also was beat deep, although he did manage an interception."

Clare Farnsworth of says Matt Hasselbeck's scramble against the Chargers suggests the quarterback has moved past a back injury.

Doug Farrar of sees significant changes to the Seahawks' offensive and defensive schemes under new coach Jim Mora.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times profiles Curry, exploring the linebacker's sensitive side.

Chris Sullivan of Seahawk Addicts offers first-half notes from the Seahawks' opener. Cole: "The defensive line, especially the first unit, has looked quite good. I was most impressed by Colin Cole, who I did not expect a whole lot from him."

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers coach Mike Singletary singled out right tackle Adam Snyder for playing well against the Broncos. Singletary also liked what he saw from rookie running back Glen Coffee. Singletary: "I'm really excited about what I saw of him. He's really a tough guy. I thought he did a decent job in pass protection. Glen is going to be a good addition to our team."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Singletary lauded Shaun Hill's game management. Singletary: "He's great at managing the game. You know he can manage a game, but he can also throw the ball downfield. ... How consistent, and on what basis? That's something we still have to look at, but we pretty much know what's there." 

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers running back Thomas Clayton suffered "major" ligament damage in his knee against the Broncos. Singletary withheld a formal announcement pending MRI results.

Also from Maiocco: The following players "showed nothing" against the Broncos: "Manny Lawson, Marques Harris, Kentwan Balmer, Isaac Sopoaga, Aubrayo Franklin, Demetric Evans, Pannel Egboh, Ricky Jean-Francois."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says results from Steve Breaston's MRI remained a mystery. Also from Somers: "QB Brian St. Pierre didn't play well, obviously, but he didn't have much help, as coach Ken Whisenhunt noted. Oliver Ross moved from right tackle to left because of the injury to Elliot Vallejo. Ross was beaten a time or two. There appeared to be some miscommunication in protection on other occasions."

Darren Urban of offers notes from the Cardinals-Steelers game. Urban: "You've got to love the potential as a return guy of Michael Ray Garvin, but it just seems like he's a long shot given his limited abilities beyond the return game (unless he can become a gunner on punt coverage). He seems like more of a practice-squad candidate, although if he sparkles the rest of the preseason, maybe he'll sneak in. We'll see if Antrel Rolle keeps getting a try as a punt returner; he just doesn't look as comfortable as I would have thought."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Samkon Gado's stock with the Rams is rising after his 77-yard touchdown run against the Jets. Thomas: "[Steven] Jackson took note of the fact Gado's big run came after spending most of the first half playing fullback in place of Mike Karney, who dressed but didn't play because of an ankle injury."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch updates Rams injuries. Coats: "Quarterback Brock Berlin and guard Jacob Bell will be day-to-day this week after being knocked out of the game with injuries. Spagnuolo reported that Berlin suffered a sprained knee and Bell a mild concussion. Also, MRI exams were scheduled for wide receivers Tim Carter (groin) and Brooks Foster (ankle). Defensive end Adam Carriker (ankle) will be out again this week."

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo pointed to pass protection as one of the areas needing improvement. 

Turf Show Times' CoachConnors sees room for improvement from Rams cornerback Justin King.