NFC West: Matt Overton

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers a projected 49ers depth chart on defense. Barrows: "Yes, Nate Clements' salary jumps to $6 million in base this year. But the 49ers did not spend a high draft pick on a cornerback, and because of that it's difficult to see Clements leaving. My guess is that all the negative talk about Clements will serve as fuel for a very strong 2010 season. (Karl) Paymah is similar to former 49er Donald Strickland and likely will be in on a lot nickel packages. (Phillip) Adams and (Patrick) Stoudamire are projects. Stoudamire could play safety."

Also from Barrows: says 49ers director of player personnel Trent Baalke will walk reporters through film sessions featuring the team's new draft choices.

Art Spander of the San Francisco Examiner looks back on the career of late 49ers minority owner Frank Mieuli. Spander: "He put chandeliers in the Cow Palace and Rick Barry’s jersey behind an office door, delivered bags of fruit to sports writers and delivered a championship to the Bay Area. You could call Franklin Mieuli eccentric. I preferred to call him passionate. He had a beard, a deerstalker hat and a love of life. A character, that’s what Mieuli was: delightful and charming, if manipulative. He was the last of the mom-and-pop team owners, and the team he owned, the Golden State Warriors, did him proud."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune pays tribute to retiring Seahawks tackle Walter Jones. Former teammate Robbie Tobeck: "He's more of a competitor than people realize. He’s so good and has such great ability, it almost looks effortless when he's putting somebody on his back. And the reason for it is how hard he works. He wasn’t some superstar who took days off. He’s also one of toughest human beings I’ve ever been around … the man laughs at pain."

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times quotes former Seahawks line coach Howard Mudd this way on Jones: "He had this phenomenal athleticism. Walt is the kind of guy who does things so easily, it almost looks like he's playing at 75 or 80 percent. Like Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods, he never really struggles to get his job done, even when he's playing against the top NFL players. I don't think he ever lined up in a game where he thought he was closely matched, athletically, to the guy across from him."

Brian McIntyre of scout.com offers positional thoughts on the Seahawks' offense. He lists Deon Butler among the "locks" at receiver, a bit of a surprise.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times shoots down reports suggesting Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke could leave to run the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nothing against hockey, but why would someone cede control of three professional sports franchises -- the Seahawks, Trail Blazers and Sounders -- to run an NHL team? Doesn't made sense.

Also from O'Neil: The Seahawks have made a couple roster moves. DeAngelo Willingham and Tom Malone are out. Matt Overton and Quinton Teal are in.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says new Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons has high expectations.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says during a chat that he was surprised Golden Tate remained available to Seattle at No. 60. Williams: "I thought he would be a late first round, early second round pick. He's a playmaker that will help them immediately. I like getting Kam Chancellor when they did. I think he gives them a different dimension in the back end of the defense that they have not had in a while."

Ben Malcolmson of seahawks.com provides a photo of LenDale White and Pete Carroll chatting in Carroll's office at team headquarters.



Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says two Cardinals rookies -- Jim Dray and John Skelton -- come from families accomplished in business.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with Cardinals offensive line coach Russ Grimm, who offers thoughts on how the team might proceed after adding Alan Faneca. Left guard Reggie Wells could move to right tackle, competing with Brandon Keith and Jeremy Bridges for the starting job.

Also from Urban: Quarterback Matt Leinart has switched lockers so he can be closer to the Cardinals' offensive linemen. Does he know what he's getting into from a pranks standpoint? Leinart: "I just wanted to be with my linemen -- simple as that. Now it’s all business. I’m not trying to do it to make a statement or anything, I’m just doing it because these are my guys. I just want them to know I’ll be a leader and I’ll have their back too. We can’t be an offense without them."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams will have about 30 players at their postdraft camp on a tryout basis. That is a high number. Coats: "Two practices are planned for both Friday and Saturday, with a final session scheduled for Sunday morning. All are closed to the public. The mandatory full-squad minicamp is June 10-12 and will be surrounded by four weeks of OTAs -- organized team activities, or light practices. Training camp begins in late July, also at Rams Park."

Also from Coats: Acquiring safety Kevin Payne from the Bears could be a hedge against losing Oshiomogho Atogwe.

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says the Rams need to keep Alex Barron as insurance this season.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Barron told the team before the draft that he would sign his one-year tender and report to postdraft camp, according to Barron's agent. Thomas: "Barron has been an enigma since being drafted No. 19 overall out of Florida State in 2005. He has been one of the league's most penalized players over that span and occasionally has struggled blocking lesser players. But he frequently plays well against top tier defensive ends and has been durable. He has missed only two games because of injury in his career -- both late in his rookie season -- playing in 67 consecutive games, including 66 starts."

Tapp division's second RFA to sign

March, 15, 2010
3/15/10
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Restricted free agents rarely command outside offers, let alone change teams.

The Seahawks' Darryl Tapp probably wasn't going anywhere, in other words. It was still important for the veteran defensive end to sign his tender and report to the team as soon as possible, the better to get acclimated to coach Pete Carroll's defense (update: er, the Eagles' defense).

Seattle announced Tapp's signing Monday along with the release of safety Deon Grant and snapper Matt Overton. Tapp becomes the second RFA from the NFC West to sign his one-year offer, joining Rams safety Craig Dahl.

Around the NFC West: Whisenhunt's future

February, 15, 2010
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Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals have never re-signed a head coach since the franchise relocated to Arizona more than two decades ago. They are now talking with Ken Whisenhunt about an extension. Somers: "Negotiations to re-sign coaches often involve more issues than money, however. For instance, Whisenhunt has long desired an indoor practice facility at the team's headquarters in Tempe. Whisenhunt also might want a more significant voice in staffing decisions, including those employees directly supporting the coaching staff. Other potential parts of a contract include appearances before sponsors, radio and television obligations, and authority over personnel. Whisenhunt already has considerable influence in player-personnel issues, from free agency to the draft."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com doesn't expect NFL teams to throw around lots of bonus money when the new league year begins March 5, although rules governing the final eight teams in the playoffs aren't as restrictive as they might initially seem.

Also from Urban: Five plays that defined the Cardinals' 2009 season, including Anquan Boldin's 39-yard touchdown catch against the Vikings.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks the NFL will approve Shahid Kahn as majority owner of the Rams. Miklasz: "I believe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is a man of integrity. I would be absolutely shocked if Khan is treated less than fairly by the NFL or the owners. And if Khan's finances check out, he should be fine. (More on that later.) I would think the NFL would be proud to open the doors to its inner sanctum to Khan -- an ambitious, self-made man who represents the American dream."

Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes Illinois football coach Ron Zook as calling Khan self-confident. McDermott: "How will that confidence translate at the Edward Jones Dome? People here who know Khan say to expect a hands-on approach, stopping somewhere short of meddlesome. He won't spend lavishly, except in instances where he sees it as necessary to achieve quality, a topic he is obsessive about. Fans who want flashy behavior and controversy will be disappointed. Players and staff will be able to talk to him."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Khan could enlist a limited partner or two. Thomas: "Not because he needs to, but because he wants to. Those who know Khan are confident he will have no problems in this setting and under this scrutiny. He was described to the Post-Dispatch by one league source as the type of person who 'won't run at the first sign of problems.' Barring any unforeseen obstacles, it's conceivable Khan could be approved as early as the May 24-26 owners meetings in Dallas. But if there is a hiccup or two, the approval process could spill over into the summer."

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says the speed of the Rams' sale could hinge on the plans of minority owner Stan Kroenke. Balzer: "Kroenke owns 40 percent of the team and has 60 days from the time the sale agreement is signed and submitted to the league to make his intentions known. Kroenke could retain his 40-percent share, provided he feels good about his potential relationship with Khan. He could sell his 40 percent to Khan, who is prepared for that possibility. He could also elect to exercise his right of first refusal on the other 60 percent, but that appears unlikely because to do that he would have to either sell his NBA and NHL teams in Denver or convince the NFL to change its cross-ownership rules."

Jim Rodenbush of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says the Rams hired Panthers assistant trainer Reggie Scott to replace Jim Anderson as head trainer in St. Louis.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee looks at Maryland's Bruce Campbell, among others, as potential offensive tackles the 49ers could consider in the draft. Maryland's strength coach compared Campbell to the 49ers' Vernon Davis in terms of raw athleticism. Barrows: "When I visited the Maryland campus last year for a story on Vernon Davis, I, of course, had to check in with Terps strength coach Dwight Galt. As predicted, Galt gushed about Davis' weight-room prowess. But he also mentioned he had another pupil in Davis' mold. That's Campbell, who like Davis is a muscular, freakish athlete who will put up eye-popping numbers in the weight room."

Also from Barrows: He expects the 49ers to use the franchise tag on nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin. That seems like a good way to hedge bets while teams face an uncertain labor future, particularly given the fact Franklin has not yet strung together multiple productive seasons.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat looks at the 49ers' specialists, noting Josh Morgan was highly productive in limited opportunities as a kick returner. Maiocco: "His 28.2-yard average on kickoffs would've ranked him third in the NFL if he'd had enough returns to qualify. (He had 13 returns.) But the 49ers do not want to have a starting receiver handling kickoffs. He'll be only an emergency option in 2010. Signed through 2011."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Patrick Kerney, John Carlson, Will Herring, Olindo Mare, Deion Branch, Steve Vallos and Mansfield Wrotto will participate in the NFL Business Management Entrepreneurial Program via Harvard and Wharton business schools. More than 500 NFL players have participated over the years.

Also from Farnsworth: Snappers Pat MacDonald and Matt Overton could compete for the job Jeff Robinson filled in recent seasons. Farnsworth: "In 2007, the Seahawks used Derek Rackley and Boone Stutz with less-than-stellar results, before coaxing Robinson out of retirement for the final three games. In 2008, they spent a sixth-round draft choice on Tyler Schmitt, only to discover he had a degenerative back problem. Enter Robinson, again."

Brian McIntyre of scout.com takes a look at the Seahawks' specialists, calling punter Jon Ryan "arguably" the Seahawks' MVP last season. McIntyre: "The overall need for more team speed is evident in Seattle’s kick and punt coverage units, which ranked 19th (kick) and 30th (punt) in the NFL last season. Less than half of Ryan’s 88 punts were returnable, but those that were, went for an average of 11.1 yards per return."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks added punter Tom Malone to compete with Ryan this offseason.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says CFL pass-rusher Ricky Foley signed with the Seahawks after drawing interest from the Rams, Jets and Patriots. Johns: "It's reasonable to wonder where Foley might fit in, given the Seahawks already have smaller speed-rush type ends in Reed and Darryl Tapp, while also getting ready to try linebacker Aaron Curry in a similar role." This looks like a case of Seattle filling out its numbers toward an 80-man roster, hoping to find a developmental player.

Snapping carousel picks up speed

March, 10, 2009
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4:40
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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

  Hodel

Longtime Cardinals snapper Nathan Hodel has landed with the Patriots not long after Arizona released him. New England announced the signing Tuesday.

We've seen veteran snappers hit the market regularly this offseason. The Broncos released Mike Leach and signed the Patriots' snapper, Lonie Paxton, as an unrestricted free agent. The Texans' Bryan Pittman also hit the unrestricted market.

The Seahawks and Cardinals remain in the market for veteran snappers, although Tyler Schmitt hopes to get another chance with Seattle, Danny O'Neil notes.

Snappers are expendable until you can't replace one. The Seahawks have employed Thomas Gafford, Jared Retkofsky, Derek Rackley, Boone Stutz, Tim Lindsey, Jeff Robinson, Ryan Senser and Schmitt since watching J.P. Darche leave after the 2006 season. They have also brought in Pittman, Mike Schneck, Matt Overton and Joe Maese for tryouts.

Releasing Hodel spared the Cardinals from paying a $200,000 roster bonus this offseason. Hodel has snapped in every game for Arizona since 2002.

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