NFC West: Reggie Hayward

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News offers thoughts and observations on outgoing 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan. Kawakami: "I think McCloughan’s a pretty good judge of talent. I think he’s loyal and probably was too loyal to Mike Nolan over their first three-plus years together. I think McCloughan was not totally on-board with the promoting of Mike Singletary as interim coach, but McCloughan made it work. (He wasn’t on-board with the hiring of Mike Martz as OC the year before, and that DIDN’T work.) ... I think McCloughan was learning on the job, and I think he definitely upgraded the talent level of the roster. But yes, there were things I’d wondered about–periods when McCloughan was not seen or heard from, at least publicly, which I always thought was strange for an NFL GM. I don’t know if that’s tied to what is forcing him out. I presume it is, but I could be wrong. Maybe Scot will explain it to us at some point."

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says McCloughan is on his way out. White: "According to multiple sources, the dismissal is strictly for personal reasons involving McCloughan and no one else. This move is not for football reasons and no crime was involved."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers locked out reporters from their facility and declined to comment on McCloughan's status, all while McCloughan watched an NCAA tournament game in San Jose. Barrows: "The only thing that is certain at the moment is that McCloughan is not taking part in the day-to-day operation of the team."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Paraag Marathe, recently promoted to executive vice president of football and business operations, could assume more power on the football side. Also: "McCloughan did not report to the 49ers’ offices in Santa Clara on Thursday, and sources indicate his departure from the organization is imminent."

Also from Maiocco: 49ers coach Mike Singletary could influence the 49ers' draft board in the coming weeks.

Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com says the 49ers' draft will have McCloughan's fingerprints all over it even if the GM isn't involved on draft day. Rang: "While the perception is that draft boards are fluctuating every day with the improved workouts players are putting forth in Pro Days across the country, in reality, much of the hard work in preparing for the 2010 draft has already been done. Whether he's the one actually making the pick or not, the 49ers 2010 draft will have Scot McCloughan's fingerprints on it. Considering that the 49ers appear poised to take control of the NFC West -- largely based on players McCloughan drafted -- that's a good thing."

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers need a new general manager and one with gravitas. Cohn: "Who is that person? Please tell me. Is there anyone in the 49ers organization capable of identifying that man and persuading him to sign on? I don't see anyone like that. And let's face it, the departure of McCloughan so unexpectedly and at precisely the wrong time is a terrible indicator of the 49ers' present state and a horrible omen for the future."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the atmosphere was casual when the Seahawks introduced new quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and said he would challenge Matt Hasselbeck. Coach Pete Carroll: "We would not have done this if we didn't think we were bringing in a highly competitive player. We're counting on Matt to lead this thing, and Charlie is going to take his shot at it every turn."

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com explains why Carroll likes his new quarterback: "Carroll said Whitehurst fits what the Seahawks are looking for in their offensive system: a big, athletic quarterback with good mobility and a strong arm."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Seahawks general manager John Schneider has been sizing up Whitehurst for years. Williams: "Schneider said the first time he saw Whitehurst was as college quarterback at Clemson in 2005, where Whitehurst threw well in bad weather for a workout in front of NFL scouts. Schneider said Whithurst’s performance stuck with him, and he considered him a player with a lot of potential."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' new leadership hasn't earned full trust. Boling: "What they have going for them is that what’s been done in the recent past hasn’t worked. And starting over seems a reasonable approach."

John Morgan of Field Gulls sounds unimpressed by Chris Clemons, acquired by Seattle from Philadelphia.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says it's hardly a given that Neil Rackers will return to the Cardinals. Urban: "The things that make Rackers so valuable — his quirky ability to do crazy, effective onside kicks and his kamikaze willingness to tackle on kickoffs — are also the things (because of the mentality needed) that give pause when it comes to the end of games. Personally, I hope Rackers returns, because he is a weapon in so many facets. But that’s far from a lock right now."

Also from Urban: Matt Leinart says he's hungrier than ever heading toward the 2010 season as the Cardinals' starter. Leinart: "I know I can be a starter in this league, but when you have Kurt (Warner) in front of you , a veteran going to the Hall of Fame, you know your position and you have to prepare just having to be ready if the opportunity comes. Now, it’s a totally different mindset because this is my time, the opportunity I have wanted and it is here. I am more focused and hungrier than I have every been in my entire football career, college and pro."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams met with Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford in Florida.

Also from Thomas: Chris Massey gets a new contract. Willie Parker, Reggie Hayward, Jason McKie and Kevin Dockery visit the Rams, with Jimmy Wilkerson on the way.

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat breaks down the Rams' free agents and those the team has signed. Balzer: "James Hall was a leader in the locker room and a solid contributor. His age works against him, but there's not a lot of depth at the position. Hall visited New Orleans, but left without signing a contract."

Around the NFC West: Cards answer call

September, 21, 2009
9/21/09
9:01
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals responded to an early test. Bickley: "In the most important September football game this team has played, the visitors started fast and played alert. They left their alibis at home and remembered to pack a sense of urgency next to the toothpaste. They won an early game on the East Coast, avoiding the civic panic and national criticism that would've accompanied defeat."

Also from Bickley: Calais Campbell's blocked field goal try and Antrel Rolle's subsequent touchdown return were the play of the game. Bickley: "It was the sixth touchdown of Rolle's career, and this one tilted a competitive game in favor of the Cardinals. It also atoned for Rolle's terrible day as punt returner, a job he lost to Steve Breaston in the second half."

More from Bickley: Anthony Becht's hustle pays off against the Jaguars.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt seemed to alleviate any concerns about his play calling with a terrific effort in Jacksonville. Also, the defense played consistently well. Kurt Warner: "The key to it is we were balanced, and we were able to get the ball out quick. Everybody who had an opportunity made plays, and that's what this offense has been about when we've been at the top of our game. Hopefully this is a start."

Also from Somers: The Cardinals outplayed the Jaguars and got some breaks along the way. Also: "I thought Whisenhunt showed conviction by going with Matt Leinart late in the third quarter. Warner was hurting from a right shoulder stinger suffered last week. I thought back to training camp when Whisenhunt admitted he should have played Leinart more last year when games were out of hand. It can't hurt Leinart's development that the game got close late. I thought he looked decent."

More from Somers: Adrian Wilson gave Beanie Wells a football with Wells' name on it after Wells suffered fumbling problems against the Jaguars. Wilson: "You can't have plays like that. Putting the ball on the ground is forbidden. You have to get that M.O. off yourself as a football player and a running back. If teams know that you fumble, then they'll try to go to the ball all the time."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com offers thoughts from Week 2. Urban: "Larry Fitzgerald tried to pretend he wasn’t getting upset at not getting many passes, including one point after he looked to be open down the field but didn’t get the ball." Fitzgerald, trying to hide a smile: "I was just tired. It was humid out there today I was just trying to save my energy so that’s why I walked off so slowly. That’s all that was."

Also from Urban: Warner appeared tired, but it was a happy tired.

Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union says the Jaguars' pass rush failed to pressure Warner. Stellino: "The Jaguars might have missed defensive end Reggie Hayward, who had their only sack last week but is out for the year with a broken leg. Derrick Harvey played end in place of Hayward while John Henderson played the other end. Harvey had only one tackle. Henderson, who tipped one pass and had three tackles, said Warner was beating them with short passes. His longest completion was only 22 yards."

Garry Smits of the Florida Times-Union implies the Cardinals were protecting Warner's single-game record for completion percentage. Smits: "Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said he didn't take quarterback Kurt Warner out of the game for the entire fourth quarter because he was trying to protect a record. He claims he didn't know about it until being informed by the media in his postgame news conference and was trying to protect Warner from further re-injuring his right shoulder -- a fact that never appeared on the weekly injury reports."

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