NFC West: Reggie Smith


The Alex Smith trade will return a 2014 second-round choice to the San Francisco 49ers if the Kansas City Chiefs finish 8-8 or better.

Otherwise, the 49ers will receive only a third-round selection.

That was among the notes Peter King passed along Monday when noting that the 49ers and St. Louis Rams are holding additional picks in the 2014 draft. So, 49ers fans should root for the Chiefs this season. The rest of the NFC West should root against them.

The second-round pick would be later in the round. The third-round pick would be earlier in the round.

The 49ers selected LaMichael James, Colin Kaepernick, Taylor Mays and Chilo Rachal with second-round choices from 2008 through 2012. They used third-round picks during that time for Chris Culliver, NaVorro Bowman, Glen Coffee and Reggie Smith.
PHOENIX -- The Seattle Seahawks and especially the San Francisco 49ers added to their 2013 NFL draft hauls Monday when the NFL awarded compensatory selections to offset net losses in free agency last year.

The 49ers received the 131st overall pick, a fourth-rounder, plus the 246th and 252nd choices, both in the seventh round. The Seahawks received the 241st and 242nd overall choices, also in the seventh round.

Teams cannot trade compensatory picks.

"Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks," the NFL announced. "Compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. The formula was developed by the NFL Management Council. Not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by this formula."

The 49ers received compensatory choices because free-agent losses Blake Costanzo, Josh Morgan and Madieu Williams outweighed free-agent addition Mario Manningham according to the formula. The Seahawks received picks because free-agent losses Atari Bigby, John Carlson, David Hawthorne and Charlie Whitehurst outweighed free-agent additions Matt Flynn and Jason Jones. Update: The NFL clarified that Adam Snyder, who signed with Arizona from San Francisco, factored into the equation awarding the 49ers three comp picks.

I've put together lists below showing all unrestricted free agents added, lost and re-signed by NFC West teams last offseason.

Update: I've also made available for download an Excel file with tentative 2013 draft order, reflecting comp picks and known trades. This is unofficial. The league has not yet released the official order; additional trades could affect it.

The 49ers have a league-high 14 picks, including two picks in each of the second through fifth rounds. They're in prime position to stock their roster for the future.

By my accounting, the Cardinals hold the 7th, 38th, 69th, 103rd, 140th, 174th and 176th picks. The 49ers hold the 31st, 34th, 61st, 74th, 93rd, 128th, 131st, 157th, 164th, 180th, 227th, 237th, 246th and 252nd choices. The Seahawks hold the 56th, 87th, 123rd, 138th, 158th, 194th, 220th, 231st, 241st and 242nd choices. The Rams hold the 16th, 22nd, 46th, 78th, 113th, 149th, 184th and 222nd picks.

Update: The Seahawks sent the 214th choice, acquired from Buffalo in the Tarvaris Jackson trade, to Minnesota as part of the Percy Harvin trade.

Arizona Cardinals

Re-signed: D'Anthony Batiste, Mike Leach, Early Doucet, Jay Feely, Dave Zastudil
Added: Adam Snyder, William Gay, James Sanders, Quentin Groves
Lost: Richard Marshall, Sean Considine, Deuce Lutui

San Francisco 49ers

Re-signed: Tavares Gooden, Carlos Rogers, Alex Smith, Ted Ginn Jr.
Added: Mario Manningham, Rock Cartwright, Josh Johnson
Lost: Josh Morgan, Adam Snyder, Blake Costanzo, Reggie Smith, Madieu Williams, Chilo Rachal

Seattle Seahawks

Re-signed: Heath Farwell, Red Bryant, Paul McQuistan, Michael Robinson, Leroy Hill, Matt McCoy
Added: Matt Flynn, Jason Jones, Deuce Lutui, Barrett Ruud
Lost: John Carlson, Atari Bigby, Charlie Whitehurst, Tony Hargrove, David Hawthorne

St. Louis Rams

Re-signed: Kellen Clemens
Added: Cortland Finnegan, Kendall Langford, Scott Wells, Quinn Ojinnaka, Steve Smith, Robert Turner, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, William Hayes, Trevor Laws, Mario Haggan, Barry Richardson
Lost: Brandon Lloyd, Chris Chamberlain, Donnie Jones, Jacob Bell, Bryan Kehl, Gary Gibson

On Early Doucet's unusually long run

March, 10, 2013
3/10/13
11:55
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Wide receiver Early Doucet might not feel like a success story following his release from the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.

Doucet struggled with drops and lost playing time last season, after all. Those were negatives, but the bigger picture looks upon his Cardinals tenure more favorably.

Consider that Doucet's departure from the Cardinals leaves NFC West teams with four players from the 28 they selected in their 2008 NFL draft classes.

Chris Long (St. Louis), Calais Campbell (Arizona), Red Bryant (Seattle) and Larry Grant (San Francisco) comprise that short list. Grant played three seasons with St. Louis before re-signing with San Francisco. That places Doucet on a shorter list of 2008 picks lasting five years with the teams that drafted them.

NFC West teams drafted Long, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Lawrence Jackson, Kentwan Balmer, Donnie Avery, John Carlson, Chilo Rachal, Campbell, John Greco and Reggie Smith before the Cardinals selected Doucet.

Doucet never became a regular starter, but Fitzgerald and Boldin were well-established as franchise cornerstones when he arrived. And after Arizona traded Boldin in 2010, the team used a third-round choice for Andre Roberts.

Doucet was scheduled to earn $2 million in salary and workout bonus in 2013. He is 27 years old and could help a team as a slot receiver, in my view.

Doucet has 1,213 yards receiving from the slot since 2008, third on the Cardinals behind Boldin (1,352) and Fitzgerald (1,221) over that span, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He also has 14 drops on those plays, matching the total for Boldin (eight) and Fitzgerald (six).

With the NFL deadline for naming franchise players passing at 4 p.m. ET Monday, we await official word from the league as to whether any NFC West players received the designation.

This can be a nerve-racking time for teams and fans hoping to keep favorite players.

Using the franchise tag almost always keeps a player from leaving in free agency. Teams must balance those concerns with a player's actual value. This year, deciding against using the tag could allow good-not-great NFC West players such as Dashon Goldson, Delanie Walker and Danny Amendola to reach the market and sign elsewhere.

It's tough losing key players, but for some perspective, let's revisit the list of 2012 NFC West unrestricted free agents to change teams during the UFA signing period last offseason: Note: UFAs include only veteran players whose contracts expired. Released players are not UFAs.
NFC West teams added or re-signed 38 unrestricted free agents during the recently completed UFA signing period. They lost or did not re-sign 47 such players.

One key difference between those groups: age.

The St. Louis Rams in particular used the UFA signing period to get younger. The 12 UFAs they added (11) or re-signed (one) averaged 2.49 years younger than the 20 UFAs they lost (six) or have not re-signed (14). The gap was 1.39 years younger on average throughout the division. The Rams have the youngest roster in the NFL, based on averages I maintain for every team in the league.

Some older UFAs never sign another NFL contract. They disappear from rosters and realize, perhaps a year or two later, that they've been retired.

The chart shows age differences for the 38 UFA players added or re-signed versus the 47 lost to other teams or still unsigned. According to the NFL, 143 UFAs changed teams across the league this offseason. Another 112 re-signed with their 2011 teams.

Unsigned players remain free to sign with another team, but the NFL will not count them as UFA signings. The distinction matters in part because only UFA additions and losses count toward the formula for determining compensatory draft choices. That formula relies heavily on player salaries. UFAs available this late in the process generally wouldn't command enough money to affect compensatory picks, anyway.

A quick look at which UFA players from NFC West teams did not sign or re-sign as UFAs:
The 27 unsigned UFAs from the NFC West average 31.38 years old, about 3.3 years older than the 22 UFAs signed from other teams.

Nine of the 27 are at least 33 years old. Another 12 are between 29 and 32. Justin King, former cornerback for the Rams, is the youngest at 25 years old.
The Arizona Cardinals paid $12 million to quarterback Kevin Kolb last season.

They wound up paying him another $7 million this offseason, but only after failing to land Peyton Manning.

Did they also owe Kolb an explanation for their plans at the position? It's easy in retrospect to say they should have apprised Kolb of their plans, but showing sensitivity to Manning became the top priority for teams hoping to sign the four-time MVP quarterback.

The Cardinals didn't want to mess up their chances.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers reached out to Alex Smith late in the process, and Smith later denied reports that the 49ers' handling of the Manning pursuit had upset him at the time. These were sensitive situations.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Kolb did eventually get an explanation from coach Ken Whisenhunt. Kolb: "They didn't deny anything. They didn't lie. They didn't apologize for anything, like they shouldn't. It's kind of hard to 'if and but' around the situation, but without getting into too much detail about the situation, I just said, 'In the future, you can just communicate with me. I can take it, if this is the route you're going.' I'd just rather hear from him than the ticker or something. He agreed and that's how relationships grow and that's where we're headed."

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic checks in with Cardinals tackle Levi Brown.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says a smaller window for offseason conditioning means additional work.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the team's voluntary offseason conditioning program began with baseline strength and flexibility testing. Trainer Sam Ramsden: "Basically what we're looking for is pain with movement, so we can pick something up and treat it. We're looking for imbalance, whether they do better with left versus right, so we know that's a predisposed factor to injury. So we're using it as a proactive, preventative tool to assess our players prior to beginning their offseason conditioning program."

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle passes along recent comments from Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson regarding the value Paul McQuistan provides as a utility offensive lineman. Robinson: "Paul McQuistan, he was all over the line. I called him my MVP in midseason. He would laugh about it, but I think he definitely was. Without a guy like that being able to just step in, and without production dropping off, it made things very easy, especially for a fullback and a runner -- he opened lanes for us."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coaches are allowed on the field with players Tuesday for the first time this offseason. The Rams are two weeks ahead of their division rivals, having been allowed to begin their voluntary offseason conditioning program April 2, when teams with new head coaches began. Coach Jeff Fisher: "Tuesday is our first opportunity to join the players on the field. Coaches have been prohibited from observing and participating up until this week. So we've got two days to introduce our offense and defense, some aspects of special teams, and get the players moving around a little bit."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have too many needs to justify moving up for any one player near the top of the 2012 NFL draft.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com outlines the San Francisco 49ers' needs on defense, as he sees them. Maiocco: "With the departures of reserve safeties Reggie Smith and Madieu Williams, the 49ers must add a young player to compete with C.J. Spillman for the top backup spot behind starters Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner. Also, the 49ers would like to create more competition for the cornerback jobs."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Larry Grant's return gives the 49ers one player remaining from their 2008 draft class.

Mike Rosenberg of the San Jose Mercury News is back with the second part of his interview with 49ers CEO Jed York, who has this to say about NFL reaction to the team securing a new stadium: "I think the league is ecstatic. This is the first stadium built just for pro football in the history of California. If you look at the other ones, Qualcomm Stadium (in San Diego) was for baseball, Candlestick Park was for baseball, the Coliseum in Oakland was built for baseball and mixed use. In Southern California, the Coliseum and Rose Bowl, those were for the Olympics and college sports. This is the first building just for pro football, and it speaks volumes for the amount of work that went into it. California has been such a great market, and we just haven't had the venues to host the great American sporting event (the Super Bowl)."

Stephanie M. Lee of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' eventual relocation to Santa Clara for games will cost San Francisco money.
We've reached the point where college prospects make pre-draft visits to NFL teams and analysts try to figure out what it all means.

Teams visit with players they hope to select. Teams also visit with players they're unlikely to select. Sometimes they select players who never once came through their facilities before the draft.

The St. Louis Rams are picking high enough, sixth overall, to almost ensure they'll wind up with one of the 30 players scheduled to visit.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are beginning to hold those meetings as they head toward the 2012 draft. Thomas: "Under former general manager Billy Devaney, the Rams brought in all of the so-called 'top 30' visits over a two- or three-day period. But under new general manager Les Snead, the visits are being staggered over a two-week period. Tackle Mike Adams, receiver Justin Blackmon, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and cornerback Janoris Jenkins visited Monday. Thomas lists 10 other players among those scheduled to visit, including cornerback Morris Claiborne, defensive end Quinton Coples, running back Trent Richardson, receiver Michael Floyd and receiver Rueben Randle.

Craig Harris of the Arizona Republic says the NFL and the Cardinals have issues with the city of Glendale over allocation of parking spots. Harris: "The Arizona Cardinals are accusing cash-strapped Glendale of financial mismanagement and could sue the city over the loss of parking for roughly 9,000 of the team's ticket holders at Westgate City Center near University of Phoenix Stadium. Glendale, which has spent heavily to try to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in neighboring Jobing.com Arena, is working with the team on a solution to the dispute, Mayor Elaine Scruggs said. The Cardinals and the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority, which manages the stadium, sent Glendale a four-page demand letter Monday seeking written assurances the parking problem would be addressed by May 1. If not, the letter said, legal action may follow. Representatives from the National Football League, the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, which landed the 2015 NFL title game in Glendale, and the Fiesta Bowl, a fellow stadium tenant, also signed the letter asking the city to keep past promises to tenants not to take away any nearby parking."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals' final practices before training camp will be June 12-14.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Marcus Trufant's re-signing with the Seahawks makes sense in part because another cornerback, Walter Thurmond, apparently suffered a setback in his return from a broken leg. O'Neil: "Thurmond is expected to begin the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which would indicate a setback in his recovery from the injury. If a player is on the PUP list after the final roster cuts, he must miss at least the first six games before being activated."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com has this to say about Trufant's return: "Where he fits in a defense that ranked ninth in the league last season remains to be seen. In his absence in 2011, rookie Richard Sherman stepped in and played well on the left side. On the right side, Brandon Browner finished his first NFL season by playing in the Pro Bowl. And the coaches remain high on Walter Thurmond, a third-year corner who missed 10 games last season with a broken ankle that required surgery. But coach Pete Carroll is all about competition, and Trufant definitely has been a competitor during his career with the Seahawks."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com recaps the past week for the San Francisco 49ers. Maiocco: "Safety Reggie Smith, an unrestricted free agent, signed with the Carolina Panthers. Smith was the 49ers' No. 3 safety last season. In his season-ending meeting with general manager Trent Baalke, the sides agreed it was in the best interest of both sides for Smith to look for a better opportunity elsewhere. Currently, C.J. Spillman is the 49ers' third safety behind starters Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner. The club will look for another veteran safety and/or add at the position in the draft."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Randle and Floyd are among the college receivers who have met or plan to meet with the 49ers before the draft.
The evidence against Gregg Williams continues to mount, renewing questions about whether the indefinitely suspended defensive coordinator can credibly resume his career in the NFL.

The latest revelations -- profanity-laced recorded comments Williams made to New Orleans Saints players before their playoff game at San Francisco -- are chilling in their specificity. Time and again, Williams encouraged players to injure specific opponents, from Michael Crabtree to Frank Gore to Alex Smith to Kyle Williams.

Given these recordings, it's for the best that Williams, now with the St. Louis Rams, declined to appeal his suspension relating to the Saints' bounty scandal. There can be no defending what he said.

Pro Football Talk has transcribed some of the comments. Yahoo! Sports' Mike Silver also has a column on the matter. I listened to the comments and transcribed them for this item.

"Every single one of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head," Williams told Saints players one day before the 49ers defeated New Orleans in the wild-card round. "Early, affect the head. Continue, touch and hit the head."

There was more. Much more.

"We need to find out in the first two series of the game, the little wide receiver, No. 10, about his concussion," Williams said, referring to Kyle Williams. "We need to [expletive] put a lick on him right now."

Williams also indicated the Saints should take out Crabtree's knee.

"We need to decide whether Crabtree wants to be a fake ass prima donna or he wants to be a tough guy," Williams told players. "We need to find it out. He becomes human when we [expletive] take out that outside ACL."

On and on it went.

Williams encouraged players to hit Smith under the chin, referring back to the "big eyes" Smith got when the Saints hit him repeatedly during the exhibition opener. He wanted the Saints to take out all the 49ers' key players, noting repeatedly that his team should not apologize for how it plays the game.

"We need to decide on how many times we can beat Frank Gore's head," Williams said.

Williams allegedly punctuated some of his comments with a hand gesture indicating he would pay cash for injuring the 49ers. These are damning tapes further cementing Williams' reputation for crossing the line.

Looks like we'll have even more than anticipated to discuss on the blog Thursday.

Elsewhere in the division ...

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News offers thoughts on the 49ers not facing the Raiders in the preseason.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Reggie Smith's departure from the 49ers in free agency further guts what remains of the team's 2008 draft class. Barrows: "According to a source, Smith, an unrestricted free agent, told the 49ers in his exit interview in January that he was not interested in returning to the team, presumably because he knew his chances of starting were slim with Dashon Goldson on the roster. The 49ers made Goldson their franchise player, although he has yet to sign the tender. The top three safeties for 2012 appear to be Goldson, strong safety Donte Whitner and C.J. Spillman. Madieu Williams, who also is a free agent, could return."

Taylor Price of 49ers.com says players are working out informally at team headquarters in advance of the voluntary offseason workout program.

Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis quotes new Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan saying he wanted to play for Williams. Finnegan: "Every player you talk to says what a great coach he is. I was so excited to have a chance to play for him. He has a great defense and players love playing in that defense."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says recently retired former Rams receiver Torry Holt downplayed talk about the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Holt: "Shoot, we've got to get Cris Carter in the Hall, we have to get Andre Reed in the Hall, we've got to get Tim Brown in the Hall before we even start mentioning anything about Torry Holt being in the Hall."

Also from Thomas: notes from Holt's retirement news conference. Holt on whether signing a one-day contract would let him suit up: "I was speaking to Carla, my wife, and said, 'You know what? It would probably be cool if I called (equipment manager) Jimmy Lake and I had him set up my locker and get my cleats, and get my gloves, get my baggy shorts, and let me run one more deep seven (route). Shoot it out of the JUGS machine and I could catch it for a touchdown.' ... You know what? That'd be too much. Let's act like an adult here, I guess."

More from Thomas: The Rams have interest in free agent receiver Jerome Simpson.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune makes available draft analyst Rob Rang for a discussion focusing mostly on the Seahawks. Rang: "I believe Coby Fleener is going to wind up as a top 20 pick. There are few teams with obvious needs at TE to warrant such a pick, but coming off a 2011 season in which Gronk, Graham, etc. demonstrated just how effective these matchup nightmares can be, I believe some team is going to shock everyone. That team could be Seattle. If you're going to build a team around a relatively weak-armed QB, he'd damn well better have some weapons."

Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle explains why he thinks the Seahawks' were true to form in letting David Hawthorne sign with New Orleans.

Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times says the Seahawks met with Patriots free agent defensive back Antwaun Molden.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic has this to say about the Cardinals' preseason schedule: "It will be the eighth time in the past nine seasons that the Cardinals have played the Broncos in the final preseason game."

Also from Somers: Levi Brown re-signed with the Cardinals shortly after the team visited with free-agent tackle Demetress Bell. Somers: "Coincidence? Maybe. The Cardinals paid Brown a $7 million signing bonus. Earlier in free agency they signed guard/tackle Adam Snyder to a five-year deal that included a $5 million signing bonus. The Cardinals remained interested in Bell, but it was questionable if they were going to write another big check for an offensive lineman."

More from Somers: The Cardinals have their key specialists under contract.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com looks at options for Arizona on the offensive line. He quotes line coach Russ Grimm on Adam Snyder: "He was tops on our free agent list as far as offensive line was concerned. He’s a big physical guy, he's smart, he has played a number of positions. Right now we have him penciled in at right guard but if we have to move it around before camp we’ll move it around."

2012 NFC West UFA scorecard: update

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
12:15
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Michael Robinson's expected re-signing with the Seattle Seahawks would give the team a league-high four re-signings in the unrestricted free-agent market.

Red Bryant, Paul McQuistan and Heath Farwell previously re-signed.

Seattle and the other NFC West teams have added only two UFAs from other teams, however. I've put together UFA scorecards for each team in the division. Ages are in parenthesis. Here goes ...

Seattle Seahawks

UFA unsigned (age): defensive end Raheem Brock (33), defensive lineman Jimmy Wilkerson (31), safety Atari Bigby (30), quarterback Charlie Whitehurst (29), linebacker Leroy Hill (29), linebacker Matt McCoy (29), defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (28), linebacker David Hawthorne (26), running back Justin Forsett (26), linebacker David Vobora (25)

UFA re-signed: Farwell (30), Robinson (29), McQuistan (28), Bryant (27)

UFA added: none

UFA lost: tight end John Carlson (27)

Franchise player: none

Comment: Forsett has provided value, but the Seahawks will want to add a power back as depth behind Marshawn Lynch, who re-signed before free agency. Mike Tolbert, a free agent from the San Diego Chargers, could be worth a look if the running back market remains soft. Tolbert weighs 243 pounds, has 21 total touchdowns over the past two seasons, and caught 54 passes in 2012. The price would have to be right after Seattle committed to Lynch.

San Francisco 49ers

UFA unsigned: fullback Moran Norris (33), tight end Justin Peelle (33), safety Madieu Williams (30), quarterback Alex Smith (27), receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (26), guard Chilo Rachal (26), safety Reggie Smith (25)

UFA re-signed: cornerback Carlos Rogers (30), linebacker Tavares Gooden (27)

UFA added: none

UFA lost: guard Adam Snyder (30), linebacker Blake Costanzo (27), receiver Josh Morgan (26)

Franchise player: safety Dashon Goldson (27)

Comment: Randy Moss and potential addition Rock Cartwright do not appear in the listings because they were not unrestricted free agents. Re-signing Alex Smith and finding additional receiver help appear to be the top priorities. The 49ers are showing little outward urgency on either front, however.

Arizona Cardinals

UFA unsigned: defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday (36), kicker Jay Feely (35), long-snapper Mike Leach (35), outside linebacker Clark Haggans (35), outside linebacker Joey Porter (34), offensive lineman Floyd Womack (33), punter Dave Zastudil (33), tackle D'Anthony Batiste (29), safety Sean Considine (29), guard Deuce Lutui (28), safety Hamza Abdullah (28), tackle Brandon Keith (27), receiver Early Doucet (26)

UFA re-signed: none.

UFA added: Snyder (30)

UFA lost: cornerback Richard Marshall (27)

Franchise player: defensive end Calais Campbell (25)

Comment: The Cardinals have been in a tough spot. They would have faced criticism had they declined to pursue Peyton Manning. They could now face criticism for sacrificing the first week of free agency while waiting for Manning. The reality is that Arizona probably wasn't going to be all that aggressive in the market this offseason, anyway. It did hurt losing Marshall to the Miami Dolphins after coordinator Ray Horton called him the Cardinals' defensive MVP.

St. Louis Rams

UFA unsigned: cornerback Al Harris (37), quarterback A.J. Feeley (34), offensive lineman Tony Wragge (32), linebacker Brady Poppinga (32), punter Donnie Jones (31), offensive lineman Adam Goldberg (31), guard Jacob Bell (31), receiver Brandon Lloyd (30), cornerback Rod Hood (30), running back Cadillac Williams (29), defensive tackle Gary Gibson (29), receiver Mark Clayton (29), tackle Mark LeVoir (29), tight end Stephen Spach (29), safety James Butler (29), tight end Billy Bajema (29), quarterback Kellen Clemens (28), running back Jerious Norwood (28), linebacker Bryan Kehl (27), linebacker Chris Chamberlain (26), cornerback Justin King (24)

UFA re-signed: none

UFA added: cornerback Cortland Finnegan (28)

UFA lost: none

Franchise player: none

Comment: The Rams are not looking to re-sign many of their own free agents. They want to turn over the roster, and that is happening in a big way. The team's failure to secure playmaking help for quarterback Sam Bradford stands out as the biggest theme to this point. Finnegan was a welcome addition, but he isn't going to score many touchdowns.

The chart below shows a general overview.

First look at 49ers' 2012 free agents

February, 7, 2012
2/07/12
7:24
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Five of the San Francisco 49ers' projected unrestricted free agents for 2012 played right around 1,000 snaps or more last season, easily the highest figure in the NFC West.

Re-signing quarterback Alex Smith appears likely. Smith accepted the Associated Press' coach of the year award on Jim Harbaugh's behalf Saturday, the latest indication Smith remains firmly in the fold.

Cornerback Carlos Rogers has said he wants to return. His value spiked after earning a trip to the Pro Bowl. The franchise tag remains available, but the price would be lower if San Francisco used it for free safety Dashon Goldson instead. Either way, the 49ers have decisions to make in their secondary.

The charts below expand upon Brian McIntyre's lists. I've added offensive and defensive snap counts from ESPN Stats & Information. The final column shows what players earned per year on their most recent contracts.

Some players, notably Blake Costanzo and C.J. Spillman, played extensively on special teams. The charts show offensive and defensive snap counts only.

.

The second chart shows restricted free agents. Teams can retain rights to RFAs by making one-year qualifying offers.
Naming Ted Ginn Jr. and Kyle Williams inactive Sunday gives both San Francisco 49ers wide receivers extra time to heal for the playoffs.

The 49ers seemingly could have bought additional time for Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis, but they made him active for the first time since Willis suffered a hamstring injury Dec. 4. That presumably means the team feels confident Willis is at no additional risk for further injury.

With Ginn and Williams out, the 49ers will rely upon less proven players, not just on offense but in the return game.

Brett Swain starts opposite Michael Crabtree at receiver, where the 49ers have only three players active -- an unusually low number that includes undrafted rookie Joe Hastings, signed Saturday from the practice squad. Ginn and Williams were the top two returns specialists. With Delanie Walker also inactive, the 49ers are very thin on pass-catchers. With two fullbacks active, we can expect plenty of "22" personnel with two backs and two tight ends, it appears.

This means we could see safety Reggie Smith returning punts, with rookie running back Kendall Hunter serving as the primary kickoff returner. The 49ers did not make a formal announcement on a change at punt returner, but coach Jim Harbaugh indicated Friday that Smith could get the call.

With a victory at St. Louis or a New Orleans defeat against Carolina, the 49ers' injured players will gain another week to heal by virtue of a first-round playoff bye. There were no surprises among the Rams' inactives Sunday. Quarterbacks Sam Bradford and A.J. Feeley remain out, leaving Kellen Clemens as the starter.
The famous slap on the back San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh delivered against his Detroit Lions counterpart wasn't the most questionable one Sunday.

As Jim Schwartz pointed out Monday, the 49ers never should have taken over possession in Lions territory after Ted Ginn Jr.'s 40-yard return in the final six minutes of a game Detroit was leading, 19-15. That is because 49ers safety Reggie Smith committed a blatant block in the back during the return, first pulling and then shoving the Lions' Maurice Stovall with enough force to expose the receiver's right shoulder pad.

Stovall was within three yards of Ginn and directly in front of him as Ginn gathered himself at the San Francisco 35-yard line, but Smith shoved him out of the play.

Update: One of my officiating contacts watched this play and said Smith was not guilty of a foul in part because one hand was on Stovall's side, Smith merely drove Stovall through the play and Smith was not in a chase position. Tavares Gooden also might have blocked John Wendling in the back.

Questionable penalties happen, of course, and the 49ers had legitimate beefs in this game as well, but nothing quite so ill-timed as this one. NFL.com shows the block at the 2:47 mark of its 49ers-Lions highlight package.

A penalty against the 49ers during the return would have changed game dynamics considerably.

"It was a little disappointing on that when there was a pretty significant block in the back," Schwartz told reporters Monday. "Geez, you talk about one play in the game; that might have been the one right there. It was a significant flip in field position because it's penalties from that point rather than from the end of that [return]."

Had officials administered a 10-yard penalty from the San Francisco 37, the 49ers would have taken over at their own 27. Win probability statistics say the 49ers would have had only a 29.5 percent chance of prevailing in the game had their drive begun that deep in their own territory, according to Alok Pattani of the ESPN analytics team.

Ginn ran out of bounds at the Detroit 40 on the play, but officials moved the ball to the 35 for the start of the drive. I reached out to the NFL for an explanation and will update with a response should I receive one. There was no penalty on the play. This appeared to reflect an error of basic administration.

"You expect officials to get balls spotted in the right spot and have the right down marker up and correct timing, things like that," Schwartz told 97.1-FM in Detroit, according to the Detroit Free Press. "Those really aren’t subjective things like the spot of a ball when a runner’s down by contact or something like that. And that was obviously an unfortunate thing that went on in the game. It still doesn’t change the fact that we have fourth-and-goal from the (6) and weren’t able to get them stopped, because we make that play, then things are obviously a lot different."

Win probability stats gave the 49ers a 39.8 percent chance from the Detroit 40 and a 41.6 percent chance from the 35. The 1.8 percent difference is slim, but so was the margin by which officials declared Delanie Walker had moved the ball across the goal line with the winning 6-yard scoring reception before his right knee touched the ground.

Looks like this game will be memorable on many fronts: the 49ers getting to 5-1 for the first time since 2002; Alex Smith delivering the team's first winning touchdown pass in the final two minutes of a game since Jeff Garcia, also in 2002; the 49ers playing what coordinator Vic Fangio called the finest defensive performance he had been associated with; Frank Gore matching his career best with a third consecutive 100-yard rushing performance; and, of course, Harbaugh and Schwartz overshadowing it all with their postgame confrontation.

Also: The NFL acknowledged the error in spotting the ball at the 35 instead of the 40. "The officiating crew incorrectly spotted the ball at the Detroit 35 instead of the 40 where Ted Ginn went out of bounds," a league spokesman said.

Week 5 rematches: NFC West vengeance?

October, 5, 2011
10/05/11
7:33
PM ET
NFC West teams went 0-3 last season against the teams they face in Week 5.

They lost those games by a combined 99-31 score.

Much has changed since then. Let's take a look:

Cardinals at Vikings

Score last season: Vikings 27, Cardinals 24 (OT)

Key play: Brett Favre's 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe in the final minute of regulation tied the game, forcing overtime after the Cardinals had built a 24-10 fourth-quarter lead. Favre threw for a career-high 446 yards in the game.

Biggest change: Both teams have new quarterbacks, Kevin Kolb for Derek Anderson in Arizona, and Donovan McNabb for Favre in Minnesota. Also, the Vikings have a new head coach (Leslie Frazier) while the Cardinals have a new defensive coordinator (Ray Horton).

Storyline: McNabb keeps a home in Arizona and was available to the Cardinals when their quarterback situation was in flux, but the team showed no interest in him. He is now trying to hold off a change to rookie Christian Ponder.

Lineup changes for Arizona (12): Beanie Wells for Tim Hightower at running back, Kolb for Anderson at quarterback, Daryn Colledge for Alan Faneca at left guard, Rex Hadnot for Deuce Lutui at right guard, Todd Heap for Ben Patrick at tight end, Andre Roberts for Steve Breaston at receiver, Anthony Sherman for Reagan Maui'a at fullback (although the team opened its 2010 game at Minnesota without a fullback), Dan Williams for Bryan Robinson at nose tackle, Daryl Washington for Gerald Hayes at linebacker, Clark Haggans for Will Davis at linebacker, A.J. Jefferson for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at cornerback, Patrick Peterson for Greg Toler at cornerback.

49ers vs. Buccaneers

Score last season: Buccaneers 21, 49ers 0

Key play: Josh Freeman's 1-yard scoring pass to tackle Donald Penn midway through the fourth quarter put an exclamation point on the 49ers' first home shutout since 1977.

Biggest change: Jim Harbaugh has replaced Mike Singletary as the 49ers' head coach.

Storyline: Alex Smith gets a shot at Tampa Bay after watching Troy Smith struggle against the Bucs as the 49ers' starting quarterback last season. Troy Smith's approach centered around striking for big plays. The Bucs took away the big plays. Alex Smith gives the 49ers a chance to be more efficient.

Lineup changes for San Francisco (12): Alex Smith for Troy Smith at quarterback, Joe Staley for Barry Sims at left tackle, Adam Snyder for Chilo Rachal at right guard, Bruce Miller for Moran Norris at fullback, Isaac Sopoaga for Aubrayo Franklin at nose tackle, Ray McDonald for Sopoaga at defensive end, Ahmad Brooks for Manny Lawson at outside linebacker, NaVorro Bowman for Takeo Spikes at inside linebacker, Carlos Rogers for Nate Clements at cornerback, Tarell Brown for Shawntae Spencer at cornerback, Donte Whitner for Reggie Smith at strong safety.

Seahawks at Giants

Score last season: Giants 41, Seahawks 7

Key play: With Seattle already down 14-0 in the first quarter, the Giants returned Leon Washington's fumbled kickoff return to the Seattle 4, setting up Ahmad Bradshaw's touchdown run on the next play.

Biggest change: Tarvaris Jackson is the starting quarterback for Seattle. Charlie Whitehurst was a fill-in starter for Matt Hasselbeck when the teams played last season.

Storyline: The Seahawks' so-far-unproductive ground game faces a Giants run defense that has struggled. Seattle's young line improved in pass protection last week. Can it take a step forward in run blocking this week?

Lineup changes for Seattle (16): Sidney Rice for Deon Butler at receiver, Jackson for Whitehurst at quarterback, Russell Okung for Chester Pitts at left tackle, Paul McQuistan for Mike Gibson at left guard, Max Unger for Chris Spencer at center, John Moffitt for Stacy Andrews at right guard, James Carpenter for Sean Locklear at right tackle, Zach Miller for John Carlson at tight end, Brandon Mebane for Junior Siavii at defensive tackle, Alan Branch for Craig Terrill at defensive tackle, Red Bryant for Kentwan Balmer at defensive end, K.J. Wright for Aaron Curry at linebacker, David Hawthorne for Lofa Tatupu at linebacker, Leroy Hill for Hawthorne at linebacker, Brandon Browner for Kelly Jennings at right cornerback, Kam Chancellor or Atari Bigby for Lawyer Milloy, depending on Chancellor's availability.

NFC West: Injury situations that matter

September, 14, 2011
9/14/11
6:25
PM ET
Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals came through their opener without suffering any crushing injuries. They paid their dues on that front when they lost rookie running back Ryan Williams to a season-ending knee injury during preseason. That injury affected their depth at running back -- depth that took another hit when utility back and return specialist LaRod Stephens-Howling suffered a hand contusion in Week 1. Stephens-Howling did not practice Wednesday. An injury to a running back's hand threatens ball security, so this is an injury to monitor for Arizona. Stephens-Howling had three carries, one reception and two kickoff returns in the opener. Inside linebacker Daryl Washington (calf), outside linebacker Joey Porter (knee) and tight end Jim Dray (pectoral) also missed practice. Washington is emerging as a front-line defender. Coach Ken Whisenhunt liked what he saw from backup Reggie Walker when Washington was injured Sunday. Free-agent addition Stewart Bradley should provide quality depth and familiarity with the Redskins' offense from his tenure with Philadelphia, but the Cardinals have said he hasn't transitioned to their 3-4 well enough to play just yet.

St. Louis Rams: The Rams take a vastly diminished roster into their second game of the season. First, the positive news. Quarterback Sam Bradford expects to play despite a finger injury. If the injury were serious, the Rams wouldn't have let Bradford throw in practice Wednesday. Bradford did throw, an indication he'll be OK. The team is also getting tight end Michael Hoomanawanui back from a calf injury. Durability remains a big concern for him, but if Hoomanwanui is on the field, the Rams will feel better about the two-tight end packages they've looked forward to using this season. They'll need to rely upon their tight ends more as receivers now after a dislocated elbow knocked out top possession receiver Danny Amendola. The Rams will miss Steven Jackson if a strained quadriceps keeps Jackson from playing, as expected. But backup Cadillac Williams gives them a decent fallback. On defense, the Rams will have to scheme around serious concerns in their secondary after a broken neck sent starting corner Ron Bartell to injured reserve. The other starting corner, Bradley Fletcher, missed practice with a toe injury. The Giants would be wise to spread the field with four wide receivers, just to see how the Rams react.

San Francisco 49ers: Receiver Michael Crabtree's continuing foot issues could lead the team to activate Kyle Williams for the 49ers' game against Dallas in Week 2. Crabtree was in enough pain against Seattle in the opener for the 49ers to take him out of the game in the second half. Crabtree apparently did not suffer a new injury, but his availability over the course of a full game is in question. For the 49ers, it's looking like a good thing Braylon Edwards encountered trouble in Michigan, allegedly making him available to the team at a steep discount. The 49ers also have ample weapons at tight end. They went through camp and the preseason without relying upon Crabtree. They should know how to function normally without him. On defense, free safety Dashon Goldson was back on the practice field Wednesday, but it's unclear whether his knee is ready for game action. The team had already prepared to lose Goldson in free agency, however, so missing him for another game wouldn't seem to set them back too much, particularly with Reggie Smith having returned from injury last week.

Seattle Seahawks: Middle linebacker David Hawthorne was back at practice after missing the opener with a knee injury. Rookie K.J. Wright played well in Hawthorne's absence and could factor as a starting candidate before long. Hawthorne's return restores welcome depth at the very least because he can play more than one linebacker position. Receiver Sidney Rice was limited in practice after a shoulder injury kept him from playing against San Francisco. The team wants to be careful with him, however, so it's no sure thing Rice will make his Seahawks debut in Pittsburgh. Doug Baldwin's emergence and improved play from Golden Tate have improved Seattle's options in the passing game. Adding Rice opposite Mike Williams would dramatically upgrade the team's options, however. On the line, Robert Gallery returned to practice and worked at left guard, with James Carpenter returning to right tackle. That's a good thing for Seattle if Gallery is playing at a high level. If not, shuffling the line again wouldn't accomplish much. Seattle's special teams are diminished after losing fullback Michael Robinson. Cornerback Byron Maxwell, another special-teams contributor, was also injured. Their absence against the 49ers helped Ted Ginn Jr. break two long returns. Losing Robinson in particular hurts.

49ers' Harbaugh breaks from NFL form

September, 12, 2011
9/12/11
2:24
PM ET
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- NFL convention doesn't always line up with Jim Harbaugh's way.

That became clear during Harbaugh's first training camp as coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Instead of relying upon support staff and large digital clocks to divide practice periods, Harbaugh kept the time himself. That allowed him to push the tempo in practice to his liking. Harbaugh also would blow a whistle between periods, replacing the typical NFL air horns.

Harbaugh is also bucking convention with how he schedules his practice week. Most coaches give players Tuesdays off. Harbaugh is making Monday optional for the 49ers. Tuesdays feature team meetings and a walk-through practice, all mandatory.

That means there will be no "victory Monday" announcements giving players the day off following victories. Harbaugh's players will be off Mondays, win or lose, but they'll have to work Tuesdays. Coaches usually spend Tuesdays readying game plans for their Wednesday practices. That will presumably remain the case for the 49ers. I'll ask Harbaugh during his Monday news conference.

The new scheduling arrangement left the 49ers' locker room nearly deserted Monday when reporters arrived for a one-hour media session. Defensive lineman Will Tukuafu and safety Reggie Smith were there and accessible, as were a few others. Linebacker Patrick Willis and quarterback Alex Smith were there, but both said they would not be available until Wednesday.

Harbaugh's media session is scheduled for noon PT.

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