NFC West: Rick Courtright
Also from Thomas: The Rams might relocate training camp because coach Steve Spagnuolo likes getting away in an effort to build camaraderie. The team has looked at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, located about 100 miles from St. Louis in Rolla, Mo. Thomas: "Missouri S&T had not come up in discussions of possible training camp sites until now. Spagnuolo and Bruce Warwick -- the Rams' assistant to the head coach for football operations -- have toured the facility. A follow-up meeting was canceled because of bad weather. Missouri S&T's football team, the Miners, competes as an independent in Division II of the NCAA. By NFL standards, the Miners' facilities are said to be so-so. Several grass fields are available but there is not an artificial turf field. The football stadium, Allgood-Bailey Stadium, seats 8,000 and also has a grass surface. Without an artificial turf field, the Rams would be more vulnerable to rain during training camp. And the Miners have a small indoor facility, 40 yards by 40 yards."
Ben Malcolmson of seahawks.com provides a general update on what's happening around the facility during a relatively quiet time during the offseason. Malcolmson: "Although strength coaches aren’t permitted to direct strength and conditioning sessions, they are on hand to monitor for safety and watch over the voluntary player workouts." Strength coach Chris Carlisle says players are working out routinely.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the team heads toward the draft and potential free agency hoping to upgrade its offensive line. Farnsworth: "Because the Seahawks are selecting 25th, the top candidates -- Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo and USC tackle Tyron Smith -- are expected to be gone by the time they make their first pick. But it definitely helps that the O-line group is what senior personnel executive Scot McCloughan calls the best he has seen in his 16 years in the NFL; so good that as many as eight could go in the first round."
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with draft analyst Rob Rang for thoughts on receivers who might interest Seattle. Rang: "Wide receiver is an area of concern; they need another playmaker. But having invested the picks they have in back-to-back years in Deon Butler and Golden Tate, you’ve got to expect that these guys are going to start to contribute. To me, with the other needs on this team, to invest another pick at the receiver position is almost like a luxury pick at this point, especially considering they don’t have a third-round pick."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt likes the new structure of his coaching staff. Somers: "With [Mike] Miller's promotion, Whisenhunt's staff is set for this season, barring unforeseen developments. Ray Horton, the Steelers secondary coach, was hired as defensive coordinator. Louie Cioffi, the assistant secondary coach with the Bengals, was hired as defensive backs coach, and former Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend was hired as assistant secondary coach. Former defensive coordinator Bill Davis, secondary coach Donnie Henderson and assistant secondary coach Rick Courtright were not retained."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com casts Miller's promotion to offensive coordinator as part of a progression. Urban: "Coach Ken Whisenhunt had said after the season he expected to consider handing playcalling duties to Miller full-time, and the promotion seemingly would be a precursor."
Also from Urban: Miller rolled with Whisenhunt's joke about the head coach calling only the good plays. Miller: "He’s the head coach, so, what do they say? 'It’s good to be king.'"
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers' Frank Gore plans to resume running Feb. 28 after recovering from a hip injury suffered last season. Gore: "I will be better. I will take it one day at a time. I'm just happy to say that my injury healed perfectly. And right now I'm trying to get some strength, and in another week start running."
Also from Maiocco: The 49ers' coaches expect to have no contact with players during a lockout, and they would not even send home written materials, including a playbook, with them under those circumstances. The Rams' Bradford previously said he expected to have playbook in hand this offseason, no matter what, but Bradford was not speaking definitively on the matter. I'm checking on what is permitted. Coach Jim Harbaugh has repeatedly discussed meeting with quarterback Alex Smith multiple times this offseason.
David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers special teams coach Brad Seely also expects no contact with players before March 14 or until a labor agreement is in place, whichever comes later.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee checks in with 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio for thoughts on whether the 49ers need a top cornerback, a top pass-rusher or both, and in what order. Barrows: "Asked about his pass-rushers, it was interesting that Fangio cited Ahmad Brooks -- 'He played some for them last year and showed some potential' -- before starter Parys Haralson." Fangio on Haralson: "Obviously, he's a guy that has some ability, but he hasn't done it to this point. And we have to figure out why he hasn't done it on a consistent basis. Can he or can't he?"
Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa-Press Democrat looks at how labor uncertainty affects the 49ers.
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman plans to dig up videos showing former coach Bill Walsh installing his offense.
Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat looks at quarterbacks drafted recently and where NFL teams selected them.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with general manager John Schneider for thoughts on the Super Bowl. Schneider left the Packers after the 2009 season. Schneider: "I’m really excited for everybody there. I’ve compared the people in Green Bay’s building in a very similar manner to the people here. As soon as you walk into the building here, you can tell there are just really good people and a vibe in the building." Packers GM Ted Thompson left the Seahawks one year before they appeared in a Super Bowl.
Mike Salk and Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle examine four Seattle players facing uncertain futures. On Aaron Curry: "Thirty games into his professional career it is hard to find areas of real growth and development in Curry’s game. He struggles to play in space, change direction, redirect receivers, recognize schemes and concepts, and play with any level of anticipation. He can maul a tight end at the point of attack, and use his physical attributes in a straight line bull rush, but there are many linebackers across the league that can perform those duties."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' new defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, emphasized pressure as a top priority. Horton: "I'm here to say right now, the first call is going to be a blitz. No question about it."
Also from Somers: Horton made a positive first impression. Somers: "While this is his first job as coordinator, Horton handled his introductory news conference like he had been there before. He was direct, succinct and approachable. I watched him afterward conduct one-on-one interviews with local television stations. While he repeated the same message -- pressure, pressure and more pressure -- he gave each one a little something different. He remembered every interviewer's name and took the time to introduce himself to an intern. Does that stuff matter? Maybe not. But I have had the chance to interview Horton three times over the past week, twice at the Super Bowl, and was impressed each time by his intelligence and ability to convey his message."
Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer says Bengals assistant Louis Cioffi will be joining Horton on the Cardinals' staff. Horton and Cioffi coached together on the Bengals. Reedy: "Cioffi, 37, joined the Bengals in 1997 as a defensive assistant. Horton was hired as defensive backs the same year and coached five seasons here. Horton was also with the Bengals are six seasons as a player and was part of the ’88 team that advanced to Super Bowl XXIII."
Mike Jurecki of XTRA910 radio says the Cardinals let go secondary coaches Donnie Henderson and Rick Courtright.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau for thoughts on Horton. LeBeau: "There was never question in my mind he is ready to be a coordinator. He understands the A's to the Z's of defensive football and he’s an extremely bright man. He had a great rapport with the players. He was one of those players who you recognize almost instantly was going to make a great coach."
Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asks colleagues whether Mike Karney's recent release means the Rams are shifting away from Steven Jackson toward Sam Bradford. Jim Thomas: "Karney already was being phased out late in the 2010 season when he didn’t dress for four games. But there’s no doubt losing Karney isn’t great news for Jackson. It’s another sign that the offense is being tilted more toward Bradford than Jackson." True fullbacks are having a harder time finding their way onto the field, particularly when they do not contribute much on special teams. Devoting a roster spot to Karney was increasingly difficult last season even though the Rams' offense did value the fullback in certain personnel groupings.
Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman checks in with Rams quarterback Sam Bradford for thoughts on learning a new offense. Bradford was attending an Oklahoma basketball game. Bradford on a potential lockout: "I think it hampers me and my teammates as much as we let it. Even though there could be a lockout, there could be a strike, we’re gonna have to get together. I think we all understand the importance of the offseason. It’s definitely way too important to let it go by without us being together."
It's pretty clear the Cardinals do more with less than the other teams in the division. They have fewer assistants than the other teams in the NFC West.
In most cases, I have recreated official titles for each assistant coach. That explains why the Cardinals have no offensive coordinator listed (Russ Grimm coordinates the running game, Mike Miller coordinates the passing game and Ken Whisenhunt calls the plays). I did not create a special category for 49ers receivers coach Jerry Sullivan (he also carries the title senior assistant). Seattle's Carroll is also executive vice president. I did not create an extra category to reflect that title.
I have listed no offensive line coach for the Cardinals. Grimm handles those duties. The 49ers do not list a defensive quality control coach, but clearly someone must break down the upcoming opponents' offensive video (I am checking to see which assistant handles those duties). Update: Outside linebackers coach Jason Tarver handles those duties. Also, I updated the chart to reflect Curtis Modkins' departure from the Cardinals to become Buffalo's offensive coordinator. Ray Brown is the new assistant offensive line coach in San Francisco.
The Rams are expected to hire a receivers coach after Charlie Baggett left. They could hire an assistant offensive line coach to replace Art Valero, who took the same job with Seattle. The 49ers might need to find a new offensive quality-control coach (Shane Day is interviewing with the Bears to coach quarterbacks for Mike Martz).
The Rams and Seahawks list special assistants to the head coach. These are largely administrative positions.
NFC West coaching staffs are mostly complete after the Rams assigned titles to Frank Leonard, Paul Ferraro, Andre Curtis and Clayton Lopez.
The chart shows which coaches retained their titles from the end of last season (gray shading) and which coaches are new to their current roles (yellow shading). The Cardinals could face additional changes if they fill vacancies from within.
All four offensive line coaches remain in their roles from last season (subject to change if Russ Grimm becomes the Cardinals' offensive coordinator). Every other core staff position features at least one change in the division.
The 49ers and Rams have the largest staffs with 20 members apiece, counting head coaches. The Seahawks reduced to 18 after moving assistant offensive line coach Mike DeBord to tight ends and eliminating the job of assistant special teams coach John Jamison. The Cardinals have 13 coaches, a number that figures to rise by at least three.
The 49ers and Rams have full-time administrative assistants assigned to their head coaches. The Cardinals do not formally list an assistant strength and conditioning coach, although Pete Alosi does help John Lott in that area.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
NFC West coaching staffs are mostly complete. The chart provides a general overview showing which coaches are primarily overseeing key areas.
Some coaches have fancy titles. I'll list those below. Including those titles in the chart would have served them but not us.
The 49ers have two coaches assigned to linebackers and two assigned to the secondary:
- Jason Tarver is a defensive assistant/outside linebackers. Vantz Singletary is coaching inside linebackers. Coach Mike Singletary and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky are former NFL linebackers, so the 49ers have that position covered.
- Vance Joseph and Johnnie Lynn are both listed as secondary coaches.
The Rams have not named coaches at tight
end, linebacker or secondary. However, they have hired Andre Curtis and Paul Ferraro as unspecified defensive assistants. They have also hired Frank Leonard as an unspecified offensive assistant.
The Seahawks and Cardinals do not list administrative assistants as part of their staffs. Bill Nayes and Bruce Warwick fill those spots for the 49ers and Rams, respectively.
The following team-by-team list includes all the fancy titles, plus some coaches who did not appear on the chart: