NFC West: Ross Tucker

NEW ORLEANS -- The Super Bowl isn't the only draw in New Orleans this week.

Pro Football Hall of Fame voting takes place Saturday. Ross Tucker and I took an insider's look at the voting process during a special edition of the Football Today podcast from New Orleans.

It was great getting together with Ross to tape the podcast from Radio Row. Thanks to Jay Soderberg for the production work.

Ross and I covered the game in detail and debated which team was most likely to win. He's leaning toward the Ravens and buying into the "team of destiny" idea. I feel as though the Ravens are the best story, but the 49ers have the better team.

We're hearing a lot about Ray Lewis, and rightfully so, but I think that's distracting us from things that matter more. The two best inside linebackers in this game play for the 49ers -- NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis -- but Lewis gets more attention than either combined. Likewise, there's much talk about how well Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is playing, and rightfully so, but Colin Kaepernick has been as good or better by important measures.

Tucker on Steve Keim: 'I love this hire'

January, 10, 2013
Just wanted to pass along these thoughts from ESPN's Ross Tucker regarding the Arizona Cardinals' promotion of Steve Keim to general manager:
"I love this hire. Steve Keim is a Pa. guy. He is a football guy. Played O-line at N.C. State. He's just all about football, which is what I like. Rod Graves was more of a money guy. Rod Graves was not really a quote-unquote football guy. I really like this move. I think Keim will do an excellent job."

Tucker played offensive line in the NFL. It's not a big surprise when one offensive lineman sticks up for another. I do think Keim's background as a college offensive lineman does define him in a way that could shape how he approaches the job.

Tucker made these comments as part of the Football Today podcast Wednesday.

Football Today: NFC West Week 17

December, 29, 2012
Ross Tucker, Matt Williamson and Jay Soderberg have made their Week 17 picks as part of the latest Football Today podcast .

I've bookmarked NFC West games for you as follows:
  • 31:12 mark: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers. No surprises here. Tucker would be "stunned" if the Cardinals win this game. This game did not invite much analysis. It's just tough to envision the Cardinals' offense doing enough to win the game, even if the defense scored on interception or fumble returns.
  • 31:58: St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks. Williamson said he'd be tempted to pick the Rams if the game were in St. Louis. He thinks the game will be competitive. Tucker marvels at Seattle being a double-digit favorite. Williamson and Tucker are taking Seattle. Soderberg, a Seahawks skeptic several times earlier this season, makes Seattle his lock of the week.

Tucker, Williamson and Soderberg pick outcomes for all games in Week 17, so check out the full podcast if you get a chance.

Related: Check out ESPN's expert picks for the week. San Francisco and Seattle are unanimous choices this week.

Football Today: NFC West Week 16

December, 22, 2012
Ross Tucker, Matt Williamson and Jay Soderberg have been analyzing games and picking winners each week on their Football Today podcast. Their latest conversation covers Week 16 matchups.

I've been singling out NFC West-related highlights for those interested:
  • 11:04 mark: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks. Tucker thinks Justin Smith's injury is significant enough to factor in the outcome. He also thinks the 49ers are at a disadvantage playing on the road against good teams in back-to-back weeks. Williamson thinks the game means more to Seattle, and that the atmosphere will be tough for San Francisco. He expects a close game, and thinks the 49ers have the slightly better team. Soderberg is taking the 49ers.
  • 29:36: St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tucker is taking the Rams in what he calls a toss-up game, based mostly on how Tampa Bay has been playing lately. Williamson is also taking the Rams. He thinks the Bucs' pass rush and secondary will make inviting targets for Sam Bradford and the Rams' wide receivers. Williamson calls Josh Freeman's fundamentals "junk" and is picking against Tampa Bay more than he is picking for the Rams.
  • 41:55: Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals. Williamson expects a close game. He says the quarterback position was "not awful" for Arizona last week, but he thinks the Bears' defensive line will help Chicago pull off a close victory. Tucker also likes the Bears to win a close one.

Tucker, Williamson and Soderberg pick outcomes for all games in Week 16, so check out the full podcast if you get a chance.

Related: Check out ESPN's expert picks for the week. Seven of 12 analysts are taking the 49ers over the Seahawks. They are split on the Rams-Buccaneers game. All 12 pick the Bears over Arizona.

Football Today: NFC West Week 15

December, 15, 2012
Ross Tucker, Matt Williamson and Jay Soderberg are back with their weekly NFL predictions on the latest Football Today podcast for Week 15.

I've been singling out NFC West-related highlights for those interested. The full podcast is worth a listen as well.
  • 6:35 mark: San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots. Tucker thinks the 49ers must take advantage of the Patriots' slower linebackers. Williamson thinks the Patriots have the best team in the NFL. He called their blowout victory over Houston last week, but he expects a much tougher game for New England in this one. Williamson boils down the game to Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick.
  • 23:25: Minnesota Vikings at St. Louis Rams. Williamson likes the Rams' defense and thinks Jeff Fisher should be coach of the year. He loves the matchup and thinks Adrian Peterson will need 175-plus yards for the Vikings to win the game. Tucker likes the Rams' defensive front seven. He also predicts a pick-six for the Rams' secondary against Christian Ponder. I feel that's a good call.
  • 30:22: Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills. Williamson expects a low-scoring game. He and Tucker are both picking the Seahawks. Tucker is down on the Bills, his former team, after home losses to Tennessee and St. Louis. Soderberg picked against Seattle heading into the Seahawks' 58-0 victory last week. He's taking them this time.
  • 32:35: Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals. Tucker and Williamson are looking forward to Patrick Peterson facing Calvin Johnson. Williamson wonders whether the Cardinals might surprise this week, but he's not betting on it. Soderberg is making the Lions his lock of the week.

Tucker, Williamson and Soderberg pick outcomes for all games in Week 15, so check out the full podcast if you can.

Related: Check out ESPN's expert picks for the week. Seattle and Detroit are unanimous picks this week. Seth Wickersham is the only one picking the 49ers to beat the Patriots. Picks are mixed for the Vikings-Rams game.

Football Today: NFC West Week 13

December, 1, 2012
Good morning, NFC Westers.

I'll be heading to Illinois later Saturday for a Seattle-Chicago matchup with playoff implications for both teams. In the meantime, pull up your preferred device for a few more predictions.

Ross Tucker, Matt Williamson and Jay Soderberg are back with their weekly NFL predictions on the latest Football Today podcast for Week 13.

I've been singling out NFC West-related highlights for those interested. The full podcast is worth a listen as well.
  • 19:47 mark: Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears. Tucker picks the Bears somewhat reluctantly. He thinks the Seahawks' defensive line could pressure Jay Cutler into taking chances against a Seattle secondary that could capitalize. Williamson expects an "extremely low-scoring game" featuring strong play from the Seahawks' Richard Sherman against Brandon Marshall. Williamson uses the word "reluctant" when picking the Bears.
  • 27:14 mark: San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams. Tucker points to the 49ers' play over the past two weeks as evidence San Francisco should beat a Rams team that has been inconsistent. Williamson uses the term "juggernaut" to describe the 49ers. He sees this game as a potential "speed bump" for San Francisco, but he thinks they'll win anyway.
  • 32:37 mark: Arizona Cardinals at New York Jets. Tucker was particularly harsh in evaluating Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley for throwing in Week 12 what he considered to be some of the worst passes he's ever seen in the NFL. He's taking the Jets by double digits. Williamson called this the toughest game of the week to predict. He thinks the Cardinals will win the game, but he cannot explain why.

Tucker, Williamson and Soderberg pick outcomes for all games in Week 13, so check out the full podcast if you can.

Related: Check out ESPN's expert picks for the week. Chris Mortensen and Tom Jackson are taking Seattle. Keyshawn Johnson is taking Arizona. Adam Schefter is taking St. Louis.

Football Today: 2012 NFC West Week 12

November, 24, 2012
Ross Tucker, Matt Williamson and Jay Soderberg are back with their weekly NFL predictions on the latest Football Today podcast for Week 12.

I've been singling out NFC West-related highlights for those interested. The full podcast is worth a listen as well.
  • 22:54 mark: Seattle Seahawks at Miami Dolphins. Tucker thinks the Seahawks are improving and that will begin to show more frequently on the road. He's taking Seattle. Williamson lays out the usual disclaimers about West Coast teams playing on the East Coast, but he doesn't think Miami has the weapons to threaten Seattle's defense. Soderberg takes the Dolphins without much elaboration.
  • 30:42 mark: San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints. Williamson has been a strong Colin Kaepernick supporter since the team drafted the quarterback in 2011. He thinks it is "an absolute no-brainer" to start Kaepernick after Kaepernick showed he could handle presnap responsibilities against Chicago. He thinks Kaepernick gives the 49ers' coaching staff the ability to attack the entire field. There is no consensus on which team will win this game.
  • 37:30 mark St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals. Williamson likes Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley as a prospect and thought Lindley lasted longer than anticipated in the draft. However, all three are taking the Rams to win. That was my thought initially, but not after considering how well the Cardinals can play on defense. Take away Danny Amendola from the Rams and Arizona's chances improve.

Tucker, Williamson and Soderberg pick outcomes for all games in Week 12.

Football Today: 2012 NFC West Week 11

November, 16, 2012
Ross Tucker, Matt Williamson and Jay Soderberg are back with their weekly NFL predictions on the latest Football Today podcast for Week 11.

I've been singling out NFC West-related highlights for those interested. The full podcast is worth a listen as well.
  • 16:20 mark: Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons. Williamson likes the Cardinals' matchup against the Falcons' offense, particularly up front. But Arizona's anticipated difficulties protecting the passer in a domed stadium on the road raises obvious concerns. Williamson and Tucker are not predicting Falcons blowouts.
  • 24:07: New York Jets at St. Louis Rams. Williamson thinks the Rams' defense can hold the Jets in the 10-point range. He also thinks Jets corner Antonio Cromartie, though outstanding, doesn't match up well with Danny Amendola. The Rams' offense impressed Tucker at San Francisco.
  • 35:13: Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers. Tucker likes the Bears for the consistency of their defense. He doesn't like the way San Francisco's defense played against the Rams. Williamson thinks the Bears' backup quarterback, Jason Campbell, can avoid turnovers. He can't wait to see the 49ers' offensive line against the Bears' defensive front, but he thinks Chicago's D-line has the quickness to give San Francisco problems.

Tucker, Williamson and Soderberg pick outcomes for all games in Week 11.

Football Today: 2012 NFC West Week 10

November, 9, 2012
Ross Tucker, Matt Williamson and Jay Soderberg are back with their weekly NFL predictions on the latest Football Today podcast for Week 10.

I've been singling out NFC West-related highlights for those interested. The full podcast is worth a listen as well. I appreciated Tucker's thoughts on players putting family before football when it comes to the births of their children. Williamson had a different take.
  • 14:45 mark: New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks. Tucker thinks the Jets could turn to Tim Tebow by halftime of this game. Williamson mocks Tucker and then says the Jets will fail to score more than 10 points. He's making this game his lock of the week. Soderberg points out some notes about the Jets containing rookie quarterbacks, but will that be enough to sway his pick?
  • 31:02: St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers. Niners fans will probably like this segment better than Rams fans will like it. Tucker, who does the Rams' preseason TV broadcasts, didn't like what he saw from the Rams in London. What does it mean for the rest of the season?

Tucker, Williamson and Soderberg pick outcomes for all games in Week 10. I'll be back with my NFC West picks in a bit.

Football Today: 2012 NFC West Week 9

November, 3, 2012
Ross Tucker, Matt Williamson and Jay Soderberg are back with their weekly NFL predictions on the latest Football Today podcast for Week 9.
  • 18:35 mark: Arizona Cardinals at Green Bay Packers. Tucker make this game his lock of the week and said, "If Alex Smith completed that many passes and played that well against Arizona on the road, what do you think Aaron Rodgers is going to do at home?" Not a lot of resistance from Williamson or Soderberg on this one.
  • 33:50: Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks. All three pick Seattle to win at home. Williamson loves the Seahawks' defense and notes that Russell Wilson is improving rapidly. Again, not much debate.

So much unanimity invites the reminder about nothing being certain from week to week in the NFL. I did pick the Packers and Seahawks as well, however.

Football Today: 2012 NFC West Week 8

October, 28, 2012
Ross Tucker, Matt Williamson and Jay Soderberg are back with their weekly NFL predictions on the latest Football Today podcast for Week 8.
  • 19:50 mark: Williamson calls the Seattle Seahawks "far superior" to the Detroit Lions this season. He thinks Seattle can do enough offensively to win the game. Soderberg notes that Russell Wilson has the 31st-ranked Total QBR on the road this season, while Matthew Stafford has been quite strong at home. Tucker is taking Seattle.
  • 24:40: St. Louis Rams receiver Chris Givens gives the team a chance to make big plays against the Patriots' pass defense. Williamson thinks Brandon Lloyd needs to step up for the Patriots. He expects a close game and favors the Patriots' experience for playing in an overseas game. Soderberg and Williamson mock Tucker for liking the Rams.
  • 34:52: Williamson expects San Francisco's pass rush to overwhelm the Cardinals, allowing the 49ers to take control in the second half Monday night. He expects a close game, but one the 49ers should win because, in his view, they're simply better.

Enjoy Week 8.

Football Today: 2012 NFC West Week 7

October, 20, 2012
Ross Tucker, Matt Williamson and Jay Soderberg are back with their weekly NFL predictions. This time, they've also got quite a few thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 13-6 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night.

Their Football Today podcast from Friday begins with Seahawks-49ers thoughts.
  • 10:21 mark: Williamson doesn't get much resistance when he suggests the Cardinals will continue their "slide back to Earth" following a 4-0 start to the season. All three are picking the Minnesota Vikings against Arizona, largely because of venue.
  • 26:40: The St. Louis Rams get respect from Williamson and Tucker, but does either man pick them against Green Bay? Williamson says he's making his pick reluctantly.

As usual for Fridays, Ross, Matt and Jay run through all the games. They offer injury updates and thoughts on what might happen. I've singled out time stamps for NFC West-related conversations in case you're in a hurry.
The most recent Football Today podcast with Ross Tucker and Matt Williamson takes an in-depth, balanced look at the Seattle Seahawks' thinking in the 2011 NFL draft.

Tucker and Williamson offer points and counterpoints as to the Seahawks' decision to select Alabama tackle James Carpenter with the 25th overall choice. I'll provide a transcript covering this portion of the discussion, followed by some thoughts in conclusion.

[+] EnlargeJames Carpenter
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireJames Carpenter gives the Seahawks another physical lineman to use in their offensive scheme.
The conversation began with Tucker noting that he had predicted Carpenter as a first-round selection based on what he was hearing from offensive line coaches.
Ross Tucker: "I talked to two teams that both really, really liked him and both said they would be surprised if he didn’t go late first round. ... A lot of people really like him. He is very physical. They think he can play four different positions. Both guards and both tackles. Played at Alabama. High level of competition. Played for Joe Pendry, who was, ironically enough, my offensive line coach my rookie year with the Washington Redskins. And evidently, Joe Pendry really talked him up to people.

"This may surprise you, but I’m not typically a big fan of drafting offensive linemen high. So, I don’t love the pick because I think you can get a guy in the third, fourth round that maybe you train him for a year or maybe even not and maybe he goes in there and plays well. Like what Marshal Yanda did with the Ravens when they took him in the third round. I think you can get good offensive linemen in the third and fourth round. And so I’m not enamored with what they did with Carpenter and I’m really not enamored with what they did getting John Moffitt in the third round. I think Moffitt is a tough guy. He looks like he is guy was willing to be physical. But I think they could get comparable players lower."

Matt Williamson: "I am a believer that you can get by with mediocre offensive line talent. They don’t have to be Orlando Pace in terms of physical abilities if you are tough and you are smart. You have to have those two attributes. A lot of those guys in turn can play multiple positions. But I can’t be real, real critical of this pick, either, because their line was so bad. They used a first-round pick on Russell Okung, who I love, at left tackle last year. Now they have a set of bookends.

"They had so many needs, they could have went in a lot of directions. A guy like Jimmy Smith would have been a really good pick. They need a lot of things in Seattle, but right tackle was certainly one of them. I don’t think it was a reach. Obviously, they are trying to get to be very, very physical. Their two offensive line selections suggest they want to run the football, they want to be a more physical football team than who they go up against. I can’t be real critical of it, although I think their draft in general was pretty blah."

Ross Tucker: "And that is the one thing I always say about the draft: Why do you think people were appalled by that pick? I’ll tell you why. Because none of them had ever seen any mock draft, James Carpenter going in the first round. If they had taken Gabe Carimi, I don’t think people would have been that appalled by it. They would go, 'OK, Gabe Carimi from Wisconsin, good player, first-round pick, I’m glad we got him.' Or if James Carpenter had been listed in a bunch of mock drafts as going at going 17 and 19. So much of what people think of your draft is based on their perceptions before the draft, which might be completely wrong."

This conversation captures the debate perfectly. Drafting two offensive linemen made great sense for the Seahawks based on their priorities and needs, but it's fair to ask whether they overvalued right tackle and guard, which qualify as non-premium positions.

The same questions apply to the San Francisco 49ers, who used 2010 first-round choices for a right tackle (Anthony Davis) and left guard (Mike Iupati), and also to the St. Louis Rams, who used the second overall choice of the 2009 draft for a right tackle (Jason Smith). The Arizona Cardinals' Levi Brown, chosen fifth overall in 2007, played right tackle until last season.

In the end, teams have no reason to regret selecting such players early if their offensive lines perform at a high level for an extended period.
Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune says 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky appears close to taking the same job with San Diego after interviewing with Arizona and Dallas. This news affects the Cardinals more than it affects the 49ers. We already knew Manusky was likely to leave the 49ers after Jim Harbaugh's hiring. We do not yet know how the Cardinals plan to fill their vacancy at defensive coordinator after firing Bill Davis. Reports have suggested Pittsburgh's Keith Butler, a person the Cardinals pursued for the job in 2009, might be off-limits. Do the Cardinals have a viable plan beyond Manusky and Butler? It's too early to answer that question, but not too early to ask it. The team hired from within when coach Ken Whisenhunt fired previous defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic expects no significant changes to the Cardinals' offensive staff this offseason. Somers: "Whisenhunt clearly doesn't think changing his offensive staff is warranted. I look for him to turn more of the play calling duties, perhaps all of it, to passing game coordinator Mike Miller next year. I think that will be the only significant change, unless one of his position coaches gets an offer he can't pass up."

Darren Urban of says the team has re-signed fullback Charles Ali.

Also from Urban: a look at plays that defined the 2010 season for Arizona. Urban: "The quarterback shuffle clearly became a major storyline of the season. The first imprint came in San Diego. With the Cards struggling on both sides of the ball and trailing 21-7 (with a Kerry Rhodes fumble return the only Arizona score), Anderson threw an interception returned by linebacker Shaun Phillips 31 yards for a touchdown. When the Cards got the ball back moments later, it was rookie Max Hall – who had briefly played at the end of the Atlanta loss – getting his first significant playing time. It turned into his first start the following week, and from that point on, Hall, Anderson and rookie John Skelton all received their own chunk of time in the starting lineup."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with ESPN's Trent Dilfer for thoughts on Matt Hasselbeck's prospects at Chicago. Dilfer: "If you do what he thinks you’re going to do, and he has any time in the pocket whatsoever, he’s going to slice and dice you. That’s well known throughout the league. I was shocked that the Saints didn’t change things up on him more. They know that about him. And I’m just moving forward to this Bears’ game -- same thing. And I went back and watched the Week 6 matchup -- and I know very little carries over from earlier in the season, I get all of that -- but he was so comfortable with what he was looking at in that game, too. ... Rod Marinelli has to give him some change-ups, especially in the first quarter to occupy some space in his brain. If his brain isn’t cluttered, look for Matthew to deal in this game as well."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seattle linebacker Will Herring, who can't recall quite when he suffered a broken wrist in the wild-card game against New Orleans.

Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times puts Marshawn Lynch's run in perspective by ranking 10 moments in Seattle sports history. Condotta: "The most memorable moment of the first era of Seahawks football might have been an a unlikely play from a most likely source -- a hit by Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent on Denver DB Mike Harden on Dec. 11, 1988. Harden had earlier in the season delivered an illegal hit on Largent that drew a $5,000 fine in a Seahawks loss in Denver. A few months later, when Harden picked off a pass, Largent got his revenge, forcing a fumble with a hard shoulder-first hit that leveled Harden. Better yet, Largent got the recovery as Seattle earned a key victory on its way to its first division title."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times takes a step-by-step look at Lynch's run.

Also from Condotta and O'Neil: Seahawks notes, including one on Raheem Brock's contributions to the Seattle pass rush.

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says Russell Okung hasn't been healthy all season. Kelley: "Drafting Okung was the right call. But it seems he's lived a haunted life since draft day. Because he held out, he missed the early days of camp, the important tutoring and technique days before the games began. Then he injured his right ankle in August and missed the first three regular-season games. Then he injured the other ankle in his third NFL start. When he left the practice field Thursday, Okung still noticeably was favoring his left ankle."

Ben Malcolmson of looks at ways the team will stay warm and hydrated in cold conditions at Soldier Field. Malcolmson: "More than 3,000 extra pounds of equipment is being transported to Chicago, raising the cargo load from 14,000 pounds to 17,000 pounds. Besides the suspected winter gear, the equipment department is also packing battery-heated jackets and gloves, cases of hand and foot warmers and enough thermal gear to suit up the traveling party of more than 130 players and staff."

Rod Mar of offers photos from practice Thursday.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams general manager Billy Devaney gives outgoing offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur credit for helping to develop quarterback Sam Bradford. Devaney: "He played a huge part, on and off the field. He helped Sam through the trials and tribulations that a rookie quarterback goes through, dealing with a lot of issues. And then obviously, with the on-field stuff, Pat was a tremendous asset. I think Sam would be the first to tell you what a huge part Pat played in his development."

Also from Thomas: What happens next for the Rams? Thomas: "The two names most commonly mentioned as possible replacements are former Denver head coach Josh McDaniels and former Minnesota head coach Brad Childress. Both were fired in the 2010 regular season, and both have backgrounds in offense. McDaniels already has been interviewed by Minnesota for the offensive coordinator job there; Childress is headed to Miami to interview for the same position there, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Childress is one of Spagnuolo's best friends in the business; they worked together for several years on Reid's staff in Philadelphia. Childress would run a version of the West Coast scheme. McDaniels' background is different. The former Bill Belichick protégé in New England favors a more wide-open passing game with more downfield throws. Spagnuolo didn't talk specifics about candidates Thursday."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ranks Ndamukong Suh and Maurkice Pouncey as the top two rookies for 2010, ahead of Bradford. Bradford, through the nature of his position, had a greater impact on his team than Suh or Pouncey. Suh and Pouncey were better at their positions. It then comes down to criteria for the award. Miklasz: "Bradford is the most valuable rookie in the league, because he had more impact in transforming a franchise than any player that entered the NFL in 2010. There is absolutely no question about that. I don't know if any NFL player was more valuable -- when we consider off-field impact -- than Bradford this season. But again, if we're limiting the discussion to on-field performance, I have no problem with Suh getting the honor."

Jeff Gordon of says Shurmur's hiring in Cleveland comes as Rams fans complained about the offense's approach. Ross Tucker: "It's so easy in hindsight to blame a play-caller for a certain play because it didn't work. That's always in hindsight. There are a lot of good plays where it was a horrible play call but the defense just screwed up. And vice-versa. There's some great play calls but an offensive lineman misses a block or does this . . . and it doesn't work either. I've never been a big guy second-guessing play-callers or offensive coordinators. There's really only about three, maybe four fan bases in the NFL that really like their offensive coordinator. Think about this, Sean Payton, of the Saints. People like Sean Payton. Then he has that handoff to Julius Jones on fourth and one and now people are criticizing him."

Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis offers names of potential candidates to replace Shurmur. John Ramsdell, Bill Musgrave, Jim Zorn and Chris Palmer are on his list. Stull: "Ramsdell helped in the development of Kurt Warner and also helped Marc Bulger to one of his career best years in 2004. Since leaving the Rams, he has been the quarterbacks coach in San Diego, where he has developed Philip Rivers. Ramsdell could be in demand elsewhere, as his name has come up as a possibility to join Ron Rivera in Carolina. One other note, Ramsdell graduated from Springfield College -- same as Steve Spagnuolo."

Matt Maiocco of says during a chat that he doesn't see Donovan McNabb as a good fit for the 49ers. Maiocco: "Mike Shanahan had him for less than a year and decided he wanted no part of him. And he runs the West Coast system. Is McNabb going to work with a young QB? If the 49ers get a guy in the draft they think is their future, that’ll influence which vet they pursue — a short-term fix (Matt Hasselbeck?) or long-term solution (Kevin Kolb?)."

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers are closer to putting together a staff now that Stanford has named a head coach.

More from Maiocco: Nate Clements will not be back under terms of his current contract. Clements' salary moves past $7 million in 2011. Maiocco: "The 49ers are expected to approach Clements in the next six weeks to negotiate a new deal. If the sides are unable to reach an agreement, the 49ers would release Clements -- either before the collective bargaining agreement expires on March 3 or after the new CBA is agreed upon."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee provides updates on the 49ers' coaching staff. Barrows: "Tight ends coach Pete Hoener, a favorite of tight end Vernon Davis, interviewed with the Redskins this week, according to a team source."

On the air: Seahawks in Week 13

December, 1, 2010
Chris Rose, Ross Tucker and Jaime Maggio get the call for Fox when the Seattle Seahawks face the Carolina Panthers at Qwest Field in Week 13. Kickoff is at 4:15 p.m. ET.

Fox generally has seven crews. The network is carrying eight games this week, however. The Carolina-Seattle game is drawing the auxiliary crew.

CBS has eight crews. Fox has seven. The networks rank their crews, with higher-ranked ones drawing more attractive assignments such as Super Bowls, playoff games and marquee matchups.

Earlier: 2008, 2009.