NFC West: Sean Taylor
That makes sense. McCloughan appears on his way out and it's unrealistic to bring in someone from the outside before the draft, which begins April 22. Baalke, as director of player personnel, ranks second to McCloughan in the 49ers' scouting department. He's the natural choice to head up the draft room this year.
That doesn't necessarily mean Baalke will be the primary decision maker. Coach Mike Singletary will play a role. President Jed York and executive vice president Paraag Marathe will presumably be involved. But I still wanted know about Baalke's background in personnel, leading to the latest item in my "GM profiling" series.
I've put together a chart showing how many players Baalke's teams have drafted by position and round. Another chart breaks out his teams' first-round choices. This file shows all 92 players his teams have drafted, breaking down the information from multiple angles. Baalke didn't necessarily directly influence or even agree with each of these decisions, but the information can still provide some perspective.
Baalke has been with the Jets (1998-2000), Redskins (2001-2004) and 49ers (2005-present). A few observations:
- Each of his teams has selected a quarterback in the first round (Chad Pennington, Patrick Ramsey and Alex Smith).
- Five of the seven players his teams have drafted among the first 13 overall choices have appeared in at least one Pro Bowl.
- None of his teams has selected a linebacker in the second through fourth rounds.
- His teams have never drafted a running back in the first round.
- His teams have never drafted quarterbacks in the second, third or sixth rounds.
- His teams have never drafted a punter or kicker.
- His teams have drafted 17 offensive linemen, but only one -- Joe Staley -- in the first round.
Note: This item was updated to reflect information from the 2008 and 2009 drafts. The overall trends held. Thanks to KenAdamsJr for noticing.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Justin from Lexington, Ky., writes: I don't think that the oft-overlooked 49ers and their fantastic head coach have gotten nearly enough credit for the dramatic turn. As we can clearly see now the problem with the niners was not a personnel issue at all, but merely a motivation issue for the talent has not changed and the record has turned around drastically.
Mike Nolan and personnel manager Scot McCloughan need to be commended for their fantastic evaluation of the draft and the free agent pool around which this team was built. Nolan should not be exiled from football altogether, but merely the head coaching ranks. Let's face it, he clearly was not the answer in that department. His next move should be to use his special talent evaluation skills and maybe look into becoming player personel manager perhaps for the Lions, God knows they need the help in that department.
In conclusion I would just like to say Thank You to Mike Nolan for two things. First thank you for the talent you have assembled and rebuilding the greatest franchise in NFL history and Second thank you for your tutelage and the hand it played in the development of one of the up and coming head coaches in the NFL, Mike Singletary. Thank you GO NINERS
Mike Sando: My take would diverge from your take. The team played hard for Mike Nolan, I think. The team did not play smart under Mike Nolan. The 49ers have become a smarter team in how they use their personnel. They still aren't a top team, but they are less apt to blow leads or suffer other self-inflicted calamities.
The personnel in San Francisco isn't great. It's looking better now that the 49ers are using it more wisely. Shaun Hill is also playing smartly for the most part. He's been among the NFL's best on third down, too, and that makes a huge difference across offense and defense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Seahawks' victory over the Rams leaves St. Louis in the lead for the No. 2 overall choice in the 2009 draft.
The next two weeks will probably affect the eventual order at the top of the draft, but here's how the top 10 would shake out at present, according to the league:
1. Detroit (0-14)
2. St. Louis (2-12): The last five players drafted second overall were Chris Long (Rams), Calvin Johnson (Lions), Reggie Bush (Saints), Ronnie Brown (Dolphins) and Robert Gallery (Raiders).
3. Kansas City (2-12)
4. Cincinnati (2-11-1)
5. Seattle (3-11). The last five players drafted fifth overall were Glenn Dorsey (Chiefs), Levi Brown (Cardinals), A.J. Hawk (Packers), Cadillac Williams (Bucs) and Sean Taylor (Redskins).
6. Oakland (3-11)
7. Cleveland (4-9)
8. San Francisco (5-9): The last five players drafted eighth overall were Derrick Harvey (Jaguars), Jamaal Anderson (Falcons), Donte Whitner (Bills), Antrel Rolle (Cardinals) and DeAngelo Hall (Falcons).
9. Jacksonville (5-9)
10. Green Bay (5-9)
The Rams would be picking second overall for the second year in a row. They've addressed the defensive line early in recent drafts. This might be time to help the offensive line. Orlando Pace certainly worked out well for them as an early pick.
The 49ers last picked among the top eight when they selected tight end Vernon Davis sixth overall in 2006.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Dave from parts unknown writes: Mike, as a Cardinals fan, I think I need to point out a few statistics to explain why most of us are not optimistic about this game. The cardinals have not won a game in EST since Nov. 7, 2004 at Miami (24-23) and the dolphins were 4-12 that year. The cardinals have not won a cold weather game since Sunday, November 28, 1999 against the New York Giants. If they win this game, even against a terrible Eagles team, I might start to believe.
Mike Sando: Some Cardinals fans seem to be skittish about committing too much to the cause emotionally. I've encountered among some fans a deep-seated mistrust lined with cynicism and hardened by years of broken promises. It's toxic.
The only way this season unravels for Arizona is if something happens to Kurt Warner. Arizona is not unique that way. You think the Colts are a playoff team without Peyton Manning? The Cowboys without Tony Romo?
This Cardinals team is different by definition. How many 7-4 Cardinals teams have lost on the East Coast or anywhere? This is new territory. This is a new team even if the Eagles win Thursday night. Hopefully you can enjoy the moment a little.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch calls Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck a "treat" on media conference calls. Thomas follows an item on Seattle's receivers with Hasselbeck's observations on the Rams' defensive problems. Hasselbeck thinks the Rams get in trouble trying to disguise coverages. Of course, Hasselbeck would probably prefer opposing defenses to telegraph their intentions.
Also from Thomas: Dane Looker, suddenly a starting receiver, keeps defying the odds.
More from Thomas: Things have gotten ugly in a hurry at Rams Park, where ownership has already made cryptic statements about jobs being on the line.
Dan Brown of 49ers Hot Read compares Manny Lawson to other first-round picks, with special attention to the fact Lawson was limited to special teams in Week 2.
Also from Brown: Packers coach Mike McCarthy, a former offensive coordinator in San Francisco, never would have played Alex Smith as early as the 49ers played him, but that wasn't his call.
Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers says coach Mike Nolan is being "secretive" about the extent of Jonas Jennings' injury. Barry Sims gets the start at right tackle this week. Jennings has more talent, but Sims has been a more consistent player.
Also from Maiocco: The Lions heap praise on J.T. O'Sullivan.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News Democrat says the Rams are on pace to allow 80 sacks this season. The team record is 59.
Also from Korte: Rams players know the stakes are high, particularly for coach Scott Linehan. Looker says players must step up.
Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle relays Jon Kitna's high praise for O'Sullivan. Kitna: "I've never been around a person who can throw the ball as firmly and as accurately as he can with as quick of a release. He looks like he's in a situation where he'd be lucky to get a 5-yard throw off, and he can uncork a 20-yard throw with some velocity on it."
Also from FitzGerald: An injury update. Also, Nate Clements concedes to making a "mental error" in drawing a 15-yard penalty for celebrating Patrick Willis' touchdown at Seattle.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Kitna absorbed 114 sacks in two seasons under Mike Martz. O'Sullivan is on pace for 96 this season.
Also from Barrows: Jennings has missed 27 starts to injury since signing a lucrative free-agent deal with the 49ers in 2005. Barrows: "Coach Mike Nolan acknowledged Wednesday that it was prudent of general manager Scot McCloughan to acquire Sims. Considering Jennings' injury history, however, it was a no-brainer."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Jim Zorn, who is facing high expectations in his first season with the Redskins.
Also from Somers: Kurt Warner likes to go long on the field, but he isn't looking forward to staying on the East Coast between games.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Antrel Rolle heads to Washington, D.C., this week with late Redskins safety Sean Taylor on his mind. Rolle and Taylor played together at the University of Miami.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times digests Mike Holmgren's thoughts on keeping two kickers. He tries to explain the rationale without necessarily buying into it.
Also from O'Neil: The Seahawks expect to push Koren Robinson onto the field quickly because they essentially have no feasible alternative.
Greg Johns of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Koren Robinson's legs were feeling the strain as the receiver practiced with Seattle for the first time since 2005.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer checks in with former Seahawks kicker Josh Brown, who has become the Rams' top weapon on offense.
Jose Romero of the Seattle Times also has the latest from Brown.
Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian checks in with former Oregon State running back Yvenson Bernard. As a member of the Seahawks' practice squad, Bernard is impersonating another former Oregon State back: Steven Jackson.
John Morgan of Field Gulls takes issue with our analysis on the 49ers' use of their nickel defense. Former 49ers quarterback Trent Dilfer told me he thought it was a great move, and the first-half numbers I analyzed showed Seattle enjoying most of its success from three-receiver personnel groupings. The key, I thought, was that the 49ers were able to force turnovers in the passing game and keep Hasselbeck's completion percentage low.