NFC West: Sherman Smith

Sizing up NFC West coaching staffs

April, 10, 2012
A few notes on NFC West coaching staffs after the St. Louis Rams announced theirs for 2012 in a news release Tuesday:
  • The Rams are not listing suspended defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on their staff. They did not mention him in the news release. They did not list a defensive coordinator. Coach Jeff Fisher and assistant head coach Dave McGinnis will presumably take the lead. Secondary coach Chuck Cecil has also been a coordinator.
  • Williams' son, Blake, coaches the Rams' linebackers.
  • The Cardinals have 3-4 fewer assistants than the other teams in the division. I've noticed that to be the case in recent seasons. Staff sizes can vary. Arizona has one more than the NFL listed for New England heading into the most recent Super Bowl.
  • Every team in the division has an assistant head coach. Two serve as offensive line coaches. Another coaches special teams. Assistant head coaches might earn more money than they otherwise would, but the title does not distinguish them from other assistants in relation to hiring protocol. The title affords no additional protections against losing an assistant to another team, in other words.
  • Paul Boudreau is the Rams' offensive line coach. His son, also named Paul, is assistant special teams coach. They are not Paul Sr. and Paul Jr., however. It's not yet clear how the Rams intend to differentiate between the two. Middle initials?
  • Niners offensive assistant Michael Christianson is also coordinator of football technology.

The chart lists full-time assistants, not interns or administrative assistants. Strength-and-conditioning coaches aren't involved in football strategy, but I have listed them.
Chris McPherson of quotes former NFL general manager Charley Casserly on Kevin Kolb's trade value and which teams would be most interested. Casserly: "Clearly Arizona is at the top of the list, Seattle is a close second ... Arizona was in the playoffs two years ago with a veteran quarterback and they have a Hall of Fame wide receiver in Larry Fitzgerald." McPherson: "Casserly, a two-time Super Bowl-champion general manager, believes that with the NFL Draft now in the rear-view mirror Kolb's trade value has only increased. Casserly believes the Eagles should receive more than a first-round pick for the veteran quarterback." We've gone from wondering whether the Eagles might be trying to pump up Kolb's value through back channels to seeing their website promote the idea openly. I'm not sure how much Kolb's value has increased after six teams selected quarterbacks among the first 36 choices of the recent draft. The market for Kolb has become more defined, but also more limited -- particularly if the Eagles insist upon charging a high price.

Jim Corbett of USA Today takes an in-depth look at the Cardinals, with analysis from former quarterback Kurt Warner. Corbett: "Question is, will normally conservative owner Bill Bidwill dig that deep to get Ken Whisenhunt the best quarterback available in the post-lockout market? One reason to think so is that with Bidwill and his son, Michael, the team president, extending the contracts of Rod Graves and Whisenhunt through 2013, Kevin Kolb would represent a franchise quarterback to grow around."

Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis sizes up the Rams' secondary and considers potential free-agent options at safety. Softli on Quintin Mikell of the Eagles: "A safety that has lost a step despite Pro-Bowl accolades. Might be the most complete safety on my board. He excels both in run support and pass coverage. Good tackler in both open and tight space with collision tackling skills and production. His football instincts put him in position with good coverage skills and he still has range to help corners on edge. His age knocks him down a notch."

Nate Ulrich of checks in with former Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, now coach of the Cleveland Browns. The report says Browns receiver Josh Cribbs is studying the Rams' offense from last season to get a better feel for what awaits once the lockout ends. Shurmur: "The players are curious about what (our new offense is) going to look like, so they go back and look at the place you've been. The players are sports fans. They're fans of the other teams. They know a lot of the players so they communicate behind the scenes quite a bit, and I'm sure that's what's happening."

Clare Farnsworth of passes along the full quote from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell regarding 10 a.m. PT kickoffs for West Coast teams. Goodell: "It’s something that we’re looking at to see how we can address when a team comes back from the West Coast and plays in an early time slot -- 10 o’clock on their clock, if you will. It’s something we try to address as best we can in the scheduling format. ... It’s difficult to do, because we have a lot of factors that go into that scheduling, including the broadcast patterns. But it is something we’ve got to try to find a way to deal with. We’ve been working with the clubs. The Seahawks in particular, and the 49ers, have raised this issue with me. I actually have a memo sitting right here on my desk on that front."

Also from Farnsworth: Seattle running backs coach Sherman Smith meets with teachers.

Matt Maiocco of offers thoughts on Glen Coffee's decision to quit football amid news that Coffee is playing recreational football. Coffee: "A lot of people think that because I quit, I don't like football or I have something against it. It's not like that. As a recreational sport, I still dig it. It's just not what I wanted to do with my life. I just enjoy recreational sports. I figured it would just be another fun thing to do."

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers drafted players based in part on their passion for the game. Coffee's situation came to mind when reading this one. General manager Trent Baalke on receiver Ronald Johnson: "He's very passionate. Everybody we talked to at USC talked about his passion for the game. He lives in the weight room, lives in the building. He has always wanted to be a pro."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee discusses the 49ers' lockout contingency plans. Barrows: "Jim Harbaugh said that the 49ers coaches have created several contingency plans based on how long they have between the end of the lockout and the first regular-season game. He said it ranged from 10 days to several months. Once the lockout is over, the 49ers will roll with one of their plans. Of course, longer is better. New Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has said he needs a minimum of three weeks to prepare his team before full contact begins."

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says leadership appealed to the 49ers when they selected Curtis Holcomb in the seventh round. Holcomb, a cornerback, was a four-time team captain at Florida A&M. Baalke: "You want to talk about wired right? I don’t think anyone in our building had ever heard of that."
Darren Urban of points to one indicator suggesting Matt Leinart should succeed as the Cardinals' starting quarterback. Urban: "The idea? If a guy scored at least a 26 on the infamous Wonderlic exam at the combine, had at least 27 college starts and completed at least 60 percent of his collegiate passes, usually, it means the guy can succeed on the NFL level. Leinart scored a 35 on the Wonderlic. He started 39 games in college. And he completed 64.8 percent of his passes. Check. Check. Check." I think Leinart can succeed in the NFL, but will he? The evidence has been mixed, but we should have a very good idea by midseason unless injuries sideline Leinart first.

John P. Lopez of doesn't mention Leinart during the piece Urban cites. Lopez: "Since 1998, these are some of the NFL quarterbacks who aced all three parts of the Rule of 26-27-60: Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Kyle Orton, Kevin Kolb, Matt Ryan, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Stafford. Meanwhile, among the once highly-touted prospects who failed at least one part of the formula: Ryan Leaf, Joey Harrington, Michael Vick, Akili Smith, Tim Couch, Daunte Culpepper, David Carr, Vince Young and JaMarcus Russell."

The Arizona Republic says Cardinals seventh-round choice Jim Dray has signed his rookie contract. Dray became the first 2010 Cardinals draft choice to sign a contract.

Clare Farnsworth of says fans can begin registering to attend training camp Monday. Farnsworth: "Camp kicks off July 31, and both practices that Saturday will be open – starting at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. There will be 13 other practices open to the public at Virginia Mason Athletic Center and those dates will be announced later."

Also from Farnsworth: Running backs coach Sherman Smith is back with the team that gave him his NFL start. Smith: "Playing pro football, that never was an aspiration of mine. When I went to Miami of Ohio after I graduated from high school, my desire was to be a high school coach and a teacher. That was it. That’s all I knew I wanted to do. That was the plan all along. There was no hesitation when my career was over. I knew what I was going to do."

Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune says the Seahawks were one of the NFL teams to speak with BYU running back Harvey Unga after his workout Thursday. Drew: "Unga's agent, Eric Metz said 20 teams were in attendance and another six teams called in the morning and requested tape from the drills. I noticed these teams there, based on logos on their shirts, caps, etc: Packers, Chiefs, Rams, Colts, Steelers, Eagles, Lions, Bears, Falcons, Saints, Seahawks, Patriots, Buccaneers, Giants, Bengals, Browns and Dolphins. Obviously, I missed a few. I do know that the Panthers, Titans, 49ers, Vikings and Texans were not there, based on what the Packers scout told me."

Matt Maiocco of says Scott McKillop and Navorro Bowman will compete for the No. 2 job behind inside linebacker Takeo Spikes. They should get plenty of practice reps because Spikes, 33, doesn't practice all the time. Veteran Matt Wilhelm provides a safe alternative to his younger competitors. Maiocco: "Bowman is a player who caught the 49ers' eyes with his instinctive style of play. But he learned in the 49ers' offseason program that he first had to learn his role -- and all the adjustments off every play -- before he would be allowed to put those instincts to work. Personnel chief Trent Baalke said Bowman and McKillop made a lot of plays in college. Both are physical players, but Bowman runs better."

Gil Brandt of says the 49ers were one of four teams to send their personnel director to watch Illinois defensive tackle Joshua Brent-Price work out in preparation for the supplemental draft July 15. Brandt: "Despite the humid conditions, Price-Brent had what was described as a very good work out. Price-Brent measured in at 6-foot-1 3/4 and 321 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash twice, each time clocking in at 5.38 seconds. He did 22 reps on the bench press to go with a 29-inch vertical jump. He had an 8-foot, 10-inch broad jump, a 7.71-second three-cone drill and a 4.74-second short shuttle."

Steve Wyche of says Sam Bradford expects to sign with the Rams by training camp. This note was from late June, but I wanted to pass it along as a way to address the subject of rookie contracts. The vast majority of rookies sign in time for training camp, with all but a few others missing only limited practice time. The Rams and Bradford both have incentive to get a deal done in time for camp. Bradford doesn't want to miss valuable practice time. The Rams want him on the field. Both sides would be making a mistake if Bradford were to miss any significant camp time. I would expect a deal to get done on time.
Steve Wyche of quotes Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo as being "very, very hopeful" about re-signing safety Oshiomogho Atogwe. It's pretty clear Atogwe has few options beyond the Rams. Spagnuolo's comments suggest something should get done to keep Atogwe in St. Louis. Wyche: "Atogwe isn't seeking an outrageous salary or guaranteed bonuses, according to a league source, but his desired take still could be too high for teams –- including the Rams -- that are reluctant to pay amid labor uncertainty and a troublesome economic climate."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke has indicated his son, former Missouri basketball player Josh Kroenke, could take over ownership of the Denver Nuggets as the elder Kroenke complies with NFL cross-ownership rules.

Also from Coats: Receivers Dominique Curry and Brandon McRae are trying to earn roster spots at receiver as undrafted free agents.

More from Coats: The toe injury Jason Smith suffered in practice was apparently minor.

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says Kroenke's comments suggest the Rams' minority owner expects the NFL to approve his plans to transfer ownership of his Denver teams to family members.

Brad Biggs of National Football Post says defensive tackle Chris Hovan has agreed to terms with the Rams. Hovan has started 149 games over the last 10 seasons, including all 16 for Tampa Bay last season. This looks like a good depth signing by the Rams. They've now added Hovan and Fred Robbins after deciding to draft Sam Bradford instead of Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy atop the first round.

The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters shows the 49ers' stadium measure gaining approval with 59.61 percent support. The registrar shows 11,231 votes in favor and 7,609 opposed with all 58 precincts reporting. The results are probably even better than the 49ers expected, although support seemed strong throughout.

Matt Maiocco of says the 49ers appear confident about getting a stadium built in Santa Clara even though approval of Measure J assures nothing. Maiocco: "The term sheet that voters approved is non-binding. If Santa Clara and the 49ers do not reach agreement on key terms, negotiations can be terminated without penalty to either side. But the overwhelming support of the stadium by the voters of Santa Clara might signal a strong commitment from the city's side."

Also from Maiocco: Brandon Jones is frustrated by a lack of opportunities during offseason practices. Jones: "But if I show I can make plays, they can't hold me out for too long."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Alex Smith's rapport with Vernon Davis was on display at 49ers practice Tuesday.

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat offers notes from 49ers practice, including one about newly signed offensive lineman Matt Kopa.

Also from Barber: Travis LaBoy got more reps in practice Tuesday.

John Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle offers a report on the 49ers' stadium situation. Wildermuth: "San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has argued that Santa Clara's stadium election does not guarantee that the 49ers will leave the city, which will move ahead with plans for a new stadium site as part of the Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment project. The numbers don't work for a Santa Clara stadium, Newsom said, and when the 49ers realize that, San Francisco's plan will look better and better."

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says Michael Crabtree is benefiting from a full offseason in the 49ers' program.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals guard Deuce Lutui plans to sign the one-year offer Arizona made to him as a restricted free agent. Lutui has no realistic alternatives. Somers: "Lutui is not alone in his disappointment. As of this week, 35 restricted free agents remained unsigned. Lutui is gambling that he will be able to regain his starting spot. The Cardinals acquired two veteran guards this off-season, Alan Faneca and Rex Hadnot. Faneca and Reggie Wells have been starting at the guard positions this spring. Coach Ken Whisenhunt declined comment Tuesday on Lutui's situation." Lutui has only hurt his standing by staying away this offseason.

Also from Somers: The Cardinals are experimenting with combinations in their secondary. Michael Adams, Greg Toler and Trumaine McBride have worked at right cornerback with the starters. Toler was the player Whisenhunt singled out previously as a leading candidate to start.

More from Somers: a pick-by-pick look at the Cardinals' draft choices. On linebacker Daryl Washington: "As billed, he's an excellent athlete who can really run. His challenge is learning the defense and dealing with the complexity of NFL offense. An early guess: Washington plays in pass situations to start the season. If he develops, he'll become the regular starter. That's the way the Cardinals have handled other rookies, including cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and running back Beanie Wells."

Clare Farnsworth of says the Seahawks are looking for ways for rookie Dexter Davis to contribute beyond his initial role as a backup "Leo" linebacker. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley: "He has shown some flashes, and we know he can rush. So if he can play that (strong-side) linebacker spot for us – he’s athletic enough – that would give him another role in addition to being a nickel rusher."

Also from Farnsworth: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has no immediate plans to declare a starting running back.

Agent Marc Lillibridge says the Seahawks have signed defensive end Will Tukuafu.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says running back Leon Washington has switched jersey numbers to 33, an indication former fullback Justin Griffith will not return. offers audio from the 911 call related to Golden Tate's implication in a doughnut-shop incident. The woman making the call identifies herself as one of the night bakers. She was not amused by Tate's antics.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Carroll sounded amused by the doughnut caper. Carroll: "I’m not disappointed in the guy being at a doughnut shop when they’ve got maple bars like Top Pot has. However, under the circumstances I think they were closed, or something like that, or they were trying to close or whatever. So that’s definitely wrong, and we’ve talked about it and addressed it. And he’s most remorseful and all of that. But I do understand the allure of the maple bars."

Also from Williams: Quinton Ganther appeals to the Seahawks as a fullback with some running ability. Ganther played for Seahawks assistant Sherman Smith with the Redskins. Ganther: "I’m one of those guys that will do things that the other guys don’t want to do. You tell me to run down on kickoffs and hit the wedge, and I’ll do it. You tell me to get in there at fullback, that’s what I’ll do because I’m a team player, not a me player."

John Boyle of the Everett Herald quotes Carroll as saying linebacker Leroy Hill has fallen behind by missing offseason practices (at the Seahawks' request). Carroll: "Practice is hugely important. There’s a new system, there’s a whole new approach to doing things. This certainly hinders his opportunity without question. The other guys have rocketed ahead with their chances and taken advantage of that, and that’s just part of the competition. You do what you can with your opportunities. So he’s going to have to battle back if we can get him back out here. We’ll see when the time comes."
The Arizona Republic says Darnell Dockett's promise to shower for a webcam -- price: $1,000 -- has caught the Cardinals' attention. Said the Cardinals in a statement: "The team's aware of it. We've spoken to Darnell and it's being addressed." Addressed? Undressed? Whatever the case, Cardinals fans can take heart knowing the team is spending at least a small amount of its offseason considering what would happen if their Pro Bowl defensive end showed up nude online. This would be national news if Matt Leinart were the one promising Twitter followers to take off his clothes for cash. Dockett gets away with it because he plays at a high level, he isn't a quarterback and Dockett says similar things regularly, diminishing the shock value of any one comment.

Darren Urban of offers this thought on Deuce Lutui's situation: "Neither he nor the team could have foreseen the (Alan) Faneca signing. No one thought the Jets were going to cut the guy. Once he was cut, however, the Cards — who had wanted him for a long time — got their man and changed the game. Like the unfortunate turn of events with the CBA that hurt Lutui’s leverage, the Faneca situation threw another wrench in Lutui’s situation."

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says the 49ers should consider using running back Michael Robinson more in Wildcat-type packages. Lynch: "Robinson could run the wildcat with his experience as a quarterback at Penn State. Robinson is also built similarly to Miami's Ronnie Brown, who runs the wildcat better than anybody. Robinson might be harder to bring down than any running back on the roster. He's a guy who could punish a defense. Bringing him in late in games should be considered." The better a team's quarterback becomes, the less frequently the team should take him off the field our take the ball from his hands. Using that thinking, the 49ers probably should have considered using Robinson and the Wildcat more frequently in recent seasons.

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat raises 49 questions heading into the 49ers' organized team activities. The first question: "Does Alex Smith look as confident and poised as everybody says he does?"

Roger Noll of the San Francisco Chronicle offers thoughts on the 49ers' stadium measure. Noll: "If the financial plan is accurate, the stadium will need less of a public subsidy than most recent NFL or Major League Baseball facilities. But the city is small, so the per capita cost would be high. Moreover, the plan is optimistic, so the city faces financial risks."

Ben Malcolmson of poses three questions to running backs coach Sherman Smith. Smith on the role of the fullback in the Seahawks' offense: "Those guys are really excited about it because they see the importance of the fullback position -- not just in the running game, but also in the passing game. They have a chance to be on the front side of runs and have a great effect on the success of a play. They love the challenge of what they have to do. They’re going to be involved in the passing game, and they realize that when the run game is successful, they’re going to be a big part of the reason why."

Gary Brower of the Holland Sentinel says former Seahawks offensive lineman Ron Essink is heading into his high school's hall of fame. Essink became an NFL starter after entering the league with Seattle as a 10th-round choice in 1980.

Sean Leahy of USA Today says the Rams are trying to put their 2009 season behind them. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur on quarterback Sam Bradford: "When Sam came in, I mentioned to him, 'You have got to fight to learn things to be the Day 1 starter.' And if that happens, great. If it doesn't, at least he tried to (start) is the important thing, and then we'll see what happens. Because with all positions on the field, we are going to play the best guy that gives us a chance to win football games. If Day 1 that's Sam, so be it. If it's Day 10 or Day 100, whatever point we get to with that, that's what we're going to do." The Rams kept 2009 first-round choice Jason Smith in a backup role through most of the offseason.

Sizing up NFC West coaching staffs

February, 4, 2010
MIAMI -- With the Seahawks announcing their 2010 coaching staff, I went through every NFC West team's staff to produce a chart allowing for easy comparison.

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.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says he thinks Matt Leinart's accuracy would improve with time. Somers: "Leinart has to re-gain the trust of his receivers. Everyone can say all the right things about believing in him, but Leinart's inaccuracy this season eroded confidence among the receiving corps. That group loves (Kurt) Warner for many reasons, mainly because the Cardinals are going to throw a lot with him in the lineup. But Warner also did his best to protect his receivers, to keep them from taking big hits. When Leinart is throwing high passes, as has been his tendency, receivers tend to get a little skittish. With more practice time and confidence, Leinart should be able to correct that problem."

Darren Urban of explains why he'll miss retiring Cardinals veteran Bertrand Berry. Urban: "Including playoffs, Berry led the Cardinals with eight sacks this season. In the end, I’ll remember Bertrand’s ability to still have his shining moments on a football field, delivering his trademark whistle pull -- he was the B-Train, after all -- following every sack. I’ll remember Bertrand Berry going out on his own terms."

Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 looks at Neil Rackers' value to the Cardinals. That value is much higher when Rackers is healthy. Coach Ken Whisenhunt sounded frustrated after Rackers' injuries contributed to a poor performance against the Saints in the NFC divisional round, as if Whisenhunt had been told Rackers would be fine.

Greg Johns of says former Seahawks assistant and University of Washington head coach Keith Gilbertson has landed with Mike Holmgren in Cleveland. Gilbertson has a job in personnel. He could easily slide over to the coaching staff if Holmgren returned to the sideline or the Browns wanted him to help install Holmgren's offense.

Clare Farnsworth of checks in with CEO Tod Leiweke, who expresses relief following an organizational overhaul. Leiweke: "I'm satisfied, but I also would say it’s been super hard. Tim Ruskell is a friend of mine. Jim Mora is a friend of mine. I think there probably are a few things I might have done a little different, but it also was a different circumstance. It's the kind of stuff that keeps you awake at night."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks have hired Sherman Smith to coach their running backs.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says an uncapped year would hurt the Rams by making it harder for them to supplement their roster in free agency. Executive Kevin Demoff: "It limits the player pool. It's going to be a challenging dynamic for all teams on how you get better, how you compete for players, and where you find the players that make your team better. Especially if you're a team that's still rebuilding. ... I think everybody can look at what we did last year in free agency and it was a very discernible pattern. Younger players with great character who weren't injury-prone, who we thought had upside."

Also from the Post-Dispatch: a look at potential free agents who could help the Rams.

More from the Post-Dispatch: a look at players who would become free agents only if the NFL extended the collective bargaining agreement.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wouldn't be surprised if Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke decided to sell his 40 percent share of the team, better positioning Kroenke to buy a soccer team. Miklasz: "Once upon a time, Kroenke was accessible and visible at Rams games, but he’s completely gone underground in an attempt to stay away from reporters. So no one has been able to determine whether Howard Hughes -- I mean, Kroenke -- wants to keep his 40 percent share of the Rams under new ownership or sell that 40 percent to new owners."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers' addition of former Chiefs assistants Jimmy Raye, Kurt Schottenheimer and Mike Solari isn't such a bad thing. Barrows: "The three offenses that Raye ran in Kansas City from 1998-2000 finished No. 19, No. 12 and No. 8 in total offense. They put up some huge yardage totals, particularly through the air. The Chiefs finished fifth in passing in 2000. But as Solari pointed out today in a conference call, he had some sturdy offensive linemen up front. Those Chiefs teams boasted perennial Pro Bowlers in Willie Roaf and Will Shields as well as an up-and-comer in Brian Waters."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers agreed to let Chris Foerster leave for the Redskins after Foerster said he wanted to move closer to family on the East Coast. Having Solari available certainly had to ease the decision. Singletary: "When I talked to Chris this morning, I just told him that I believe things work out for a reason. I told Chris this morning, 'Best of luck to you, and I hope everything goes well.' I had an interview set up with Mike Solari and my wife and I felt like that would be -- everything would work itself out."

Also from Maiocco: Solari was Singletary's first choice for an offensive line coach when Singletary interviewed for head-coaching jobs in 2006 and 2007.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Solari fits what Singletary wants in terms of promoting "physicality" up front. Brown: "Solari said he would continue to evaluate the 49ers' current personnel. He planned on developing a group capable of multiple styles -- wide zones, tight zones and man-blocking -- because opposing defenses bring so many variations. During his 11 seasons in Kansas City, the Chiefs ranked in the top 10 for rushing offense seven times. Solari was one of just six assistant coaches in Chiefs history to record more than a decade of service with the franchise."

David Fucillo of Niners Nation provides transcripts from conference calls featuring Solari and Singletary.

Around the NFC West: Carroll in charge

January, 21, 2010
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says there's no mistaking who's in charge of the Seahawks. It's new coach Pete Carroll, who appeared alongside CEO Tod Leiweke and general manager John Schneider at the news conference to introduce Schneider. Boling: "Leiweke was standing between them, so we may assume that Carroll didn’t actually have his hand up the back of Schneider’s jacket so that he could somehow operate controls to make his lips move."

Greg Johns of says former Seahawks running back Sherman Smith could be returning to the organization as running backs coach. That would leave receivers coach as the most significant opening on the staff.

Clare Farnsworth of takes a look at Carroll's first Seahawks coaching staff, offering mini-bios for known hires.

Also from Farnsworth: Carroll and Schneider hit it off right away. Leiweke: "I would say most compelling for me is the amazing energy between the man to my right and the man to my left. They connected. They saw eye-to-eye. They had a similar philosophy on how we’re going to do this. It was just fantastic to witness that, because that’s really, ultimately what we wanted to create."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Schneider was short on details when pressed for information on how the Seahawks might proceed in upgrading their roster.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times looks at the budding relationship between Carroll and Schneider. Brewer: "There's nothing like a good man crush to emphasize how much the Seahawks have changed in the past two weeks. PC and The Schneid didn't finish each other's sentences Wednesday, but they did expound on each other's thoughts. Forget the past. Feel the love. Embrace the unity. Of course, buried beneath the hype of this epic partnership was the unveiling of the Seahawks' worst-kept secret — Carroll runs the show. The franchise finally admitted it. For all the talk of collaboration, the Seahawks will be molded in Carroll's image."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Carroll and Schneider cannot work "shoulder to shoulder" if Carroll has the ultimate authority. Someone has to make the call. Carroll made it clear he would be the guy. Everything about Schneider's past says he'll have no trouble working alongside Carroll or most head coaches.

John Morgan of Field Gulls sizes up UCLA's Brian Price as a potential Seahawks draft choice in 2010. Morgan: "There's plenty of talent behind (Ndamukong) Suh and (Gerald) McCoy, enough that a patient front office could wait and pick someone like Geno Atkins, Earl Mitchell or Lamarr Houston and still get value, but between Suh and that final tier is a group of defensive tackles of great talent and ability. And no tackle looks half as good as Price."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic begins a position-by-position look at the Cardinals' roster with a look at the offensive line. On Levi Brown: "The expectations are high for Brown, the fifth overall pick in 2007. He hasn't lived up to that draft status. He was inconsistent in pass blocking, but coaches feel like that was a matter of bad technique rather than lack of athleticism. It was interesting that Ken Whisenhunt challenged Brown after Brown was named a Pro Bowl alternate. The Cardinals want, and need, more from him. But people in the know tell me he was the team's most consistent offensive lineman in 2009, and coaches were especially pleased with the way he improved over the final month of the season."

Also from Somers: Adrian Wilson, Larry Fitzgerald and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have withdrawn from the Pro Bowl.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams face key questions as the team's leadership gathers in Los Angeles. He poses this one to general manager Billy Devaney: "There's a concern that you're taking an overly conservative approach in building a roster. Your previous two No. 1 draft picks -- defensive end Chris Long and offensive tackle Jason Smith -- are reflective of that. Do you have it in you to make bold and daring decisions? Are you willing to take intelligent gambles? Or is this all about doing the safest thing in order to cover yourself and protect your job?"

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat provides an overview for the Rams' meetings. Balzer: "At one point, there were indications that potential buyers might be trying to low-ball (Chip) Rosenbloom and (Lucia) Rodriguez. Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t an immediate urgency for them to sell the team, and there has always been the feeling that the family would like to continue the legacy begun by their parents, Carroll Rosenbloom and Georgia Frontiere, and keep the team. That might be a longshot, but not impossible if a new agreement results in what the owners hope eventually will be a decreased percentage of the revenue going to the players."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers' Justin Smith would be headed to the Pro Bowl if the Vikings advanced to the Super Bowl. Frank Gore has already been promoted. Gore: "To be in the Pro Bowl, it means a lot. I felt that missing some games this season, and to still be able to make a special game like this is a great opportunity. All I can say is that it's a blessing."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat takes a closer look at the 49ers' defensive backs. Shawntae Spencer, Dashon Goldson and Tarell Brown appear to form the core. Maiocco: "But there are some questions about all of the others, including veteran performers Nate Clements and Michael Lewis. Clements was demoted from the lineup for the Nov. 1 game against the Colts. Then, he sustained a broken shoulder blade that ended his season. His scheduled salary for 2010 is a whopping $6 million. Lewis has been among the 49ers' leading tacklers in each of his three seasons with the club. But three concussions last season in short period of time is a reason for concern."