NFC West: Teryl Austin

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic checks in with Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald and Kurt Warner. He also questions the Cardinals' organizational structure. Somers: "The Cardinals don't have a strong general manager. Rod Graves is friendly, pliable, sincere and a great ambassador for Bidwill interests. He came to the desert as a $100,000 scout, hiked his annual salary to around $1.5 million, and I celebrate his good fortune. But he's not a team builder, and his ascension represents the primary flaw in the organization's design. Consequently, Whisenhunt has been stretched thin at times, forced to get involved in areas that shift his focus from his primary obligation: leading men who have the talent to win football games." Whisenhunt does seem to feel a need to get involved in areas ideally left to others, including contract negotiations. His involvement in Anquan Boldin's situation personalized the dispute in a manner that was not productive.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic expects the Cardinals to hire a defensive coordinator by the end of the week.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says players felt empty watching Super Bowl festivities from afar.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Marshall Faulk felt some anxiety as the Hall of Fame announcement approach. Thomas: "It was the kind of nervousness and anxiety that he hadn't felt since his playing days. Then his game-day instincts took over and he calmed. And then he heard his name. From the Desire Projects in New Orleans to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Faulk's football journey was complete as he became the first Ram from their 'Greatest Show on Turf'' days to be elected to the Hall."

Also from Thomas: Former Rams defensive tackle Ryan Pickett was happy to be back in the Super Bowl. Thomas: "Following his rookie season, when he was a backup, Pickett started the next four seasons for the Rams at defensive tackle and played well. He was a very active player for the position, averaging 96 tackles a season from 2002 through 2005. But in one of several personnel blunders by the Rams during those days, the team made next to no effort to re-sign Pickett when his original contract expired after the '05 season. They spent the next several years looking for replacements."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers thoughts on the Rams' owners, past and present.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com sends Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller to the 49ers with the seventh overall choice in his first mock draft of the year. Under this scenario, quarterback Blaine Gabbert lands in Arizona with the fifth overall choice. Maiocco has receiver Julio Jones going to the Rams at No. 14 and quarterback Ryan Mallett going to the Seahawks at No. 25. These projections make sense from a need standpoint.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers, like the Rams, are installing a new offensive system, but they're worse off than St. Louis because they don't have their starting quarterback. Barrows: "Which helps explain why Harbaugh has been so rosy and complimentary of Alex Smith in recent weeks. The quarterback who gives the 49ers the best chance to hit the ground running after a turbulence-filled offseason is Smith. He's familiar with all the offensive players and is good friends with many of them. He lives just minutes from the team's facility. And he's played in a West Coast system before -- in 2005 when Packers coach Mike McCarthy was the offensive coordinator."

Also from Barrows: a Jim Harbaugh profile. Barrows: "Look at Harbaugh's résumé and you'll find an odd overlap. From 1993-2001 he was both an NFL quarterback and an assistant coach at Western Kentucky. When the school's football program ran out of money and was in danger of being dropped, Harbaugh became certified as a college coach and spent the NFL offseasons recruiting -– gratis –- for his father."

Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times says Seahawks assistant coach Rocky Seto apparently is not leaving the team to coach at UCLA. Foster: "Seto, as assistant coach with the Seattle Seahawks, was offered and accepted the job Tuesday night, but the offer was rescinded the following day, according to the person close to the negotiations. ... According to people in the program who are not authorized to talk about the search, (Rick) Neuheisel approached then Stanford defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who was not interested, and interviewed former Florida defensive co-coordinators Teryl Austin and Chuck Heater. Fangio is now with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, Austin became an assistant with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens and Heater was hired as Temple’s defensive coordinator."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis is putting together a Hall of Fame career. Maiocco: "Writers from around the country vote for the All-Pro team. There are many of the same writers who also vote for the Hall of Fame, so it only stands to reason that Willis is taking some significant strides early in his career toward eventually being honored in Canton, Ohio. After all, the great Ronnie Lott made first-team All-Pro six times in his career -- and just once in his first five seasons in the league." Willis is definitely heading down a Hall of Fame path. It's reasonable to think he could perform at a similar level for another five or six seasons.

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Willis is the first player in 49ers history to earn All-Pro honors in each of his first four seasons. Branch: "Since 2004, Willis is one of just three Niners to earn All-Pro honors and one of two named to the first team. Running back Frank Gore was a second-team selection in 2006 and punter Andy Lee earned first-team honors in 2007 and was a second-team selection last year. The last Niners position player besides Willis to earn first-team All-Pro honors was linebacker Julian Peterson in 2003. Tight end Vernon Davis and defensive tackle Justin Smith were the only other players to earn All-Pro votes Monday after the Niners' 6-10 season."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee checks in with former Stanford defensive linemen for insights into Vic Fangio's coaching. Barrows: "(Sione) Fua said that when Fangio first arrived, he showed them films of NFL defenses he had coached, especially the Ravens defense. Fangio was a special assistant to Ravens coach John Harbaugh before joining Jim Harbaugh at Stanford in 2010."

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers general manager Trent Baalke is in his element at the Senior Bowl. White: "Deep inside, Baalke will forever be a field-level scout, and has been since the day he made the career change from high school athletic director in North Dakota to regional scout with the Jets 14 years ago. Some scouts socialized and schmoozed at the South team's practice Monday. Not Baalke. He stood on the sideline, often alone, eyes fixed on a receiver getting around a jam at the line of scrimmage, a left tackle getting leverage on a pass rusher, a cornerback breaking up a seam pass."

Doug Farrar of Sportspress Northwest says the Seahawks can help themselves with the right evaluation at the Senior Bowl. Farrar: "Like Earl Thomas, left tackle Russell Okung proved the value of Seattle’s 2010 draft by providing key option that could be in place for years. But between Sean Locklear and Stacy Andrews, the right tackle spot is anything but defined, and Okung’s repeated ankle issues show an increased need for depth. There are several tackles in this senior draft class. So far, Wisconsin’s Game Carimi has been the most impressive. Carimi occasionally played too upright to be an effective pass blocker during his collegiate career, but work in that area has been evident. Colorado’s Nate Solder must transcend many technique issues, but there’s potential there. Derek Sherrod of Mississippi State and Anthony Constanzo of Boston College are also worth watching this week."

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks can learn from the Packers' and Steelers' Super Bowl runs. Brewer: "It's rare that a champion makes a trade for a Drew Brees. It's rare that a defense is so dominant that it can win with a Trent Dilfer merely managing the game. But it's not rare to draft a franchise quarterback, even when you don't have a top-10 pick. The Seahawks need to re-sign Matt Hasselbeck and use this draft to figure out a quarterback succession plan. It has worked amazingly for Green Bay, with Rodgers stepping in for future Hall of Famer Brett Favre."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has this to say during a chat: "I don't think Donovan McNabb is an upgrade over Matt Hasselbeck. But I think a key will be money and years. How much money Hasselbek wants and how much security. I don't know if Seattle would be willing to sign Hasselbeck to a three-year, $30 million deal." That would be approaching the average Kurt Warner commanded after leading Arizona to the Super Bowl following the 2008 season.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune explains why he thinks Seattle needs to re-sign Hasselbeck. Boling: "If you end up letting him go, you’d better find a better alternative. Even if you like somebody in what appears to be an unimposing pool of free-agent talent, it might be months before you settle this critical issue. Meanwhile, there definitely will be a market for Hasselbeck, perhaps even among division brethren, who could quickly alter the competitive balance with a veteran quarterback. If you can sign him for a reasonable cost for a couple of years, you can draft a prospective replacement and let him be groomed by Hasselbeck."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Steelers' advancement to the Super Bowl further delays the Cardinals' search for a defensive coordinator. Somers: "Ken Whisenhunt is expecting to interview other candidates this week in Mobile, Ala., site of the Senior Bowl. He has declined to reveal their names. It is possible Whisenhunt could hire a coordinator before the Super Bowl, but that seems doubtful at this point. He admires Dick LeBeau and has wanted to use a similar defensive system in Arizona. It's been nearly three weeks since Whisenhunt fired coordinator Bill Davis, so replacing Davis quickly was not a priority. After firing his two previous coordinators, Whisenhunt knows he has to find the right person for the job this time. Four other teams -- the Titans, Raiders, Broncos and Eagles -- are searching for defensive coordinators."

Aaron Wilson of National Football Post says former Cardinals secondary coach Teryl Austin is the favorite to land the same job with the Ravens. Austin spent last season as defensive coordinator at the University of Florida.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com looks ahead to the Rams' 2011 schedule. Wagoner: "Because of the NFL’s scheduling rotation, the Rams will play all members of the NFC East and AFC North Divisions in addition to the usual home and home series within the NFC West. Additionally, the Rams will meet their division doppelganger within the NFC for the North and South divisions. On paper, at least, it appears the Rams will face one of the league’s most daunting schedules in 2011. Of course, a lot changes from year to year so teams expected to be major challenges might struggle and teams expected to be ripe for the picking could be greatly improved."

Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis says the Rams should consider adding Braylon Edwards during the offseason.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee wonders whether Jim Harbaugh might wind up with the Miami Dolphins despite reports suggesting the Dolphins would retain Tony Sparano. Barrows: "It's entirely possible that Harbaugh was dazzled by the massive amount of money that (Dolphins owner Stephen) Ross offered and has quietly agreed to a deal. Pretending that he can't decide buys Ross and the Dolphins extra time to take care of their business -- fire Sparano, interview a minority candidate -- that they should have taken care of before approaching Harbaugh. The only thing that's clear is that Harbaugh's agent has done a masterful job. Will he? Won't he? Is he going here? Is he going there? That ping-ponging sensation you feel in your brain is the work of a master craftsman who's got at least three organizations upping their bids to astronomical heights on a man who has never been an NFL head coach. Bravo."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says Andrew Luck's decision to remain at Stanford could foreshadow Jim Harbaugh's return as well. Maiocco: "A league source told Comcast SportsNet on Thursday that the timing of Luck's decision to announce he was returning for another season might not have been a coincidence. The allure for Harbaugh of having an opportunity to win a national championship next season might be too tempting to pass up."

Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea.com says 49ers president Jed York looks bad even if the team winds up getting Jim Harbaugh after all. Ratto: "This is why you hire the general manager who’s been around and knows the league terrain. This is why you let him run the football operation without interference. This is why you move aside and let the experts expertify. But no, Jed wanted this to be his big score. Putting his reputation in the middle of the table next to the insufficient pile of chips, he ends up looking weaker. Even if he does get Harbaugh, it won’t be perceived quite the same way. Jed got played because he wanted too much to be a player, and he got played because he didn’t bring enough jack with which to play."

The 49ers' website offers an interview transcript featuring guard Mike Iupati. Iupati: "I think I’m a much better player now than I was when I first came in here. I feel like I’ve improved every part of my game, and its obvious when you watch the film. I learned a lot this season, especially from the coaches. Our o-line coach Mike Solari was great, and it also helps to watch guys like David Baas, Joe Staley and Adam Snyder who have been in the NFL for a few years. I watch and observe what they do as professional football players and I try to do the same things. I try to get any knowledge I can from them because their experiences can help me out."

Clare Farnsworth of seahwaks.com says the team's plan all along was to start Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback against the Saints if he were healthy. Farnsworth: "Hasselbeck has started nine playoff games and is the franchise postseason leader in passing attempts (325), completions (189), passing yards (2,211), touchdown passes (11) and wins (four). His start against the Saints will tie the franchise record held by former Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones."

Also from Farnsworth: Linebacker Lofa Tatupu offers thoughts on Hasselbeck's pregame speech from Week 17. Tatupu: "We thought that meant he was playing. But it was just good to hear from somebody else. Usually it’s myself or Law (strong safety Lawyer Milloy). Sometimes, you don’t want to think it, but maybe your words can fall on deaf ears. So I’m glad someone stepped up."

More from Farnsworth: best friends Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett are headed to the playoffs together.

Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times says Raheem Brock still feels the sting of losing to the Saints in the Super Bowl as a member of the Colts. Mayers: "The 32-year-old recorded six sacks in the past five games, including at least a half-sack in four of them. In a division-clinching win against St. Louis in the regular-season finale, Brock had a personal-best 2.5 sacks, including two on the Rams' final drive."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times expresses surprise that the Seahawks did not name Hasselbeck their starter earlier.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Hasselbeck kidded national reporters about making a rare trip to the Northwest. Hasselbeck, referring to Seattle as "South Alaska" and saying, "Look at this -- I didn’t know you guys covered the CFL."

John Morgan of Field Gulls says starting Hasselbeck could compromise the Seahawks' ground game while mistakenly assuming the quarterback can produce the way he did against New Orleans indoors. Morgan: "The Seahawks should not pass deep, because Hasselbeck struggles to pass deep and the conditions should only exacerbate that. Further, Seattle should not pass deep because it lacks the kind of consistent passing game and run game to recover after it has burned a down on an incomplete pass. Seattle could potentially bank on the run game, but that should be harder without Charlie Whitehurst to boot and stretch the field horizontally. Instead, Seattle should stretch the field horizontally through screen passes and swings, outs and flats to the backs. The Seahawks should complement this ball-control passing attack with draw plays."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt plans to go outside the organization to find a replacement for fired defensive coordinator Bill Davis. Somers: "Whisenhunt twice has shown interest in hiring Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler for the job. In 2007, the Steelers denied Whisenhunt permission to interview Butler. Two years ago, the hiring time frame was complicated by Butler's hip surgery. Butler, 54, has been with the Steelers since 2003. He works under Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, whom Whisenhunt greatly admires. Whisenhunt has long sought to install a defensive similar to the 3-4 scheme used by LeBeau. Whisenhunt confirmed that former Cardinals secondary coach Teryl Austin also could be a candidate. Austin left the Cardinals staff after the 2009 season to become defensive coordinator at the University of Florida."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Austin finished a "close second" to Davis when Whisenhunt replaced Clancy Pendergast as defensive coordinator following the 2008 season. Whisenhunt: "As I sit here right now, I have a couple of names (in mind), but I don’t even know the availability of those guys." Knowing which candidates are available is the only way to know whether the team can upgrade the position, unless change for the sake of change is an upgrade in itself. Surely Whisenhunt has a feel for what options exist.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are not bringing back Chuck Faucette, their assistant strength-and-conditioning coach. Faucette was a holdover from Scott Linehan's staff.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams voted Steven Jackson, Sam Bradford, Oshiomogho Atogwe and Bradley Fletcher as their annual award winners. Coats: "Fletcher received the Ed Block Courage Award. Fletcher underwent major knee surgery in October 2009 and was expected to be sidelined at least a year. But he was back in time for the regular-season opener and wound up starting 15 games. He led the team in interceptions, with four."

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is getting more respect in Cleveland than in St. Louis. Gordon on the Browns' interest in Shurmur as a head coaching candidate: "Shurmur is a longshot to actually get the job, given the stiff competition, but just interviewing for this gig is a nice career step for him. It validates his standing as one of the game’s emerging young coaching talents, despite how he is viewed locally."

If Whisenhunt lost another top assistant

December, 3, 2010
12/03/10
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Russ Grimm's name keeps surfacing in connection to the Carolina Panthers' expected coaching vacancy. That make sense because Grimm played for the Washington Redskins when Panthers general manager Marty Hurney covered the team as a reporter.

Grimm ranks as the Arizona Cardinals' most prominent assistant coach, overseeing the offensive line and coordinating the running game. He is also assistant head coach.

Losing Grimm after losing offensive coordinator Todd Haley to the Kansas City Chiefs would further weaken Ken Whisenhunt's staff in Arizona.

We can debate to what degree Haley ran the offense or whether the offensive line has played to expectations under Grimm's leadership. We do know Haley and Grimm have strong leadership qualities. We know Whisenhunt trusted and valued Haley. We knew he trusts and values Grimm.

Whisenhunt's staff has already undergone significant changes. The team fired former defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast after the 2008 season. Another defensive assistant, Teryl Austin, left to become defensive coordinator at Florida after last season.

The current defensive staff could change again this coming offseason even though personnel issues are also to blame for the defense's problems this season.

Updated look at NFC West staffs

February, 22, 2010
2/22/10
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The Cardinals have announced Donnie Henderson's hiring as secondary coach, a name that's somewhat out of the blue.

Henderson has been working as a volunteer on Dennis Green's staff for the UFL's California Redwoods. It is possible Henderson's volunteer status allowed him to continue receiving compensation from the last NFL team that employed him.

Jacksonville fired Henderson after the 2008 season, his only season with the team. I can find no direct connections between Henderson and other members of the Cardinals' defensive staff, but Henderson has lived in Arizona and he spent the 1992 through 1997 seasons at Arizona State. Henderson and former 49ers coach Mike Nolan worked on the same defensive staff in Baltimore. Nolan and current Cardinals defensive coordinator Bill Davis subsequently worked together in San Francisco.

Another coach I spoke with described Henderson as a coach who isn't afraid to challenge players.

Like quite a few NFL assistants, Henderson has bounced from job to job. He was with the Ravens from 2000 through 2003 before spending two seasons with the Jets and one apiece with the Lions, Bengals and Jaguars.

Henderson replaces Teryl Austin, who left to become defensive coordinator at Florida.

From Khan to Whisenhunt and beyond

February, 13, 2010
2/13/10
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Quick thoughts on recent events affecting the NFC West:
  • Cardinals secondary coach Teryl Austin, the new defensive coordinator at Florida, is the latest NFL assistant to seek career advancement in the college ranks. Nolan Cromwell left the Seahawks as receivers coach following the 2007 season to become offensive coordinator under Mike Sherman at Texas A&M, only to return to the NFL as a receivers coach with the Rams this week. Another former Seahawks assistant, longtime running backs coach Stump Mitchell, who spent the last two seasons with the Redskins, recently became head coach at Southern University. Coaching receivers and running backs rarely leads to becoming an NFL coordinator or head coach, a source of frustration for coaches hoping to advance through the ranks. The Cardinals had interviewed Austin as a potential defensive coordinator last offseason, but they hired Bill Davis instead.
  • The Dolphins' bungling of Joey Porter's release showed the value of a competent salary-cap manager. The Dolphins recently lost cap administrator Bryan Wiedmeier to Mike Holmgren's Browns. If the 49ers or Cardinals have interest in Porter, they now know for sure that Porter will be available. The Dolphins could clear cap space in the short term, allowing them to release Porter soon, or they could wait until the new league year begins March 5, at which point the salary cap will disappear.
  • Prospective Rams owner Shahid Khan has an interesting story, as outlined by Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Among my favorite revelations: "In a speech in 2000, Khan said his secret to success was heeding the lessons of ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tze, whose book 'The Art of War' gave advice on how underdogs can win against more powerful adversaries." I want to know more about Khan.
  • This looks like a good time for Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt to secure a contract extension. The team will have a tougher time replicating its recent success now that Kurt Warner has retired, no matter how skilled Whisenhunt might be as a head coach (and there's a lot to like about his approach to personnel matters and game management). Whisenhunt could do a better job in 2010 and still have a hard time matching the 9-7 and 10-6 records of the past two seasons. Might as well get that extension now instead of after finishing, say, 8-8 or worse with Matt Leinart under center.

Enjoy your weekend.

Sizing up NFC West coaching staffs

February, 4, 2010
2/04/10
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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.

Musical coaches in NFC West

January, 24, 2010
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The Seahawks offered offensive line coach Mike Solari a chance to stick around as tight ends coach.

Solari passed, instead joining the 49ers in the same job he held with Seattle.

The Rams offered assistant offensive line coach Art Valero a contract extension, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Valero declined, instead joining the Seahawks -- presumably in the same job he held with St. Louis.

Other NFC West coaches with experience on more than one staff within the division: Rams defensive coordinator Ken Flajole (Seahawks); Cardinals secondary coach Teryl Austin (Seahawks); 49ers tight ends coach Pete Hoener (Cardinals); 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye (Rams); 49ers receivers coach Jerry Sullivan (Cardinals); Cardinals defensive coordinator Billy Davis (49ers); Rams offensive line coach Steve Loney (Cardinals); Rams secondary coach Clayton Lopez (Seahawks); Seahawks tight ends coach Pat McPherson (49ers); Seahawks defensive line coach Dan Quinn (49ers); and Rams offensive quality control coach Andy Sugarman (49ers).

Seahawks linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. played for the 49ers. Seahawks secondary coach Jerry Gray played for the Rams.

Carthon's departure was in the works

February, 19, 2009
2/19/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Cardinals had already hired Curtis Modkins to coach their running backs. They didn't say anything publicly until the Chiefs announced Maurice Carthon's hiring as assistant head coach.

Carthon coached running backs for the Cardinals in 2007 and 2008. Modkins coached running backs for the Chiefs in 2008.

When Todd Haley left his job as Cardinals offensive coordinator to become the Chiefs' head coach, he wanted to bring along Carthon from Arizona.

The Cardinals allowed Carthon to pursue the promotion. They quickly lined up Modkins, who broke into the NFL with Kansas City in 2008 after six seasons coaching running backs defensive backs at Georgia Tech.

Title Cardinals 49ers Seahawks Rams
Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt
Mike Singletary
Jim Mora
Steve Spagnuolo
Off. Coord.
(shared)
Jimmy Raye
Greg Knapp
Pat Shurmur
OL Russ Grimm
Chris Foerster
Mike Solari
Steve Loney
QB Chris Miller
Mike Johnson
Bill Lazor
Dick Curl
WR John McNulty
Jerry Sullivan
Robert Prince
Charlie Baggett
RB Curtis Modkins
Tom Rathman
Kasey Dunn
Sylvester Croom
TE Freddie Kitchens
Pete Hoener
Mike DeBord
Frank Leonard
Def. Coord.
Bill Davis
Greg Manusky
Gus Bradley
Ken Flajole
DL Ron Aiken
Jim Tomsula
Dan Quinn
Brendan Daly
LB Matt Raich
(shared)
Zerick Rollins
Paul Ferraro
DB Teryl Austin
(shared)
Tim Lewis (shared)
Special Teams
Kevin Spencer
Al Everest
Bruce DeHaven
Tom McMahon

The chart provides a general overview of NFC West coaching staffs. Yellow shading highlights changes from last season. Titles are imprecise in some cases.

For example, the Cardinals do not have an offensive coordinator. They have a running game coordinator in assistant head coach/offensive line Russ Grimm and they have a passing game coordinator in Mike Miller.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals did receive the Steelers' permission to speak with Pittsburgh linebackers coach Keith Butler about becoming Arizona's defensive coordinator. Butler declined their advances and will remain with Pittsburgh, Somers notes.

Phoenix radio station KTAR has said the Cardinals will promote linebackers coach Bill Davis to defensive coordinator. That makes sense now that Butler is not a candidate. Davis and secondary coach Teryl Austin have interviewed for the job. However, KTAR released its report before the Cardinals received permission to speak with Butler.

What does all this mean? As noted previously, various reports have differed more on timing than substance. Butler was a candidate the Cardinals wanted to consider, but his hiring in Arizona might have been unlikely from the beginning.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt has said he expects to make an announcement this week. He might be in better position to explain the process once he has made an announcement.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Cardinals could be holding out for Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler, delaying their search for a defensive coordinator.

That was the word from Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. Mike Jurecki of KGME radio in Phoenix previously said Butler would become a candidate. Others cast doubt on the report, but perhaps only the timing was off. Butler's contract status could be key.

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt has interviewed candidates for the job, including current defensive assistants Bill Davis and Teryl Austin.

Somers: "Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler is under consideration for the Cardinals coordinator's position, although it's unknown if the Steelers will grant Whisenhunt permission to interview Butler. Butler has been in the hospital because of hip surgery, and if the Steelers grant permission, the interview likely would be done over the phone. The Steelers, however, could deny the Cardinals permission, as they did two years ago when Whisenhunt wanted to interview Butler."

Butler would presumably help lead a full conversion to a 3-4 defensive scheme. Such a conversion would emphasize the importance of keeping linebacker Karlos Dansby.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

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.

Title Cardinals 49ers Seahawks Rams
Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt
Mike Singletary
Jim Mora
Steve Spagnuolo
Off. Coord.
(open)
Jimmy Raye
Greg Knapp
Pat Shurmur
OL Russ Grimm
Chris Foerster
Mike Solari
Steve Loney
QB (open)
Mike Johnson
Bill Lazor
Dick Curl
WR Mike Miller
Jerry Sullivan
Robert Prince
Charlie Baggett
RB Maurice Carthon
Tom Rathman
Kasey Dunn
Sylvester Croom
TE Freddie Kitchens
Pete Hoener
Mike DeBord
Frank Leonard
Def. Coord.
(open) Greg Manusky
Gus Bradley
Ken Flajole
DL Ron Aiken
Jim Tomsula
Dan Quinn
Brendan Daly
LB Bill Davis
(shared)
Zerick Rollins
Paul Ferraro
DB Teryl Austin
(shared)
Tim Lewis (shared)
Special Teams
Kevin Spencer
Al Everest
Bruce DeHaven
Tom McMahon

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.

(Read full post)

Steelers' Butler on Cardinals' radar?

February, 9, 2009
2/09/09
8:33
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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Steelers assistant Keith Butler and Cardinals assistants Bill Davis and Teryl Austin are expected to interview as candidates to become defensive coordinator in Arizona.

The Cardinals have received permission to speak with Butler, according to Mike Jurecki of KGME 910 in Phoenix. Butler coaches the Steelers' linebackers. The Cardinals wanted to speak with Butler about the job two years ago, but the Steelers denied permission.

Also according to Jurecki, Anquan Boldin's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, reiterated his client's previous request for a trade, while Jeff Rutledge is out as the Cardinals' quarterbacks coach. The next offensive coordinator would presumably recommend a quarterbacks coach.

The news on Butler goes against what Butler has apparently been telling colleagues, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. Butler might indeed expect to stay with the Steelers. That would not stop him from meeting with the Cardinals on the thought that it never hurts to listen.

Around the NFC West: Rams' hard choices

February, 8, 2009
2/08/09
10:08
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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' relatively tight salary-cap situation could lead them to release higher-priced players such as Torry Holt and Orlando Pace. The Rams would save $6.65 million in salary and $1.25 million in roster bonus by parting with Holt, whose cap number exceeds $10.2 million if he stays on the roster. Thomas: "So in essence, the Rams would double their cap room -- from $14 million to $28 million -- by dispatching Pace and Holt. These would not be easy decisions. ... But with the arrival of [coach Steve] Spagnuolo, the franchise is two coaching tenures removed from the 'glory days' of Rams football. Will the wave of change sweeping over Rams Park extend to Pace and Holt -- a pair of Hall of Fame candidates?"

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers will want to resolve Alex Smith's contract situation by the start of free agency. He also thinks the Seahawks' Leonard Weaver could help the 49ers' offense even though he isn't a prototypical blocking fullback. Weaver is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Barrows: "Weaver definitely is talented. But he may not be the sledge hammer-style blocker Raye is looking for. That being said, Weaver is a good runner and a very good receiver out of the backfield. If the 49ers are looking for a big back to compliment Frank Gore, why not Weaver in that role?"

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals linebackers coach Bill Davis would be the leading in-house candidate to replace Clancy Pendergast as defensive coordinator. Secondary coach Teryl Austin also might get a look. Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler could emerge as a leading candidate if Pittsburgh gave the Cardinals permission to speak with him. The Steelers denied permission on Butler when Ken Whisenhunt became the Cardinals' head coach before the 2007 season.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says he thinks Kurt Warner wants to play in 2009, particularly if the Cardinals can maintain offensive continuity following Todd Haley's departure. Urban thinks Warner wants Anquan Boldin to return as well.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune looks at NFL teams' preference for younger head coaches, noting that the Seahawks are saving money with Jim Mora as head coach instead of Mike Holmgren. Boling: "I haven't read if Raheem Morris and Josh McDaniels -- two of the NFL's newest head coaches -- are friends or not. But I suspect they keep up with each other on their Facebook pages. Or maybe they skateboard around some of the same mall parking lots during the offseason."

The Associated Press looks at Gus Bradley's quick rise from North Dakota State assistant to Seahawks defensive coordinator.

Sizing up NFC West coaching staffs

February, 5, 2009
2/05/09
4:20
PM ET
Title Cardinals 49ers Seahawks Rams
Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt
Mike Singletary
Jim Mora
Steve Spagnuolo
Off. Coord.
Todd Haley
Jimmy Raye
Greg Knapp
Pat Shurmur
OL Russ Grimm
Chris Foerster
Mike Solari
Steve Loney
QB Jeff Rutledge
Mike Johnson
Bill Lazor
Dick Curl
WR Mike Miller
Jerry Sullivan
Robert Prince
Charlie Baggett
RB Maurice Carthon
Tom Rathman
Kasey Dunn
Sylvester Croom
TE Freddie Kitchens
Pete Hoener
Mike DeBord
(unnamed)
Def. Coord.
C. Pendergast Greg Manusky
Gus Bradley
Ken Flajole
DL Ron Aiken
Jim Tomsula
Dan Quinn
Brendan Daly
LB Bill Davis
(shared)
Zerick Rollins
(unnamed)
DB Teryl Austin
(shared)
Tim Lewis (unnamed)
Special Teams
Kevin Spencer
Al Everest
Bruce DeHaven
Tom McMahon

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:

(Read full post)

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