NFC West: Tom Telesco

While the Arizona Cardinals and four other NFL teams continue to pursue head coaching candidates, I've put together a look at what the candidates might see when considering their options.

Arizona caught a break, it appeared, when one of their candidates, Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, became available earlier than expected following a divisional-round playoff defeat.

McCoy will reportedly have a second interview with the Cardinals after meeting with the San Diego Chargers.

The chart shows some of what Arizona has to offer relative to what the four other teams have to offer. Most or all of the other teams appear to have more attractive quarterback situations.

Where West coaches stand as candidates

January, 10, 2013
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A few NFC West assistant coaches and personnel evaluators remain in play for jobs elsewhere:

A look at where things stand:
  • Greg Roman, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator: Roman's name has surfaced in connection with head coaching jobs in San Diego and Jacksonville. He has ties to the general managers each of those teams hired recently. Roman and the Chargers' new general manager, Tom Telesco, were college teammates and even roommates. Roman and new Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell also played together in college and worked together with the Carolina Panthers. The Jaguars are expected to have interest in Roman after firing Mike Mularkey, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Losing Roman could put more pressure on 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh to oversee the offense. Harbaugh's background is on offense, so the 49ers appear to have some protection on that side of the ball. Niners players have referred to Roman as an offensive genius, however, so it's clear Roman would be missed.
  • Tom Gamble, 49ers director of player personnel: Gamble is reportedly a leading candidate to replace Mike Tannenbaum as the New York Jets' general manager.
  • Gus Bradley, Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator: Philadelphia received permission to speak with Bradley about its head coaching vacancy. Rules allowed for contact this week, but the Seahawks are focused on a divisional-round playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons. The Eagles have quite a few known candidates. They appear to be in no rush. No clear favorite has emerged. Bradley is in the mix, at least. Head coach Pete Carroll's background is on defense. That would appear to provide some insurance for the Seahawks if Bradley took a job elsewhere.
  • Darrell Bevell, Seahawks offensive coordinator: The Chicago Bears received permission to speak with Bevell, an NFC North alum via the Minnesota Vikings. Line coach Tom Cable coordinates the running game for Seattle. The Seahawks would look to keep their offensive system if Bevell departed. Cable's presence provides some insurance.
  • Brian Schottenheimer, St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator: Schottenheimer quickly emerged as a candidate in Jacksonville once the Jaguars fired Mularkey. Schottenheimer interviewed for this job one year ago before the team chose Mularkey. If Schottenheimer left, the Rams would presumably hire a replacement from the outside and try to keep a similar offensive system in place. Quarterback Sam Bradford has changed coordinators every season. The Rams would want a smooth transition if Schottenheimer did take a job elsewhere. Still, adjusting to yet another coordinator would likely come at a price for Bradford.
  • Ray Horton, Cardinals defensive coordinator: The NFC West assistant considered most likely to generate interest this offseason appears to have little going at this time. He remains a candidate to succeed Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona, it appears. But there's been little buzz on the Horton front lately.

Around the NFC West: Rams' clock ticks

January, 27, 2012
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The Rams moved to St. Louis for the 1995 season. Their future beyond 2014 is coming into focus as local authorities draft plans to possibly upgrade the Edward Jones Dome.

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission is scheduled to make a proposal Wednesday of next week. Burwell quotes Webster University sports economist and Forbes columnist Patrick Rishe on the approach owner Stan Kroenke has taken: "All these things are creating doubt and a little fear. From a pure business perspective, I'd say this is good business for him to play his cards the way he's playing his cards. I'd say 'job well done.' Someone asked me the other day if he had a moral obligation to St. Louis football fans. I said absolutely not. His moral obligation is to do what is best for the best financial return of the owners. And if I was him, I can't say I wouldn't be doing the same things he's doing."

Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea.com says Kroenke's bid for the Los Angeles Dodgers, if successful, could foreshadow a Rams move to Los Angeles in accordance with cross-ownership rules, instantly rekindling an in-state rivalry for the 49ers. Ratto: "The NFL prohibits owners of a team in one city from owning a team in another city in another league. For instance, and as an example with momentary historical validity, Jed York could not run the 49ers and the Pittsburgh Penguins." Noted: Cross-ownership rules can be a bit confusing. In this case, Kroenke could own the Dodgers without moving the Rams because there is no NFL team in Los Angeles. Cross-ownership rules would prevent Kroenke from owning a non-NFL team in a market that already has the NFL. This explains how Seattle's Paul Allen owns the Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers. There is no NFL team in Portland.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com sizes up quarterback options for the 49ers. Peyton Manning's name is mentioned.

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle looks at the 49ers' situation at wide receiver.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have a scaled-down presence at the Senior Bowl because their coaching staff and personnel department remain in flux, and there is no general manager. Thomas: "The GM interview process resumes this weekend when Arizona director of player personnel Steve Keim visits the Rams. The interview may not take place Saturday as originally reported; it may be Sunday. New York Jets vice president of college scouting Joey Clinkscales; Miami director of player personnel Brian Gaine; and Indianapolis director of player personnel Tom Telesco could be interviewed next week."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Earl Thomas' selection to the Pro Bowl as an NFC starter was especially gratifying because Thomas picked off only two passes this past season. Thomas: "A lot of people just look at stats, stats, stats, and they really don’t look at the big picture of what a player is doing. So it just feels good to get recognized for doing some of the dirty work. I’m just excited to be here, and hopefully I can keep coming back."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times calls Peyton Manning-to-Seattle a long shot.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Greg Shiano's hiring as head coach in Tampa Bay could affect the Cardinals' staff. Somers: "Cardinals receivers coach John McNulty coached under Schiano at Rutgers from 2004-2008, and the two are friends. McNulty started at Rutgers as receivers coach and eventually became offensive coordinator. Schiano is expected to try and hire McNulty in Tampa Bay. The Cardinals can prevent that from happening because McNulty is under contract. The Cardinals can deny permission for him to interview, even for a coordinator's position."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com compares Arizona's defensive stats from the first half of the season to the second. The Cardinals ranked among the NFL's top three in third-down defense, red zone defense, touchdowns allowed, sacks and yards per pass attempt from Weeks 9-17. Urban: "Over the final nine games, 64 percent of the drives by Cards’ opponents (76 of 118) were five plays or less and 59 percent (70) covered 25 yards or less. Of the 12 touchdowns the Cards allowed, four came on drives that began on the Cards’ side of the 50-yard line."

Around the NFC West: Huge week ahead

January, 16, 2012
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This is going to be a fantastic week, probably the best for the NFC West since Arizona's Super Bowl appearance three years ago.

It could get a whole lot better with a San Francisco 49ers victory over the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game.

Fans for other teams in the division will have a hard time pulling for a despised rival, of course. But if you think criticism of the division has too often overlooked NFC West postseason successes, another 49ers victory could provide additional relief.

A 49ers victory over the Giants would give all four current NFC West teams one Super Bowl appearance since February 2002, right before the league realigned into eight four-team divisions. The NFC South is the only other division with more than two during that time (Carolina, Tampa Bay and New Orleans).

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News thinks the 49ers would have had an easier time against Green Bay than against the Giants. Kawakami: "I think Eli Manning is a very scary playoff QB -- when he’s throwing it well (like now), and has confidence in his receivers (like now), he is very tough to beat. The Giants are red-hot right now and they showed in 2007 that when they get red-hot, they’re nearly impossible to beat. It seems odd to say this, but I think Manning is a tougher out in the playoffs than either Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers. Can’t exactly say why I think this, but I do." Noted: Manning's arm and size allow him to make throws other quarterbacks cannot make. I would expect the 49ers' defensive front to get much more pressure than Green Bay mounted, however.

Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers should be happy to play at home, but not necessarily against the Giants. Purdy: "This is going to be a fascinating reboot, with lots of coaching brain power involved. The Giants have the NFL's oldest coach, Tom Coughlin, who is known for the right calls at the right times. The 49ers have rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh, who has made almost no wrong moves over the past three months." Noted: The 49ers fooled the Giants with an onside kick when the teams played in Week 10. They caught the Giants' front line retreating a little too quickly.

Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat expects the Giants to double-cover Vernon Davis, load up against the run and find out whether the 49ers' wide receivers can do enough for San Francisco to win. Cohn: "Here’s some good news for the offense. Delanie Walker wrote on Twitter that he worked out Sunday and he’s ready to play next weekend. Alex Smith needs a secondary receiver to complement Davis and Walker can be that guy. Last time the Niners played the Giants, Walker led all Niners with six receptions for 69 yards."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com updates the 49ers' injury situation. Maiocco: "Ray McDonald was noticeably limping throughout the game with a right hamstring strain, which he sustained in the regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams. Earlier this season, McDonald missed a game with a left hamstring strain. McDonald, who typically plays every down, played just 44 of the 49ers' 80 defensive snaps. Backup lineman Ricky Jean Francois played 36 snaps. However, McDonald was on the field for the 49ers' final 12 defensive plays of the game."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch assesses what Jeff Fisher's hiring means for the Rams under owner Stan Kroenke. Miklasz: "Kroenke is financially committed. Kroenke edged out another billionaire, Miami owner Steve Ross, in the tense competition for Fisher. When Fisher's contract is finalized, he'll be among the NFL's highest-paid coaches with an annual salary that should average at least $7 million. Fisher was also granted a generous budget for hiring assistant coaches. Kroenke undoubtedly agreed to bankroll other football-related hires made by Fisher. Kroenke is doing more than paying a head coach; he's funding a new football operation. That's a major investment."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch updates where the Rams stand after hiring Fisher. On the general manager search: "Dawson may look like the front-runner because he has worked with Fisher in Tennessee. But he has less experience than most on the Rams' candidate list, including another Tennessee personnel department exec, Ruston Webster. The Rams have yet to interview Webster, although they have received permission to do so from Tennessee. The same holds true for Steve Keim of Arizona, Joey Clinkscales of the New York Jets, Brian Gaine of Miami and Tom Telesco of Indianapolis."

Also from Thomas: Brian Schottenheimer is among the candidates to become offensive coordinator for the Rams. Noted: I'll have more on this one later Monday morning.

Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch polls Rams players for thoughts on Fisher. One theme: That Fisher's background as a player helps him understand the physical demands of the game.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic updates the Todd Haley situation in relation to the Cardinals. He also serves up a couple other coaching-related tidbits. Somers: "As far as I know, line coach Russ Grimm and tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens have not re-signed with the Cardinals. They have been offered contracts. Grimm worked with Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey in Pittsburgh, so maybe Jacksonville is a possible landing spot for him. But will the Jags be willing to spent the $1.5 million or so to hire Grimm? That's what he makes in Arizona. With Kitchens, word is Rams coach Jeff Fisher thinks Kitchens is an excellent coach. Kitchens name has also been tied to openings at Alabama, his alma mater." Noted: The potential for Grimm's departure would have been big news in Arizona a couple years ago. Does it still have that feel?

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with Cardinals running back Ryan Williams, who is rehabilitating from the knee injury he suffered as a rookie during the 2011 preseason. Williams: "No injury is going to stop me, unless one of my legs is (cut) off somewhere and I only have one leg. I am too self-motivated to be the best player I can be. I want my career to last 10 to 14 years. Ten is the least for me. I won't stop. I want my career to be here … but if something happens where it isn’t, all 31 other teams will have to stand in front of me and tell me no for me not to be a football player and even then, I’d probably have to hear it again. That’s how much football means to me."

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle passes along thoughts from former Seahawks quarterback Jon Kitna, who is entering into retirement. Sounds like Kitna will do some coaching at the high school level in the Tacoma area. Kitna: "Football was great, but as you get to the end of your career you kind of realize that it's more than just football. It's relationships that you form and things like that. So I consider myself awfully, awfully blessed to have played 16 years in this league. ... There's a lot of things that, for me, I'm excited about doing after football, and that would be teaching and coaching and pouring into the lives of inner-city kids here in Tacoma. So I'm definitely looking forward to that. ... I'm really excited about the next phase of life for me and my family."

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