NFC West: Zerick Rollins
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with some of the 49ers' undrafted free agents. Offensive lineman Alex Boone said not getting drafted was a humbling experience that showed him how actions have consequences. Brown: "Boone, a mammoth (6-foot-7, 328 pounds) tackle out of Ohio State, was arrested after being subdued with a Taser in what law enforcement officials say was a drunken tirade. The Orange County sheriff's office told the Associated Press in February that Boone was jumping car hoods, yanking on a tow-truck cable and trying to break a window when he was arrested. Boone was taken to a hospital and then to a jail medical ward."
The 49ers' Web site says the team has signed former Nicholls State kicker Alex Romero.
Also from 49ers.com: A transcript from coach Mike Singletary's latest session with reporters. Singletary isn't leaving the quarterback race to coordinator Jimmy Raye and quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson. Singletary: "Every day we talk about, 'What do you see? What's happening? What were the conversations?' Because for me, it's that quarterback that when he steps in that huddle, magic happens. There's something that wakes up everybody."
Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle says the last few months are a blur to new 49ers running back Glen Coffee. Ratto: "[Frank] Gore is at the stage of his own career where teams start wondering about the amount of tread left on the tires, no matter how much is actually there, and 812 carries and 157 receptions in three years suggests that the 49ers needed to get serious about either lightening Gore's load or finding potential future replacements."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Alex Smith and Shaun Hill took all the quarterback reps on the first day of the post-draft camp. Maiocco also runs a depth chart showing new names in prominent roles because not all veterans are in attendance.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic traces the link between contractual unhappiness and hamstring soreness. Anquan Boldin and Darnell Dockett demonstrate the theory. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "Hey, we know what's going on, so I'm really not going to have much to say about that."
Also from Somers: Quarterback Kurt Warner took part in practice despite undergoing hip surgery recently.
More from Somers: Karlos Dansby says he's focused on football, not a new contract.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Boldin thinks the Cardinals didn't legitimately try to trade him in recent weeks. "I never give up hope [about being traded]," Boldin said. Can earning $2.75 million in salary from the NFC champs be that much of a hardship?
Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals' success last season is no match for economics. Bordow: "Yes, the flotilla of warm feelings that carried the Cardinals to the Super Bowl has washed up on shore. Once again, it's all about the money. Boldin and Dockett want their existing contracts renegotiated and they're going to refuse to do their chores until they get what they want."
Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind says the Cardinals are taking a flier on Oliver Ross even though the offensive tackle hasn't played since 2006. Ross is one of three veterans participating in camp on a tryout basis. Former Rams tight end Dominique Byrd is also there.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Seahawks rookie receiver Deon Butler make a positive first impression at minicamp.
Also from Johns: First-round Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry estimates he has spent 10 to 15 hours "staring" at his playbook. Said fellow linebacker Leroy Hill: "He's smart. A lot of the questions that [linebackers coach Zerick Rollins] was asking him in meetings, he was picking up just like that. I'm like, 'Man, I didn't even know that yet.' On the field, he's running with the first team and fitting right in. I think it's going to be fun to watch and play with him."
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com takes a big-picture view of the Seahawks' first post-draft practice. Farnsworth: "Hill was huffing and puffing a bit after his first on-field action since Week 13 last season, as he missed the final four games with a neck injury. But he also showed the traits that made retaining his services a priority for the Seahawks. On one play, Hill was all over a pass into the flat to running back Justin Forsett. Later, on a running play, Hill got to the back before the back could get anywhere near the line of scrimmage."
Mary Beth King of Seahawks.com opens the mailbag. She says the Seahawks like their current situation at running back.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times lists players who did not practice with the Seahawks on Friday: CB Kelly Jennings (shoulder), FB Justin Griffith (knee), LB D.D. Lewis (knee), G Mike Wahle (shoulder), T Walter Jones (knee), WR Deion Branch (knee), DL Cory Redding and DE Patrick Kerney (shoulder).
Also from O'Neil: A camp overview.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Curry fit in well on his first day of camp and did not appear out of place running with the starters.
Michael Steffes of Seahawk Addicts looks at the "upside" and "downside" of the Seahawks' various moves this offseason.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explores Rams rookie running back Chris Ogbannaya's background. Ogbannaya's father grew up in Nigeria and moved to the United States in 1976. Ogbannaya: "He was lucky enough to get sponsored by a family in South Carolina who ended up being my godparents. Self-made man. Went to Clemson University. Went to medical school after that."
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are counting on newly acquired receiver Laurent Robinson to contribute. Injuries slowed Robinson with the Falcons last season.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Steven Jackson likes the Rams' offseason additions. Jackson: "They've also made decisions in the draft and free agency to help me out. That's the biggest thing. You just don't want to throw it all on one guy, and don't give him anything to work with. I think in free agency and the draft, the things that needed to be addressed were addressed."
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.
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
The NFC West will break in seven new coordinators for the 2009 season. Five of them joined incumbent 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky on my list of 10 NFC West assistants in the spotlight this season:
1. Jimmy Raye, offensive coordinator, 49ers. No head coach in the division has less administrative experience than the 49ers' Mike Singletary. He was going to need a strong, experienced offensive coordinator to handle the side of the ball with which Singletary was least familiar. Raye gets the call.
2. Pat Shurmur, offensive coordinator, Rams. The Rams have a first-time head coach with a defensive background. Shurmur, formerly the Eagles' quarterbacks coach for seven seasons, is a first-time NFL coordinator. He has less experience than his predecessor, Scott Linehan. The Rams' recent failures seemed to leave some key offensive players jaded. Shurmur must win them over decisively.
3. Greg Knapp, offensive coordinator, Seahawks. Knapp is installing a new offense and taking the lead with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
4. Unnamed, defensive coordinator, Cardinals. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt figures to take over play-calling duties on offense. The defensive coordinator he hires must carry a full load on that side of the ball.
5. Steve Loney, offensive line, Rams. Loney is the only Rams position coach to keep his job from last season. The Rams figure to make the position a top priority in the draft and possibly free agency. Loney must coach 'em up.
6. Zerick Rollins, linebackers, Seahawks. Rollins is the only Seahawks position coach on defense to keep his job from last season. He must get more from Lofa Tatupu, Julian Peterson and possibly Leroy Hill after all three failed to meet expectations in 2008.
7. Ken Flajole, defensive coordinator, Rams. The defensive coordinator under a defensive-minded head coach can sometimes become a figurehead. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo indicated otherwise during his most recent media session. Flajole is a first-time NFL coordinator. He must step up if Spagnuolo spends less time focusing on the defense.
8. Bruce DeHaven, special teams, Seahawks. The Seahawks retained DeHaven even though their special teams haven't been as strong as expected. Former Mora assistant Joe DeCamillis was available, but the Cowboys snapped him up.
9. Greg Manusky, defensive coordinator, 49ers. The 49ers' defense improved once head coach Mike Nolan departed and Manusky took over the defense in full. The schedule played into that, but Manusky can define himself as a coordinator on the rise if the defense continues to improve.
10. Unnamed, quarterbacks coach, Cardinals. Former offensive coordinator Todd Haley was the point man with quarterback Kurt Warner. Now that Haley is gone, the Cardinals will need more from their quarterbacks coach.
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.
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.
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:
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Judy Battista of the New York Times takes a listen inside radio headsets worn by defensive players beginning this season. Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny calls the process more efficient than checking a wristband. But a slight delay can lead to confusion.
I've wondered whether the in-helmet transmitters might negatively affect an instinctive player such as Seattle's Lofa Tatupu. The three-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker calls the radio system "cheating" and says he would remove the device if a coach barked into his ear too frequently.
Linebackers coach Zerick Rollins, positioned on the sideline, does relay play calls to Tatupu after getting them from defensive coordinator John Marshall, who watches from the pressbox. Rollins keeps his comments to a minimum.
Tatupu also shed light on which teammates help him diagnose personnel and down-and-distance on the fly. A full transcript of our conversation follows:
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune takes a comprehensive look at Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart, on and off the field. The party-boy pictures that emerged in the spring had a "devastating" impact on Leinart, coach Ken Whisenhunt said. Leinart: "I've learned a lot in the last couple of years. You grow up. You become a father."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com recalls Leinart's previous visit to Oakland, where a 7-year-old showered him with vulgarities.
Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle quotes 49ers coach Mike Nolan as describing the decision to start J.T. O'Sullivan as a "unanimous" choice involving Nolan, general manager Scot McCloughan, offensive coordinator Mike Martz and quarterbacks coach Ted Tollner.
Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle compares Alex Smith to Barry Zito and says the 49ers should trade him right now. Jenkins: "Both men are smart, well-spoken and endearing. Each arrived in San Francisco with a handsome track record and a ton of promise. Unfortunately, each has reached the point where even their most ardent fans can hardly bear to watch. Anything but to witness a good man take another hit to his reputation."
Cam Inman of the Contra Costa Times applies the "bust" label to the 49ers' Smith. "Oh, that could change," Inman allows, "if he turns up down the road as the next Jim Plunkett instead of the next Jim Druckenmiller."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says rookie first-round choice Lawrence Jackson has impressed Seattle veterans with a mind open to learning. Patrick Kerney: "Rushing the passer, it's a chess game. There's so much that goes into it. And Lawrence has that, I think. That philosophy, if you will."
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu is slowly warming to the idea of wearing the radio headset during games. Linebackers coach Zerick Rollins: "The big thing for Lofa, he really doesn't like to have anybody in his ear on game day. So, for the first couple of times, I've just tried to give him the call and let him get used to it." Tatupu is a smart, instinctive player. I'm not sure how much better he'll be stopping to process what a coach might be saying.
Eric D. Johnson of the Tacoma News Tribune says Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck probably won't even travel to San Diego for the final exhibition game Monday night. Hasselbeck is resting a sore back. The Seahawks want him ready for the regular season.
Scott Johnson of the Everett Herald checks in with Seattle players likely to receive their release in the not-too-distant future. The players say they appreciate the opportunity no matter what -- not that they're in position to say anything else.
Also from Johnson: Seattle's starting offensive line hasn't been on the field together for a single practice during training camp.
Jm Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are looking for quarterback Marc Bulger to improve upon shaky play this exhibition season. Thomas lists extenuating circumstances behind Bulger's problems, but the bottom line is this: "Through two preseason games, Bulger has a passer rating of only 14.1, completing 10 of 23 passes for 85 yards with three interceptions and no touchdowns."
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams defensive lineman Victor Adeyanju, and before I continue, let me recommend clicking on the link to check out the ridiculous cast/wrap Adeyanju is wearing on his right hand. As Adeyanju, the Rams' best run-defending lineman, put it: "It feels like you're carrying a baby."