NFL Nation: Carmen Policy

Gene Wojciechowski does a nice job in this piece of recounting Joe Montana’s separation from the 49ers and comparing it to what’s unfolding for Peyton Manning with the Indianapolis Colts.
“NFL history repeats itself. The circumstances aren't exactly the same, but they're similar enough. Bottom line: Divorce proceedings between a generational player and the franchise he helped make famous are never easy. ‘It was horribly difficult,’ (Niners team president Carmen) Policy said the other day by phone, describing Montana's departure from the 49ers in 1993. ‘At that time he had won four Super Bowls. He was the quintessential comeback kid. He was so revered in the community, so loved in the locker room.
[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
AP Photo/Frederick BreedonIt's difficult to miss all the signs that point to the Colts separating from QB Peyton Manning.
"In a strong, strong way there are similarities in terms of what Peyton Manning has done for that franchise in Indianapolis. You almost can't think of the franchise without thinking of Peyton Manning. … To separate is really, really difficult and heart wrenching."

But I have to disagree with Wojciechowski’s conclusion. He believes the Colts should do whatever necessary to hold on to Manning.
“Maybe you push back the March 8 due date on Manning's $28 million option bonus. Maybe you say, ‘I want you to begin and end your career wearing the horseshoe, but you've got to work with me on this $28 mil. Can we restructure it?’

“Maybe you tell him, ‘Come back, play another year, help mentor (Andrew) Luck or RG3 and then we'll put together an organizational golden parachute for you. And if you play like pre-neck surgery Peyton, then we'll re-up you for another year or you go somewhere as a free agent.’

“Professional. Reasonable. Logical.”

But not feasible.

The NFLPA tells me the first renegotiated of a contract can take place at any time. Then the second cannot happen within a year if it causes a salary increase over the first redo.

So Manning's contract isn’t the big issue, actually.

The issue is every move the Colts have made since the end of the season has been intended to set up a fresh start and a new era. And as much as the Colts love Manning and appreciate his work for them, finding a way to keep him on a team that’s going to undergo a major rebuild under a new GM with a new coach and staff and with the No. 1 pick coming to town is impractical.

It’s too late to take the path Woj wants, and while taking it is in some way the noble thing to do to preserve what’s been a beautiful thing, it’s not the practical thing to do for the long-term health of the franchise.

It’s in no way easy. It’s incredibly emotional for all parties involved.

The odds that all these factors would arrive at the same time were incredibly low: Manning’s continued uncertain health; the secondary bonus coming due that triggers the remainder of his contract; the Colts’ terrible season without him that resulted in the No. 1 pick; the availability of Luck with that pick; Irsay’s frustration with Bill Polian and Chris Polian coming off that failed season that led to their dismissals; the hiring of Ryan Grigson as the new GM; the removal of Jim Caldwell; the hiring of Chuck Pagano as the new coach; looming decisions on three old-guard guys heading to free agency -- center Jeff Saturday, receiver Reggie Wayne and defensive end Robert Mathis.

If Irsay had decided to attempt to load up for a three-season push for another Super Bowl with Manning, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. But he either had to go all-in in such fashion, or bail and start anew.

He’s already well down the path to the second strategy. And the Colts brass needs to line up with the approach Policy took with Montana.

There is a Jim Irsay-Manning meeting looming. There is a lot of talk about a decision still to be made. It's hard for me to imagine Irsay hasn't already made it and we aren't just waiting for it to play out.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have no interest in former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress. Miklasz: "When new head coach Steve Spagnuolo was hired, he stressed the four pillars of his leadership, the four pillars that would rebuild the franchise: (1) Faith; (2) Character; (3) Core Values; (4) Team. Does that sound like Plaxico Burress to you?" Burress could be facing jail time.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says bouncing between nose tackle and three-technique tackle hasn't helped first-round choice Adam Carriker. Thomas: "Carriker's first two seasons were slightly disappointing, but in his defense he was bouncing around [from] NT to UT. He's more suited for UT, or 3-technique, it seems, and if he's left there, he might come around pretty quickly. [Clifton] Ryan has been pretty solid in the middle. The rest of the rotation is pretty much up in the air at this point. Rookie Darell Scott probably will be in there, and Orien Harris, too. As for [Claude] Wroten, I expect the Rams to release him as soon as he's reinstated. Of course, I could be wrong about that. But he doesn't seem to fit the Spags profile."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Spagnuolo is stressing penalty reduction. Also: "Larry Grant worked with the first unit at strongside LB on Tuesday. That spot is open following the release of veteran Pisa Tinoisamoa. With second-round draftee James Laurinaitis still with the No. 2 unit, Chris Draft was at MLB with the ones."

Mike Swift of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers have reached agreement with Santa Clara on financing for a new stadium. Mayor Patricia Mahan: "I believe we have negotiated as far as we can, and we are ready to bring it to the public." The public could get a look at the deal next week.

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle sizes up the 49ers' stadium efforts this way:"In this corner, there is Jed York, born to the purple and working on behalf of mom and dad to get the Santa Clara deal moving. In the other, there is Carmen Policy, Eddie DeBartolo's old wing man, working on behalf of Lennar, the folks who are trying to make the 49ers a new home at Hunters Point if the Santa Clara thing collapses. And in the middle -- leaning toward Jed -- is Eddie, who is about to be inducted into the 49ers' Hall of Fame, largely on Jed's initiative. We're sure the development is entirely coincidental and meritorious."

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' other receivers seem to be embracing first-round choice Michael Crabtree, viewing him more as a threat to opponents than to their own playing time. If veteran Isaac Bruce is concerned, it's not showing. He has skipped the voluntary workouts to this point.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers players keep getting hurt during organized team activities (OTAs). Crumpacker: "The early diagnosis on [Walt] Harris was a sprained knee, with further evaluation to come. The 49ers are not deep at cornerback. Behind Harris on the depth chart is Tarell Brown and after him, there's Shawntae Spencer, who is coming off a 2008 knee injury that cost him 14 games."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the best-case scenario for Alex Smith and the 49ers would be for Shaun Hill to open the 2009 season as the starter. I think that depends on how the quarterbacks look during the offseason, specifically during the exhibition games. Is there a chance Smith wins the job and plays well for 16 games? Also, just to be clear, the 49ers also have no interest in Burress.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers' depth at receiver is being tested with Bruce away, Crabtree rehabilitating a foot injury and Jason Hill suffering a sprained ankle in practice.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says new Cardinals running back Jason Wright is embracing the opportunity in Arizona. Wright: "It's an offense that puts players in the best position to win. It's an attacking offense, aggressive and it's not reactive. I love that about this offense. It's forward moving and it's very efficient. In fact, I was amazed during our first minicamp at how many completions there were and how few dropped balls and mental errors I saw. That's really rare. But they've got something really crisp going on."

Also from McManaman: Karlos Dansby expresses confidence in the Cardinals' ability to reach a long-term agreement with him.

Carrie Watters of the Arizona Republic details Arizona's failed bid to land the 2013 Super Bowl. New Orleans was more than a sentimental favorite.

Darren Urban of says Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Adrian Wilson, Sean Morey, Kenny Iwebema, Bertrand Berry and Chike Okeafor did not attend OTAs Monday. Urban expects them to show up later.

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind sizes up Cardinals sixth-round choice Will Davis. Hawkwind: "It wouldn't be surprising at all, given the current depth at OLB, for Davis to spend the season on the practice squad. He has zero experience in space [and] his transition to OLB will be more difficult than second round pick Cody Brown. When you add in that he also needs to get stronger and possibly drop some weight, a year on the practice squad seems to make sense. If he does find his way onto the roster, it'll likely be because he's made a name for himself on special teams."

Gregg Bell of the Associated Press says Bryan Pittman's agent confirmed the long-snapper's contract agreement with the Seahawks.

Clare Farnsworth of says vice president Joe Biden, speaking at Wake Forest's commencement, pointed to Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry as reason for optimism. Biden: "As a student of history, it's the history behind me and the people in front of me that give me such a degree of optimism. ... It's about Aaron Curry, a scrawny freshman linebacker recruited by only two schools, who worked his rear off, became a Top 5 pick, and is walking off this stage into an opposing NFL backfield. Aaron, I heard you wanted to go to law school -- you were considering going to graduate school. I also heard that your fellow draftees have taken up a collection encouraging you to go. So I'm sure there's a scholarship there if you want it."

John Morgan of Field Gulls outlines 10 keys for the Seahawks on defense. Darryl Tapp's emergence tops the list.

Posted by's Mike Sando

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle looks at some of the 49ers' predraft visitors, noting that Aaron Maybin is the only top pass-rush specialist known to have visited. Crumpacker thinks Ole Miss tackle Michael Oher will be available when the 49ers pick at No. 10.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat isn't sure if Kentwan Balmer will become a good player, but the 49ers' first-round draft choice does seem to work hard. Balmer played about 18 percent of the snaps for the 49ers last seaon, according to a scout I know.

Also from Maiocco: Would the 49ers add a third quarterback to their competition for the starting job in 2009? Mark Sanchez visited team headquarters recently.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider thinks B.J. Raji will go fourth to Seattle or fifth to Cleveland, assuming the Boston College defensive tackle did not test positive for drugs at the combine, as some reports have suggested. I don't see Raji as a likely candidate for Seattle after the team added Cory Redding and Colin Cole, but he would give them an interior defensive lineman to push the pocket.

Florida Danny of Niners Nation takes a look back at how the 49ers drafted under Carmen Policy from 1994 to 1998. An overemphasis on free agency at the expense of the draft might have contributed to the 49ers' eventual fall, he reasons.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals nose tackle Alan Branch is at a career crossroads after a disappointing start to his career. Branch: "Last year I really didn't understand how much the weight was important to the coaches. Last year, I thought even if I was a little overweight, even if I played well, it wouldn't matter. But what Coach Whisenhunt told me was not coming in at the weight he wanted proved that he couldn't fully trust me."

Darren Urban of looks back at Larry Fitzgerald's run through the playoffs. Fitzgerald: "The whole experience, those five weeks, man, the practices leading up to the game, it was just amazing. Simply amazing."

Matt Pawlikowski of the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal says Dan Kreider is happy to enhance the Pittsburgh flavor on the Cardinals' roster. Pawlikowski: "Kreider says he is not sure how much time he will see on the field considering the Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston. But [Ken] Whisenhunt has said he wants to run the ball more, so the Manheim Central graduate might figure prominently in 2009."

John Morgan of Field Gulls sizes up Oklahoma receiver Juaquin Iglesias as a potential choice for Seattle with the 68th overall choice in the draft. Morgan: "I'm a sucker for good route runners, and Iglesias is a good route runner. I'm gaga for players with poor timed speed that excelled at speed-dependent skills like rushing and returning. Iglesias was a top twenty return man his first two seasons, peaking at 28.48 yards per return in 2007, but saw his return production drop as his receiving production improved."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times checks in with new Seahawks offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, who worked closely with Matt Hasselbeck in adapting the team's new offense.

Nick Wagoner of previews receivers available in the NFL draft. The Rams could certainly use one. Wagoner: "One year after taking two wideouts in the first four rounds, the Rams will again be on the hunt for help catching the ball in this year's draft. ... Armed with the No. 2 selection in the draft, the Rams have showed at least some interest in Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree and Mizzou's Jeremy Maclin. ... Perhaps more likely, though, is the possibility that the Rams would use a second or third round choice on a receiver."

Posted by's Mike Sando

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider revisits the relationship between 49ers legends Bill Walsh and Eddie DeBartolo. Lynch: "Because of the way things ended, I don't think Eddie ever got the credit he deserved. He was a master at hiring the right people, chief among them, Walsh. Walsh was known in football circles at that time, but that was about it. All he had done up to that point, in the view of many, was take Stanford to the Blue Bonnet Bowl. But Eddie and Carmen Policy saw something in him."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee checks in with new 49ers defensive end Demetric Evans via ESPN 980 in Washington, D.C. Evans on Mike Singletary's impact during the free-agent recruiting process: "Yeah, for one he's a Christian guy and not only did he meet with me privately, he met with me in front of some of the defensive players. He was just cutting it clean and dry [with them] saying, 'Hey, we're bringing Demetric to compete for the starting job. Hey, I want you to meet him. Hey, this is Takeo Spikes, Walt Harris.' So that made me feel more welcome when the team knows why you're coming in there and to have somebody there introducing you to some of the guys. It was very personal."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic quotes Matt Leinart as saying he won't ask for a trade from the Cardinals even though Kurt Warner appears likely to start for the next two seasons.

Also from Somers: A jovial Anquan Boldin shrugged off questions about his future in Arizona. Boldin: "Letting my agent take care of it; I'm completely out of that. I'm enjoying the off-season, and I plan on continuing to do that. When it gets done, it will get done. I can't worry about when, or if, it's going to happen. The only thing I can do right now is take care of myself, continue to work out, stay in shape, enjoy the off-season. Because the season comes around quick."

Matthew Heuett of Seahawk Addicts explains why he thinks safety Brian Russell gets a bad rap. Some Seahawks fans I encounter do hold Russell responsible for a disproportionate number of problems on defense. The coaching staff obviously hasn't agreed with that sentiment, at least not to a strong enough degree to make a lineup change. My primary criticism of Russell relates to his tackling. Sometimes he hits guys with a shoulder, failing to wrap up, allowing receivers and running backs to gain extra yardage.

Free-agent fullback Mike Karney could draw interest from the Rams this week. The Rams are looking for a traditional fullback. The 258-pound Karney could fit the profile. Here is what Scouts Inc. once said about the recently released Saints fullback: "Lacks athleticism after the catch but will get upfield and provide a physical finish. As a lead blocker Karney is inconsistent with pad level on contact and will get upright at times. Has some pop but is not a consistently strong finisher. Does a good job taking advantage of off-balance defenders and he will unload on stationary targets. Doesn't have great adjustment skills and will look slow sifting through traffic to find LBs not in the hole. Struggles against quickness in pass protection, lacking good feet to slide-and-mirror, but will find a way to get a piece of blitzers. Overall, Karney is an effective starter who has size and plays with good effort."


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