NFL Nation: Gil Haskell

John Carlson came to work one day last summer to discover the Seattle Seahawks were forking over big bucks for another tight end.

The situation went from bad to worse for Carlson when he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury requiring surgery. After sitting out the 2011 season and recovering, Carlson has lined up a visit with the Kansas City Chiefs, Bill Williamson notes on the AFC West blog.

Carlson, 27, illustrates the costs of quarterback and scheme instability.

The Seahawks used a 2008 second-round choice for him because their coach at the time, Mike Holmgren, thought Carlson could provide long-sought production at the position. The Seahawks have gone from Gil Haskell to Greg Knapp to Jeremy Bates to Darrell Bevell at offensive coordinator since that time. They have shifted away from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and just about everyone else Holmgren brought to Seattle.

Carlson's production as a receiver suffered. He went from 55 receptions as a rookie to 51 the following year to 31 in 2010. The Seahawks have said they value him, but the money they gave Zach Miller last offseason told everyone which tight end Seattle valued the most.

Miller went from averaging about 60 receptions per season in Oakland to a 25-catch year with Seattle in 2011. He was strong as a blocker, but the drop in receiving production showed Carlson had company among Seattle tight ends struggling to produce in the passing game recently.

Why Seahawks' Wallace has value

March, 6, 2010
Seahawks backup quarterback Seneca Wallace spent six seasons learning Mike Holmgren's offense.

Wallace's mastery of that offense could make him more valuable to the Browns, who are implementing Holmgren's offense, than to the Seahawks, who are changing offenses for the second consecutive offseason.

Backup quarterbacks don't get many reps. It can take them longer to master an offense.

Former Seahawks offensive coordinator Gil Haskell is helping the Browns install Holmgren's offense. Wallace would give the Browns a quarterback instantly familiar with the terminology and playbook.

Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, citing a league source, said the Browns could have interest in Wallace. I'm not sure how much the Seahawks' new staff values Wallace, but if Seattle could find a suitable backup, parting with Wallace by trade could make sense. It's not like he knows the Seahawks' offense.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers held a phone interview with Broncos assistant Pat McPherson, a candidate to coach quarterbacks for the 49ers. McPherson would likely coach the position if the team hired Broncos assistant Rick Dennison as offensive coordinator.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers have discussed the possibility of hiring an offensive coordinator from within. Also, the Broncos might have interest in 49ers offensive assistant Adam Gase.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says McPherson served as position coach for Jake Plummer, who posted a 39-15 starting record with McPherson coaching the position.

Richard Obert of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals continue to fight through personnel issues at tight end.

Also from Obert: Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb trains in Arizona.

Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette checks in with former Redskins and University of Iowa defensive back Matt Bowen for scouting reports on Kurt Warner and McNabb. Bowen played with Warner and against McNabb.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie claims to be the fastest player on the Cardinals, and he's willing to back it up.

Darren Urban of checks in with Steve Breaston, who disputes Rodgers-Cromartie's claim while declining to prove it until after the season.

Also from Urban: The Cardinals passed out shirts featuring a simple message. "PROVE IT," the shirts read.

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune thinks Rodgers-Cromartie can become a perennial Pro Bowl cornerback. 

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer shares his thoughts on changes to the Seahawks' coaching staff. Farnsworth: "Seeing [Gil] Haskell go is almost as difficult as watching Holmgren walk away. Like [Mike] Holmgren, Haskell is a good coach and an even better person. But [Greg] Knapp's name as the eventual O.C. surfaced a year ago, when [Jim] Mora was named the head-coach-in-waiting. Knapp and Mora worked together previously in San Francisco and Atlanta, and it was imperative that Mora have his 'own guy' running the offense because his expertise is on the defensive side of the ball."

Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier emerged from his Rams interview hopeful the team would hire him as head coach. Frazier: "I felt really good about the interview. I had no second guesses about, 'Maybe I should have said this or that.' I put everything out there that needed to be out there and now it's a matter of if I'm the right fit for what they're looking for." 

John Clayton says the Rams' interest in Steve Spagnuolo and Jason Garrett shows money isn't a problem for the team in its search for a new head coach.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks followed through on long-established intentions to hire Greg Knapp as their offensive coordinator. Knapp replaces Gil Haskell. The Seahawks have advised several holdover assistants to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Haskell has ties to the 49ers and the Bay Area, but his coaching future remains uncertain.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Knapp's arrival could force the Seahawks to learn a new offensive scheme. How much will change remains unknown.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have scheduled interviews with Josh McDaniels and Rex Ryan. The team does not plan to interview the Bucs' Raheem Morris.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat gives the Rams' offensive line a D-minus grade for its performance in 2008.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers have interviewed Tom Rathman as a candidate to become running backs coach. Rathman was previously expected to accompany Knapp to Seattle, but he would apparently prefer to remain in the Bay Area.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee notes that Rathman followed Steve Mariucci from the 49ers to the Lions before landing in Oakland.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are one of six current NFL teams never to play in a Super Bowl, and the only one of the six with a chance to get there this season.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic sizes up the Cardinals' offensive line, noting that opponents have sacked Kurt Warner only once in the last two games.

Darren Urban of says Anquan Boldin's status for Saturday remains unclear.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Gary Plummer of explains why he thinks the 49ers' defense is performing better lately. Plummer: "I think guys are being more aggressive. The players are flying around to the football and you're seeing more movement upfront. The 49ers are playing much more of the 3-4 than they were earlier in the season. There are more stunts and slants. Guys are getting into gaps. That wasn't what the scheme was earlier in the year, but it has become the scheme now, and it's become effective."

Nate Clements, writing for, says his thumb felt a little weird but did not hurt after having a pin removed this week.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers are about to find out whether the $2 million they invested in DeShaun Foster was money well spent.

Also from Crumpacker: Michael Robinson and Delanie Walker will return kicks Sunday even though Allen Rossum is back from injury. Expect Rossum to return punts. Kick returns are generally more violent.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider quotes Mike Singletary as saying Frank Gore has a better chance than Arnaz Battle at playing for the 49ers in Week 15. Also, former 49ers coach Mike Nolan used to play NFL Films music during warmups at training camp. Singletary takes another approach.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat checks in with Foster, who feels fresh after playing only sparingly in the first 13 games.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the even-keeled Foster is showing no additional excitement despite a likely increased role.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Vernon Davis has promised Singletary he'll keep his cool despite opponents' ramped-up attempts to rile him.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' Antrel Rolle has made a successful transition from cornerback to free safety. The team had trouble finding a viable free safety before Rolle made the switch.

Also from Somers: Levi Brown hopes to enjoy a Hall of Fame career amid chatter that the Cardinals should have drafted Adrian Peterson instead.

Darren Urban of says the Cardinals' secondary is more of a finished product with Rolle at free safety and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at cornerback.

Also from Urban: Aaron Francisco is coming off a six-tackle game on special teams.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune takes a look at the Cardinals' draft class from 2007. Picking up Steven Breaston in the fifth round worked out great, but has anyone seen Buster Davis?

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Mike Holmgren finally has the tight end he has coveted. Holmgren wishes he had John Carlson a decade ago.

Also from Farnsworth: Offensive coordinator Gil Haskell says Walter Jones was enjoying a far better season than in 2007 before a knee injury intervened.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Rams and Seahawks have suffered from turnovers on their offensive lines.

Also from O'Neil, with Jose Romero: Any second thoughts Holmgren had about retiring became irrelevant when the organization committed to Jim Mora.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune asks whether the Seahawks should select Jones' replacement in the first round of the 2009 draft.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggests a bad economy and a bad record have conspired for a local TV blackout Sunday.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Holmgren, whose NFL career began when the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in 1970.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat addresses the blackout before noting that former 49ers linebacker Larry Grant would play Sunday if injury prevents special-teams leader Gary Still from playing. Also, cornerback Jason Craft left practice after his back tightened up.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times sizes up Seahawks rookie running back Justin Forsett as tougher than his diminutive frame might indicate. Forsett has performed well during camp so far. A strong exhibition season could force the Seahawks to consider keeping him. At practice the other day, I asked Mike Holmgren about the numbers at running back. He said they usually go with a combined 11 players at running back and receiver (six of one, five of the other). Forsett would likely be the sixth running back if Seattle kept that many. Jordan Kent might be the sixth receiver if Seattle kept that many.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee explains why J.T. O'Sullivan appeals to 49ers coach Mike Nolan. The quarterback's businesslike demeanor and command of the offense set him apart from the other quarterbacks in camp. The team wants to see how that translates from the practice field to a live situation.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle compares the 49ers' quarterback auditions to American Idol, minus Paula Abdul. Former starter Alex Smith is the second quarterback. Smith: "It's weird. It's certainly different. Even today, not taking reps with the ones (the first team, in the last practice before a game) is something different."

Also from FitzGerald: Niners receiver Isaac Bruce might not play in the exhibition opener at Oakland Friday. The team wants Bruce rested for the regular season. Fellow receivers Bryant Johnson (hamstring) and Ashley Lelie (calf) are resting injuries. Keep an eye on rookie receiver Josh Morgan and second-year receiver Jason Hill.

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune describes Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart as even better than his impressive stat line. I'll have more on Leinart later this morning.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic singled out several Cardinals for praise following the team's exhibition opener against the Saints. Somers: "Quarterback Matt Leinart, in his third year, was sharp. Receiver Steve Breaston, in his second season, was dynamic. And a handful of rookies, including running back Tim Hightower, defensive end Calais Campbell and linebacker Ali Highsmith, turned in some big plays."

Also from Somers: Highs and lows from the Cardinals' performance. Rookie defensive end Kenny Iwebema had a sack. From what I saw, Iwebema appeared active.

Also from Somers, II: A notebook with items about the Cardinals' penalty problems and coach Ken Whisenhunt's belief that Arizona has better depth than the score might indicate. The Saints outscored the Cardinals by a 17-0 count in the second half. Arizona's depth is an issue.

Bob Young of the Arizona Republic channels comedian Jeff Foxworthy with a column entitled, "You might be a Redbird if ..." Sample material: "If the Bears are who you thought they were, you might be a Redbird." Be sure to check out the comments on this one. As reader Chocolatemilk countered: "If you're making reference to a comedy bit from 1992 in a 2008 sports story, you might be Bob Young." Not bad.

Darren Urban of singles out Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Steve Breaston and Jerheme Urban among those Cardinals to play well against New Orleans. On the flip side, free safety Antrel Rolle muffed a punt while getting work as a return specialist.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune points out the Cardinals' 0-5 record in exhibition games under Whisenhunt. But with Leinart's strong showing, the team doesn't have to worry about increased calls for backup Kurt Warner, who did not play against the Saints.

Eric Williams of Seahawks Insider breaks down some key matchups and opportunities for Seattle players entering the exhibition opener at Minnesota. He wonders if Kyle Williams' development might make it tough for injury-plagued offensive lineman Floyd Womack to earn a roster spot this summer. A fair question.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks have brought a fatter playbook to camp, giving the offense a better chance against a veteran defense returning all 11 starters. Also: Former Cowboys running back Julius Jones is fired up about finally getting into a game situation with his new team. That would be a Texas-sized chip on Jones' shoulder.

Jim Moore of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the NFL borrowed from the Seahawks for its recently released policy on fan behavior at games. Years ago, I remember sitting in the stands at the L.A. Coliseum while marijuana smoke wafted through the stands. I also remember sitting behind a fan wearing an expletive-laden sign telling then-Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer what to do with himself. The environment was rated NC-17. The Seahawks' motto for fan behavior is, "Keep it PG."

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks aren't saying how much quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will play against the Vikings tonight. Hasselbeck suffered a knee injury playing against the Vikings in 2006. He wasn't happy with Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson, the player who rolled into his legs.

Greg Johns of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says former Browns quarterback Charlie Frye hasn't forgotten what happened to him in Cleveland after only one game last season. Hasselbeck helped Frye adjust upon arriving in Seattle. Offensive coordinator Gil Haskell on the Seahawks No. 3 quarterback: "He's a very smart guy and he wants to be a good player, but the system takes awhile to learn. Trent Dilfer had a tough time with it. Matt had a little bit of a tough time with it. But (Frye) can definitely throw, so we'll go from there."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the Rams liked what they saw during practices with the Titans. Coach Scott Linehan liked how the Rams stood up to the Titans during a fight-marred practice session.

Jim Thomas of the
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
was there when former Titans Drew Bennett and Jacob Bell, now with the Rams, caught up with their former teammates.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic offers counseling for Anquan Boldin and the Cardinals as their contract impasse simmers. Somers: "If Boldin performs at his usual level while taking the high road and allowing his agent to be the bad guy, the Cardinals will be under pressure to give him a deal comparable to (Larry) Fitzgerald's. And if they don't, they'll be forced to trade him to try to get value for one of the league's better receivers." We're a long way off from that. As the story notes, Boldin has three years remaining on his current deal.

Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explains why former Rams linebacker Brandon Chillar hasn't unseated Brady Poppinga as a starter in Green Bay. McGinn quotes an NFC personnel evaluator this way: "Chillar is a better athlete than Poppinga and will probably make more plays. He's an old-school, traditional outside linebacker. He can stack. But the reality is, if you've got those other two (A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett), you don't need a third guy to make a lot of plays. You just need him to be in the right spot." Poppinga is apparently more reliable than Chillar that way, which is to be expected because Poppinga has been in the Packers' system longer.

This Associated Press story about Marc Bulger concludes with an interesting quote from the Rams quarterback, who is apparently asserting more leadership now that longtime teammate Isaac Bruce is catching passes in San Francisco. Bulger: "It was tough before when Isaac would run a wrong route or something. I'd say something and he'd give you the Isaac look, so I kind of kept my mouth shut. I think now with some of the younger guys and even some of the older guys, they respect me now, because they think I have a better grasp of the offense than anyone in there. I have been in it for such a long time, and with knowledge you can have that confidence."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune takes a closer look at Seahawks offensive lineman Mansfield Wrotto, who is suddenly getting work at center with the first-team offense. The Seahawks drafted Wrotto in 2007 with the fourth-round choice they acquired from San Francisco in the Darrell Jackson trade. If Wrotto develops into a contributor, we'll have tangible evidence of what already appears obvious: Seattle's new line coaches know how to develop younger players.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the Rams' situation at receiver, with an eye toward Derek Stanley. Coats: "The Rams probably will employ six, and Torry Holt, Drew Bennett, plus draft picks Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton, almost surely are safe. If the team doesn't have the luxury of keeping (Dante) Hall strictly as a returner, then the last spot probably will come down to Stanley, Reche Caldwell, Marques Hagans, Dane Looker and Brandon Williams."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times takes a look at the Seahawks' situation at running back. Julius Jones and Maurice Morris are both starters, coach Mike Holmgren hedges. The trend in the league has been to sharing carries, but there's an old saying some coaches stand by: running back by committee means you don't have anyone worthy of the job.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer sets the scene as the Seahawks put on pads for the first time this summer. Offensive coordinator Gil Haskell:"It's as elemental as it sounds. It's just a different game."

Steve Korte of the Belleville News Democrat checks in with Rams left tackle Orlando Pace, who wants to leave the game on his own terms. Rams coach Scott Linehan is taking the optimistic view on Pace's recent injury troubles. He attributes them to bad luck, which he says usually doesn't stay bad. Unless you're the 2007 Rams, who couldn't get a break.

Chrissy Mauck of caught up with former Bucs, Ravens, Seahawks, Browns and 49ers quarterback Trent Dilfer, who dropped by 49ers practice. Said Dilfer, now an analyst for ESPN: "I hope if I have a legacy at all with the 49ers that it was that I taught them a little bit about football, but most importantly, showed them what it means to be a great teammate at the quarterback position. In our room, we always emphasized that we couldn't be successful unless that room knows how to compete, but at the same time, help support and be a cheerleader for one another. We always made sure we had an absolute blast working hard and getting better and knowing that this thing is about wins and losses, not your personal achievements."