NFL Nation: Joe Nedney

Sorry, no news on the San Francisco 49ers and Nnamdi Asomugha.

The team did go after a kicker, though, and an acclaimed one in David Akers, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.

The 49ers' agreement with Akers, 36, spells the end in San Francisco for 38-year-old Joe Nedney, who had been with the team since 2005. Nedney made 86.6 percent of his field-goal tries since coming to the 49ers, the fourth-highest percentage among kickers with at least 40 made field goals during that time. That included making 26 of 28 in his first season with the team.

Akers ranks 28th on that list with an 80.7 percent success rate, but he is a five-time Pro Bowl choice with extensive playoff experience. Akers once set an NFL playoff record by making 19 consecutive field-goal attempts, although he missed twice during the Eagles' playoff defeat against Green Bay last season.

Akers surely comes to the 49ers with a high recommendation from Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, brother of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. John Harbaugh was the Eagles' special-teams coach for much of Akers' tenure with the team.

Nedney finished last season on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Jed York and the 49ers' impulsiveness

December, 28, 2010
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There's no harm when a fan says he wants the head coach fired or the quarterback traded following a stupefying defeat -- or even after a particularly horrendous play.

Fans react.

When Joe Nedney's field goal sailed through on the San Francisco 49ers' final play of the final game of the 2008 regular season, the team had won four of its final five games under interim coach Mike Singletary.

[+] EnlargeJed York
AP Photo/Dino Vournas49ers president Jed York said the team would first hire a GM before finding a new head coach.
The natural, emotional reaction: Hire the man right now!

That is what the 49ers did. Their young team president, Jed York, seemed swept up in the moment the way a fan, not a team executive, might be swept up in the moment.

My take at the time:
"The 49ers' decision to hire Mike Singletary immediately following their final regular season game seemed to qualify as a hasty move.

"Reports described a seemingly breathless Jed York making a quick, bold move in his first hours as team president. The 49ers came off like a team using an exclamation point after every sentence.

"Mike Singletary did a great job! Let's hire him right now! OMG! Next season is going to be soooo great! This is the last time a 49ers season will end in December!"

That didn't necessarily mean the 49ers made the wrong move. But it was clear Singletary would have to make the right decision at offensive coordinator, and it was unclear whether he could do so -- or handle the jump from position coach to face of the franchise.

We now know the 49ers acted hastily. There are signs similar impulsiveness has driven recent moves.

When the 49ers opened the season 0-5, York reacted with the bluster of a frustrated fan bellying up to the bar for another cold one. He publicly guaranteed the team would win the NFC West. York made a similar pledge upon hiring Singletary, suggesting a return to playoff form was imminent.

Within minutes of the 49ers' elimination from playoff contention Sunday, York was sending strong signals that Singletary would not last long. He was reacting. York fired Singletary later that night upon returning to team headquarters from St. Louis.

Firing Singletary was the right move, but York's obvious need to make the change right away raised questions in my mind about his temperament. Were the emotions of the moment driving the swiftness of the decision? If so, how might this impulsiveness come into play down the line?

York said some of the right things Monday when he told reporters the team would hire a general manager, and that the GM would make the important decision from there, starting with hiring a head coach. The 49ers will be best served if that GM has the strength to resist the impulses that seem to drive York from time to time.

Seahawks, Falcons test NFL extremes

December, 19, 2010
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The NFL rosters I maintain for every team in the league had fallen out of date recently.

I finally had time to update them Saturday night.

One revelation: The Atlanta Falcons left for their road trip in Seattle with a 53-man roster featuring a league-high 43 players back from last season. The Seahawks went into the weekend with a league-low 22 such players. The rest of the league averaged 33.3.

The counts reflect players currently on 53-man rosters who spent Week 17 last season on active rosters or injured reserve. Seattle has had the lowest figure all season, a reflection of their efforts to remake the roster under a new head coach.

Detroit and Washington have 25. Seattle is the only team with fewer.

Counts for the rest of the NFC West heading into the weekend: St. Louis (32), Arizona (31) and San Francisco (30). The 49ers' numbers dwindled later in the season after the team placed Joe Nedney, Frank Gore and Eric Heitmann on injured reserve.

Seahawks without top receivers vs. 49ers

December, 12, 2010
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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Seattle Seahawks named injured receivers Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu inactive Sunday.

Playing without Williams, in particular, puts the Seahawks at a significant deficit as they try to improve their NFC West record to 4-1 against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park. Williams' presence on third down, in particular, helps the Seahawks sustain drives. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has played at a higher level lately -- more confidently, more efficiently -- with Williams in the lineup.

Seattle might now need to rely more heavily on its ground game. The ground game showed improvement against Carolina last week. The 49ers are allowing 3.6 yards per carry on the ground, however. That is the third-best average for any defense in the NFL this season.

Also inactive for Seattle: guard Breno Giacomini, guard Chester Pitts, tackle William Robinson, defensive lineman Amon Gordon and defensive lineman Jay Richardson. J.P. Losman is the third quarterback.

The 49ers' inactive players: kicker Joe Nedney, cornerback Tramaine Brock, running back DeShawn Wynn, cornerback William James, linebacker Thaddeus Gibson, tackle Joe Staley and tackle Alex Boone. David Carr is the third quarterback.

Hitting key points on MNF inactive lists

November, 29, 2010
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Wide receiver Steve Breaston is active for the Arizona Cardinals despite his questionable status on the injury report.

Teammates Calais Campbell and Greg Toler, both starters on defense, will miss the Cardinals' game against the San Francisco 49ers. Both were named inactive. Alan Branch starts for Campbell (injured ankle) at defensive end. Michael Adams starts for Toler (foot) at right cornerback.

Toler had struggled some before suffering the injury. Adams is tenacious, but he lacks size.

Breaston will play despite a knee injury. Versatile running back LaRod Stephens-Howling is also active for the Cardinals. A hamstring injury sidelined him against Kansas City last week. Stephens-Howling has dynamic skills as a kickoff returner. The Cardinals use him as a running back and wide receiver on offense. He's particularly useful to them on second down, often with fullback Jason Wright and three wide receivers.

Inactive for the 49ers: kicker Joe Nedney, cornerback Tramaine Brock, cornerback Williams James, linebacker Thaddeus Gibson, left tackle Joe Staley and tackle Alex Boone. David Carr is the third quarterback. Barry Sims starts at left tackle for the 49ers. He was steady in relief last season, but perhaps a bit rusty against Tampa Bay last week. His matchup against the Cardinals' Joey Porter could be worth monitoring.

Inactive for the Cardinals: receiver Max Komar, safety Hamza Abdullah, cornerback Marshay Green, linebacker Reggie Walker, center Ben Claxton, Campbell and Toler. John Skelton is the third quarterback.

Seahawks' Hasselbeck, 49ers' Staley hurt

November, 14, 2010
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SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco 49ers will be without left tackle Joe Staley indefinitely after Staley suffered a fractured fibula in his left leg Sunday.

Staley suffered two injuries to the leg, according to the 49ers. X-rays were negative following the first injury and Staley returned to the game. He suffered the fracture later and hopped off the field. Staley tried to gut it out, but he could barely walk.

The 49ers' Will James (concussion), Adam Snyder (shoulder) and Joe Nedney (non-kicking knee) also suffered injuries.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Seahawks are not sure about quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's status after Hasselbeck suffered a cracked bone in his left wrist, according to reports from Arizona, where Seattle grabbed sole possession of first place with a 36-18 victory over the Cardinals.
The St. Louis Rams' decision to try an onside kick to open their game against Detroit backfired when the Lions recovered and drove to a field goal.

The move seemed like an unnecessary risk against an 0-4 Lions team looking for a spark (easy for me to say with the benefit of hindsight).

Did the failed try affect the outcome? That's a tough sell after Detroit dominated so thoroughly during its 44-6 victory. Teams that failed to recover their own onside kicks had a 3-2 record over the last decade before Sunday.

In looking at every onside attempt to open a game since 2001, I can see where the Rams got the idea. Spanguolo was with the Philadelphia Eagles when Andy Reid opened games with onside kicks.

Philadelphia and Buffalo are the only teams in the last 10 seasons to recover their own onside kicks to open games. The Eagles drove to a field goal on their opening drive. The Bills lost a fumble on their second play.

The chart breaks down each of the eight onside tries to open games since 2001. Thanks to Keith Hawkins of ESPN Stats & Information for providing the information via Elias Sports Bureau.

Wrap-up: Eagles 27, 49ers 24

October, 10, 2010
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Thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers following their 27-24 defeat against the Philadelphia Eagles at Candlestick Park on Sunday night:

What it means: The 49ers are going to have a hard time holding things together after their fifth consecutive defeat to open the season. They appear doomed and it's tough finding likely victories on their upcoming schedule based on how the season has played out so far. The 49ers are suffering breakdowns almost across the board -- even Frank Gore and Joe Nedney proved unreliable Sunday night -- and quarterback Alex Smith isn't good enough to transcend the mistakes. We've gone from wondering whether the 49ers would win the NFC West to wondering how much longer the organization will stick with Mike Singletary as head coach.

Tomorrow's Talker: Cameras showed Singletary ripping into Smith following the quarterback's costly lost fumble. Singletary appeared on the verge of making a quarterback change. Cameras showed backup David Carr speaking on the sideline phone linking to the coaches' booth. Did Smith talk his coach out of making a change? Former 49ers quarterback Shaun Hill made such a successful plea previously. Did Singletary nearly bench Smith? Is a quarterback change coming soon?

Goat(s): There were several from which to choose. Call it a herd. Gore lost two fumbles. Nedney missed a 40-yard field-goal attempt as the first half ended. Smith threw interceptions and lost that fumble after rolling awkwardly to his left against pressure.

Identity crisis: Who are the 49ers? What do they do well? They couldn't run the ball or stop the run well enough Sunday night. They couldn't pass efficiently or stop the Eagles from passing efficiently. It's tough to find one area the 49ers can rally around.

What's next: The 49ers face the Oakland Raiders at Candlestick Park in Week 6.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
 
  AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
  Eddie George, right, and Craig Hentrich were among the former teammates to attend Steve McNair's memorial.

WHITES CREEK, Tenn. -- Lance Schulters arrived at Steve McNair's memorial with another former teammate of the fallen Titans quarterback, Robaire Smith.

The two also saw Samari Rolle and Eddie George.

Those four friends always thought they'd be reunited with McNair for happier times.

"That's our seats right there, playing cards all day on the plane," Schulters said, gesturing the circle they'd comprise. "Steve always won the big hands. All the big pots he won. We just joked about that, like 'Man, this is crazy.'"

Instead, they gathered in this suburb north of Nashville, not to shuffle and deal, but to join more than 5,000 others to mourn McNair, who was shot and killed Saturday in a murder-suicide.

"We might feel indestructible and indispensable on the field, but the reality of it is we're all human, and we all have an end," said Kevin Mawae, Titans center and president of the NFL Players Association. "We just don't know when that end is going to come.

"It's a difficult thing to be here. But we're all NFL players and there are not very many of us and when one of us passes under these circumstances or any circumstances, you mourn the loss of that guy. He was a brother in the locker room to many of us."

More than 30 teammates -- Titans past and present -- attended the memorial, as did the franchise's owner, Bud Adams, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean.

The list of current and former players also includes Derrick Mason, Samari Rolle, Jevon Kearse, Kevin Carter, Frank Wycheck, Yancey Thigpen, Benji Olson, Blaine Bishop, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Jon Runyan, Josh Evans, Justin Hartwig, Al Del Greco, Erron Kinney, Zach Piller, Craig Hentrich, Gary Walker, Joe Nedney, Chris Sanders, Al Smith, Chris Hope and Vincent Fuller.

Current Titans assistant coaches Dave McGinnis, Mike Munchak and Marcus Robertson (who was also a teammate) are also here, as is the team's starting quarterback, Kerry Collins. McNair was drafted third by the Oilers in 1995; Collins fifth by Carolina.

Jeff Fisher will speak during the memorial and is set to talk with the media after it's over.

George said he gathered with 15 or 20 former teammates to remember McNair Wednesday night at The Palm in downtown Nashville

McNair was killed on July 4, which led different players to different thoughts of future Independence Days.

"Here's an opportunity for us to get together every Fourth of July and celebrate his life," George said.

"I know from this point on, my July 4 will never be the same," Kearse said. "I may not even celebrate July 4 from this point on. Instead it will be on July 9 or something like that."

George wrote a poem -- entitled "Where Do Warriors Go?" -- in recent days as he tried to sort through his feelings about McNair's death.

"It was a great question, and based off of that question, these words just started coming out of me and I tried to put it into form," said George, who read the poem at the memorial service. "It was something that I wanted to send off to him, directly speak to him and send him off in the right way. Maybe one day I can recite it for you.

"It's a special place they go to. I don't know the exact place, and that was the question. In it all, he's done his best, right or wrong, and basically it was a message to say, 'You know what, you're free to go into that life, without any judgment. You've done the best you can do and we're going to hold it down here for you.'"

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Mike Jurecki and Dan Bickley of XTRA radio had fun with Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin on the air (office alert: the link goes directly to audio). Boldin recently took up boxing to help him stay in shape and hone his hand-eye coordination. Jurecki and Bickley asked Boldin who he wanted to see on the stool in the opposing corner, Cardinals general manager Rod Graves or Jets safety Eric Smith. That one drew laughs. They also asked Boldin what his plastic surgeon thought of boxing as an avocation. Boldin said he knocked down his lone opponent in the second round.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says a Boldin trade has seemed "inevitable" for some time.

Also from Somers: He sizes up potential trade partners for the Cardinals, including the Eagles, Giants, Titans, Jaguars, Bears, Chiefs, Ravens and Redskins.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com quotes Boldin on Michael Irvin's radio show. Boldin said he wants his situation resolved quickly one way or another.

Also from Urban: Jewelers were at Cardinals headquarters to fit players and team personnel for their NFC championship rings.

ESPN.com provides audio from Boldin's interview with Irvin.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' contract extensions with Parys Haralson and Joe Nedney are "sure to be popular in the locker room." Haralson: "It was a priority because I'm basically excited about the direction the team is going in and with the things coach [Mike] Singletary is doing and the expectations his defense has. It's all about being somewhere where you are comfortable. I like it out here." 

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat describes Haralson's re-signing as "an essential move" because the team lacks pass rushers. Maiocco: "I've always doubted the 49ers would take a pass-rusher with the No. 10 overall pick. Perhaps, if Brian Orakpo is there the 49ers would consider him. But, more than likely, all four offensive tackles, Michael Crabtree and B.J. Raji would have to be gone, along with the two QBs and the trade possibilities attached to them."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News quotes Haralson as saying he thinks the 49ers could have the best defense in the league.

John Morgan of Field Gulls, while acknowledging that Seattle likely would not draft Jeremy Maclin fourth overall, says the Missouri receiver has struggled against top competition.

Also from Morgan: He compares Darrius Heyward-Bey to Eddie Royal.

More from Morgan: University of Arizona receiver Mike Thomas might provide good value for the Seahawks with the 105th overall choice in part because Thomas can help in the return game. Morgan: "Thomas could be a great wide receiver. He has the short, squatty build of Wes Welker or Steve Smith, and is arguably a better athlete than either. He's also shorter than either -- somewhat significantly. Thomas is under 5-8. And that's really the essence of any critique against him. He's really, really short."

William Tomisser of Seahawk Addicts sounds surprised I would project as few as seven victories for the Seahawks in 2009. I see a pile of 8-8 in this division, give or take a game here and there. And I need to see more from the Seahawks this summer before giving them the benefit of the doubt in several areas. Plus, I'm not a big fan of their schedule.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are looking at running backs to complement Steven Jackson. However, none of the 23 known college visitors was a running back. Thomas: "But the Rams have scouted a lot of running backs, and they've shown more than passing interest in North Carolina State's Andre Brown, Iowa's Shonn Greene and Liberty's Rashad Jennings. The Rams have talked to Brown at the Senior Bowl, the NFL scouting combine and North Carolina State's pro day. They also had an individual workout with Brown, with a Rams contingent that included running backs coach Sylvester Croom on hand."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams new regime has inspired a more optimistic outlook for Rams followers heading into the draft.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Kurt Warner's agent expects to open negotiations with the Cardinals this week.

Also from Somers: Darnell Dockett expresses surprise at Clancy Pendergast's firing.

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind assesses Pendergast's tenure as the Cardinals' defensive coordinator. Hawkwind: "The ultimate black mark on his resume could be that after lowering the points allowed per game in 2004 to 20.1, his defenses gave up more points every year of his tenure."

Scott Allen of Raising Zona evaluates the Cardinals' quarterbacks for 2008. He suspects Warner was about three good games from winning MVP honors.

John Morgan of Field Gulls breaks down Ray Willis' up-and-down performance on the Seahawks' offensive line.

Also from Morgan: a look at free-agent offensive lineman Adrian Jones and how he might fit into what the Seahawks have planned offensively. Morgan: "Jones fits the [Alex] Gibbs school of zone blocking. He's athletic, quick, has good feet, but is a bit thin, doesn't overpower and though not a freeway against the bull rush, doesn't get much push himself. He's also fairly new at playing offensive line and entering an age where his athleticism and size could reach equilibrium. Most importantly though, he's essentially free."

William Tomisser of Seahawk Addicts considers Michael Crabtree's potential availability to Seattle based on what might happen earlier in the first round. 

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' stadium upgrades will cost $30 million. The Edwards Jones Dome will get new scoreboards and video boards. Thomas: "The project includes renovations to the Rams Club in the north end zone and creation of a Premium Club in the south end zone. As part of the scoreboard renovations, fans in the Rams Club and Premium Club will be able to view the field from those areas, and it will allow some daylight in the bowl area."

VanRam of Turf Show Times asks whether the Rams should give Alex Barron another chance.

The 49ers' Web site ranks the team's best special-teams plays from 2008. Kicker Joe Nedney: "Manny Lawson's blocked field goal, recovered by Nate Clements for a touchdown against the New York Giants was the best play of the year. Manny's leap over the field goal team was unbelievable. It was the best play all year."

Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News ranks the 49ers' special teams sixth in the NFL and best in the NFC West. By his measure, the Cardinals had the worst special teams in the division.

 
 Lecka/Getty Images
 Tennessee running back Chris Johnson was part of two agressive fourth-down plays by the Titans en route to a 31-14 win over Pittsburgh.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For 30 minutes, Jeff Fisher played territorial football, worrying about field position above all else. It was traditional Titans.

But at the half, a coach known for relying on his defense and his willingness to settle for field goals or punt the ball away, saw the need to shape the game differently. It sparked a stunningly complete 31-14 rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game that determined AFC playoff seeding supremacy.

Steelers-Titans featured big hits, sacks and tackles for losses, but it opened up with more scoring opportunities than Fisher anticipated. And when it did, he didn't fight it, he allowed for it.

So twice on fourth downs with his team well in the range of kicker Rob Bironas, Fisher elected to keep his offense on the field. A week after a failed fourth-down play cost the Titans a chance to win in Houston, he gave the green light twice more -- with spectacular results.

The two plays:

With 5:12 on the clock in the third quarter, down four points and facing a fourth-and-1 from the Pittsburgh 21-yard line, Kerry Collins faked an inside handoff to fullback Ahmard Hall, then pitched the ball behind him to the left to Chris Johnson. As the Titans anticipated, a cornerback -- Ike Taylor -- was all that was between the rookie running back and the first down, and Johnson easily juked Taylor. He then chomped up the remaining yards too, scoring a touchdown that put the Titans ahead for good, 17-14.

Next series, with the ball back thanks to the first of two Michael Griffin interceptions with two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Fisher gave the nod again. On fourth-and-3 at Pittsburgh's 30, Collins fired a pass up the right side perfectly fitted between defenders to Justin Gage for 17 yards. The Titans scored another touchdown to complete the drive.

What did Fisher have to say about the aggressiveness?

"I didn't feel like field goals were going to win this ball game," Fisher said. "Because of the way their defense was playing and the way their offense has the potential to play. We get down to the plus territory, we take a shot at it and we got it, it worked for us.

"A lot of it is just a gut reaction. To me, you evaluate the flow of the game, you assess what you anticipate happening. Keep this in mind, before that, they missed a field goal, they fumbled it on the 5-yard line, they were moving the ball. You like to assume that your defense is going to make the stops, and we did. But, still, in a game like this you have to be aggressive. You have to play it to win it. We played our field position game in the first half. The second half was time to go win in."

Some Titans diehards will read and reread those two paragraphs blinking hard and wondering if they are misattributed. Because that's the sort of talk they've wished to hear on so many tense Sundays when they were left to watch Bironas or Joe Nedney or Gary Anderson or Al Del Greco wind up the hero or goat after close, conservative games.

All the bedrocks of Fisher's stability -- the balanced temperament, the ability to endure a bad stretch, the unwavering faith in the organization's philosophy and scheme, the patience -- come intertwined with a default to conservatism.

The field goal has almost always been his friend.

Now, in three huge moments over the course of three weeks, he hasn't pointed to Bironas. The net against the Steelers was eight additional points -- two touchdowns instead of two field goals. The bounce-back win over the Steelers and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs make it feel like significantly more than that.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle quotes cornerback Nate Clements as saying the 49ers took a step forward by winning at Buffalo. Ray McDonald says the 49ers will continue playing hard for Mike Singletary as the team builds for the future.

Also from Crumpacker: Clements and Takeo Spikes enjoy their Buffalo homecoming. Fans booed Clements, but deep down they love him, the cornerback said. 

More from Crumpacker: Frank Gore promises to rebound from a tough performance.

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers finally played a game in Singletary's image. Spikes says the performance showed the 49ers' true character.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' secondary stepped up against the Bills. Maiocco also provides links to his report card, game story and a story about Clements. The report card gives an "A" to the defensive line.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Joe Nedney prevailed in the battle of kickers after Rian Lindell missed twice. Also, Bills fans pelted the 49ers' team bus with snowballs before the game.

Also from Barrows: The 49ers beat the odds in overcoming the elements to beat a team with a winning record on the East Coast.

More from Barrows: Linebacker Manny Lawson and the 49ers' defense was dialed in against the Bills one week after floundering in Dallas.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News sees Singletary's fingerprints all over the 49ers' victory.

More from Brown: Bay Area product Trent Edwards succumbed to the 49ers' defense and a groin injury.

Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers were literally numb Sunday. Nedney couldn't feel his feet, thanks to the cold weather.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' past is standing in the way of its future heading into the final four games.

John Morgan of Field Gulls asks how the Seahawks should use what figures to be a very high draft choice in 2009. Quarterback and offensive tackle are two high-profile possibilities.

Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times cites sources as saying there's no way Jim Mora will be the next head coach at the University of Washington. Mora, of course, is under contract to coach the Seahawks beginning in 2009.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams will lose 10 or more games in a season for the sixth time in 14 seasons in St. Louis.

Also from Thomas: The Rams' defense showed improvement. Leonard Little says the defense had a different mentality.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams stopped giving the ball to Steven Jackson because coach Jim Haslett thought the running back was worn out. Jackson: "No, I wasn't gassed. I had 21 carries and felt great. So, it wasn't me and my conditioning. I wish [Haslett] would stop saying that."

Also from Coats: A report card with an "F" grade for Rams quarterback Marc Bulger.

More from Coats: Rookie seventh-round choice David Vobora played "fairly well" under the circumstances, Haslett said.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat sizes up Jackson's performance in his first game back from injury. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano says the Rams' running back looked like a defensive lineman running through the secondary.

Also from Korte: The Rams have scored one touchdown in their last four games.

More from Korte: Rams rookie Chris Long managed two quarterback hits and a tackle for loss in his matchup with Dolphins rookie Jake Long.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Bulger has lost whatever magic he once had as Rams quarterback. Opponents stomped it out of him a long time ago, Miklasz says. The question is whether Bulger can recover.

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says the Rams rediscovered their competitiveness even though they lost again.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals will have to wait until Week 14 for their next chance at winning the NFC West.

RugbyMuffin of Arizona Sports Fans Network noticed something while watching NFL action Sunday. Bad weather and tough defense prevailed over teams fitting the Cardinals' profile. The Steelers' victory at New England was particularly instructive.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch uses the word "ludicrous" to describe the NFL's application of the Rooney Rule in the Jim Haslett case.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are having fun at Jim Haslett's expense. Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa even asked Haslett about the great job Rick Venturi is doing as defensive coordinator, the role Haslett filled until recently.

Also from Thomas: a quick look at the matchup between Rams cornerback Fakhir Brown and Patriots receiver Randy Moss.

More from Thomas: The Rams hold their own in a look at broader matchups between St. Louis and New England.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have changed their coaching plans to comply with the Rooney Rule.

Also from Coats: Travis Minor embraces a more prominent role with the Rams.

More from Coats: He leads his notebook with an item about the Patriots' depth problems at running back.

The 49ers' Web site checks in with kicker Joe Nedney for a look at the Seahawks' special teams. Seattle kicker Olindo Mare once beat out Nedney for a job.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers are still struggling to limit sacks.

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle looks at the 49ers' decision-making processes. He is not a fan.

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle looks at what Mike Singletary must do to keep his job as 49ers head coach.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says David Baas will start at left guard ahead of Adam Snyder.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee ranks NFL uniforms. The Seahawks came in 12th, followed among NFC West teams by the 49ers (14th), Rams (24th) and Cardinals (25th).

Also from Barrows: That would be Jed York stepping forward as the face of 49ers ownership.

Paul Gutierrez of the Sacramento Bee lists five potential candidates to coach the 49ers next season. Mike Holmgren heads the list.

Ann Killion of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers needed three-plus seasons to move 13 yards.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com sees a big opportunity for Arizona if the Cardinals can find a way to beat the Panthers. It's a big game, safety Adrian Wilson acknowledges.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic looks at the Cardinals' injury situation.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune chronicles Steve Breaston's rise to prominence in the Cardinals' offense. Breaston figures to get fewer snaps against the Panthers given Anquan Boldin's expected return.

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks aren't making lineup changes with an eye to the future. They're trying to win a game.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says Holmgren wants the Seahawks to have a little fun instead of dwelling on their struggles.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune reminds us that Singletary isn't the only interim coach out there. Every coach is an interim coach in the NFL.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune blames the Seahawks' problems on complacency, a word Seattle linebacker Lofa Tatupu used to describe how the team played.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks have more problems than injuries to wide receivers. Boling: "The Hawks scored enough points to win this one regardless of the injury problems. But their veteran defense, which has come up with so many fourth-quarter stops and key turnovers in recent seasons, forced just three punts in the final 10 49ers drives."

Also from Boling: Isaac Bruce was a great receiver, but he shouldn't be catching four passes for 153 yards against anyone at this stage of his career.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune wonders what's up with the Seattle defense. Tatupu: "There are still 14 games to be played. I'm not calling us the New York Giants, but they did start 0-2, didn't they?"

Williams and Frank Hughes saw rookie tight end John Carlson becoming a security blanket for Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Not that Hasselbeck had many other options.

Also from Hughes: So much for that Seahawks swagger.

Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune says the 49ers supported Joe Nedney following his missed field goal, and Nedney rewarded them in overtime. Nedney: "I tell you what, that crowd is loud. The acoustics in the stadium and the way the crowd gets up for plays, it's a spectacle to behold. But there was nothing louder than 67,000 people dead silent."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks played it safe late in regulation because Mike Holmgren feared a mistake might cost his team the game. Problem was, Seattle never got the ball back.

More from O'Neil: A 2-minute drill with players of the game, a play of the game, a turning point and more.

O'Neil and Jose Romero take a look at Michael Bumpus' debut game as an NFL receiver. Also, Julian Peterson says the NFL doesn't want players to have a good time during games.

Also from Romero: The 49ers picked a good time to pull an upset at Qwest Field.

Percy Allen of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks gained more yards rushing against the 49ers than they gained against any opponent in 2007. Julius Jones, Mike Wahle and Walter Jones were three reasons for the improvement.

Brian McIntyre of Scout.com breaks down the Seahawks in 1,743 words. He wonders if the team will bring in another punter.

Art Thiel of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer uses a mascot malfunction as a metaphor for the Seahawks' struggles. I had similar thoughts upon seeing a fan in a Seahawks No. 12 jersey changing a tire along the side of I-5 on the way to Qwest Field.

Greg Johns of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer checks in with stopgap receiver Billy McMullen, who made three catches for 48 yards but also had a hand in two turnovers.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks are "stunned" and "surprised" by their early struggles. Also, Seattle has lost seven of its last eight overtime games under Mike Holmgren. Hmmmm.

Also from Farnsworth: A look at how the Seattle defense unraveled against the 49ers.

Jim Moore of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer checks in with Jones, the ex-Dallas runner, whose big game nearly helped the Seahawks beat the 49ers.

Also from Moore: Don't expect the Seahawks to pull the type of reversal the Giants managed during their run to the Super Bowl last season.

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