NFL Nation: Tampa Bay Bucs
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Seahawks combined inept offense with an often pedestrian defense to fall further from relevance in the NFC West. They are 1-5 heading into a Week 8 matchup at San Francisco, a game featuring teams that have suffered a combined seven defeats in a row.
Seattle lost more than the game against Tampa Bay. Pro Bowl middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, already suffering through a subpar season by his standards, did not return after suffering an unspecified injury of unknown severity.
Injured quarterback Matt Hasselbeck may or may not return in the next week or two, but the Seahawks shouldn't fool themselves into thinking everything will be fine if and when Hasselbeck returns to the lineup. The Seahawks' season was spiraling downward before a recurring back issue sidelined Hasselbeck indefinitely.
Seattle converted only twice on third down. The Bucs converted 10 of 18 times. The Seahawks' defense still kept the score close enough for a team with a competent offense to challenge. But the Seattle passing offense poses virtually no threat in its current state. The situation at receiver remains disjointed at best. The offensive line isn't meeting expectations.
The running game and special teams were problematic for Seattle last season. Those areas were relatively strong against the Bucs, no consolation after a third consecutive defeat.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The 49ers might not have a place on the field for the player they drafted first overall in 2005, but they regularly stock their lineup with first-round choices from other teams.
Five projected 49ers starters entered the NFL as first-round draft choices for other teams. This figure counts the recently signed Takeo Spikes, who is expected to eventually supplant Jeff Ulbrich on the depth chart.
The other NFC West teams are carrying a combined three starters fitting the same description: Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney (Falcons), Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson (49ers) and Cardinals running back Edgerrin James (Colts).
The 49ers and Rams each have only four projected starters from their 2005 and 2006 draft classes. The Cardinals and Seahawks have six apiece. The difference is significant.
Tampa Bay, Washington, Oakland and the New York Jets have joined the 49ers in building lineups checkered with first-round choices from other teams. Indianapolis almost never finds its starters from another team's draft classes, regardless of the round (defensive end Raheem Brock, a seventh-round choice of the Eagles, is the only Colts starter drafted by another team).
The 49ers rank among the league leaders in retaining their own draft choices -- their roster features 35 such players -- but only 10 of them are projected starters. The league average is more than 12. Indianapolis has 17. New England and San Diego have 14. Arizona leads the NFC West with 15. The Rams and Seahawks each have 12.
San Francisco can pump up those numbers by developing its younger players. None of this team's second-round draft choices is scheduled to start this season (Justin Smiley left for the Dolphins). Rookie receiver Josh Morgan, a sixth-round choice, looks like a future starter. Developing rookie defe
nsive lineman Kentwan Balmer and second-year receiver Jason Hill will be important. And everything changes if Alex Smith emerges as more than J.T. O'Sullivan's backup.