Kaepernick in Cardinals' mind when building their defense

Kaepernick in Cardinals' mind when building their defense
February 20, 2014, 9:00 am
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We felt like last year we had to get longer and more athletic on defense to try to be able to play on the perimeter with those guys (Kaepernick & Wilson).
Cardinals GM Steve Keim

Programming note: 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco is on the ground in Indianapolis to cover the NFL Combine. Check back for his coverage all weekend and get the full report on SportsNet Central every night at 6 and 10:30 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim is certainly keeping an eye on NFC West heavyweights Seattle and the 49ers when it comes to constructing his roster.

“It’s a great litmus test to play those teams in the division because it helps expose where you’re limitations are and where you need to improve,” Keim said Thursday morning at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Going against Seattle and beating them up there shows signs we’re heading in the right direction.”

Keim said a priority is to get “longer, athletic” players to cover tight ends, such as the 49ers’ Vernon Davis. And he said when constructing his roster, he has to pay particular attention to quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson.

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“When you look at those two quarterbacks in particular, guys that not only can beat you with their arm but they can beat you with their feet, as well,” Keim said. “We felt like last year we had to get longer and more athletic on defense to try to be able to play on the perimeter with those guys.

“Because when plays break down, those guys get outside the pocket with their feet, so you have to have guys like (Karlos) Dansby and guys like Daryl Washington who can run and cover ground and play outside the box.”

The Cardinals finished in third place in the NFC West with a 10-6 record behind the Seahawks and 49ers. They were edged out of the final wild-card spot. The St. Louis Rams finished in last place with a 7-9 record.

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“All three teams we’re facing are very, very good defensively,” Keim said. “So you have to keep pace. It leaves very little room for error, not only in the draft but free agency as well.

“But (general managers) John Schneider, Trent Baalke, Les Snead, they’ve all done a fantastic job. There’s no room for error.”

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