Maiocco: NFC West co-op -- Scouting the Seahawks

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Maiocco: NFC West co-op -- Scouting the Seahawks

July 21, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
Editor's Note: The NFL lockout appears to be drawing to a close, and teams will have limited time to enact their offseason plans. This week, experts from around the NFC West will provide status reports on the teams they cover. This is the final part in a four-day cooperative series looking at the NFC West. Beat reporters Kent Somers (The Arizona Republic), Danny O'Neil (The Seattle Times) and Jim Thomas (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) share their NFC West thoughts on their respective blogs.Today, a look at the Seattle Seahawks. First, my thoughts . . ."What's your deal?""What's your deal?"Those were the words spoken between Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll at midfield following a Stanford-USC game a couple years ago. But that dialogue might also take place between Carroll and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck when the lockout lifts.Hasselbeck has been the Seahawks's starting quarterback since 2001, during which time he was the trigger man while leading Seattle to six playoff appearances. But he turns 36 in September, and his past three seasons have not been good. He's a pending free agent, and the Seahawks must make a decision on what to do at the all-important position.So are the Seahawks determined to offer Hasselbeck a deal to retain him? And will Hasselbeck look for a better opportunity elsewhere in the league?The 49ers have even been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Hasselbeck, who is well-versed in the West Coast system. But that doesn't seem likely to happen, as Harbaugh seems committed to Alex Smith as his starter, while grooming rookie Colin Kaepernick.If the Seahawks go with Charlie Whitehurst, it's difficult to envision them improving in Carroll's second season. Seattle compiled a 7-9 record, becaming the first team in the history of the NFL to win a division with a losing record.The 49ers opened last season with a 31-6 loss in Seattle, and bounced back later in the season with a 40-21 victory at Candlestick. Now, let's check in with O'Neil for a look at the Seahawks:Seahawks offseason storyline
Who's going to be the QB? Matt Hasselbeck, the starter the past 10 years in Seattle, is unsigned and struggled so badly in December that he was actually booed at home. Then in January, he had the signature performance of his career in a playoff upset of the defending-champion Saints. Are the Seahawks really ready to turn the team over to Charlie Whitehurst, who was acquired from San Diego last season despite never attempting a regular-season pass in the NFL? Whitehurst started two games last season, and while he won the Seahawks' division-clinching finale over the Rams, his season was sufficiently spotty that there are questions whether he's ready to be a starting quarterback on a winning NFL team. Throw in the fact that should Hasselbeck leave as a free agent, San Francisco and Arizona are both considered potential destinations and what Seattle decides to do at quarterback may end up shaping the division.To-do list for when lockout lifts:
1. Flesh out the quarterback competition. The big question is whether Matt Hasselbeck will be re-signed or Seattle will attempt to acquire Philadelphia's Kevin Kolb in a trade. Expect Seattle to sign Josh Portis, an undrafted free agent, and perhaps a second rookie in addition to a veteran like Matt Leinart, a free agent who would make a great deal of sense.2. Re-sign Brandon Mebane. Seattle has nearly two dozen of its own free agents prepared to hit the market. Brandon Mebane will draw the most interest around the league, and he is the most important for Seattle. He's a four-year starter on a defensive line that needs to get deeper.3. Improve the offensive line. Tom Cable will be Seattle's fourth different offensive line coach in four seasons, and with rookies James Carpenter and John Moffitt added to left tackle Russell Okung - last year's first-round pick - the Seahawks have set about rebuilding the line instead of just patching it up.
REWIND: Seahawks add Tom Cable to coaching staff
4. Get Golden Tate involved in the offense. There was no bigger disappointment for Seattle last season than the fact Golden Tate never emerged as a consistent receiving threat. Coaches pointed to consistency and precision of his routes. He caught 21 passes, only two gained more than 15 yards. Placing him in a more prominent role will be an emphasis.5. Sort out the secondary. Seattle has ranked in the bottom six teams in pass yards allowed for three successive seasons. The Seahawks drafted two cornerbacks and a safety, but all were chosen in the latter half of the draft. Does Seattle have the personnel to effectively implement the bump-and-run coverage Carroll wants to play? For O'Neil's full report on the Seahawks, click here to visit his blog.

Bowman guarantees he will not be odd-man out of 49ers' competition

Bowman guarantees he will not be odd-man out of 49ers' competition

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ biggest free-agent acquisition on defense and one of the team’s first-round draft picks play the same position.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he is holding off on thinking about how everything is going to play out this season at the linebacker position.

“I really try not to envision it too hard because I see a lot of good players there,” Shanahan said Tuesday during the 49ers’ first week of organized team activities.

The 49ers awarded weakside linebacker Malcolm Smith guaranteed money as an unrestricted free agent totaling approximately $12 million. Then, on the first day of the draft, the 49ers’ No. 3 rated prospect experienced a free fall, and the club traded into the back end of the first round to select him.

While Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster has been sidelined through the offseason program as he recovers from shoulder injury, he figures to compete with Smith for the starting job. Foster will also learn middle linebacker, where NaVorro Bowman has earned first-team All-Pro honors in four seasons.

Bowman looks to be nearly all the way back from a torn Achilles that limited him to just four games last season.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” Shanahan said. “Seeing Bow out here and how healthy he’s been, knowing we’ve added some good free agents, and the way the draft worked out, having a linebacker we had ranked very highly fall to us at the end of the first round. We got a lot better pretty fast.

“When you ask me how it’s going to play out, I’m not sure. It’s a good problem to have. It’s something you’d like to have any every position. There’s going to be a very good player who’s not out there all the time. That’s not a bad thing. That makes the two guys who are out there go a lot harder and play better. It makes special teams better and it allowed you to survive injuries, which almost always happen.”

Bowman’s vision for the upcoming season includes him retaining his role in the middle of the 49ers’ defense.

"I won't be on the sideline, I'll tell you that right now,” Bowman said.

Bowman said he was not fazed with the 49ers selected Foster in the first round. Foster is likely considered the heir apparent to Bowman.

Shanahan called Bowman after the selection of Foster was made, but Bowman said he did not need to speak with the coach about why the selection was made.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” Bowman said of the phone call, “but it was good to hear from him, to see that he had something to say or an idea of what he wanted to get across to me.

“But we haven’t talked about it. I did that on purpose. It doesn’t matter to me. I’ll compete with anyone, whether he’s 21 or 35. It doesn’t matter. I’m a guy who’s going to give my best effort and have full confidence in my abilities to play this game. I know how much I study this game. I know how good I am and that’s what was going to bring back here.

“It’s always a competition. There’s always someone trying to take your spot. As a player, if you keep that in mind, you’ll always put the work in that’s needed.”

 

49ers reissue Bryant Young's number

49ers reissue Bryant Young's number

SANTA CLARA -- For the first time since Bryant Young retired following the 2007 season, the 49ers have placed his old number back into service.

Linebacker Dekoda Watson was issued No. 97 for the team’s organized team activities this week.

Young was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and eight-time winner of the Len Eshmont Award as the 49ers’ most inspirational and courageous player. No 49ers player has worn No. 97 in the past nine seasons or offseasons.

Rookie defensive lineman Solomon Thomas is now wearing No. 94 after being issued No. 96 for the rookie minicamp. Linebacker Reuben Foster is wearing No. 56.

Rookie defensive tackle D.J. Jones now wearing No. 96. Cornerback Rashard Robinson switched back to No. 33 after an earlier change to No. 26. Running back Kapri Bibbs is now 26. Rookie running back Joe Williams is No. 32 after wearing No. 33 at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles over the weekend. Veteran running back Tim Hightower is wearing No. 22.