Dan Arkush of Pro Football Weekly says the 49ers have good intentions in their ouster of general manager Scot McCloughan, and that McCloughan's agent could be angling for a confidentiality agreement relating to the "personal issues" behind his demise. Arkush: "While the lack of any official word from the Niners' organization on what actually is transpiring at present is making it look unaccountable -- and, in the eyes of some critics, rather deceiving, with up-and-coming organizational power broker Paraag Marathe rumored by some to be at the forefront of a 'blindside' of McCloughan -- sources tell us the team's murky stance is as much due to its genuine desire to do good by McCloughan, who is genuinely well-liked in the industry and respected as an evaluator, as anything."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee explains why he thinks the 49ers haven't resolved the situation involving McCloughan. "If McCloughan were to resign, the 49ers wouldn't have to pay him. The 49ers believe McCloughan will do so because the 'personal reasons' that have been cited in conjunction to his estrangement would be embarrassing to him. McCloughan, however, is holding his ground, an indication that he doesn't feel the reasons for his ouster are as damaging as the 49ers believe them to be."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat sorts through the 49ers' current front-office situation and says Marathe could one day become general manager. Maiocco: "The Eagles in January made 34-year-old Howie Roseman their GM. Roseman's began with the Eagles as their lead figure in salary-cap matters. Some view the Eagles as a template for what the 49ers might ultimately consider with Marathe. Marathe is the 49ers' cap man and their lead negotiator. He also spends game days in the coaches' box, where he assists [head coach Mike] Singletary with game management, challenges and rules interpretations. It's not out of the question to think at some point Marathe could become 49ers general manager."
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News thinks McCloughan's departure from the 49ers could diminish Alex Smith's future with the team. This was going to be Smith's make-or-break year, anyway. If they replace him before the season, they'd better have somebody demonstrably better. Otherwise they wasted the second half of the 2009 season and, arguably, the past five years.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Shahid Khan should know by May whether NFL owners will approve his plan to purchase the Rams. Thomas: "Khan has met on several occasions with Stan Kroenke, who owns 40 percent of the Rams. A league source familiar with the sale said Khan and Kroenke are getting to know each other." Kroenke has the option to keep his 40 percent, sell his 40 percent or move to purchase the remaining 60 percent. The first options appears most likely, but nothing is official yet. Thomas: "Khan must appear before the finance committee to answer any questions that it might have for him. But again, that can't happen until Kroenke declares and the final transaction agreement is in place. Kroenke's 60-day window to make a decision expires on or around April 12."
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' affinity for Sam Bradford and the budding Khan-Kroenke relationship could set up the team for a brighter future. Miklasz: "The Rams are genuinely excited by the idea of making Bradford a centerpiece of their rebuilding. And by sending that signal along the NFL information pipeline, [general manager Billy] Devaney is letting it be known that he's dealing from a position of strength. If an NFL team wants to acquire that coveted No. 1 pick, they'll have to make a sweet offer."
John Morgan of Field Gulls offers five-year follow-ups on Seahawks draft classes. On the 2005 draft featuring Chris Spencer, Lofa Tatupu, Leroy Hill and Ray Willis: "It was not a perfect draft, but it certainly will not screw Pete Carroll and John Schneider quite like the 2003 and 2004 draft screwed Tim Ruskell. If Spencer develops, Hill and Tatupu regain their health, and [Alex] Gibbs helps turn Willis into a good right tackle, Carroll will be accredited the wins, but Ruskell found the talent."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com revisits a busy week for the team. Farnsworth: "None of the moves made by the Seahawks this week will impact what they might do in the draft -- where they now have the sixth, 14th and 60th picks overall. As (general manager John) Schneider said twice Thursday, during the news conference to announce the addition of Whitehurst, the arrival of the Chargers former backup does not rule out the possibility that the Seahawks will choose a quarterback with one of its two picks in the first round."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Joey Porter's signing should help the Cardinals' pass rush, and it has already helped in another area. Urban: "The fact his signing has clearly energized guys like (Darnell) Dockett and Larry Fitzgerald inside the locker room can’t be discounted either. They have to feel the team is making the effort to stay on top."
Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the Cardinals had interest in Browns outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley. Grossi: "The big holdup with them, like other teams, was Wimbley's contract. Wimbley has voided the final year of his deal through performance incentives. There are buyback provisions built in, but as things stand, 2010 is his last year under contract. The fact he can be a free agent in one year hurt his marketability. Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt did not want to give up a high draft pick for Wimbley without a longer-term deal in place."
Joe Fortenbaugh of National Football Post wonders whether the Cardinals signed Porter only after Wimbley landed in Oakland. Wimbley would have been more appealing if under contract for years to come. That was one of the benefits of the Kerry Rhodes trade. Rhodes was under contract at a reasonable rate.