Around the NFC West: 49ers' draft plans

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers could be more likely to draft C.J. Spiller, among others, since Scot McCloughan's departure as general manager. The same could be true for USC safety Taylor Mays. Maiocco: "Word was that McCloughan was not sold on Mays as a first-round pick. McCloughan seemed to prefer a cover safety, more along the lines of Earl Thomas of Texas, than the physical marvel of Mays who recorded just five interceptions as a four-year starter. McCloughan seemed to value safeties with cover skills. He drafted cornerback/safeties, such as Dashon Goldson, Reggie Smith and Marcus Hudson. Mays showed virtually no cover skills in college, but he is freakishly big, strong and fast. Perhaps with a different group of folks making the decisions, Mays becomes a serious option with the No. 17 overall pick." As Maiocco notes, coach Mike Singletary's role is surely growing to help fill the void left by McCloughan's exit, even as Trent Baalke takes over control of the draft.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Marc Bulger asked for his release a week ago, once it became clear Sam Bradford's pro day went well enough for the Rams to draft the Oklahoma quarterback first overall. Thomas: "Chicago, where former Rams head coach Mike Martz is now the offensive coordinator, could be the most logical destination for Bulger, where he would have to go in as Jay Cutler's backup. Martz is thought to be open to the possibility of working with Bulger. Bulger still credits Martz with most of his development as an NFL quarterback, although by the end of Martz's tenure in St. Louis (in 2005) Bulger had grown weary of Martz's hard-driving style. But that was five years ago. Another possibility could be Pittsburgh, Bulger's hometown, where starter Ben Roethlisberger is facing legal troubles and a potential league suspension because of allegations of sexual assault."

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com describes Bulger's demise this way: "Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Orlando Pace left . . . but Bulger remained behind, trapped, as an unpopular reminder of better times. The guaranteed portion of his $65 million contract kept him on the job longer than was prudent for either side."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks handled Rob Sims' departure professionally, according to Sims. Sims, following his trade to the Lions: "The only thing I'm upset about is that I didn't get another shot to show that particular coaching staff what I can do. I feel like I'm hot right now. I feel like my talent is ready to take off. I wanted to show that to them, too. But I'm going to get a fresh start in Detroit, and the opportunity there."

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com suggests the Seahawks gave up too much for Charlie Whitehurst relative to what the Redskins paid for a much more established player in Donovan McNabb. Johns: "Given Whitehurst has never thrown a pass in the NFL while McNabb has tossed 4,722 passes and played in 150 games, including 12 playoff tilts, it's hard to think these two have anywhere near similar value." That is true. I think it's also true that their values weren't very close in terms of what the acquiring teams paid. The Redskins paid between 570 and 600 points on the draft-value chart for McNabb. Seattle paid about 270 points for Whitehurst.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Brian St. Pierre plans to re-sign with the Cardinals as their third-team quarterback. St. Pierre has adjusted his workout regimen to overcome a bad back. St. Pierre: "I feel a lot better. The organization has given me time to work out and get my health."

Also from Somers: a look at planned changes on the Cardinals' offensive line. He suggests Herman Johnson probably remains a year away from seriously contending for a starting job. Guard Reggie Wells battled through a thumb injury last season. Wells: "I've never been one to shy away from being the best that I could be. That's what I appreciate about Russ (Grimm) and Whiz (Ken Whisenhunt). They recognize that it was a struggle, but I kept fighting the fight, I guess you could say. Definitely, I'm coming into this off-season with idea of getting my body ready for a season like I had the year before last and the year before that."