Around the NFC West: How close are 49ers?

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat suggests the 49ers aren't far off from becoming a playoff team. He outlines their draft needs by round in this order: pass rusher, right tackle, big defensive lineman, ball-hawking safety, quarterback, speed receiver and big running back. Can the 49ers bank on Shaun Hill as their starting quarterback for a full season? In retrospect, they would have been better served using this season to find out.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee looks at the 49ers scheduled to become free agents after the season. The list features lots of role players and no stars.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are struggling because they lost their focus after clinching the NFC West title.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com looks at the Cardinals' three potential opponents in the wild-card round. He thinks the Falcons might make the most favorable draw as a young team with a rookie quarterback.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks practiced without Matt Hasselbeck, Leroy Hill, D.D. Lewis, Brandon Miller and Koren Robinson.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune quotes Seahawks secondary coach Jim Mora as expressing admiration for outgoing coach Mike Holmgren. Mora says he'll get into specifics about what he has learned from Holmgren after the season.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams will have a new radio home in 2009. Also, running back Steven Jackson seemed to have no trouble practicing on a sore hamstring.

VanRam of Turf Show Times wonders if the Rams cut the wrong receiver last offseason. Isaac Bruce has better numbers than Torry Holt. The 49ers also ran a more aggressive offense much of the season, risking sacks and turnovers.