Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider examines reasons why the 49ers might be better -- or worse -- than in the recent past. He predicts an 8-8 record. Lynch: "The 49ers should be better because they'll have a consistent message from their coaches and the team should be motivated under [Mike] Singletary. Their defense, passing and running games should be better. Also, their philosophy of fundamental, mistake-free play should win them games in the division. But such a strategy won't win in the long term, and overall, the 49ers don't have the talent to pull it off."
Former 49ers cornerback Eric Davis points to Glen Coffee, Chilo Rachal, Aubrayo Franklin and Andy Lee as the 49ers' most valuable players during the exhibition season. Davis: "Rachal has had strong drive blocking and an attitude for physical play throughout the preseason. It’s easy to tell that he is starting to hunt for people when he pulls around. He comes around the corner not looking to run the play but looking for people to maul. That’s what you want in a guard."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat looks at the 49ers' stated intent to run the ball 60 percent of the time.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee provides short summaries for the 49ers' practice-squad players. He calls linebacker Diyral Briggs the "most intriguing" player on the practice squad. Barrows: "Now all he has to do is hit the weight room with the same passion with which he played Friday's game in San Diego."
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News offers 49ers-related notes heading into the regular season. Brown: "Any sign of high-scoring games means the 49ers are in trouble. This team is designed to grind away and play tough defense, not match play for play in a shootout."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals went with backup center Ben Claxton over Melvin Fowler in an upset because Claxton had superior size to hold up against interior defensive linemen. The decision surprised me based on Fowler's experience and some of Claxton's performances in one-on-one pass-rush drills early in camp. One thing about offensive linemen in Arizona: They tend to improve under line coach Russ Grimm.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Michael Adams and LaRod Stephens-Howling overcame size concerns to stick on the Cardinals' initial 53-man roster. Adams: "I feel I worked hard enough to be in a position to make it. But I don’t feel a sense of accomplishment because I have been here long enough to see people come and go, and today or tomorrow could be my last day."
Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind wonders if the Cardinals' backup linebackers have enough experience, among other concerns.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says the Seahawks' 4-0 record during the exhibition season might mean nothing.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says it's important for the Seahawks to reestablish dominance at Qwest Field, beginning with their game against the Rams. O'Neil: "Seattle established itself as a place where the fans loved to scream and opponents hated to play. Coach Mike Holmgren even awarded Seahawks fans a game ball in November 2005 after the crowd induced a flurry of false-start penalties by the Giants."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says rookie Nick Reed is focusing more on special teams now that he's earned a spot on the initial 53-man roster.
Also from Farnsworth: a quick look at the Seahawks' first opponent of the regular season. He puts left tackle Alex Barron "on the spot" after Orlando Pace's departure.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sizes up the Rams' new offense, which hopes to establish an identity outside the West Coast label.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams could wait until after the first regular-season game before signing a receiver. Signing a veteran backup for the opener could force the Rams to guarantee the player's salary for 2009. Also, defensive tackle Adam Carriker is frustrated by his latest injury.
Also from Thomas: a chat transcript featuring little faith in the Rams' defensive tackles. Thomas: "I hate to say it, but Ryan Pickett and Damione Lewis might be better than anything the Rams currently have at DT."
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com looks at the Rams' aggressive approach to overhauling the roster. Gordon: '[General manager Billy] Devaney and [coach Steve] Spagnuolo wanted to wedge as many developing players as was feasible on the 53-man roster. They passed on a long line of bigger name players -- on their roster and on the waiver wire -- to make this happen."
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat calls the Rams' receivers the "Teen Squad" because their jersey numbers are in the teens, and the receivers have youth on their side.
Turf Show Times' ram_rod is anxious to see how prepared and motivated the Rams appear in their season opener.
Tim Klutsarits of examiner.com gives the Rams a 5 percent chance of winning the NFC West this season. The way St. Louis forced turnovers during the exhibition season means what, exactly? Glad you asked.