High hopes for Sam Bradford and Kevin Kolb gave way to a largely unanticipated development in 2011: Alex Smith was the best quarterback in the NFC West.
How will Matt Flynn affect the division's quarterback dynamics in 2012?
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times profiles the Seahawks' recently signed prospect, revealing Flynn to be determined and possessing a strong work ethic. O'Neil: "For all the hope and expectation that has been bundled into his acquisition, Flynn has been a starting quarterback for exactly one of the previous nine seasons he has played football. At the age of 26, he has started just 16 games since high school, going 13-3 in those games." Noted: Former Seahawks starter Matt Hasselbeck followed a similar path. He was a backup heading into six of his eight previous seasons when Seattle acquired him in 2001.
Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle notes that an increasing number of mock drafts are sending linebacker Luke Kuechly to the Seahawks in the first round. Noted: Linebacker is a position of need, and Seattle will not have big money invested in the position, even if Leroy Hill and David Hawthorne re-sign.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says William Gay, signed by the Cardinals after Richard Marshall signed with Miami, could challenge for a starting job. Somers: "Marshall played a valuable role for the Cardinals last season as a part-time starter and as a cornerback and safety in nickel packages. Gay could make similar contributions and should challenge for a starting spot opposite Patrick Peterson. That position is open. Greg Toler and A.J. Jefferson are among other contenders." Noted: Peterson should take a fairly significant step forward. Gay adds welcome experience.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams re-signed one of their top special-teams players, Brit Miller, while losing another, Chris Chamberlain. Thomas: "In varying degrees, the Rams remain in conversation with several free agents who have visited Rams Park recently: offensive guards Chilo Rachal (San Francisco) and Robert Turner (New York Jets), offensive tackle Barry Richardson (Kansas City), outside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar (New Orleans) and wide receiver Steve Smith (Philadelphia)." Noted: Richardson played every offensive snap for the Chiefs last season.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com offers this regarding 49ers quarterbacks Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick and Josh Johnson: "I don't see the move to add Johnson as a sign that the 49ers are looking at demoting Smith or Kaepernick. I see it as a move designed to strengthen the position as a whole. The practice and play of the four quarterbacks will determine the order in which the depth chart is stacked at the beginning of the season." Noted: Johnson's ties to Harbaugh make him an intriguing candidate for more than the No. 3 role if Smith departs in another season or two, but those ties do not amount to a free pass. Johnson must prove he belongs.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle gets thoughts on Kaepernick and Johnson from one of their former coaches, Roger Theder. Theder: "I think what Jim is looking for is that work ethic, and I think Josh lost that a little bit at Tampa. He's got it back now because he knows what Harbaugh expects. And Colin’s always had that great work ethic. So I think that’s going to be the deciding factor as far as which guy is the better quarterback."