The eventual move away from veteran defensive end James Hall to 2011 first-round draft choice Robert Quinn was inevitable for the St. Louis Rams.
At least one prominent figure in the NFC West won't miss Hall, whose release earlier this offseason helped make the Rams' roster younger on average than any in the NFL.
"I wish him the best," Joe Staley, the San Francisco 49ers' Pro Bowl left tackle, said during the team's recent minicamp. "He's a good guy, but he's been a pain in my ass for years. God, I hated going against him."
Hall's power and use of leverage could be problematic. Quinn, who appears to have great pass-rush potential, will have to prove himself as an every-down player. He had five sacks, all on second or third down, while playing about 48 percent of the snaps last season. Hall, 35, had six sacks while playing about two-thirds of the snaps. He had 10.5 sacks in 2010.
Rick Venturi of 101ESPN St. Louis says Quinn's development will be pivotal for the line. Venturi: "Quinn has ability -- he can burst, he can cut the corner to the quarterback, and he can stretch his body to extremely long lengths, which was evident in his ability to block kicks. Can Waffle get him to be forceful at the point of attack, though? The North Carolina product showed no interest or aptitude to play in the 'briar patch' in 2011, and other than 'chase' plays was a total liability in the running game. If he can overcome his liabilities, the Rams will have something. To me, this will make or break the front four."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com examines the 49ers' depth at running back. Maiocco: "Frank Gore appears to have lost a step of explosion -- hey, that's only to be expected -- but he is still clearly the team's best option and most well-rounded running back. Obviously, with no contact allowed during the offseason program, it's difficult to fully evaluate the running backs on the 90-man roster. Roster spots will be won and lost in training camp . Perhaps, 265-pound Brandon Jacobs is the best-suited to fill in as the first- and second-down back if/when Gore needs a breather. Jacobs and Gore entered the NFL in the same year, but Jacobs has a thousand fewer touches." Noted: Gore slowed last season after absorbing a violent hit from the Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul.
Mike Rosenberg of the San Jose Mercury News updates the fight between Santa Clara and the 49ers for at least $30 million in funding previously earmarked for the team's stadium project. Rosenberg: "While the money is a tiny fraction of what's needed for the $1.2 billion stadium, it served as the initial building block to fund the rest of the project, similar to a down payment on a home mortgage. The tax funds were used to secure up to $950 million in bank loans, which capped the team's decade-long saga to finance a new home field. If the loans disappear or shrink, it could delay the project -- or worse -- just months after a festive groundbreaking in April. But officials first are preparing their legal strategy, starting with an appeal to the state and negotiations with the county."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com profiles undrafted rookie defensive end Cordarro Law, who has impressed teammates on the field (and on the basketball court). Receiver Sidney Rice: "He actually surprised me. He can shoot it. (Rookie wide receiver Phil) Bates, terrible jump-shooter. (Cornerback Byron) Maxwell, terrible jump-shooter. (First-round draft choice) Bruce Irvin, terrible jump-shooter. But Law actually impressed me."
Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle says Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner has studied former Pro Bowl choice Lofa Tatupu to get a feel for the position in Seattle's defense. Also, Brock Huard and Mike Salk discuss one key to coordinating a defense.
Steven Cuce of sportsradiointerviews.com offers transcripts from Larry Fitzgerald's recent interview with Arizona Sports 620. Fitzgerald has no plans to analyze the Cardinals' quarterback competition between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. Fitzgerald: "I really just try to stay out of it as much as I possibly can. Just try to make my plays and do what I am coached to do and be responsible for that. The cream rises to the top. I know by Week 1 when we go out there we’ll have our guy. We'll be supportive of that person."