Around the NFC West: Briggs and the 49ers

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee looks at what might have been if the 49ers could have acquired Lance Briggs from the Bears. Barrows: "The courtship by the 49ers began before the trade deadline in 2007. Briggs on Tuesday said the 49ers offered the Bears a first-round pick for Briggs. Even when the 49ers pulled out of the deal before the deadline, Briggs figured San Francisco would snap him up when the free-agency period opened in late February." The 49ers have generally been fine at linebacker. Takeo Spikes' addition certainly helped.

Also from Barrows: a midseason report card with a "D" grade for the offensive line. Barrows: "The unit has not been close to the powerful force coach Mike Singletary and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye imagined. Injuries have plagued the tackle position, while the guard play at the start of the season was terrible. The 49ers rank only 21st in rushing yards, and they have given up 26 sacks, the fourth-highest total in the league."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Isaac Bruce's ankle injury played a role in Jason Hill getting additional playing time. Bruce has enjoyed a great career. I'm not sure what he offers the offense at this point, however. Hill appears to have earned additional snaps.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the team wants to incorporate Wildcat formations, but not at the expense of Matt Hasselbeck's contributions.

Also from Farnsworth: Hasselbeck keeps the faith.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks saw the perils of playing a young quarterback when they picked off the Lions' Matthew Stafford five times. O'Neil: "So what will Seattle do with Hasselbeck this offseason? He is signed through 2010. He is 34 and over the past four seasons he has missed time because of an injured knee (four games in 2006), back (nine games in 2008) and rib (two games this season). He is also merely two years removed from a career high in passing yardage and Sunday he surpassed his team record by completing 39 passes. Prudence requires looking for a potential successor at quarterback. Hasselbeck has spent more than a decade in an NFL pocket and has the injuries to prove it."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks are searching for consistency.

Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic follows Cardinals running back Tim Hightower during the NFL's "Take a Player to School" promotion. McLellan: "At the end of his visit, Hightower said he enjoyed his time running around with the students because he wanted to encourage what he calls 'the Playstation generation' to stay outside and have fun."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic assesses the Cardinals halfway through the NFL season. Somers: "If the Cardinals show some maturity, they could enter December with an 8-3 record and their second consecutive division title almost assured." For the record, I managed to exceed 89,000 points in Ms. Pac-Man while taking the kids roller skating Tuesday night. Not bad for the first quarter I've put into that game for a while.

Also from Somers: Don't be surprised if the Vikings-Cardinals game gets flexed into prime time.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with backup quarterback Matt Leinart, who wasn't happy with his performance against the Bears. Leinart: "I don’t question myself. I’ve worked way too hard to get to this point to just say, 'Oh my gosh, I’m terrible.' I’ve come a long way to where I first came into the league. I know I can play well in this league. It’s a matter of getting opportunities and that’s the unfortunate thing, not being able to make up for it. Last week, Kurt [Warner] had five interceptions -- they weren’t all his fault -- but he comes back and throws five touchdowns. That’s the way this league is. You can’t get down on one play. But it’s hard to let it go when you don’t get a chance to go back in."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' special teams are making strides, thanks in part to Danny Amendola's addition. The team's average drive start following kickoffs has improved by 5 yards with Amendola as the return man. Special-teams coach Tom McMahon: "The biggest thing I think he's brought is the guys believe in him -- they just do. They flat-out believe in him because he believes in himself. And he's a tough kid. There's not a lot of kick returners in this league that are his size. You take a lot of hits, and he fights through it."

Also from Thomas: a chat transcript noting that Oshiomogho Atogwe has had a quiet first half to the season. I thought Atogwe was borderline dominant in the season opener at Seattle, at least early in the game. He hasn't stood out much since then.

More from Thomas: The Rams signed linebacker Dominic Douglas from their practice squad.