Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee quotes 49ers coach Mike Singletary as saying the team has made finding a return specialist a high priority this offseason. Singletary also indicated that a personal matter led to Al Everest's departure as special-teams coach, stressing that the botched reverse at Seattle wasn't the reason for a change. Singletary: "If I was that shallow as a coach, I need to be out of the game. It was just something that Al needs to take care of." Everest subsequently interviewed with the Steelers for their job as special-teams coach.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says new 49ers special-teams coach Kurt Schottenheimer held the same job with the Chiefs when 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was a top special-teams player for Kansas City. Maiocco: "Schottenheimer was out of coaching in 2009. He said he studied the principles of the spread offense in visits to Texas A&M and Illinois. He is defensive coordinator this week at the East-West Shrine Game in Orlando, so he is getting a head start evaluating draft-eligible players."
Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News quotes Singletary as saying Everest was "doing a fine job" for the 49ers. Why, then, would the 49ers let his contract expire, allowing Everest to surface as a candidate with the Steelers? Singletary was vague.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle quotes Singletary this way on Everest: "I think Al was doing a good job during the year, but there were some things I had to deal with personally. It was just something Al needed to take care of. I had to let him go."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says longtime Pete Carroll associate Pat Kirwan told radio listeners he wasn't pursuing a job with the Seahawks. That might mean the Seahawks weren't ready to offer him a high-level job within the organization.
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says the current postseason shows why the Seahawks shouldn't be too quick to write off Matt Hasselbeck. Brett Favre, Kurt Warner and even Drew Brees went through career difficulties before re-emerging as excellent players. Favre appeared finished with the Jets last season before making a run at MVP honors with Minnesota. Warner landed in Arizona after the Rams and Giants moved on with younger quarterbacks. Favre had enjoyed one good statistical season in his previous four before catching on with the Vikings. Warner had enjoyed one good statistical season in his previous four before signing with Arizona. Like the Rams' 32-year-old Marc Bulger, Hasselbeck, 34, has enjoyed one good statistical season in his last four. Warner was 34 in his first season with Arizona.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic raises six questions about the Cardinals heading into the offseason. Somers: "The contracts of a handful of assistants are ending, and team President Michael Bidwill tried to get some to sign new two-year deals. Only one problem: the Cardinals didn't spell out how much they would pay should there be a work stoppage in 2011. So some members of the staff remain unsigned, including strength coach John Lott, who has become a guru to many of the players. If the Cardinals want to send a bad message to players and fans, they will allow Lott and others to depart. To borrow a phrase from Lott, who borrowed it from 'Cool Hand Luke,' the Cardinals need to get their minds right." Letting key assistants get away would validate criticisms the organization has made strides in overcoming.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com lists the eight players Arizona recently signed to future contracts. The following players will join the 80-man roster once the NFL postseason concludes: receiver Onrea Jones, cornerback Rashard Barksdale, linebacker Ali Highsmith, receiver Ed Gant, defensive end Ryan Kees, guard Jonathan Palmer, tackle Tom Pestock and linebacker Mark Washington.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo will need to hire a receivers coach after Charlie Baggett left to join Derek Dooley at the University of Tennessee. Spagnuolo suggested the Rams won't rush to name a replacement. The Rams' problems at receiver appeared largely related to personnel. The team lacked proven talent at the position even before injuries sent Laurent Robinson, Keenan Burton and Brooks Foster onto the injured reserve list.
Howard Balzer and Jim Rodenbush of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat say the Rams' coaching staff is in Orlando for the East-West Shrine game. The staff will head to Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl next week.