Around the NFC West: 49ers' priority

ESPN's Adam Schefter says the 49ers will use the franchise tag on nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin if they cannot sign him to a long-term deal. Schefter: "Their newest long-term offer for Franklin is expected to come in this week. However, one league source highly doubted that any type of long-term agreement could be struck and the 49ers will franchise Franklin, who would have been one of the most desirable free agents had he been allowed to test the market." Franklin is the only 49ers free agent worthy of the franchise tag this offseason. I question how much the 49ers are interested in signing him to a lucrative long-term deal amid the current labor uncertainty. The franchise tag buys them time while giving Franklin an opportunity to prove he wasn't a one-year wonder in 2009.

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Franklin wants to stay with the 49ers, according to comments the nose tackle made after the season. Franklin: "I'd like to be back here, but me and my agent are going to sit down and talk and look at the possibilities of the franchise tag. We’ll figure out the possibilities ... I enjoy playing with these guys and I feel like we have a really good defense."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat points cites a Nov. 18 report as evidence that the 49ers have planned to franchise Franklin for the past several months.

Also from Maiocco: a look at the 49ers' outside linebackers and pass-rushers. Maiocco: "Currently, the 49ers have five of these hybrid outside linebacker/defensive ends on their roster. They will add another couple players via free agency and/or the draft. It's wide open whether they invest highly in this position (with a high draft pick) or they attempt to uncover a player who has slipped through the cracks. I doubt the 49ers will spend much money to sign a free agent, but they could add a minimum-salary-type player, such as they did a year ago with Marques Harris. One of the reasons I don't think they would be interested in signing a big name veteran guy (Julius Peppers or Joey Porter) is because that would take away from the development of the younger guys, and those are the players who figure into the short-term and long-term plans of the organization."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks see CFL star Ricky Foley as a situational pass-rusher. O'Neil: "After hearing Pete Carroll mention the "elephant" pass-rusher position as somewhere Darryl Tapp could fit, it would seem Foley would have the same tools to be that roving pass-rusher." Prototypical elephant rushers tend to be heavier than Foley's listed weight of 245 pounds. Brian Cushing is listed at 260. Tapp is listed at 270.

Also from O'Neil: The Packers used six of their last eight first-round choices for defense when new Seahawks general manager John Schneider was with the team.

Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times says the Bears' firing of personnel man Brian DePaul has fueled speculation that GM Jerry Angelo plans to hire former Seahawks president Tim Ruskell. The fit would appear right. Ruskell and Angelo have been close friends over the years. They worked together in Tampa Bay.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com questions whether Jordan Babineaux's pay raise will lead Seattle to release the safety. A team with a billionaire owner and no salary cap would seem to have some flexibility on such matters.

Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis says the Redskins would have interest in Leonard Little if the Rams' veteran pass-rusher decides to return for another season. Little has 87.5 career sacks. The Rams would like him back if he decides to keep playing, but with Jim Haslett in Washington, the Rams could have competition for Little's services.

Ameet Sachdev of the Chicago Tribune looks at Shahid Khan's fight with the IRS over millions in disputed tax payments. Sachdev: "The IRS said in court papers that the Khans hired the Chicago-based BDO Seidman accounting firm and met with tax partner Robert Greisman. The Khans engaged in at least five questionable tax shelters, with names like Son-of-Boss and Dad, and paid BDO $8.5 million in fees, about 10 percent of the alleged tax savings, according to court documents. Yet when the revenue agency questioned Khan about his returns, he was unable to identify what services BDO provided, an IRS agent said in court documents."

Sportsradiointerviews.com offers a partial transcript and audio link to Russ Grimm's recent interview with XTRA910 radio in Phoenix. Grimm on earning a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: "Over the past couple years, I’ve had several people tell me that I need to hire an advertising firm to send pamphlets out to all the voters and things like this. I didn’t play the game for that, I think it’s based on what I did. You look at the list every year and you see the guys that are on, and the guys that make the Finals, there’s a lot of great football players on that list -- all deserving to get in. So, it’s a process that I don’t really have a hand in, I can't control it. So, on one hand, you wish it comes through so everyone quits asking you every year, 'So, you think this year’s the year, are you going to make it?' And on the other hand, it's an honor obviously to be a part of that group."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo can exercise an opt-out clause in his contract if the Rams change ownership. A coach can step down at any time, of course. In this case, Spagnuolo could presumably take another job elsewhere. As Miklasz notes, however, such a scenario seems highly unlikely.