Some news, notes and observations . . .
–The 49ers have no interviews with offensive-coordinator candidates scheduled for Sunday.
–The 49ers have interviewed three thus far. More are expected to follow. (The 49ers are being very tight-lipped about the entire process.) At this point, there’s really no use trying to rank the candidates (Clyde Christensen, Scott Linehan and Rob Chudzinski) who have come in for formal interviews. After his initial homework, coach Mike Singletary thought enough of these candidates to bring them in for interviews. I’m thinking the new coordinator will have won the job by “the look in his eyes.”
–It was just like I expected. The Cardinals travel to
–It might be the most boring cliché in all of football, but here it goes: It’ll come down to turnovers. That’s how the Cardinals have beaten the Falcons and Panthers, and that’s how the Ravens have advanced to the AFC championship game, too.
–Do you need a superstar QB to be successful in the playoffs? OK, I’m on record before the draft as saying I thought Joe Flacco would be the best quarterback of any of the guys coming out. And Flacco will get a lot of praise for being a rookie and “winning” two playoff games. But let’s keep it real. In two playoff games, Flacco is 20 of 45 (44 percent) for 296 yards with one TD and no interceptions. His passer rating is 73.9 in the postseason. J.T. O’Sullivan’s passer rating was 73.6 with the 49ers this season. But the key is Flacco’s ability to avoid turnovers. Oh, yeah, the Ravens’ success might have something to do with the defense, too.
–The Cardinals are looking like a “legitimate” playoff team now. Just goes to show what Singletary was talking about. The goal is to get into the playoffs. Once there, anything can happen – even if you’re a team from the weak NFC West.
–The Panthers are reportedly $10 million under the salary cap for next season with defensive end Julius Peppers and offensive tackle Jordan Gross scheduled for free agency. It would be good news for the 49ers if Gross made it to the open market – not because I think the 49ers will make a run at him. I don’t think they want to spend $60 million. But the more tackles who are out there will allow the dominoes to fall and the 49ers will have a better chance of filling that starting job at right tackle.
–The 49ers have approximately $105 million devoted to next year’s contracts. (That includes Alex Smith’s $12.3M cap figure and Jonas Jennings’ $6.6M). The salary cap is expected to be around $123M, but the 49ers get a cap credit of $7M, thanks to Donald Strickland’s unattained incentive. Therefore, the 49ers should have somewhere in the neighborhood of $20M to $30M to devote to deals for the 2009 season, including the possibility of signing contract extensions for players such as Parys Haralson, Manny Lawson and Vernon Davis.
–Niners assistant director of pro personnel Mike Williams is scheduled to interview today with the Rams for the newly created position of director of pro personnel. Williams has been with the 49ers for nine seasons, and four in his current role.
–Mike Nolan remains in the running for Packers defensive coordinator, but he has stiff competition. Gregg Williams, former Jaguars defensive coordinator, and Eagles secondary coach Sean McDermott are also leading contenders. Williams has also interviewed for the Saints defensive-coordinator job.
–Meanwhile, former 49ers O.C. Mike Martz tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he would be interested in returning to the Rams as offensive coordinator if Jim Haslett gets the head-coaching job.
* * *