We haven't done a 'Fly Around the NFC West' segment for a while and this week has been less then exciting in Arizona Cardinal-land. Here's my thoughts on the NFC West so far: Every team is making strides to compete for the division title. The Cardinals won't have the easy street this time around and already have been written off by most "experts". Did the Cardinals lose a lot of talent? Yes. But they also filled much of the holes with quality players and also added others to the mix. The Cardinals will face their toughest season in the last three years and much of it falls on Matt Leinarts shoulders. The 49ers are in a similar situation with a very good team that is resting much of their hopes on Alex Smith. If he doesn't pan out and they resort to David Carr, is their season over? Most likely. The Seahawks to me, seem like they have accepted the fact that they aren't favorites to win the division, nor are they being picked by these same experts. But they did make many changes this offseason starting with the hiring of Pete Carroll and a successful draft. The Rams round out the group and shouldn't be completely designated as the doormat of the NFC West just yet. They will be more competitive then they have been the last three seasons and will get a couple upsets next year. Now, onto the links.
Patrick Willis clearly wants to be the best - Niners Nation
Fooch from Niners Nation discusses the recent contract extension for Patrick Willis and his thoughts on the best inside linebacker in the league: "I don't know if there is such a thing as the "perfect player," but if there was such a player, I'd argue Patrick Willis is that guy. I realize a lot of times professional athletes usually are too good to be true. However, Patrick Willis seems like the total package. He's a phenomenal athlete and one of the best, if not the absolute best, at his position. More importantly as far as the big picture is concerned, he seems like a great person. Yea he says all the right things, but he's always come across as just a great person. You want great players on your team, but when you get great individuals, it makes it that much easier to root for them."
49ers Front Office Approval Rating: Who even gets the approval poll? - Niners Nation
Also from Niners Nation, an approval poll is given for the front office, in which they receive a 97% approval rating. Fooch also discusses the front office moves so far: "Since Scot McCloughan and the 49ers parted ways, the 49ers acquired Ted Ginn, Jr, made some noise in a draft that received mostly high marks, added some lesser talents to battle for roster spots in training camp, and of course inked all-world linebacker Patrick Willis to a long term deal. All in all, the past month of the offseason has gotten fairly well for a 49ers team favored by many to win the NFC West."
2009 Season Retrospective: Deon Butler - Field Gulls
Field Gulls provides a season retrospective on safety Deon Butler, who's no longer with the team. They sum up Butler by saying: "Butler did not have many lowlights in the traditional sense. He didn't drop routes. He didn't drop passes. He didn't fumble. Deon Butler did not do a whole lot, negative or otherwise."
The Shadow Season and the Convoluted Race for the Seahawks Quarterback of the Future - Field Gulls
John Morgan from Field Gulls discusses the Seahawks quarterback situation and how the season rests on that, along with a prediction for the Seahawks record next season: "Seattle has fought both for years, but is finally peaking through to the other end. It has a good base of young talent, an effective when healthy quarterback and a weak schedule. I think this is the season Seattle bounces back, sort of. Seattle was a good coach from finishing 7-9 last season and I think will finish 7-9 this season. 7-9 is always a safe prediction, because it's awfully close to 8-8, and all records gravitate towards 8-8."
More on the Alex Barron trade - Turf Show Times
Turf Show Times talks about the upcoming Alex Barron trade one last time: "Dumping Tye Hill was easy; Barron was a little harder to cut ties with because he at least gave the Rams a consistently healthy average player to do a job. Recent additions of Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold made the decision that much easier. Too often teams keeping giving first round picks chance after chance to live up to their potential and make good on the front office's investment. It can be a costly decision."
Who needs a number one receiver anyway? - Turf Show Times
TST also debates that the Rams may not need a true number one receiver. They first look at who they have at the position: "Donnie Avery might not feel the pain of being a square peg of a speedster fit into the round hole of a possession guy, something that came out of necessity in the last two years thanks to injuries and other offensive struggles with the Rams. Fourth round pick Mardy Gilyardbrings a very nice array of after the catch skills with his strong legs, jukes and his burst."