NFC Notes: 49ers, Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks


The 49ers have had a mixed bag when it’s come to draft picks under GM John Lynch and HC Kyle Shanahan. On one hand, they’ve gotten a ton of value from guys like DE Nick Bosa, TE George Kittle and LB Fred Warner, stars on the team who are all homegrown. On the other, there are bad misses like DE Solomon Thomas, WR Dante Pettis and CB Ahkello Witherspoon, plus recent guys like DT Javon Kinlaw, WR Brandon Aiyuk and RB Trey Sermon who haven’t necessarily hit the ground running.

Lynch said comparing their hits and misses to see what went wrong is an important part of their process. 

“That’s something that we feel is very important,” Lynch said via NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco. “You have to study yourself. You have to study the league and say, ‘OK, this worked. Why? This didn’t work. Why?’”

Lynch said they have picked up on a common thread with their misses but didn’t want to share too much for competitive reasons. He did say that after gambling on injured players in their first few drafts, he and Shanahan have backed off that after being burned. 

“Early on in my and Kyle’s tenure, we probably tried to gain value out of a guy who’d been hurt,” Lynch said. “You find out that hurt guys stay hurt. You try to adjust some things and I think we’ve done that, and hopefully that’ll start to pay dividends.”


With Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury out on Sunday against the Browns due to COVID-19, Arizona turned to assistant WR coach Spencer Whipple as the play-caller. Whipple was the voice on the headset relaying calls to QB Kyler Murray, and while OL coach/run-game coordinator Sean Kugler was responsible for run plays, Whipple had the wheel for pass plays. It’s a setup that doesn’t seem like it should have run as smoothly as it did, as the Cardinals put up 37 points on a Browns defense that’s not a pushover. 

“Kliff put me at ease,” Whipple said via NBC Sports’ Peter King. “When he told me what was going on, he just got right into it, instead of talking about how different it would be or how hard it would be. So I never really thought of the magnitude of it.”

Cardinals DC Vance Joseph, who took on some of Kingsbury’s big-picture head coaching duties given his experience as a former head coach, explained why Whipple made sense as the next one up at playcaller. 

“He’s been with the passing game the longest in the room,” Joseph said via Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. “He spends his time obviously with Kliff and the receivers and the quarterbacks, and he’s been here the longest. His background was in this offense, and again, he wasn’t calling it by himself. But as far as terminology, as far as what the formations should look like with the quarterback, it was natural for him to do it because he spends the most time with Kliff.”


Rams HC Sean McVay said he would’ve handled QB Jared Goff‘s situation differently given the chance.

Yes, I wish there was better, clearer communication,” McVay said, via Lindsey Thiry. “To say that it was perfectly handled on my end, I wouldn’t be totally accurate in that. I’ll never claim to be perfect, but I will try to learn from some things that I can do better, and I think that was one of them without a doubt.

You don’t want to catch guys off guard,” McVay continued. “It came together a lot faster than anybody anticipated, but yeah, of course I think that any time that tough decisions and things like that where people are affected, you always want to be as understanding, as empathetic as possible, think about it through the other person’s lens and there’s certainly things that I know I would do it a little bit differently if — when those situations arise in the future.

McVay is adamant that the trade that sent Goff to the Lions had nothing to do with their relationship, and everything to do with acquiring someone of QB Matthew Stafford‘s caliber.

That was why that decision was made and that was why things came together as quickly as they did because we felt like it was a rare opportunity to acquire a player of Matthew’s caliber,” McVay said. “Those opportunities just don’t come up often.

McVay also expects Stafford to treat the Rams’ upcoming game against the Lions just like he would any other game.

He’s so impressive in terms of his weekly rhythm and his consistency through these first six weeks,” McVay said. “He’s so steady and even-keeled, I don’t think he’ll make it bigger than what it is.


  • Seahawks HC Pete Carroll said that RB Alex Collins didn’t suffer a significant hip injury at the end of Sunday night’s game against the Steelers, but they’ll need a few more days to evaluate his status. RB Rashaad Penny is also eligible to come off of injured reserve this week. (Field Yates)
  • Carroll spoke with free-agent QB Cam Newtona couple times,” though nothing came of it. Seattle is all-in on QB Geno Smith, and Newton likely wouldn’t have had a chance to compete with him. (Michael-Shawn Dugar)
  • The Seahawks will keep tabs on Newton but for now they plan to stick with Smith with QB Russell Wilson just a few weeks from returning. (Tom Pelissero)
  • Carroll notes that they got a “really, really positive report” on DE Darrell Taylor. Carroll said “he does not have a neck injury” and could play this week. (Curtis Crabtree)

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