NFC Notes: Cowboys, 49ers, Seahawks



  • According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, the final domino that triggered the Cowboys’ hiring of Mike McCarthy as the new head coach was when the Vikings won and made team owner Jerry Jones‘ planned pursuit of HC Mike Zimmer untenable. 
  • Per ESPN’s Todd Archer, the reason the Cowboys didn’t immediately move on from former HC Jason Garrett until well after the end of the season is that there was a chance he could have come back if the search process for Dallas went poorly according to one high-ranking team source: “[H]ad the Cowboys not been overwhelmed by McCarthy or any other candidates, there was a chance Garrett could have returned as coach.”
  • The Athletic’s Jon Machota puts cornerback at the top of Dallas’ needs this offseason if they’re unable to re-sign CB Byron Jones as expected. 
  • Defensive tackle is also a need if Dallas can’t re-sign DT Maliek Collins, per Machota. 
  • Machota also points out two of McCarthy’s former safeties, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Damarious Randall, could be free-agent options for Dallas this offseason. 
  • Dallas could also look to address its pass rush if DE Robert Quinn leaves in free agency, either by signing Falcons DE Vic Beasley or Giants LB Markus Golden, or by drafting a player like Boise State DE Curtis Weaver.
  • Machota mentions if Cowboys TE Jason Witten returns for another year, addressing the position is less of a priority for Dallas. 
  • Before interviewing McCarthy, the Cowboys informed Garrett of their choice. Garrett responded by praising McCarthy. (Michael Gehlken)
  • McCarthy said in his introductory press conference his plan is to build around QB Dak Prescott: “He’s a great one. … You’re going to be able to run the whole offense and then some. Our offensive system will be built around making the quarterback successful.” (Ian Rapoport)
  • McCarthy added RB Ezekiel Elliott would play a pivotal role: “He’s going to get the football. Make no mistake about that.” (Tom Pelissero)
  • McCarthy didn’t say if Dallas will remain in a 4-3 or transition to a 3-4 defense: “We’ll get into that when we announce our staff and make clear the direction we’re going.” (Gehlken)
  • Jones confirmed McCarthy would have the freedom to pick his own staff. (Calvin Watkins)
  • Cowboys WR coach Sanjay Lal confirmed that he is not being retained on McCarthy’s staff. (Jane Slater)
  • Dallas is also considering Joe Whitt Jr. and Tony Oden for the secondary coaching job. (Jane Slater)
  • Dallas has offered the RB coach position to someone other than Gary Brown, whose contract is up after holding the position in 2020. However, Brown could still return as he has the support of the players. 


49ers LB Kwon Alexander received medical clearance to return from his torn pectoral injury for this weekend’s playoff game against the Vikings, removing the last obstacle to him seeing the field this postseason. How much Alexander plays after being out of commission for half of the year remains to be seen, as that will come down to what HC Kyle Shanahan and DC Robert Saleh believe his impact could be. 

“I was told a long time ago maybe there was an outside chance he could play in the championship,” Shanahan said via NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco. “Kwon has been trying to get back, trying to prove us wrong… Now it’s a coaching decision.”

  • The 49ers worked out DB Tre Roberson on Tuesday. (Howard Balzer)
  • Roberson also worked out for the Vikings, who San Francisco plays in Saturday’s Divisional Round game. 


  • Per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Seahawks HC Pete Carroll said OT Duane Brown did some work in the past two days, but won’t practice Wednesday. The team won’t have an update until later in the week. 
  • Carroll added the Seahawks are waiting on a second opinion on G Mike Iupati.
  • Carroll is hopeful Seahawks DE Ezekiel Ansah can play this weekend after he reportedly “feels better than the trainers thought he might.” (Condotta)
  • Seahawks WR Malik Turner (concussion) will practice Wednesday and be re-evaluated. (Condotta)
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