49ers CB Ahkello Witherspoon had the support of his coaches going into this week’s playoff game against the Vikings after appearing to allow two touchdown catches in the regular-season finale. However, his leash was apparently short, as after falling down on a long touchdown pass to Vikings WR Stefon Diggs, Witherspoon was pulled from the game for CB Emmanuel Moseley.
“I had told Ahkello that going into the game. And Moseley,” 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan said via the Athletic’s Matt Barrows. “… If he was struggling at all, we weren’t going to hesitate. Sure if we’d left him in, he would have had a chance to play himself out of it. But he was aware of that before the game. I love how Moseley came in and played, too.”
- Witherspoon took his benching in stride, telling ST coordinator Richard Hightower he was ready to take Moseley’s reps on special teams. (Nick Wagoner)
- Shanahan told reporters he was relieved the Browns didn’t hire 49ers DC Robert Saleh as their next head coach despite being disappointed for him: “I have empathy for Saleh because you want to win and get that opportunity. Every year we keep him we’re going to be fortunate.” (Cam Inman)
Following a disappointing 9-7 season on the outside of the playoff picture, the Rams radically reshaped their coaching staff, bringing in what QB Jared Goff called “fresh faces” at all three coordinator positions. The addition of OC Kevin O’Connell figures to have the biggest impact on Goff, who is looking to rebound as well in 2020.
“There’s a lot of things I want to focus on this year,” Goff said via the Los Angeles Times’s Gary Klein. “I think I have the ability now to really invest in myself and put everything I have into myself, to come back better and stronger than ever and, hopefully, look back at 9-7 as a thing of the past.”
Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney made sure he used his leverage on the franchise tag this offseason to end up in Seattle instead of Miami when the Texans traded him. Clowney is set to be a free agent this offseason and again has the leverage on his side, as the Seahawks can’t use the franchise tag to prevent him from leaving. However, they might not need to, as Clowney says being on a winning team is more important to him right now than maxing out his next deal.
“I just want to win,” Clowney said via NBC Sports’ Joe Fann. “I want to get that Super Bowl, by any means. That’s what I’m looking for. Who’s going to get me there? I’m not looking to get on no sorry team for no money. That ain’t gonna fly. I’m not going to fight through all that just to lose 16 games and go home with my check. I hate that. That ain’t what I’m doing. If I can’t do that — I’m not going to no team that can’t win.”
- Per ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Seahawks DE Quinton Jefferson, also a pending free agent in 2020, broke his foot during Sunday’s playoff loss to the Packers.
- Clowney expects to have surgery soon to repair a core muscle injury he played through to end the year. (Fann)
- Carroll mentioned that Clowney spoke to GM John Schneider and told him how much he loved being with the Seahawks. (Gregg Bell)
- Seahawks HC Pete Carroll said the team would love to have Clowney back and plans to start contract discussions soon: “That really is underway. That is happening. We would love for him to be here.” (Bob Condotta)
- Seahawks RB Chris Carson doesn’t anticipate needing surgery for his fractured hip and plans to be ready for training camp. (Condotta)
- Carson said he played through the injury briefly before realizing how serious it was. He added he should be on crutches for another six to seven weeks. (Curtis Crabtree)
- Seahawks DT Jarran Reed says he has no clue if he will be back in Seattle in 2020 but he would like to be. (Condotta)
- Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner mentioned he might need surgery to correct some issues around his knee and ankle this offseason. (Crabtree)
- Seahawks OT George Fant said his main goal heading into free agency this year is to find a starting opportunity, either in Seattle or elsewhere: “I’m a left tackle in this league. I feel like I’m a starter in this league. I got to showcase that in a couple games.” (Crabtree)