NFC West Offseason 2012: Seahawks Sign Matt Flynn

The rest of the NFC West is trying to catch up to the San Francisco 49ers, starting with the 2012 Free Agency period. Follow this stream for NFC West news and how it affects the 49ers. For more on the 49ers, visit Niners Nation. You can also check out Field Gulls for Seahawks coverage, Turf Show Times for Rams coverage, or Revenge of the Birds for our Cardinals blog.

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Seahawks Get Their Man In Matt Flynn, How Does It Affect NFC West?

How fast has a significant report ever been squashed out into nothingness in regards to the NFL? There probably are not many that lasted less time than the reports of Alex Smith flying to Seattle to audition with the Seahawks for their vacant quarterback position. Perhaps it's a little harsh to call the spot filled by Tarvaris Jackson "vacant," but it's no less harsh than his completion percentage.

Seattle ended up signing Matt Flynn, and 49ers fans will be disappointed to know that they didn't heap piles and piles of delicious legal tender on him like the Arizona Cardinals did with Kevin Kolb a year ago (and again just a few days ago when they payed him $7 million dollars). No, they gave Matt Flynn a pretty reasonable deal, though it does still seem to be a bit much. With a base salary of $19 million over three years with $10 million guaranteed and another $5 million attainable in incentives, the Seahawks are not on the hook for a whole lot.

So how's the outlook for the Seahawks with the signing of Flynn? Well, we'll revisit the contract again to start these talks. Though this writer feels they are overpaying slightly, the dollar amount is actually somewhat lower than expected. This is likely because the market wasn't hot on Flynn, who was likely taking his time for a bit waiting for Peyton Manning to sign somewhere.

If he thought that the waiting might press Seattle into making a mistake, it didn't. They likely had this offer on the table for some time and Flynn tried to get more, to no avail. Which means that Flynn isn't a perfect fit with what Seattle wants out of their quarterback position. But he's their best option going forward, so what will that mean on the football field.

Given Flynn's style of play, it will likely mean an offense more oriented towards audibles. The guy is very intelligent, absorbs everything around him and makes calculated decisions. At times, his decision-making appears a lot less intelligent because he goes beyond his own limits, but they're often built with good intentions, as opposed to, say, "just winging it and hoping it goes alright."

Sure, that's yet another dig at Sir Tarvaris, but in this writer's defense, he's really not good. So back to Flynn and his decision-making ... Seattle's offense in 2012 wasn't exactly expansive, but it ended up working out that way on the field. It seemed like, when the ball was snapped, all planning took a backseat to something much more reactionary. That's not an insult, it's just the truth - but it was definitely a negative. Reactions should be starting before the ball is snapped, not afterward. You're not supposed to call a play, snap the ball, and then watch ONLY your guys and how that play is progressing with them. But that was a good portion of what Seattle ran with in 2011, mostly due to the personnel available.

So now Flynn is the personnel, and what does that mean? Again, we go back to the post-snap awareness, and Flynn excels leaps and bounds. These are things that are true about Flynn and his makeup as a quarterback. There's still not enough NFL tape on him to know if these things have translated well, but he's had plenty of time to learn in theory and grow in theory, in much the way that Aaron Rodgers certainly learned and grew in theory.

That was probably a mistake. Please pretend that "Aaron Rodgers" wasn't just said, because it might lead to unrealistic expectations.

No, Seattle fans shouldn't expect that, but you should expect an offense that runs more or less as it's supposed to. That's the gist of all of this - Flynn is a calculated quarterback who makes smart decisions and won't be overly careless with the football. He's a game manager who probably wants to show he's more than that, and that's a benefit, given some of the offensive weapons he's working with in Seattle.

There's so much that's unknown about him, though. Being smart enough to know what you need to do and legitimately being able to do what you need to do are two entirely different things, best analogized by Alex Smith over in San Francisco. That's not a comparison of the players, just noting that Flynn has it all down in theory, but with very limited tape. Smith is one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league but has only just put it together.

With guys like Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin on the team, Seattle could have a great offense. Marshawn Lynch can't always be counted on (over the course of 16 games) and Zach Miller may be a fluke - those things will all be decided when Flynn takes over, and despite what you've heard about a competition, he will take over.

That being said, as noted above, the offense should run more or less as it's supposed to. There will be a better technical presence to it, and those aforementioned targets can likely expect balls to be thrown in a way that makes them not entirely unlike something catachable. But to what extent will it be effective? Nobody in the world can tell you that right now.

So how does this look for the rest of the NFC West? Well, it means that the Seahawks COULD have the best offense in the division. The Cardinals are still over-paying for a near-useless quarterback who was outplayed by John Skelton while the St. Louis Rams are coming to realize that Sam Bradford's inability to throw beyond five yards is debilitating. The 49ers, as it stands, don't really have a quarterback so that will be interesting.

When it's all said and done, Flynn looks a helluva lot better for the Seahawks than Jackson, but that's all on paper. This could turn out very well for them, or they could continue to be 7-9 year after year. You pick.

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Jeff Fisher Wants The Rams To Be The 49ers

St. Louis Rams fans are more confident than they have been in a long time. With the hiring of Jeff Fisher as the team's new coach, most pundits will take them seriously in the buildup to the 2012 season, and with good reason. He certainly has his flaws, but he is one of the most experienced coaches in the league at this point and, really, there wasn't a better candidate available.

On Tuesday, he held a press conference in which he talked about the future of the Rams and how he views the team. Naturally, he likes everything he sees, is adamant that his decision had nothing to do with the fact that the Rams are vomiting piles of money on him, and of course, foresees a quick turnaround for his team in the NFC West.

What was most interesting is his vision for the Rams and what kind of team he wants to build:

The philosophy is pretty simple: we want to do whatever it takes to win football games. We're going to have a disciplined, tough, physical football team that's going to first and foremost matchup and be able to win games in the division. We've got quite a challenge ahead of us to be competitive once again in the division, but it won't take long. It's a team that's going to run the football and protect the quarterback and play good defense and get the ball back.

Hang on a second, it seems an awful lot like the Fisher wants the Rams to be ... the San Francisco 49ers? Does Jim Harbaugh keep his guys disciplined? He sure does, with accountability being a mitigating factor. Are they tough? Well you can answer that yourself if you watched how they abused Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles on Saturday against the New Orleans Saints. Physical falls under that same category.

On top of that, Fisher wants to run the football, protect the quarterback (who can then protect the ball), play good defense and create takeaways. That sounds exactly like how the 49ers play football. Their defense is more than "good," albeit, but Frank Gore undoubtedly is what makes that offense tick (even if the 49ers had to rely on Alex Smith and key contributors in the passing game to ultimately beat the aforementioned Saints).

Do the Saints have the personnel to be the 49ers? No, they don't have that, yet. Their offensive line isn't nearly as big and scary enough, and they need a playmaker like Vernon Davis on offense. And just as surprising as this statement seems, but Sam Bradford has a ways to go to be comparable to the 2011-12 iteration of Alex Smith. On top of that, their defense would have to improve leaps and bounds to compete with that of San Francisco.

But hey - it's a winning formula, and nobody can tell you otherwise. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, no?

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Gregg Williams To Rams: How Should 49ers Fans Feel About The Saints Former DC In St. Louis?

The San Francisco 49ers probably haven't given the St. Louis Rams much thought since their matchup in Week 17 of the regular season. No, they've firmly been concentrating on their first playoff appearance since 2002 and have made the best of it, now set to host the NFC Championship game against the New York Giants. That being said, St. Louis is still making a lot of moves, having a much more eventful offseason than, say, the Arizona Cardinals or Seattle Seahawks.

Firstly, the Rams fired Steve Spagnuolo after he led them to a 10-38 record over the last three seasons, and they brought in Jeff Fisher to take the reigns. 49ers fans regard Fisher as a threat, but most feel as though he's less intimidating than some fresh new blood, using Jim Harbaugh as a prime example last season.

Well, Fisher has added his first big coordinator, bringing in Gregg Williams from the New Orleans Saints as the Rams' defensive coordinator. How should the 49ers and their fans feel about Williams being in the NFC West? Really, the only history here is the fact that Williams dialed a ton of blitzes in the preseason. Oh, and also the fact that the 49ers orchestrated two 80-yard touchdown drives near the end of a divisional playoff game on Saturday against his Saints.

Essentially, the most important thing to note that is good about the Williams hire from a Rams perspective is the fact that Williams runs a scheme similar to the one that Spagnuolo tried to run in St. Louis. It's a 4-3 blitz-heavy scheme with a deep zone emphasis. It will help St. Louis' young defensive linemen thrive, and give their linebackers some opportunities to put a hurting on quarterbacks.

The most important thing to note from a 49ers fan's perspective is that St. Louis has many of the same problems that New Orleans does defensively: the secondary. In fact, St. Louis' secondary is actually much worse than the secondary in New Orleans, and they'll have a tough time trying to cover man-to-man all the time, and when they're in the zone, there will be long stretches of field to take advantage of in the passing game.

It just doesn't seem like St. Louis has the personnel to effectively run the scheme of Williams, which is one that thrives on a "best case scenario" of the blitzes working exactly as dialed up. While the 49ers will need to always be alert of his blitzes and the fact that too many sacks and a hard-hitting defense can put you behind very quickly, Williams' defense is only intimidating in part and can be exploited. It's not an insult to Williams, who will certainly have his moments with his blitzes and possibly improve the Rams with his veteran leadership and connection to Fisher, but Saints fans were happy to see him go and 49ers fans will be confident, at the very least.

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NFC West Offseason 2012: Rams, Cardinals And Seahawks Try And Catch Up To 49ers

The NFC West struggled mightily outside of the San Francisco 49ers in 2011, and their divisional rivals have a lot to work on and consider this offseason, leading up to free agency and the 2012 NFL Draft. For more on the 49ers, visit Niners Nation. You can also check out Field Gulls for Seahawks coverage, Turf Show Times for Rams coverage, or Revenge of the Birds for our Cardinals blog.

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