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New Coaches, QB Searches and other NFC West Takeaways from the NFL Scouting Combine

Writers who cover the Rams, 49ers and Cardinals provide key takeaways on those teams' offseasons.

INDIANAPOLIS—It has been an eventful offseason for the Seahawks' NFC West rivals. There have been coaching changes in Los Angeles and San Francisco—and a new general manager as well in San Francisco—retirement rumors from two of Arizona's best players, plus the usual free agency concerns every teams has to contend with this time of year.

With that in mind, we talked to reporters who cover each NFC West team to get a better idea of where things stand with the 49ers, Rams and Cardinals.

Joe Fann,

On potentially drafting a quarterback with the No. 2 pick: "It's an obvious thing that everyone knows the 49ers are in the market for a quarterback, but it's still interesting to say so openly, 'We are open to all options, and we believe we have good options out there.' They're eager to get their franchise quarterback, but they're not going to mortgage the future to do so, and if that means waiting a year for potential options in 2018, then so be it. They're going to look in free agency, they're going look via trade, and they're going to look in the draft.

"(General manager) John Lynch had good things to say about all the top quarterbacks, (Patrick) Mahomes, (Deshaun) Watson, (Mitchell) Trubisky and (DeShone) Kizer, and very openly about all four, so there's a lot to like about this quarterback class. Then the other big thing is Colin Kaepernick opting out. Both John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have been very open—currently there are zero quarterbacks on the roster—and while a lot of people would say that turns into panic mode, the word John Lynch used was 'liberating,' where you can kind of make of it what you will with a fresh start. Free agency will be really interesting, then whatever happens in free agency will probably dictate what happens in the draft."

On hiring a former broadcaster as general manager: "The reaction was surprise for everybody, myself included, because that name wasn't circulating. The initial wow factor and shock value was certainly there. Your GM John Schneider said it himself, 'I was surprised when I heard it.' Then you sit back and thinks about it, this guy's around football his entire life. He has been broadcasting for eight years after a 14-year playing career. He never left the NFL, and being a broadcaster, you're sitting down with GMs, head coaches, best players in the league, quarterbacks. He used to be a quarterback. This guy knows football.  

"One, he knows how to lead, and as a GM, as much as you need to be able to scout, you're leading and organizing a personnel staff; two, he said he'll put his football acumen up there with everybody; and third, he's said he's smart enough to know what he doesn't know, which is a big thing to say for a guy in that position where it's easy to think you have to be the smartest guy in the room. So he hires Adam Peters, who has 10-plus years of NFL scouting experience, who was John Elway's right-hand guy who a lot of people were surprised he would be willing to leave. That speaks to the respect that John Lynch commands. There's surprise, but then you sit back and think, OK, this guy's a Hall of Fame-caliber player and has been a broadcaster around the NFL the last eight years, within 24 hours, he'd hired Adam Peters. He brings in Martin Mayhew, who has sat in the GM chair before, so he's surrounded by guys who have done it. When you have those guys, and on top of that a leader of John Lynch's caliber, I think everyone has turned from shock to excitement."

On new head coach Kyle Shanahan: "I think people are thrilled. The name obviously carries weight, but this is a guy who is eager to build his own name and not just be Mike Shanahan's son. And obviously the Super Bowl, everyone knows that adds a little incentive to bounce back from that. He's a competitive guy, you can feel it. He's an intense speaker when he's at the podium. And his resume speaks for itself—six of the nine years he has been an offensive coordinator, it has been a top-10 unit, the Falcons were a juggernaut this year. The numbers speak for themselves. You never have any idea what's going to happen with a first-year head coach, and I don't think anyone's expecting a Super Bowl next year. But with six-year contracts, they're going to exercise all the patience needed, but it's hard not to be impressed and feel like you have the right guy for the job."  

Myles Simmons,

On new head coach Sean McVay fitting in with GM Les Snead: "Part of it is just that they're in sync and they're establishing their working relationship and trying to get everything together. That can be hard for any team when you're new and have a GM who has already been there and a new head coach is coming in. The good thing about both of them is that they seem to have the same football philosophy in terms of trying to build through the draft and in terms of making sure you're getting the most of your players that are already on the roster before you start looking outward. The best thing about both of them right now is that they just seem like they're in sync and have this good partnership that they're starting to embark on."

On being settled in Los Angeles after going to relocation last offseason: "Being settled is huge. Snead talked about this a little bit—nothing is an excuse, but when you're settled down, that just helps you mentally. With everything everybody went through just from the way the move happened, then you get into the season and the results, that weighs on you. Being settled now, it's going to be huge."

On switching from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4: "If there's a thing that makes me think it's going to be more seamless than it might be with another team, it's Wade Phillips. He's got 40 years of NFL experience, and it's not like this is the first time where he has gone and done this. I think he said three of the last four times he has gone into a new place, they were running a 4-3 and switched to a 3-4 and still had immediate success. That's the one thing that makes me think this won't be a big deal."

On quarterback Jared Goff heading into his second season: "The best thing for Goff right now is that he's got McVay and he's got guys coming in who have a boatload of experience working with quarterbacks, working in different successful offenses. Greg Olson, the new quarterbacks coach, was the Rams offensive coordinator in 06-07, and those years they had Marc Bulger throwing for 4,000 yards, Steven Jackson rushing for over 1,000 yards, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce over 1,000 yards receiving, so he's got that experience. Then Matt LaFleur, the new offensive coordinator, was the quarterbacks coach in Atlanta, and obviously Matt Ryan was the MVP in 2016. So there's just a lot of experience that's going to be able to help Goff move forward, because it's no secret that he had his share of struggles in 2016."

Kyle Odegard,

On offseason priorities: "You look at free agency to start off. That's the big conversation with Cardinals, because they have so many upcoming free agents—five defensive starters, Calais Campbell, Tony Jefferson. So there's some focus on the draft, but a lot on free agency right now because they have all of those free agents. Then when you look at the draft, the big question for Cardinals fans is, are you going to find the quarterback of the future in this draft."

On balancing a desire to win now vs. building for the future: "The last two years, it was clear it was win-now. They put a lot of chips on the table and they made it to the NFC championship game two years ago. Now it's, 'OK, we still want to win, but we also know Carson (Palmer) and Larry (Fitzgerald) both talked about maybe retiring this offseason, so that's definitely moved to the forefront. It's an interesting balance—how do they try to win now and also prepare for the future? But (general manager) Steve Keim is good at that, he's always thinking ahead and not putting all his chips in one basket. They do have a lot of young talent defensively, then (running back) David Johnson, so you do feel like you can try to win now, but then try to also retool to keep it going after Carson and Larry."

On last year's struggles after such a good 2015 season: "It's interesting, when you look at more of the deeper numbers—point-differential wise they did really well, and top 10 in offense and defense—it doesn't feel like there are glaring personal issues. Special teams was really poor for a lot of the season; missed kicks, bad coverage. The offensive line had a lot of injures. The wide receivers had some issues that they didn't think was going to happen—it was the exact same group as the year before. So it was a few small things. I don't think you're at the point where you feel like, 'We're done; our window is closed.' There were enough things where you feel like, let's give this group one more shot at it in 2017. They're definitely feeling like they can bounce back and get back to that level."

Photos of Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll meeting with the media on Thursday, March 2 at the 2017 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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