Takeaways From NFC West Coaches & General Managers At The 2019 NFL Scouting Combine

With the NFL Scouting Combine taking place in Indianapolis last week, coaches and general managers from around the league held press conferences, providing a little insight into the offseason happenings of nearly every NFL team.

We covered everything Seahawks-related from Pete Carroll and John Schneider last week (links to all the stories can be found at the bottom of this page), but for Seahawks fans wanting to know what’s going on around the NFC West, here are some highlights of the press conferences of the coaches and general managers of the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers.

Cardinals GM Steve Keim

On where the Cardinals are in terms of rebuilding this roster: “I think there is still a core of players we are excited about, a number of young players that I think are developing into those types as well. But there is no doubt this free agency period is going to be critical for us, and we have to hit on a number of players on both sides of the ball in my opinion. Then with the draft process, it's exciting because of where we stand with the first pick, the first pick in every round and now four comp picks, which is one or two more than I anticipated.”

On Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury saying, while still at Texas Tech and preparing to face Oklahoma, that he would take Sooners QB Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick, which the Cardinals now hold: “I think what Kliff said was trying to avoid bulletin board material. If you were at Texas Tech, I would've said the same thing about an Oklahoma quarterback.

On if Josh Rosen is the Cardinals quarterback: “Is Josh Rosen our quarterback? Yeah. He is right now, for sure.”

On hiring Kliff Kingsbury: “I've had a relationship with Kliff for quite a while. I'll never forget when we went to work out Patrick Mahomes at his pro day, I spent a lot of time with Kliff that day, and at that point and time, I felt like, 'This guy has what it takes to be an NFL head coach.' Not only that, in today's day and age, whether it is player evaluations, whether it is your system, to me you have to think outside the box. You have to take chances. Some may have thought about it as an outside the box type of thing. His ability to get quarterbacks right, regardless of scheme, talent level, he has a history and track record of doing that. That was appealing, aside from him being creative as a playcaller.”

On potentially trading back from the No. 1 pick: “I think it goes back to trusting your board. If there are five players you think are Pro Bowl type talents that fit what you do and are going to be good in your locker room again you'll feel comfortable with moving back X number of spots if you're acquiring a lot of value. But there's no doubt that if you're convinced that that one guy is going to be the biggest impact and the biggest difference, you have to sit and take him."

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury

On saying in October that he would take Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick: “It was before a college game and obviously, you think the world of Kyler as a player and as a person. But the timing of it is pretty unique.”

On the air raid offense and it being able to thrive in the NFL: “I think a lot of it has to do with the talent you’re playing with, no question. You look at a guy like Patrick (Mahomes) and what he did in Kansas City—unique ability, unique talent. And there’s some really good offensive minds now in the NFL that are doing some things that help those young quarterbacks and allow them to play at a high level quicker in their careers.”

On rookie offensive linemen coming into the NFL and fitting your system: “I think it’s tough no matter what. I think that the level of defensive live play is so incredible that it’s going to be a shock to the system no matter what. I guess guys that played in a similar offense in college may have a bit of an easier transition just being in a system they’re familiar with.”

On his short time at USC: “Yeah, I obviously was thrilled to be there with coach (Clay) Helton and thought that was an incredible situation with where I think that program is going. But when you have a chance to be an NFL head coach and come to a situation with Steve Keim and (team President) Michael Bidwill, you can’t say no.”

On how Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ success may have helped him get hired by the Cardinals: “I’m not sure how that went into the thought process of the hiring, but I think it didn’t hurt watching what Pat’s done at an early age and playing in a spread system, being in shotgun. I think those guys—him, Baker (Mayfield), Case Keenum—their success has shown that there’s some concepts that come up from the college ranks and those guys can play early and play at a very high level.”

On believing the Air Raid can work at this level, regardless of what others may think: “I’ve always stood by that. I felt like football is football and it’s about players more than anything. So if you have the right guys pulling the trigger, the right guys running the routes and the right guy handing it to you, you’re going to look pretty good. I think that’s what people are seeing.”

Rams coach Sean McVay

On what happened to Todd Gurley down the stretch. And if there is anything medical with the knee: “Really when you look at Todd’s situation, he did miss the last couple games. Based on just the toll you could see that he was such a warrior the way he fought through the Philadelphia game. Came back, did an excellent job against Dallas, and I think the game didn’t go the way we wanted it to against New Orleans—just kinda the flow of the game and the way they were playing some loaded front structures we leaned a little bit more on making some plays in the pass game, and C.J. did a nice job. And in the Super Bowl, really, Todd played two-thirds of the game. I think the problem starts with, I didn't do nearly a good enough job for us and to get Todd going. But you look at some of the things and what a fine line it is between it being a totally different narrative is when it’s 3-3, we’re driving and he had a couple of great runs to start the second half and then when pops the one run towards our sideline that ended up getting called back for holding, that kind of stalled that drive. But he did a lot of things in that game that gave us a chance and I think ultimately it’s about me giving him the opportunities as well. But he’s feeling good. I think anytime you go through the amount of work that he got, specifically this season, there’s going to be a toll it takes on your body. But from a physical and really a mental standpoint he’s in a good place. And we’re excited about how Todd’s feeling moving into the offseason.”

On the Super Bowl being a learning experience: “Absolutely. And I think, really, every single week provides a learning opportunity — whether it be good or bad. The Super Bowl was a great experience. I think any time that you’re navigating through a two-week preparation, there’s always some different elements that when you look back, you say, alright, this worked out, this didn’t. And a lot of that entails the feedback that you get from the coaches and the players — if you are fortunate enough to get in that situation again. So certainly learned a lot. I think when you go into those situations, heavily leaned on those coaches that had been a part of those games before. I felt good about our process and our structure. And I think more specifically than anything else, when you get into a game like that, you expect to adjust and adapt better. But that’s what’s exciting and motivating moving forward. But whether we had won or lost, you’d like to think that motivation remains the same. And you know you’ve got to start fresh moving into next year.”

On preventing a “Super Bowl hangover” this year: “I think the biggest thing is, you want to make sure that as a coaching staff—and me specifically in my role—is you want to demonstrate that mental toughness, that ability to move on like we expect our players to. And you understand, I think when you get a chance to reflect back on the season, a lot of really good things that we can take away from it. But the focus for us is going to be, we learn from the past, we produce in the present, and you want to prepare for the future. But every single season is a new opportunity. And I think the thing that’s exciting for me specifically, and for us as a coaching staff, is you love the process of what the entire year entails. And that’s the Combine, that’s evaluating your scheme, that’s evaluating some other things, that’s looking at, OK, what can we do as coaches to get better, implement a plan specific to the offseason program and how we attack that process to get better, to emphasize our players’ strengths, and then hopefully put ourselves in a position—the way that we do the offseason, training camp—to go compete and win our opener. And that’s really what our focus and concentration will be on. And I think you never let the complacency set in. And I think we share that as players and coaches.”

On receiver Cooper Kupp’s timeline to return and on how did his loss impact the Rams: “I mean, Cooper’s a great player. I think when you just talk about the things that he was able to provide our football team, he was so consistent, so versatile in terms of a guy that is really a great productive player in the run game. Obviously, in the pass game he did an outstanding job. He’s a guy that, situationally, was a big part of our offense—whether it be in the red zone or on third down. So you certainly missed him. He’s making great progress. He’s one of the most conscientious players that I’ve ever seen. He’s already worried about, am I going to miss some things in OTAs—things like that. But talking to Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache and Reggie Scott, he’s in great shape and right on pace to be ready to go, especially with training camp. We want to have a long-term vision with him. But he’s already doing things that I think are probably way ahead of what normally would be the process from an ACL. But we feel really good about the way he’s going to respond. And I would just say that it’s something that we’re going to monitor this offseason, but we fully expect him to be ready to go for training camp.”

Rams general manager Les Snead

On letting Ndamukong Suh and Dante Fowler test the open market: “Here’s our plan. We will discuss with their agents—there is a good possibility that most (free agents) test the market unless we can get something done. But going back to last year, there's a lot of guys that were unselfish as we were waiting on Aaron to sign. Some of our extensions—Brandin Cooks. Rob Havenstein, Todd Gurley—they deferred some of their cash into this year. So it does make this year’s calculus equation a little different. So what we have found too, in the past, that sometimes it is really good for a players, even if we want a player and they want to be here, to go test the market at least in those 48 to 72 hours of window and get a feel for their reality. And that way they’re not guessing, we’re not guessing, and you get a true sense of what the real market is instead of speculation.”

On the challenges of dealing with a coaching staff that might have some turnover just because of the popularity of Sean McVay: “The positive for us is Sean is our offensive coordinator as well. So when we lose an offensive coach it doesn’t necessarily disrupt the play-calling aspect of it. But it does disrupt a lot of people who are researching, analyzing and helping Sean come up with a game plan. So there’s disruption there. I think we’ll need to be intentional about making sure that we continue bringing young, bright people in that we can groom and also you know they can bring their DNA to us and maybe help us evolve as well.

On if the organization has any sort of timeline on an extension for Jared Goff: “Usually what we’ve done in the past is when we do extend players who, let’s call it, aren’t up for free agency we usually get through this upcoming free agency, upcoming draft and we start thinking about those things in the summer. But right now we’ll through the next few months look at the more urgent business matters.

On why Sean McVay and Jared Goff’s student-teacher connection has flourished the way it has: “I think when Sean came in, Jared really wanted to get better. And I think Sean’s an unbelievable teacher. And he really wanted to teach. So I think the passions they both had—Jared being, hey, I want to get better, and Sean being, hey, I want to teach football and help a young man evolve. So I think those two things collided and has made great chemistry.”

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan

On hiring Wes Welker as wide receivers coach: “I always try to get someone in who played the position, which is sometimes tough to do. But if you can find someone who did it and feel they're prepared from a coaching standpoint, that's the best of both worlds. Wes, he's someone I've known just hanging out and meeting him over the years; I've never worked with him or anything. He was one of my favorite players of all-time watching him from afar and what he did. I used to play against him at college when he was at Tech, and just watching how he made it and the way he made it. That's a guy who not only was really talented but made it because of what was upstairs also and how he developed. Knowing he's put in the work and put in two hard years at Houston going the quality-control route, and just interviewing him, you could tell he was serious about becoming a coach and was ready to put in the work, put in the hours. He's a talented guy, a good person and I feel fortunate to have him on staff."

On the challenges as a head coach calling plays and on why we don't see more defensive-minded head coaches calling defense: “I'm not sure. As an offensive coach, the challenge is how you prepare throughout the week, the order of how you do things needs to change. I was a coordinator for nine years before becoming a head coach, so I was very regimented on what I did Monday, Tuesday and all the way up to how I prepare for Sunday, and you have to change that around. You have different responsibilities Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. You can't go through the same process. But you do have to pick that up as the week goes so that on Sunday nothing changes. That was the biggest challenge for me. But during games, it's not much of difference for an offensive coach. There's not many times in my life I've called a play not thinking about the time, the score. That might be a little easier for offensive coaches because we're used to it; whereas defensive coaches are more defending and don't have to think that as much."

On receiver Dante Pettis’ rookie year: “I have big expectations for Dante. We did before we drafted him and we had them throughout this year. We expect him to get better. He went through the normal rookie-type ups and downs that a lot of them do as receivers. He came in strong in training camp, got a little banged up but was healthy for Week 1 and did well. Week 2, he had an injury that kind of set him back. He didn't get right until about Week 12. He finished the year up strong. He finished the year up as probably our best guy and I expect him to come in next season even better. He's a guy that can come in and play all three (receiver) positions and also a good returner. We're very excited we have Dante.”

On if it’s fair to put tight end George Kittle in the same conversation with Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz: “I mean, um, yeah, you have to. He had that type of year. He had the most yards in NFL history (by a tight end) as a receiver. He's as good of a blocking tight end as I've ever been around. So, yeah, he's a pretty good player.”

On why are short quarterbacks having success now in the league: “I don't think anything is happening different. It's just you see one person do it and other people realize it's possible. You watch snowboarding and people never thought you could do more than whatever two 360s is—what is that, 720? Then all of a sudden he does three of them. A year later, 10 of them do it. Yeah, we'd all like tall guys with the biggest arm in the world who can run faster than everyone and know how to play quarterback. You haven't seen those all over the years. Drew Brees is as good as anyone who's ever played. He's a smarter one. It goes by percentages. The odds are, if you're taller, it should be easier; if you're faster, it should be easier; if you have a better arm, it should be easier. But like I'll say about every position, there are no absolutes about anything. If guys can throw and play the position, they don't have to dunk. They can be small and still dunk. Everyone gets too big into … Odds are the taller you are, the easier it is. But short guys can play and that's being proven over and over again.”

49ers general manager John Lynch

On if the 49ers would be open to moving one of their three quarterbacks: “Well, I think we never close the door on anything. But, we really like the three quarterbacks that we have. It is an extremely important position in this league and we like each and every one of those guys for what they bring to the table, both in their talent and who they are as people. We’re big believers in all of them. Traditionally, we’ve been of the belief that you keep two because it allows you to do things with your roster, but never close the door on keeping three either. I think they’re all talented players who like I said are good people, are good leaders and we’re big fans of all of them.”

On the recovery program for running back Jerick McKinnon: “Jerick’s recovering great. He really is. I think one of the cool things, we didn’t get a chance to see him on the field, but we’ve been able to see the work ethic that we’ve always heard about with Jerick McKinnon, front and center, in his rehab. He’s getting after it. Yeah, I think it’s been nice for him and I think he would tell you that, as would [QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo], that it’s been nice to have a partner to kind of push each other. Jimmy was a month behind, so they’ve got their own competition going. That’s good because that’s an arduous process and I think they’ve been able to help motivate each other. I think our staff is doing an incredible job of working with both of those guys. We’re really encouraged with their prospects and where they’re going to be. Not putting a timetable on any of them, but I can tell you that his progress is coming very well.”

On how important it was to bring back DL Arik Armstead: “Arik was really important. We’re going to exercise that fifth-year option with him. I think Arik really came into his own. There’s always a process when you come in as a new staff with a new scheme, finding out exactly how and where people best fit. It’s been kind of an evolution for Arik. We started him initially at that outside LEO spot, always knowing that he could move inside and rush. We played him at some big end who plays over the tight end more. At the end of last year, he was playing the nose tackle, which we never thought he’d be. But, you have to be around a player and they have to be around you for you to find where that best fit is. What we found, he’s a very disruptive player. He’s a really good football player. We think very highly of him, so that was an easy decision for us to make. We’re really excited to work with him.”

On using the franchise tag on kicker Robbie Gould: “He makes a lot of kicks. He’s solid as a rock and that’s why we’ve been working on that. I don’t want to negotiate in the public, I don’t ever like doing that, but I can tell you that we are huge fans of Robbie Gould. He’s been as consistent as they come. I’ve known Robbie for a long time and I knew that about him. We’re very hopeful. We did put the franchise tag on him, but we’re very hopeful that we continue talking and try to come to an agreement to keep him around for a while. We had hoped to get a deal done and I think Robbie did as well. We weren’t able to do that so at that point, that decision became very easy for us.”

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Photos from inside the Seattle Seahawks' suite overlooking the Lucas Oil Stadium turf during Day 3 of the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, the first day of on-field workouts featuring some of college football's top professional prospects.

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