Thursday, March 31, 2005

Spring Practice 2005

From BearInsider
Running Backs:
Justin Forsett showed off his speed and elusiveness today, using those assets to burst by defensive players just not yet ready to make tackles. Visualize Joe Igber-like moves combined with improved strength and a north-south orientation to his game. We'll use these spring practices to closely watch the competition for the #2 running back slot, but for now, Justin is the man to beat.
On one play, Marshawn Lynch evaded tackles, popped out the right side, and left Harrison Smith in an uncomfortable position - chasing a speedy back heading downfield for a TD. We won't knock Harrison in saying this, Marshawn is fast.
Then, after practice, Lynch put an outstanding move on CC Times journalist Jay Heater that left everyone laughing. Jay was doing his best to close in on Marshawn for a post-practice interview, and Lynch easily evaded Jay's best move, circling wide and fast around the whole group of reporters. Laughing all the way.
Nate Longshore drops back quickly, his long strides taking him back from the line in just moments. He doesn't, however, end that by moving into a natural throwing stance. Instead, as he completes his drop, his feet are still moving, perhaps reflecting indecision about where he is going to throw the pass. Unfortunately that leaves him too often in an unbalanced posture if a quick pass is needed.
In contrast, Joseph Ayoob ends his drop with his feet already planted for the throw, and quickly moves into his throwing motion. To be able to do this, Ayoob has to make up his mind during his drop where the pass is going - which emphasizes the importance of the mechanics that let a QB keep his eyes downfield as he drops back. On this score, Ayoob is clearly ahead of Longshore.
Early in the scrimmage, Ayoob dropped back, spotted a receiver on a shallow slant to the left sideline, and eased a floater out to the open receiver. Nice pass, easy completion, but Tedford stepped to Ayoob's side to immediately emphasize the need to put more speed on the ball. (We read this from the hand and arm gestures Tedford used). Try that floater against a good DB, and that pass is going the wrong way for a TD.
In immediately subsequent plays, when the receiver made a break to get open, Ayoob leaned on the throttle and delivered the ball with increased velocity. Even then, he continued to try to deliver a catchable ball - rather than going max-out and depending on his receivers to make a D-1 catch. Give this guy top quality receivers whose job it is to make the catch no matter how high the velocity, and then we'll see this guy's real potential.
Roster changes:
Brandon Hampton to DB. We'll watch Brandon in future sessions. His speed and strength in the defensive backfield will be useful.
Steve Levy to QB. He demonstrated his basic competence at the position today, but has neither the mechanics nor arm strength that Longshore and Ayoob exhibited. That said, Cal has no depth at the critical QB slot, so Steve will be an important component in the team structure. If the first two guys go down, a team must have a third QB who can step in and add (at least) stability to the offense.
A Name Change:
DE Justin Johnson now prefers to be known as Fahim Mujjaahid Abd Allah (spelling taken from the new Cal roster). Fahim faces a stiff challenge for playing time at DE, but we have to hope he makes it if only to hear our good friend Joe Starkey struggle with the pronunciation. We'll catch up with Fahim at a future practice and get him to help us with the correct pronunciation.
In the Tunnel:
Departing practice, in the Memorial Stadium south gate tunnel, who should appear but coach Alonzo Carter of McClymonds High School. He attended practice today along with his players Kyle Reed (former) and Josh Tatum (present). Kyle, QB commit to Cal, suddenly looks bigger and stronger than recent memory. Whether or not he changes the QB three-deep this fall, it will be interesting to see what he adds to the QB competition.
Two lineup additions: (see photo)
Jerry Barnes #81, played football at Alameda HS, and is now a sophomore at Cal. His friend, Burl Toler, told him about the walk-on program at Cal, so he decided to try out. He is 5-11 and played his senior year in high school as a cornerback. Jerry's middle name is Sean - he prefers to be known by that name.
Ryan McQuaid #84 played DB at St. Ignatius, a freshman at Cal, he was named all league DB and most athletic player. He is 5-9. Speed numbers were not available for either player. Both were timed in speed drills during Cal’s “open walk-on” tryouts, but neither was told his results.
"Fast enough" said Sean with a grin.
Both players are on the Cal roster as wide receivers. Whether or not they get playing time is problematic at best, but they certainly help fill a depth problem at WR for Cal this spring. And just as clearly, it is a thrill for both to be on the field in Cal uniforms. Each expressed how much they were enjoying the experience and the camaraderie extended to both of them by the Cal squad.
Spring football is underway.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

NFL Draft Predictions

College Football Update

College Football: ASU returns to spring drills
The Associated Press
TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State football team resumed spring practice Monday in the wake of a shooting that left a former player dead and running back Loren Wade jailed on suspicion of murder.
The practice was closed to the media, and players and coaches were barred by the university from talking to reporters at least through Tuesday ``as part of the process for them to deal with the emotions that they have inside,'' athletic director Gene Smith said.
Wade, 21, was being held without bond on suspicion of murder in the death of Brandon Falkner, 25, of Tempe, who was shot in the head early Saturday as he sat in his car outside a popular hip-hop nightclub in south Scottsdale. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for next Monday.
Witnesses said Wade saw his girlfriend next to Falkner's car. The two men began to argue, then Wade reached into the car and shot Falkner once in the head, police said. Maricopa County sheriff's deputies working off-duty as security guards at the club arrested Wade at the scene.
Athletics department administrators and grief counselors met with players and coaches Monday morning to talk about the shooting.
Wade has been dismissed from the team for violating the ban on players carrying weapons and was suspended from school because of suspected involvement in a felony.
In other Pac-10 football news Monday:
California receiver Robert Jordan and a freshman teammate were suspended by coach Jeff Tedford on Monday for their arrests during a traffic stop in February.
Jordan was suspended for the Golden Bears' season opener against Sacramento State on Sept. 3. Bernard Hicks, a defensive back who missed last season with a knee injury, will sit out the first three games.
• Southern California cornerback Eric Wright is being held out of spring practice, following his arrest for investigation of sexual assault.
Wright, a redshirt freshman from San Francisco, is scheduled to be arraigned April 20.

Ayoob has inside track to become Cal starter

By Dave Newhouse, STAFF WRITER The Argus
BERKELEY — As the rite of spring began Monday for Cal football, coach Jeff Tedford strongly indicated that the starting quarterback spot is City College of San Francisco transfer Joe Ayoob's job to lose.
"He can do it all, really," Tedford said of the 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior from San Rafael. "He's very athletic, can throw on the run, has a strong arm, has touch. He's very elusive, and a tough, tough competitor.
"We're going to be patient in the spring because we're going to feed him a lot of information, work a lot on his fundamentals and mechanics, make sure he's sound.
"And I see him needing to be patient, and not take off too early in the pocket, because the speed of the game changes at this level."
Ayoob, who operated primarily out of the shotgun at CCSF, will mainly be right behind the center at Cal. Freshman Nate Longshore, perceived as Ayoob's chief competition, was described by Tedford as someone who needs to increase his speed and mobility, two negatives not seen in Ayoob.
Tedford is uncertain whether perennially injured wide receiver Chase Lyman's appeal for a sixth year of eligibility will be granted by the NCAA, though the coach expects an answer soon.
Tedford must replace seven of 11 defensive starters.
"Even though the focus is on the quarterback position," the coach said, "defensively, you're looking at not so much rebuilding, but putting new people into those places."
Thomas DeCoud shifts from cornerback to safety. Tedford is anxious to see the maturation of defensive linemen Philip Mbakogu, Albert Ma'afala and Fahim Mujaahid Abd Allah (formerly Justin Johnson), and linebackers Worrell Williams and Marlin Simmons.
Tedford expects two more transfers, linebacker Desmond Bishop and defensive end Nu'u Tafisi, to have an immediate impact.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

California Suspends WR Jordan, DB Hicks

By Associated Press

BERKELEY, Calif. — California receiver Robert Jordan and a freshman teammate were suspended by coach Jeff Tedford on Monday for their arrests during a traffic stop in February.

Jordan was suspended for the Golden Bears' season opener against Sacramento State on Sept. 3. Bernard Hicks, a defensive back who missed last season with a knee injury, will sit out the first three games.

Hicks, a Fresno native, was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession after Berkeley police allegedly found several bags of the drug in the players' car several blocks from Memorial Stadium. Jordan was under investigation for possessing a hunting knife as a concealed weapon, but the charges were dropped.

Jordan caught 29 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman last season. He started Cal's final six games after three of the school's top receivers were sidelined by injuries during its 10-2 season.

Hicks won't participate in spring practice with the Bears because he's still recovering from knee surgery, Tedford said.



•Ex-Monte Vista High receiver has a chance at significant playing time

As a senior at Monte Vista High School in 2002, Sam DeSa caught 19 touchdown passes.

As a Cal redshirt freshman in 2004, DeSa caught one pass for 3 yards.

Obviously, Cal coach Jeff Tedford is hoping for more.

So when spring practice began for Cal on Monday, Tedford was hoping that DeSa would begin to blossom into an impact wide receiver, the type expected when he won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the best wide receiver in high school football.

"Sam is right on the borderline," Tedford said. "He needs to step up. Last year he was too inconsistent in practice. Now he needs to renew his passion for the game. This is a time when Sam can improve and get that confidence back."

Cal lost four senior wide receivers who played key roles last season, so an opening exists.

"This is a chance for some of these guys to separate themselves," Tedford said. "Because it's going to be a whole deal new in the fall when we add the other guys (including top recruit DeSean Jackson, junior college transfer Lavell Hawkins)."

Watching Worrell

Redshirt freshman linebacker Worrell Williams (6-foot, 245 pounds) has lost about 10 pounds during Cal's offseason training program. "He is in better shape," Tedford said. "In the beginning, it was tough for him. It's hard for freshmen to learn the commitment that they have to make, but that's what the offseason conditioning program is for. It's going to be fun seeing him play at 245 pounds. He is a guy who can run around and put a lick on people." Cal lost senior linebackers Wendell Hunter, Francis Blay-Miezah, Sid Slater and Joe Maningo, so Worrell will have the opportunity to earn a starting spot.

Time for Thomas

Sophomore Thomas DeCoud (6-3, 190) is expected to earn a starting role at free safety during spring workouts. DeCoud had been projected as a cornerback out of Pinole Valley High School. "Ultimately he will be a safety for us," Tedford said. "It's more of a need thing, and he has the physical, inside game to play safety. We will continue to work with him at both positions."

On the run

Breaking in new quarterbacks, Tedford said he is confident his veteran offensive line and strong cast of tailbacks, including freshman All American Marshawn Lynch, will help smooth over that transition. "We are going to depend on our entire corps of running backs, including Marshawn, Marcus O'Keith and Terrell Williams," Tedford said. "Marshawn gave us a taste last season of what he brings to the table. We are excited about getting him into the game on an every play basis."

Punishment levied

Tedford said he has suspended redshirt freshman defensive back Bernard Hicks for the first three games of the 2005 season due to his arrest for marijuana possession. Wide receiver Robert Jordan who was with Hicks at the time of his arrest Feb. 27 in Berkeley and was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, a charge Tedford said was dropped, will be suspended for the first game of the season.

Extra points

Tedford reminded the media Monday that his 2005 team is a young and inexperienced bunch. "We talked as a staff (Monday) and reminded each other that we are not the team we were last year," Tedford said. "We lost 26 guys and a lot of them were seniors. During spring practice, there will be mistakes made out there." ... Tedford said he checked with the NCAA on Monday and didn't receive a decision on wide receiver Chase Lyman's petition for a sixth year of eligibility. Lyman can't practice with the team until the NCAA announces it decision. ... Tedford said he voted in favor of instant replay, which the Pac-10 is utilizing this season.


San Jose Mercury
By Jay Heater
Knight Ridder

As a senior at Danville's Monte Vista High in 2002, Sam DeSa caught 19 touchdown passes.
As a Cal redshirt freshman in 2004, DeSa caught one pass for 3 yards.
Obviously, Cal Coach Jeff Tedford is hoping for more.
So when spring practice began for Cal on Monday, Tedford was hoping that DeSa would begin to blossom into an impact wide receiver.
``Sam is right on the borderline,'' Tedford said. ``He needs to step up. Last year he was too inconsistent in practice. Now he needs to renew his passion for the game. This is a time when Sam can improve and get that confidence back.''
Cal lost four senior wide receivers who played key roles last season.
``This is a chance for some of these guys to separate themselves,'' Tedford said. ``Because it's going to be a whole deal new in the fall when we add the other guys.''
Those include top recruit DeSean Jackson and junior college transfer Lavell Hawkins.
• Tedford has suspended redshirt freshman defensive back Bernard Hicks for the first three games of the season after his arrest on a charge of marijuana possession.
Receiver Robert Jordan was with Hicks at the time of his arrest Feb. 27 in Berkeley and was charged with carrying a concealed weapon.
The charge, Tedford said, was dropped, but Jordan will be suspended for the first game, Sept. 3 against Sacramento State.
• Redshirt freshman linebacker Worrell Williams (6-foot, 245 pounds) has lost about 10 pounds during Cal's off-season training program.
``He is in better shape,'' Tedford said. ``In the beginning, it was tough for him. It's hard for freshmen to learn the commitment that they have to make, but that's what the off-season conditioning program is for. It's going to be fun seeing him play at 245 pounds. He is a guy who can run around and put a lick on people.''
Cal lost senior linebackers Wendell Hunter, Francis Blay-Miezah, Sid Slater and Joe Maningo, so Williams will have the opportunity to earn a starting spot.
• Sophomore Thomas DeCoud (6-3, 190) is expected to earn a starting role at free safety during spring workouts. DeCoud had been projected as a cornerback out of Pinole Valley High.
`Ultimately he will be a safety for us,'' Tedford said. ``It's more of a need thing, and he has the physical, inside game to play safety. We will continue to work with him at both positions.''
• Inexperience could be an issue for the Bears.
``We talked as a staff and reminded each other that we are not the team we were last year,'' Tedford said. ``We lost 26 guys and a lot of them were seniors. During spring practice, there will be mistakes made out there.''
• Tedford said he checked with the NCAA on Monday and didn't receive a decision on receiver Chase Lyman's petition for a sixth year of eligibility. Lyman can't practice until the NCAA announces its decision.
• Tedford said he voted for instant replay, which the Pacific-10 Conference is utilizing this season.

New Bears Squad Springs Into Season

Daily Cal Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Click to Enlarge
Joe Ayoob may be the arm that guides Cal this year. The highly anticipated junior college transfer began his battle for the starting QB role yesterday in spring practice.
Stepping onto the Memorial Stadium turf for the first time this year, the Cal football team began spring practice yesterday with helmets on, in what perhaps was an attempt to obscure the lack of familiar faces on the field.
Gone are Aaron Rodgers, J.J. Arrington, Geoff McArthur, Lorenzo Alexander and much of the rest of the core of the Bears’ 2004 team.

“It was weird,” sophomore running back Marshawn Lynch said. “It feels a lot different. I can’t turn to J.J. and ask him what coach said anymore.”

Spring practice marks the unofficial kickoff to the 2005 Cal football season. For 15 practices, coach Jeff Tedford and his staff will have their first chance to work with the team.

“I just can’t wait for today’s practice,” Tedford said before stepping onto the field. “The coaches get to coach today.”

This season, the Bears will replace 26 departed seniors while learning to live with permanently heightened expectations.

After a 10-2 season and a No. 9 final ranking, Cal now must be considered among the nation’s elite programs.

That may be the key difference between this year and Tedford’s past seasons—the team no longer must rebuild each offseason, but instead it simply restocks its lineup with blue-chip prospects.

With the core of the offense of the last two seasons departing, Lynch will likely be relied on during the team’s first few games. Last season, he finished with 628 yards on the ground, 8.8 yards per carry and 10 total touchdowns.

“You can’t say that I’m the main guy,” Lynch said. “I think that we have too many weapons.”

The development of a new weapon at quarterback will be the focus of the teams 15 workouts. Losing Aaron Rodgers, the face of Cal’s success over the last two seasons, to the NFL draft has put additional pressure on Tedford to find his next pupil quickly.

While Rodgers was discovered in a Butte College video of tight end Garrett Cross and was a virtual unknown in recruiting circles, the leading candidate to replace him comes to Berkeley with expectations already high.

Joe Ayoob was the nation’s No. 1 rated junior college quarterback last season, while playing for the nation’s No. 1 junior college football program at City College of San Francisco.

“Aaron came out and no one knew who he was,” Tedford said. “Now we have progressed to a point to where there are expectations. But, as coaches, there are no expectations that (Ayoob) has to do anything today.”

At CCSF, he posted a 23-1 record, won two consecutive state championship game MVP awards, and completed 61.2 percent of his passes.

In spring, completing passes may be difficult for Ayoob and redshirt freshman Nate Longshore as they compete for the starting spot. The team lost three of its top receivers to graduation.

Now, with Sean Young injured, Chase Lyman attempting to win a sixth year from the NCAA and newcomers Lavelle Hawkins and DeSean Jackson yet to enroll at Berkeley, the team with utilize only five receivers during spring ball.

“They are young, but people always seem to step up,” Tedford said. “I’m confident that at the end of our 15th practice, we will be more mature than we are today.”

For the second year in a row, shoulder surgeries will be keeping the core of the offense line off the field. Aaron Merz, Ryan O’Callaghan and Andrew Cameron all will be sidelined, yet Tedford is confident that when they return, it will be the team’s deepest unit.

While the offense is loaded with young talent, the defense may be a more troubling area. The unit loses most of its starters, and many consider the returners in the secondary to have been exposed in the Holiday Bowl when Texas Tech put 45 points on the scoreboard.

“Defensively, you are looking at some major rebuilding,” Tedford said.

Overall, however, spring is a time for units to begin working together, and returners to etch their names in the starting lineups, before talented newcomers arrive in the fall.

“We are going to start getting ready to reach our full potential,” Tedford said. “If that is top 20, or top 10, it is what it is.”

Cal's challenge: reload, retool

Tedford & Co. look to replace 26 lettermen
Bruce Adams, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
There's a new look to Cal football. It's become Mr. Tedford's Neighborhood.
"We're very, very young," coach Jeff Tedford said Monday as spring practice began at Memorial Stadium.
The Golden Bears lost 26 lettermen from a team that went 10-2 last season and was nationally ranked all year. Tedford stopped short of saying his staff was undertaking a rebuilding job. Rather, he said, coaches would be fitting new people into the various gaps in the team, beginning over the next four weeks and continuing when camp opens in August.
"Every year there seems to be a new challenge," Tedford said.
Key losses include quarterback Aaron Rodgers, leaving school early for the NFL Draft, and most of the team's experienced wide receivers. And on defense, the Bears return only three starters.
"We're not the team we were last year," he said. "There are a lot of new faces out there and mistakes will be made."
Much of the attention will go to grooming Rodgers' successor -- with City College of San Francisco transfer Joseph Ayoob and redshirt freshman Nathan Longshore the primary players.
There will be a series of other intriguing battles for playing time -- including the development of a new wide-receiving corps to replace seniors Geoff McArthur, Jonathan Makonnen, Burl Toler III and Chase Lyman, who is still awaiting word on a petition for a sixth year of eligibility.
Freshman Robert Jordan, a starter the latter part of the season, leads a unit that includes sophomore David Gray and redshirt freshmen Sam DeSa and Noah Smith. Redshirt freshman Sean Young will miss the spring while recovering from toe surgery.
Tedford said Gray is recovered from nagging injuries that have slowed his development. Tedford said he's leaner and is running a sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash.
And DeSa, Tedford said, has "a renewed passion for the game."
The receivers in camp are just part of the solution.
"It's going to be competitive because we have some quality young guys coming in the fall," Tedford said.
He was referring to incoming freshmen DeSean Jackson and Jesse Canada, plus City College transfer Lavelle Hawkins, all of whom are heralded recruits.
Much of the coaches' attention will be focused on refilling the ranks on defense.
At linebacker, City College transfer Desmond Bishop, redshirt freshman Worrell Williams, sophomore Andy Briner and senior Ryan Foltz all will be given close looks.
On the defensive line, junior Brandon Mebane is the lone returning starter.
Tedford said that Mebane and senior center Marvin Philip won't be getting that much work during the spring -- with coaches spending most of their time developing younger players.
And not all the attention will be on specific positions.
"They need to come together as a team," Tedford said, noting the change in chemistry with so many leaders being lost. "It will be a whole new group next year." Briefly: Defensive back Bernard Hicks, arrested Feb. 27 in Berkeley on marijuana charges, will be suspended for the first three games next year, Tedford said, noting the charges have been reduced to a misdemeanor. Jordan, arrested with Hicks, had charges of carrying a concealed weapon dropped, Tedford added, saying Jordan would be suspended for the first game.

He Won’t Be Aaron, He’ll Just Be Great

Daily Californian
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Give it a Rest, Lute—The West Gets Respect - Mar 15, 2005
Dropping back in the pocket Monday evening at Memorial Stadium, Cal quarterback Joe Ayoob prepared to fire the ball down the field during a passing drill.
Suddenly, the junior transfer’s vision was obscured by defensive end Phillip Mbakogu.
Ayoob, known for his elusiveness in the pocket, took a couple quick steps to his right. But it was too late, as Mbakogu swatted the pass away.
A couple of snaps later, another pass sailed over the head of Robert Jordan due to miscommunication.
But at the end of one of the final sessions, Ayoob threaded a perfect spiral between two safeties, drawing impressed murmurs from his onlooking teammates.
Indeed, the prized product of City College of San Francisco had a consistently inconsistent first practice in the blue and gold.
Which is exactly what the Bears faithful should expect from Ayoob at this point.
After all, it took a certain transfer from Butte Community College almost a year to fully grasp coach Jeff Tedford’s complicated offensive system and become a full-time starter.
Yesterday was only Ayoob’s first day on the job.
“I thought we had a pretty complex offense at City College,” he said. “But
here, the quarterback controls pretty much everything that happens on the field. It definitely is an adjustment.”
At CCSF, Ayoob was sometimes called the white Michael Vick. He often worked out of the shotgun set with four wide receivers that spread the field and allowed him to break off huge chunks of yardage on the ground.
But the Cal offense has recently been molded to fit the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Kyle Boller, quarterbacks who prefer to stay in the pocket.
“The mental part will be a challenge,” Tedford said. “The speed of the game is different at this level. Joe is more elusive than Aaron. I think he will need to learn when to take off and run and when not to.”
Ayoob will not be able to run from the questions comparing him to Rodgers, who many predict will be chosen as the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft.
But comparing Ayoob and Rodgers is like comparing apples and oranges.
Rodgers was surrounded by a veteran core of receivers.
Ayoob will throw to a relatively inexperienced bunch, headed by sophomore Robert Jordan.
Rodgers benefited from the veteran experience of Reggie Robertson.
Ayoob has no such tutor to rely on when things get rocky.
Rodgers had no expectations to live up to in his first year.
Ayoob’s every move will be scrutinized, a given when you are the No. 2 rated overall junior college player in the nation by SuperPrep.
“Aaron was a great player here, probably the best quarterback to ever play here,” Ayoob said. “I think the main thing for me and (the other quarterbacks) is to come in and play how you play, and things will take care of themselves.”
And things will take care of themselves eventually, because Ayoob is an awesome talent and he will only improve under Tedford’s guidance.
Cal fans just need to remember to have patience with the kid, especially if things look rocky after a few games.
Soon enough, we won’t have to worry about the next Rodgers.
We’ll have the first Ayoob.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Spring Practice Begins

Cal's spring practice opens without a QB


Daily Californian

BERKELEY — Coming off its best season in a half-century, Cal's football team starts four weeks of spring practice today at Memorial Stadium.

The Golden Bears, 10-2 and ranked No. 9 in the country last fall, will need a revised defense and a new quarterback. Graduation and Aaron Rodgers' premature departure   to the NFL have opened up a number of starting jobs.

Joe Ayoob, a City College of San Francisco transfer, and redshirt freshman Nate Longshore will compete to replace Rodgers at quarterback.

Cal will practice Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Practice is closed to the public except for the annual spring   game Saturday, April 23 at noon.


USC cornerback Wright booked on sex assault charges

Sunday, March 27, 2005
Associated PRess
(03-27) 22:11 PST Los Angeles
USC starting cornerback Eric Wright has been arrested for investigation of sexual assault, police said.
Wright, 19, was taken into custody around 4 a.m. Saturday after officers responded to a campus apartment to investigate reports of an assault, police spokeswoman Sara Faden said Sunday.
Wright was booked on rape charges and bail was set at $100,000, according to the Sheriff's Department. Wright posted bail and was released, Faden said.
Detectives were investigating the case. Faden said no additional details were immediately available.
USC athletic department spokesman Tim Tessalone said the school knew of Wright's arrest.
"We're aware of the situation and everyone is cooperating fully," he said.
In January, Wright had one of USC's three interceptions as the Trojans won the national championship with a 55-19 victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. The 190-pound, 5-foot-11-inch Wright was a redshirt freshman.
Coach Pete Carroll said he had not spoken with Wright but had talked with his family.
"We don't know a whole lot of information, but we're doing everything we can to help and cooperate," Carroll told the Los Angeles Times. "It's just disappointing to think that these things have to come up even to be considered."
It was the second time in less than a year that police investigated allegations of sexual assault involving USC football players.
Last August, a woman reported she was assaulted at a housing complex where the team stayed while training.
Neither police nor the university identified which player or players were involved. No arrests were made and prosecutors did not file charges.

Top of Draft Is Coming Into Focus

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 28, 2005; 11:37 AM
The first couple of picks in next month's NFL draft might be coming into sharper focus, with people around the league becoming increasingly convinced that the San Francisco 49ers will select Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers with the top choice and the Miami Dolphins will go with Auburn tailback Ronnie Brown with the second selection.
The top of the draft mostly has looked like a jumbled mess to the league's talent evaluators as they have gone through the buildup, from Senior Bowl to scouting combine to pro-day workouts. Teams haven't been able to project their own picks because they've had no idea which players will come off the board first. And while there still are no certainties, it seems that a growing number of clubs now are operating on the premise that Rodgers and Brown will be the top two choices, barring trades that shake up the first-round draft order.
"That seems to be the sentiment around the league at this point," the general manager of one NFL team said over the weekend, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to jeopardize any future dealings with the 49ers or Dolphins.
Some teams have Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards as the top-rated player on their draft boards, the GM said. But the sentiment league-wide is that the 49ers, coming off a 2-14 season and without a franchise quarterback in the fold, have little choice but to go with Rodgers or Utah quarterback Alex Smith, and Rodgers appears to have the slight edge.
There also have been rumblings about a possible trade in which San Diego would send quarterback Philip Rivers to San Francisco for the top choice, then the Chargers would use the pick on Edwards. The deal does make some sense, since it would give the 49ers a quarterback -- Rivers -- that most people in the league seem to regard as a better prospect than Rodgers or Smith. And it would give the Chargers, who already have Drew Brees as their starting quarterback, three first-round draft picks on the heels of a 12-4 season. They have the Nos. 12 and 28 overall choices, the higher of which came from the New York Giants in last year's draft-day trade involving Rivers and Eli Manning.
Dolphins Coach Nick Saban has left open the possibility of tailback Ricky Williams returning to the team after abruptly retiring just before training camp last summer. But the Dolphins certainly can't count on Williams, and they desperately need a centerpiece runner. Brown seems to have moved slightly ahead of his Auburn teammate, Carnell (Cadillac) Williams, and Texas's Cedric Benson as the top tailback available with his strong performances in the pre-draft workouts.
Bonus Holding Up Brady Deal
Quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots basically agreed to the major components of a $10 million-per-season contract extension weeks ago. But the deal still hasn't been completed, and that reportedly is because Brady and agent Don Yee have balked at the payment schedule proposed by the Patriots for the deal's $24 million signing bonus. The Patriots reportedly want to make the bonus payable in four installments, while Brady and Yee want fewer.
Brady already is compromising plenty in the negotiations, agreeing to take far less money than fellow quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Michael Vick got in their contract extensions. Manning signed a seven-year, $98 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts last year that included a record $34.5 million signing bonus. Vick signed a 10-year, $130 million extension with the Atlanta Falcons in December that included a record $37 million in total bonus money. Neither Manning nor Vick has appeared in a Super Bowl. Brady has led the Patriots to three Super Bowl triumphs. . . .
The Giants likely will sign veteran offensive tackle Bob Whitfield, an unrestricted free agent who played for Jacksonville last season, in the coming days to bolster their depth at the position. . . .
The Dallas Cowboys, looking for a right tackle for their offensive line, likely will look at two just-released veterans -- Chris Terry, who was cut by Seattle, and Barry Stokes, who was released by the Giants. . . .
The on-again, off-again trade talks between Buffalo and Arizona that would send tailback Travis Henry to the Cardinals and offensive tackle L.J. Shelton to the Bills appears to be on again, and the deal perhaps will be completed in the coming weeks. . . .
Veteran wide receiver Joe Jurevicius, released by Tampa Bay, signed a one-year contract with Seattle late last week. . . . Miami re-signed tailback Travis Minor. . . . Atlanta re-signed safety Keion Carpenter. . . . Denver signed linebacker Keith Burns, a free agent from Tampa Bay. . . . Linebacker Julian Peterson, the 49ers' franchise player, signed the club's tender offer for a one-year contract worth nearly $7.29 million.

QB Battle As Spring Practice Begins Today

Mar. 28, 2005

QB battle a focal point at Cal spring practice

By Jay Heater


BERKELEY - The battle to become Cal's starting quarterback begins today as Jeff Tedford's Golden Bears open spring football practice at Memorial Stadium.

Although quarterback Kyle Reed, a McClymonds High School star who was the East Bay's premier recruit, won't arrive until the fall semester, it's likely that the battle for No. 1 comes down to redshirt freshman Nathan Longshore, the former Parade All-American who has had a year to learn the system, and San Francisco City College transfer Joe Ayoob, a junior college All American.

Tedford will begin studying those two on the field today. "I'm anxious to get on the field with Joe and Nate," said Tedford, who has taken the Bears to consecutive bowl games. "I haven't been able to learn much about Joe yet, only that he's a hard worker and very eager."

Now in his fourth season, Tedford has had only one quarterback battle in his first three years. Kyle Boller was the solid No. 1 in Tedford's first season of 2002 and Aaron Rodgers, who is projected as a high first-round NFL draft pick in April, was the incumbent going into the 2004 season.

In 2003, it took Rodgers four games to beat out Reggie Robertson, who had seen very limited action behind Boller. Like Ayoob, Rodgers was a junior college transfer.

However, that's about the only similarity between the two situations. Rodgers played only one season of junior college football, while Ayoob played two. Robertson, although a career backup, was a well-established leader who excelled in his few opportunities. Longshore has yet to play a snap.

Both Ayoob and Longshore will be challenged in the spring because three of Cal's veteran offensive linemen, right tackle Ryan O'Callaghan, right guard Aaron Merz and left tackle Andrew Cameron, will sit out spring ball due to minor surgeries.

Last spring, Tedford had a hard time drilling his offense because four of his five offensive linemen sat out due to surgery. "But we have a lot better numbers this season because of the quality freshmen we added last year," Tedford said. "Guys like Alex Mack and John Gibson will help us. I think we have the numbers to run a normal spring practice."

Besides having three starters out on the offensive line, Tedford noted that a lot of work has to be accomplished in building his wide receivers corps.

Former starters Geoff McArthur (Cal's all-time leading receiver in catches and yardage), Jonathan Makonnen and Burl Toler all finished their eligibility last season, and Chase Lyman still awaits word on his petition to the NCAA for a sixth year. Lyman said he expected to get a decision last week, so it could be announced any day. It is unlikely Lyman's request will be granted because he was injured in the Bears' fourth game last season and rules stipulate to be eligible for a hardship season that he needed to play in three games or less.

Cal's premier recruit, Poly-Long Beach wide receiver DeSean Jackson, isn't due until summer camp along with San Francisco City College transfer Lavell Hawkins.

While Tedford has to patch holes at quarterback and wide receiver, Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory, will be undertaking a major rebuilding project. The Bears lost their top six tacklers from 2004, including All America defensive end Ryan Riddle. And among the returning starters, rover Donnie McCleskey (shoulder) and cornerback Tim Mixon (hernia) won't participate in full contact drills.

Note: Cal redshirt freshman defensive back Bernard Hicks will sit out spring ball as he rehabs from knee surgery. However, Hicks is no longer suspended due to his arrest in Berkeley on Feb. 27. The initial charge of possessing marijuana for sale was reduced to a misdemeanor. Tedford said further punishment will be announced at a later date.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Cal's top task: pick a QB

Spotlight on Ayoob, Longshore in spring drills
Bruce Adams, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, March 27, 2005

Cal spring football practice begins Monday with coach Jeff Tedford very clear on his priorities.

"I think the top one would be very obvious," he said, referring to the task of replacing junior quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who left school early for the NFL Draft and is certain to be a first-round pick -- possibly No. 1 overall.

That leaves junior-college transfer Joseph Ayoob, already enrolled at Cal, and redshirt freshman Nathan Longshore, who was third on the depth chart behind senior backup Reggie Robertson last fall.

"We will evaluate the young quarterbacks, Nate and Joe, get them more ingrained in the system," Tedford said.

He acknowledged that learning his offense is no easy task.

For Ayoob, a transfer from City College of San Francisco, Tedford said the spring would be "just a start." And Longshore will also be on a learning curve.

"Even though Nate has been there, he still needs to get his feet wet," Tedford said.

The Bears lose 26 lettermen from the 10-2 team that finished the season with a 45-31 loss to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl. The defense returns only three starters.

Tedford said key defensive players in spring drills would include ends Phillip Mbakogu and Fahim Mujaahid Abd Allah (formerly Justin Johnson).

"We have a lot of holes to fill and I'm going to be real anxious to see how those guys progress," Tedford said.

In addition, incoming JC defensive players who enrolled early and will join spring practice include linebacker Desmond Bishop of CCSF, and end Nu'u Tafisi of Mount San Antonio Community College.

Defensive end Tosh Lupoi, who broke a foot last season in training camp and missed the entire year, has been granted a sixth year of eligibility and will rejoin the team.

Rover Donnie McCleskey, who was slowed most of last season with a shoulder injury, had successful offseason surgery. But he will miss spring practice while he recovers from minor knee surgery.

Wide receiver Chase Lyman, lost for the year with a knee injury in the loss to USC on Oct. 9, has petitioned the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility and expects to receive final word soon. He also attended the scouting combine and is preparing for the NFL Draft.

Three regulars on the offensive line -- Ryan O'Callaghan, Andrew Cameron and Aaron Merz -- will also miss the spring while recovering from shoulder surgeries.

The Bears were unsettled most of last year in the kicking game, and Tedford said competition would continue through the spring. The key players are Anthony Binswanger, who did kickoffs last year, punter David Lonie and field goal kicker Tom Schneider.

The Bears have 16 sessions scheduled, ending with the spring game April 23.

Tedford said the emphasis would be on learning.

"Springtime is a chance to make some mistakes and get a background in everything we do," he said. "That's how you learn."

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Sun Devil Behaving Badly

Arizona State Running Back Held in Slaying
1 hour, 11 minutes ago
MEL REISNER, AP Sports Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. - Arizona State running back Loren Wade was arrested Saturday on suspicion of first-degree murder in the shooting death of a former ASU football player.

Police said Brandon Falkner, 25, of Tempe was shot in the head about 2:30 a.m. Saturday as he sat in his car outside Club CBNC, a Scottsdale nightspot.

Scottsdale police detective Sam Bailey said Falkner and Wade exchanged words before the shot was fired.

Wade was driving a car with three others inside when he went to the club to pick up his girlfriend, Haley van Blommestein, who played soccer at Arizona State until 2003.

Bailey said Wade saw her standing next to Falkner's car, got out of his car, exchanged words with Falkner and fired once.

Falkner tried to drive away, but crashed into another car, then hit a tree. He was pronounced dead at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn.

"From everything I've heard, they didn't know each other," Bailey said. "He may have been in the wrong place, at the wrong time, talking to the wrong person."

Wade was arrested by Maricopa County sheriff's deputies who were working as security guards at the club.

"We have more than enough witnesses," Bailey said.

Football coach Dirk Koetter canceled the team's first spring practice in pads on Saturday.

"This is a tragedy that has shocked and saddened our entire community," university president Michael Crow said. "ASU has made its counseling services available this weekend to the entire football team and to any other student who feels that he or she needs to talk about this situation."

Practice had been under way about 30 minutes when Koetter learned why Wade was missing. He called the players together, told them what happened and dismissed the team.

"I think shock is the best word," he said about their reaction.

"Our next scheduled practice is Monday," Koetter said. "We're going to have a team meeting at 7 o'clock where we can touch base with the players and, again, have a crisis team on hand. There's going to be new developments, obviously, between now and Monday.

"Everything moving forward on our spring practice is up in the air at this point, because there's not a precedent here."

Smith equated the slaying to a death in the family.

"You're trying to get somewhere I'm not at emotionally," he said about questions on screening recruited athletes. "I'm not there to sit back and reflect and say, 'OK, we're going to do this in the future.' We're just dealing with this, and we have feelings."

Falkner, a defensive back, was a three-year letterman who saw action in 26 games for the Sun Devils from 1999 to 2001.

Wade, 21, from Los Angeles, started the first three games for Arizona State as a sophomore last season, then was suspended for the remainder of the schedule while the school investigated whether he received improper benefits from a university employee.

The university found that an assistant in the school's compliance and recruitment department put her name on a line of credit to pay an overdue utility bill for Wade. The compliance officer was fired.

Wade was cleared to return to the team and participated in all three non-pads practices last week. Koetter arrived at practice Saturday morning knowing that Wade was in trouble but not having full details.

As a redshirt freshman in 2003, Wade broke the school freshman rushing record and finished fifth in the Pac-10 with 773 yards and an average of 5.7 yards per carry.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Rodgers and Smith visit Tampa

From CALIFORNIA senior quarterback AARON RODGERS and UTAH junior quarterback ALEX SMITH, both have private visits scheduled with Tampa Bay.

An update on the top prospects for the NFL Draft April 23-24

Chicago Tribune:
March 25, 2005
The top dozen by ESPN's Mel Kiper
1. Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn, Explosive back who does it all

2. Cedric Benson, RB, Texas, 4 straight 1,000-yard years

3. Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan, Has athleticism to dominate

4. Mike Williams, WR, USC, Terrific combo of size, speed

5. Alex Smith, QB, Utah, Intelligent with athletic ability

6. Adam Jones, CB, W. Virginia, Eats up receivers, runners

7. Aaron Rodgers, QB, California, Smart, accurate and athletic

8. Carnell Williams, RB, Auburn, Deceptively strong runner

9. Derrick Johnson, LB, Texas, Strength, speed, nose for ball

10. Dan Cody, DE, Oklahoma, Fiery, intense end moving up

11. Shawne Merriman, LB, Maryland, Has 41 1/2-inch vertical leap

12. Roddy White, WR, UAB, Has size and speed (6-1, 4.42)

The Bears' pick

ESPN's Mel Kiper sees San Francisco, Miami and Cleveland taking Alex Smith, Ronnie Brown and Aaron Rodgers, respectively, before the Bears take Cedric Benson at No. 4:

"The Bears addresssed their need for a big-time wideout with the free-agent signing of Muhsin Muhammad, and Benson would give quarterback Rex Grossman two top-flight weapons to help out the offense. Benson is a tough, productive runner who can go the distance and always showed up in his team's biggest games."

Checking in on the quarterbacks

The Bears have put off their search for another quarterback until the draft. After Smith and Rodgers, here are 10 they could consider in later rounds:


1. Charlie Frye, Akron, Strong finish; was Senior Bowl MVP

2. Andrew Walker, Ariz. St., He's coming off shoulder surgery

3. Kyle Orton, Purdue, He started hot, finished cold

4. Derek Anderson, Oregon St., Great size (6-6), good arm strength

5. David Greene, Georgia, Division I-A's winningest QB (42)

6. Dan Orlovsky, Conn., Shows good timing and touch

7. Matt Jones, Arkansas, May have more upside as receiver

8. Jason White, Oklahoma, Has quick release, excellent touch

9. Bryan Randall, Va. Tech, Bad mechanics; good arm strength

10. Timmy Chang, Hawaii, Accurate passer with quick release

Draft order

1. San Francisco

2. Miami

3. Cleveland


5. Tampa Bay

6. Tennessee

7. Oakland

8. Arizona

9. Washington

10. Detroit

11. Dallas

12. San Diego

13. Houston

14. Carolina

15. Kansas City

16. New Orleans

17. Cincinnati

18. Minnesota

19. St. Louis

20. Dallas

21. Jacksonville

22. Baltimore

23. Seattle

24. Green Bay

25. Denver

26. N.Y. Jets

27. Atlanta

28. San Diego

29. Indianapolis

30. Pittsburgh

31. Philadelphia

32. New England

Thursday, March 24, 2005

2MD: Rodgers going No. 1? Staff
The draft is less than a month away, which means misinformation about prospects is in full gear, as is the second wave of NFL Free Agency. Is Aaron Rodgers going to be the first name called? Trading Post, Signing Post and the best in quotes, Crowd Noise, are all in this week's edition of's Two Minute Drill.
- Cal QB Aaron Rodgers is at the top of the draft board for the 49ers, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, putting him at the top overall since the Niners hold the first pick. The paper also mentions that the team has Michigan WR Braylon Edwards rated as the best player in the draft, but the need at quarterback is considered greater.
- USC QB Matt Leinart put to bed any rumours that he might be considering leaving school early for a supplemental draft, telling the Los Angeles Times that he will lead the Trojans again in 2005. There had been talk that San Francisco could draft a receiver like Braylon Edwards, then pick up Leinart in a supplemental draft and, suddenly, have a totally revamped offense.

Savage turns attention to draft
By Pat McManamon, Columnist
March 24, 2005

KAPALUA, Hawaii - Phil Savage sees the same logic as everyone else regarding the NFL Draft.

That thinking has San Francisco using the first pick to draft Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and Miami using the second pick to take Auburn running back Ronnie Brown.

"At least from afar, they logically fit," Savage said Wednesday as the NFL Meetings came to a close. "So I think that's what people are guessing."

That means the Browns choices with the third overall pick could include Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards and Utah quarterback Alex Smith. Savage, though, is not completely buying into the guesses.

"You always have to kind of expect the unexpected," he said just before getting ready to board a plane back to Cleveland.

Savage will be back in the office by late morning Thursday - and his top priority will be the draft. He spent a good part of the flight home watching players on his portable DVD player and writing reports as the team prepares for an exhaustive series of pre-draft meetings beginning April 4.

The only certainty Savage could state was that the Browns will work out two or three individual players one more time on their own - and Edwards is one of those the team will take another look at. Part of the reason was that Edwards' workout at Michigan came while Savage was in Hawaii.

"Obviously with this going on I was unable to go to a few of the schools," Savage said. "I've never been one to go to a lot of the spring days because I felt like I did most of my scouting during the season anyway and it can sometimes confuse the issue.

"But I think when you're picking high in the draft it might be wise to go spend a few hours with some of them."

Savage also missed the workouts of running back Cedric Benson and linebacker Derrick Johnson at Texas, but he said he knows those players well enough that he doesn't need to go back.

Will Rodgers actually go first overall?

New 49ers coach Mike Nolan addressed the workouts of the two top quarterbacks - Rodgers and Smith.

"Aaron is certainly ahead of Alex because of the style of offense he ran," Nolan said, referring to the fact Rodgers was under center and Smith was in the shotgun. "Alex was doing a lot of things in the workout that he really hadn't done for two or three years. He did take a drop but it was a little different.

"The mechanics of coming out from beneath the center and setting and throwing is not as good. Both of them are very accurate and have been throughout their college career. The difference in Aaron at this point is because he's been doing those types of things physically."

Nolan, though, said he would give more credence to intangibles than physical ability because intangibles indicate leadership.

Will Miami take Brown second? Auburn's running back has shot to the top of the running back list since he had an outstanding workout at the combine.

But Tuesday, new Miami coach Nick Saban said he'd welcome back Ricky Williams, who retired suddenly prior to last season.

"The guy has value to the organization," Saban said.

What will Savage make of it all? Based on how he deals with his own pre-draft statements, he probably isn't listening too closely.

"Some of the stuff you say is true; some of the stuff you say probably is not true," Savage said. "If everybody does it that way you don't really know ... The focus for us is to try to take care of what we're going to do. What our thoughts are. How it's going to affect our team."

To that end, the Browns draft board, which includes 130 to 140 players, is already drawn up.

"I think the thing to keep in mind is that you start formulating it - at least I do - in December," he said. "You tweak it as you go through. There shouldn't be any major shifting of tectonic plates."

Many have speculated the Browns would be wise to trade down because the abilities of the top 15 or 20 players is so close, but it might be easier said than done.

"You have to have someone to deal with if you don't want to stay there," Crennel said. "If you don't have anybody to deal with, then you better be able to make a choice at that spot. I think that's what we're preparing to do. We're preparing to make a pick with the third pick and we'll see what other scenarios develop. If someone wants to come up then we'll listen."

Does Crennel favor a particular position with the third pick?

"The best value," he said. "Whatever that is."

Savage said all options are open - except one.

"The one thing that I've stayed in constant communication with Romeo about is that everything that we've done in free agency doesn't preclude us from taking any position," Savage said. "People say, what about tight end? Tight end is probably off the board.

"But we're wide open to anything. I think that's one of the benefits to coming into a situation that needs work. You have somewhat of an open book and you can almost go any direction that should help us."

Rodgers' pro-style experience gives him edge at No. 1

Sports Illustrated
Popular mechanics
Posted: Wednesday March 23, 2005 8:31PM; Updated: Wednesday March 23, 2005 8:47PM
QB Aaron Rodgers played in a pro-style offense at Cal.
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Attending his first NFL annual meeting as a head coach, Mike Nolan on Wednesday morning found himself surrounded by reporters and seated at the vaunted No. 1 table at the NFC coaches media breakfast at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua.

And by No. 1, we mean in possession of the top pick in next month's NFL draft, a fact that ensures that San Francisco's new head coach will never be lonely or want for conversation between now and April 23.

Peppered with questions concerning the top two quarterbacks in this year's draft -- Cal's Aaron Rodgers and Utah's Alex Smith -- Nolan praised both players, but for the first time drew some distinctions between the two leading prospects for the No. 1 spot. This after Nolan watched both quarterbacks go through their pro-day workouts on consecutive days last week, and then met with them individually for a meal and a little job interviewing.

Nolan's early read? Rodgers has the edge mechanically, given that he is coming out of a pro-style passing game with Cal, while Smith played in Utah's variation of the run-and-shoot, where he lined up in the shot-gun formation and rarely took a snap from under center.

"They did a very good job with all the mechanics, but Aaron is certainly ahead of Alex because of the style of offense he ran," Nolan said. "Alex was doing a lot of things in the workout that he has not really done for two, three years. There was no center to come from underneath. He did take a drop and all those types of things, but it was a little different. The difference was there's a polish in Aaron at this point because he's been doing those types of things physically."

There you have it, NFL fans. With exactly one month remaining until the 49ers have to turn in their card to commissioner Paul Tagliabue, San Francisco's head coach says Rodgers is more polished than Smith in terms of running an NFL-style passing game.

Case closed. Wonder who Miami's going to take at No. 2?

Not exactly, dear draftniks. Rodgers, the local Bay Area boy, is ahead of Smith at this point, but it's not like he can just sit on his cushion and run out the clock for the next 30 days. Good mechanics, Nolan quickly pointed out, aren't everything.

"Mechanics are all fine,'' Nolan said. "Jeff George [the No. 1 overall pick by Indianapolis in 1990] was mechanically pretty damn good, but he couldn't move them more than a couple plays without something happening.

"Alex does some under-the-center stuff in his offense, but he's just behind the other fellow as far as development in that area. Maybe in three years or less they'll be very similar to each other as far as that goes.''

But for every minute Nolan spent talking about Rodgers and Smith's mechanics, he spent twice as much time trying to underscore just how big a role intangibles will play in the 49ers' decision, if they choose to take a quarterback in the No. 1 spot. In Nolan's eyes, a quarterback who has proven he can keep drives alive is a far safer bet than the most mechanically sound passer.

Rodgers tops 49ers' wish list

SF Chronicle
Ira Miller
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Kapalua, Hawaii -- If Mike Nolan, the 49ers' new coach, had his druthers, he'd probably play poker with the first pick of the NFL Draft. He'd like people to believe the team is not desperate for a quarterback. He'd like them to believe that a trade for multiple draft picks could help the 49ers just as much.

But Nolan is not that good a poker player. Nobody is.

So instead, Nolan said in an interview Wednesday that quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith were in the small group of up to five players the 49ers are considering, that a quarterback in that group gets extra weight, that leadership and intangibles were the most important factors in choosing one and that a quarterback would give the 49ers an identity, "which is huge," he said.

Reading between the lines, it seemed as if Rodgers, the former Cal star, was the leader in the clubhouse, but Nolan won't get down to serious studying of players with his staff until after he returns home following the NFL's annual meeting, which ended Wednesday.

One source said the 49ers had Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards rated as the "best player" in the draft, but as much as they need a wideout, they need a quarterback more.

"I'd like to think we'll never pick here again and, because of that, if the opportunity is there to get the right guy, I think you have to do it," Nolan said.

Nonetheless, Nolan also said he had not ruled out trading the pick, which could be a public-relations nightmare for the 49ers. But that might be a moot point because no team is clamoring to move up. The coach of another NFL team said he's hearing the 49ers want to trade down because of the financial commitment the top pick would require, but Nolan said he would not initiate any trade discussions.

A week after watching Rodgers and Smith in individual workouts, Nolan said Rodgers was ahead at this stage based on his mechanics playing the position, largely because Rodgers played in a conventional offense at Cal while Smith played mostly in the shotgun at Utah.

"Aaron is certainly ahead of Alex because of the style of offense he ran," Nolan said. "Alex was doing a lot of things in the workout that he really hadn't done for two or three years. He did take a drop(back), but it was a little different. (His) mechanics of coming out from beneath the center and setting and throwing is not as good (as Rodgers).

"Both of them are very accurate, and have been throughout their college career. The difference in Aaron at this point is because he's been doing those types of things (under center)."

But Nolan went on to add a note of caution, saying, "Jeff George was mechanically pretty damn good too, but he couldn't (go) a couple of plays without something happening."

At another point, Nolan said Rodgers and Smith probably would be very similar in three years. But he also said that if the 49ers drafted a quarterback with the first pick, he'd want him to start from the first game of his rookie season, unless, of course, the kid were just to stagger through training camp.

The word really shouldn't be "if" they draft a QB.

Tim Rattay, last year's starter, is not even expected to be healthy enough for a mini-camp next week following surgery on his arm. Further, although Rattay is a tough guy, who had his moments over the last two years, he seems miles away from the kind of charismatic leader that Nolan said he wants for his team.

Although Nolan said he hasn't met Rattay yet, has only talked with him on the phone, he apparently has heard the stories about how Rattay usually walks around with a hangdog expression.

Asked if he wanted a quarterback who would look people in the eye, Nolan said, "Yes. You want guys also, when he gets in there, the other 10 guys know this is our guy who's going to work." Then Nolan turned to a reporter at his side and said, "I'm with you."

"Certainly, the physical things are what everybody sees and that's all very valuable and that's what gets guys in the (mix)," Nolan said. "To me, the intangible things are really critical. All my years in coaching, those were the guys that were tough to beat, the guys that were good leaders, the guys that commanded the offense, the guys that were very competitive.

"The important thing for me is who's going to get in that huddle, command that huddle, have command presence."

For the record, Bill Walsh will not be involved in the 49ers' pre-draft deliberations, but Nolan said he had talked to Walsh a couple of times and probably would at least solicit his opinion on the quarterbacks.

On other matters, Nolan said he has received indications that Julian Peterson would sign his franchise player tender offer and at least attend meetings at an April 1-3 mini-camp, although Peterson might not be able to work out before training camp opens.

Right tackle Kwame Harris and center Jeremy Newberry are not expected to practice next weekend because of their recovery from off-season surgeries. Former right tackle Scott Gragg, scheduled to become a June 1 cut, will not attend, Nolan said.

What to watch for in spring practice

By Rob Edwards Staff Writer cyberbears
Date: Mar 24, 2005

(With the opening of spring practice set for Monday, Rob Edwards offers the first of a four-part look at the 2005 football team, a look at key personnel and what positions figure to be the most contested. Practices will continue during the course of the next four weeks culminating with the Spring Game on April 23rd at noon. In this installment, the quarterback, running back, and tight end positions are reviewed.)

It is nearly time to celebrate the arrival of the vernal equinox. Around the globe, this event signals the faithful to gather. At Stonehenge, druids assemble to honor a ritual dating back to the dawn of time. In Arizona and Florida, seamheads will congregate to renew a tradition that began in the late 19th century. In Berkeley, the Golden Bear fans will begin making their plans for their annual pilgrimage to college football’s holiest shrine, Memorial Stadium, for two fortnights of football under the spring sun.

This unit-by-unit report is a guide to what Old Blues can expect to see upon the conclusion of their journey to Strawberry Canyon.

QB – Junior Joseph Ayoob and redshirt freshman Nate Longshore will battle for the right to become Coach Jeff Tedford’s next "sure thing". Each brings something to the duel. Ayoob has the experience of a player who led his team to back-to-back appearances in the state JC championship game. Longshore has had the opportunity to practice in Tedford's system for an entire season. Based on his wildly successful junior college career, look for Ayoob to emerge the winner in this competition.

RB – Without question, sophomore Marshawn Lynch has locked up the #1 RB position. However, Coach Tedford is well known for his use of two backs. Therefore, it is critical that a solid second back emerge from the pack to give the Bears the kind of support Lynch provided Pop Warner Award winner J.J. Arrington in 2004. The candidates for the #2 slot are: senior Terrell Williams, junior Marcus O’Keith and sophomore Justin Forsett.

In 2001, Williams started five games as a true freshman, including a 185-yard effort in Cal’s lone victory over Rutgers. After suffering a serious knee injury late in the 2002 season, he redshirted in 2003. In 2004, he saw limited duty as an RB, gaining 109 yards on 13 carries. In his career, Williams has rushed for an average of 4.5 yds/attempt. Williams also brings the element of the option pass play into the mix. He is 5/7 for 200 yards and 2 TDs in his career. Based on his experience and production when given an opportunity to demonstrate his skills, Williams is the leading candidate for the back-up position heading into spring.

O’Keith has played sparingly at RB during his first three years at Cal, totaling 350 yards on 67 carries. This spring affords him with an excellent chance to assume a spot on the two-deep.

Justin Forsett made his Golden Bear debut in 2004 as a true freshman. Although he played infrequently (11 carries for 49 yards), he demonstrated the kind of elusiveness that will keep him the mix. Durability, however, is a question that remains to be answered. Can Forsett take the pounding that a second back is subjected to throughout the season?

TE – Although sophomore Craig Stevens has a solid hold on the starting position, the competition behind him is wide open. Unless someone else joins the fray (wink-wink), the three principal competitors for the #2 position on the depth chart are senior John Rust, junior Eric Beegun and freshman Cameron Morrah (who will join the team in the fall). Rust will have an edge due to his experience (following an injury to Garret Cross late in the 2003 season, Rust started two games, the Big Game and Insight Bowl). He has five career receptions for 53 yards. To date, Eric Beegun has primarily seen duty on special teams. This spring, he has a great opportunity to demonstrate he can make plays as a TE. Quite frankly, Bear fans might want to wait until the Fall when Morrah and (wink-wink) arrive on campus before getting too excited about the battle for the backup TE position.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


One month to the draft, and lots of chatter going around as to how the first round will unfold. Here is one man's guess today -- and it is subject to change between now and April 23.

1. San Francisco -- Aaron Rodgers, QB, California -- No way the Niners can pass up a homegrown quarterback. Last time they did that, New England scooped up Tom Brady.

2. Miami -- Alex Smith, QB, Utah -- His recent workout drew a standing ovation. With Dolphins coach Nick Saban watching.

3. Cleveland -- Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn -- The best running back, and maybe the best player, in this draft.

4. Chicago -- Cedric Benson, RB, Texas -- One scout compared Benson to former Texas running back Earl Campbell. The Browns will take it, and him.

5. Tampa Bay -- Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan -- It would be tempting to draft Brown's college teammate, Cadillac Williams. But how do you pass up the idea of teaming Edwards with Michael Clayton for the next 10 years?

Great workouts don't guarantee NFL greatness

IT'S A GREAT thing that Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith wowed'em in separate glorified practice sessions, elevating their status in the eyes of NFL coaches and scouts while putting millions of dollars in the bank.
Put them both in the Jeff George workout Hall of Fame, that safe and spectacular place where quarterbacks face none of the factors that make playing the position in the NFL one of the most difficult jobs in professional sports.

Rodgers, the sharpshooter from Cal, and Smith, the wizard from Utah, can always take their skills to the county fair, if pro football doesn't work out. There they would need a big rig to load up all the stuffed animals won from knocking over milk bottles and throwing footballs through the mouths of cardboard clowns.

Nothing against either quarterback, mind you. They may end up at the top of their profession in a few years for reasons that have nothing to do with the pass-and-pony shows each put on at their home stadiums before prospective employers.

It's like concluding Wisconsin-Milwaukee will win the NCAA Tournament based on its layup drill.

Mike Nolan and his 49ers staff were no doubt stunned to learn that — surprise! — Rodgers and Smith both throw a hell of a pass.

Particularly when no one is attempting to body-slam them into the turf and when receivers run unimpeded through an imaginary secondary absent of those annoying cornerbacks and safeties.

Neither quarterback showed up for his workout with a cigarette dangling from his mouth and a whiskey flask in his back pocket. The few times when Rodgers' passes hit the ground, expert analysis determined the receivers were at fault.

Smith even drew a round of applause.

Yet, beware of the workout.

George just happened to be one of the best practice quarterbacks of all time. When Jon Gruden took over the Raiders in 1998, he was smitten with George's accuracy and noted, "He can knock a bird out of a tree while looking the other way."

George threw passes so perfect even Rickey Dudley found them difficult to drop.

After a season in which George showed little fire and declared himself out for the season on his radio show with a groin injury, Gruden concluded knocking birds out of trees wasn't nearly as important as being functional under fire and basic leadership skills.

Enter Rich Gannon, who didn't look nearly as good in warm-ups but led the Raiders to three division titles, a conference championship and won an MVP award.

The same year Gruden was marveling over George, Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf was running neck and neck with Tennessee's Peyton Manning to be the first quarterback selected in the draft.

At Leaf's predraft workout, conducted in the chilly winds of the Great Northwest, he proceeded to complete nearly every pass he threw. Not only that, but also Leaf — who had ballooned to 262 pounds after the Rose Bowl — had hired a nutritionist and dropped to 240.

Leaf took the opportunity to thank all his receivers for making him look good, and then-coach Mike Price told scouts video of Leaf's performances — with both back and side view — were on sale for $19.95.

"Very impressive," Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore said.

"I was very impressed with him," Kansas City Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer added.

Moore kept his job because his team selected Manning instead. Schottenheimer eventually wound up in San Diego because the Chargers franchise temporarily hit bottom after selecting Leaf.

It turns out the Chargers should have been more concerned about Leaf blowing up to 262 pounds than impressed with the fact that he lost the weight.

San Diego made the bonehead pick, but it could have been anyone else. Whatever personality flaws that caused Leaf to self-destruct were well-hidden by his physical skills, even to the most shrewd talent evaluators.

The 49ers, who once hit the jackpot with a third-rounder named Joe Montana, spent their first-round pick in 1997 on Virginia Tech's Jim Druckenmiller, who had a powerful throwing arm and produced video of himself pulling a car while wearing a harness.

In 2000, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady towed no cars and won some big games at Michigan. His workout was not accompanied by fanfare.

The 49ers opted instead for Giovanni Carmazzi in the third round. Four more quarterbacks — Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger and Spergon Wynn — followed before the Patriots unknowingly struck gold by selecting Brady with the 199th pick of the draft.

So there's really no way to know whether Rodgers or Smith will be Manning or Leaf. Or if they're the second coming of Tim Couch or Donovan McNabb.

Their success will be determined by the system they're in, their supporting cast and something inside their head that's impossible to identify until they're on the 20-yard line and down by four points with two minutes to play in a real game.

The only certainty is they sure look good in practice.

NFL Editor Jerry McDonald

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

NFL Draft Predictions

Washington Post
NFL Draft Predictions
First-Round Projection
Monday, March 21, 2005; 11:01 AM

1. 49ers -- Aaron Rodgers, QB (Cal) . . . The Niners need a franchise quarterback, among plenty of other things, and must choose between Rodgers and Smith.

2. Dolphins -- Ronnie Brown, RB (Auburn) . . . He looks like the best all-around back in the draft.
3. Browns -- Alex Smith, QB (Utah) . . . Trent Dilfer can keep the starting job warm for him for a season or two.

4. Bears -- Braylon Edwards, WR (Michigan) . . . Could team with Muhsin Muhammad and quickly remake Chicago's receiver corps from a glaring weakness into a strength.

5. Buccaneers -- Cedric Benson, RB (Texas) . . . This draft is top-heavy with centerpiece runners.

6. Titans -- Adam (Pac-Man) Jones, CB (West Virginia) . . . He would replace Samari Rolle.

7. Vikings -- Mike Williams, WR (USC) . . . The Vikings still don't have a true No. 1 receiver after trading Randy Moss.

8. Cardinals -- Carnell (Cadillac) Williams, RB (Auburn) . . . There's no need to trade for Travis Henry when Brown, Benson or Williams should be available for this pick.

9. Redskins -- Antrel Rolle, CB (Miami) . . . They have a roster full of Nos. 2 and 3 receivers. But if Edwards and Williams are gone, there's no immediate No. 1 receiver available, so finding a replacement for Fred Smoot would be the right move.

10. Lions -- Shawne Merriman, DE (Maryland) . . . An eye-catching pro-day workout last week has him moving up draft boards.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Tedford's QBs far from sure bet to succeed in NFL

By Dan Pompei
Chicago Tribune
Sporting News
March 20, 2005
When Jeff Tedford has sent his quarterback chicks out from his nest, they haven't exactly soared like eagles. There is only one Pro Bowl appearance among them.
Tedford's latest fledgling is California quarterback Aaron Rodgers, potentially the first pick in the draft. To evaluate Rodgers, NFL scouts have to consider the other quarterbacks Tedford has coached and wonder if Rodgers isn't a letdown waiting to happen.

"I would never get scared off by something like that," one AFC general manager says. "You have to evaluate the player based on the talent. But certainly you have to be aware of the history and go the extra mile to make sure you feel good about the player."
It's not as if Tedford is running a shell game on NFL teams. The California coach isn't deceiving anyone as much as he is coaching quarterbacks better at his level than NFL teams are coaching quarterbacks at their levels.
Tedford's quarterbacks at Fresno State, Oregon and California have been extensions of him because he does the work for the player. He's one of those coaches who puts in 18-hour days and sleeps in his office three or four nights a week.
"He does the thinking for the quarterback ahead of time, so all the quarterback has to do is carry out the plan," an NFC general manager says. "He narrows the quarterback's options, so all he has to do is throw the ball to the right spot."
Tedford's offense is quarterback-friendly like McDonald's is kid-friendly. His quarterbacks aren't asked to try anything ambitious.
The system makes it easy for Rodgers to find an open receiver quickly. The problem is quarterbacks often regress on fundamentals after they are separated from Tedford. It happened with Kyle Boller after he became a Raven.
There isn't a lot we can say about Rodgers definitively except he throws a nice short pass. But nice short passes are not worth $19 million, which the first pick in the draft expects to get in guaranteed bonuses.
His accuracy is a little spotty on those rare occasions when he attempts the difficult throw. Rodgers is a good caretaker quarterback who doesn't often make the dumb play. He's tough enough, has enough arm strength and enough mobility. But he isn't spectacular in any area. His instincts and ability to gauge pressure and see the field are questionable.
Rodgers can be a winning NFL quarterback in the right situation, but there is not enough evidence to proclaim him a franchise player.
You can have Rodgers if you want him. Me, I'll take Tedford.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Profile of Aaron Rodgers on CBS Sportsline

Aaron Rodgers

Height: 6-2

Weight: 195

Position: QB

College: California



Aaron was a two-time All-Section selection at Pleasant Valley (Chico, Cal.) High School, where he threw for 2,176 yards as a senior and 2,243 yards during his junior campaign … He attended Butte (Cal.) Junior College in 2002, where he led the team to a No. 2 ranking in the national polls, completing 164 of 265 passes (61.9%) for 2,408 yards, 28 touchdowns and only four interceptions, adding 294 yards with seven scores on 101 carries (2.9 avg.) … A true student of the game and a bright protégé of coach Jeff Tedford, Aaron emerged as one of the nation's premier quarterbacks as a junior in 2004 … His 161.2 passer efficiency rating in 2004 established a school season-record, as he led the fifth-ranked offense (492.4 ypg) in the NCAA Division 1-A ranks … He boasts a 17-5 record as a starting quarterback for the Bears … In two seasons at California, Aaron completed 424 of 665 passes (63.8%) for 5,469 yards, 43 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, adding 336 yards and eight scores on 160 rushing attempts (2.1 avg) … His passer efficiency rating of 150.31 shattered the previous school career-record of 142.6 by David Barr (1992-94) … His 5,469 yards passing rank seventh in California-Berkeley annals and his 43 touchdown passes rank fifth … Only Rich Campbell (64.5%, 1977-80) had a higher pass completion percentage in school history … Only Randy Gold (10, 1960-62) had fewer interceptions in a career as Cal's starting passer … His percentage of 1.95 passes that were intercepted broke the old school all-time record of 2.74% by Pat Barnes (26 on 950 throws, 1993-96) … In the 2004 Southern California contest, Aaron tied the NCAA single-game consecutive completions record, connecting on his first 23 attempts (Tee Martin of Tennessee first accomplished that feat vs. South Carolina in 1998) and set a new NCAA overall consecutive completions record with 26 consecutive (three at Oregon State and 23 at USC), breaking Martin's 1998 record of 24 … Aaron gained 5,805 yards in total offense at California, the sixth-best career total in school annals … His 3,113 total yards in 2003 are topped only by Pat Barnes (3,499 in 1996) on Cal's season-record chart.



Aaron is a well-built athlete with a medium to long stride and good foot quickness … Also has displayed good athletic ability and change of direction agility for the position … Has a good setup and a quick release to go along with very good arm strength … Rarely will he make questionable decisions … Has no trouble reading defenses and will not force the ball into traffic (see low interception percentage) … Stays on his primary receivers too long at times, but when he can't locate and hit secondary receivers, he will take off and run with the ball … Shows good poise, especially when faced with pressure, but must stand in the pocket longer to wait for the play to develop … Has shown flashes of great play-making ability due to his good athleticism and very good arm strength … He's a developing prospect with all the physical tools, displaying excellent quickness in his delivery and release … Very effective at generating the quickness and snap on the forward motion of his release to easily loft the ball into his target's waiting hands … His feet are very quick, but it's his long ball accuracy and touch that stand out, taking enough off his long throws to feather the ball to receivers … While Aaron is not the biggest quarterback you will find, he does have a loose arm, tight circle and knows how to step into his throws … The thing you notice on film is his ability to flash a good pass set, drift and soft touch, showing the vision and awareness to slide and move in and out of the pocket with ease … Displays a smooth, accurate long ball and can run the quarterback draw like a tailback, making him a definite running threat.



2003 -- Joined California in fall drills with a pre-existing left knee injury … Re-injured the knee during fall camp, but did not miss any time … His knee was again injured in the Southern Mississippi game (8/30), but he played with the injury throughout the season … Underwent surgery to repair the ligament damage on 1/07/03, sitting out 2004 spring drills while recovering.



4.74 in the 40-yard dash … 340-pound bench press … 32 5/8-inch arm length … 9 3/8-inch hands.



Attended Pleasant Valley (Chico, Cal.) High, where he was a two-time All-Section choice in 2000 and '01 … Passed for a combined 4,419 yards during his junior and senior seasons … Set single-game school records for touchdowns (6) and all-purpose yards (440), and single-season marks for passing yards (2,176) and total yards (2,466).



American Studies major … Son of Darla and Ed Rodgers … Born 12/02/83 … Resides in Chico, California.

Miami Herald: Rodgers Not a Retard

No swelled head

California quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a top NFL draft prospect, says his friends back home are helping him keep a level head: 'They tell me I'm not that cool. They'll say, `[ESPN draft guru Mel] Kiper says you're going top five, but you're still the same retard we grew up with.' ''

NFL.COM: Smith Ahead of Rodgers

1. Alex Smith, QB, Utah: Say what you want about this draft class of quarterbacks as it compares to last year, but the truth is in six of the last seven drafts a quarterback was selected first, and Smith has moved slightly ahead of Cal's Aaron Rodgers after his Pro Day. If San Francisco wants to start negotiating with both quarterbacks, they are allowed to. Signing ability may be the final reason one goes first in this draft.

2. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Cal: He may be slightly behind Utah's Alex Smith, but for some teams he's the top choice. Remember, last year Ben Roethlisberger was No. 1 a few draft boards but was the third QB called on Draft Day. Most believe these quarterbacks can win in the NFL, and teams that pass on them may not be in a position to draft a QB for years to come. That's what drives teams to take them so early in the process. How do you think the teams that passed on Roethlisberger last year feel now?

News from


CALIFORNIA (March 17th) junior quarterback AARON RODGERS threw passes two a pair of receivers and one tight end... scripted and led by his college head coach Jeff Tedford... threw all of the routes... did 3-5-7 step drops... rollouts and also threw several deep balls, as well... had only one mis-fired pass, as well as three drops... very crisply thrown ball... showed off his quick release... good mobility throughout his workout... his accuracy was solid and there was plenty of zip on his routes... "Of the two (Alex Smith) the one thing that stands out to me with him (Rodgers) would be his release", said one AFC quarterback coach... "From top to bottom that was a very strong workout... liked the velocity on his passes... very accurate and throws with good touch on his deep ball", explained one NFC evaluator... previously weighed in at 6022, 223 pounds at the Combine... has been timed between 4.71 and 4.78 in the 40... 34.5" vertical... 9'8" broad jump... 4.52 short shuttle... 7.38 three-cone... expects to take a few private visits between now and the draft.

National Coverage for Rodgers By PAUL KUHARSKY
Staff Writer

No pattern: Cal's Aaron Rodgers matched Utah's Alex Smith with a phenomenal workout this week.

But some teams still connect Rodgers to Joey Harrington, Akili Smith, Kyle Boller and David Carr — quarterbacks coached by the Cal's Jeff Tedford who haven't exactly lit things up in the NFL.

''I really don't believe in the Tedford curse,'' Rodgers said. ''It's been mentioned by a few teams, the Packers in particular.''

Friday, March 18, 2005

Rodgers, nearly flawless, passes 49ers test

By Matthew Barrows -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PST Friday, March 18, 2005
BERKELEY - Aaron Rodgers isn't making it easy for the 49ers.
A day after Utah quarterback Alex Smith wowed NFL coaches and scouts at his private workout in Salt Lake City, the strong-armed Rodgers was on target on all but one of 92 passes during his own private session at Cal's Memorial Stadium.

"I thought he did extremely well," said 49ers coach Mike Nolan, who is eyeing Rodgers and Smith with the No. 1 overall draft pick next month. "I don't think he missed but maybe one throw when it started. Other than that, he put them all right there."
As was the case in Utah, Nolan was joined Thursday by offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy, quarterbacks coach Jim Hostler and personnel director Scot McCloughan. Other NFL notables included Raiders coach Norv Turner, Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow and new Dolphins coach Nick Saban, who holds the second pick in the draft.

"The ball only was on the ground one time," Saban said of Rodgers' performance. "That says something. It was an excellent workout."

Though Nolan continues to maintain that there are as many as six college players worthy of the top draft pick, the 49ers' biggest need is at quarterback. The three passers on the roster are seventh-round draft picks, and last year's starter, Tim Rattay, missed half of the season because of an assortment of injuries.

Rattay had surgery two months ago to repair his right forearm, and Nolan said the quarterback is "iffy" for the team's April 1-3 minicamp.

Nolan was wary Thursday of comparing Smith and Rodgers but did note that Rodgers is the most polished college quarterback he has evaluated so far. While Smith mostly took snaps in the shotgun formation at Utah, the offense Rodgers ran at Cal should make for an easier transition to the pros, Nolan said.

Rodgers also picked up on that difference.

"You've got to be able to sit in the pocket and throw the ball," he said after his workout. "I think that's what gives me a slight advantage right now. I operated under center every snap."

Cal coach Jeff Tedford said Rodgers' showing Thursday was no different than what he saw during practice last fall. Rodgers is very good at finding a rhythm, Tedford said, noting the quarterback's remarkable string of completions last October against top-ranked USC.

"That's how you complete (23) balls in a row in a game - because the ball never hits the ground," Tedford said. "That's what's expected and what he expects from himself."

Notes - Nolan said he would not attend Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards' workout today in Ann Arbor, Mich., but that McCloughan and receivers coach Jerry Sullivan will be on hand.

* The 49ers still are interested in acquiring David Boston, but Nolan will not decide about the receiver until next month.

* In addition to Rattay, defensive end Andre Carter (back), tackle Kwame Harris (shoulder), center Jeremy Newberry (tonsils) and defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga (back) could miss next month's minicamp.

Cal quarterback Rodgers gives 49ers an eyeful

BERKELEY — Another day, another top prospect, and just like that, the San Francisco 49ers face a difficult decision if they choose to use the first pick in next month's NFL Draft on a quarterback.
Thursday, it was California quarterback Aaron Rodgers' turn to work out, and of the 92 passes he threw in his audition before numerous NFL decision-makers at Memorial Stadium, there was only one he said he would have liked to have back.

Twenty-four hours earlier, 49ers coach Mike Nolan and his key staffers watched as Utah quarterback Alex Smith had a similarly impressive workout.

"Both have very strong arms," said Nolan, who will not be among the 49ers representatives at today's workout by Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards. "Both are very accurate. Both guys are very athletic. They give you different strengths and weaknesses, but overall, they're both very good."

Rodgers' edge, Nolan indicated, might be his polish.

"His mechanics are very good, very strong," Nolan said. "He's got an excellent arm."

Rodgers' workout lasted about 40 minutes. He threw short and long passes to former Cal teammates LaShaun Ward, Jonathan Makonnen, Kevin Parker and Garrett Cross while representatives from numerous NFL teams looked on.

"The first throw was a little high," Rodgers said. "I was a little nervous. But this is what I do best, is throwing. The interview stuff, talking about myself, is the tough part. This is the easy part."

Before working out, Rodgers met with Nick Saban, the new coach of the Miami Dolphins, who own the second selection. Afterward, he met with the 49ers. Rodgers, who grew up a 49ers fan in Chico, said he had been pleased with a previous meeting with Nolan.

"I think they wanted to get some background stuff and test my football IQ," said Rodgers, who left Cal with one year of college eligibility remaining. "I think they were impressed with my knowledge of the game."

Though the Raiders dealt their first-round draft choice in the recent trade for receiver Randy Moss, coach Norv Turner watched Rodgers work out.

"He's got a great feel for all of the throws," said Turner, known for his work with quarterbacks. "He's got great accuracy and a great touch."

When he is drafted, Rodgers will be the latest in a line of quarterbacks to reach the NFL after spending their college years being tutored by Jeff Tedford, Cal's coach. To this point, none of those quarterbacks has achieved NFL stardom

Rodgers said the Green Bay Packers, in particular, have questioned him about the so-called "Tedford Curse." Tedford, who directed Thursday's workout, downplayed talk of the curse and predicted Rodgers will have a very successful NFL career.

"I don't think there's any doubt he's ready," Tedford said. "There's going to be a transition period no matter what, to go to the next level. But he's very mature, very mentally tough, so I think he's going to be able to handle that jump."

EXTRA POINTS: After Rodgers' workout, Reggie Robertson — Cal's backup quarterback last year — worked out. Among his receivers was former 49er J.J. Stokes. ... Among those in attendance were Tennessee offensive coordinator Norm Chow, former 49ers offensive coordinator Ted Tollner (now Detroit's coordinator), and former 49ers personnel chief Bill Rees, who is now with Cleveland. ... Nolan said the 49ers have had internal discussions about Indianapolis running back Edgerrin James, who signed his $8.08-million franchise tender Wednesday. There has been talk James will be traded, but Nolan indicated he does not think the Colts star would be a good fit right now with the Niners. ... Nolan also said that, although there have been inquiries, the 49ers are not interested in trading their franchise player, linebacker Julian Peterson, who has yet to sign his $7.29-million tender. ... Nolan said the following players will be unable to participate in the opening minicamp April 1-3: right tackle Kwame Harris (right shoulder), center Jeremy Newberry (a non-football health issue), Peterson (Achilles' tendon, unsigned tender), defensive end Andre Carter (back), defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga (back) and quarterback Tim Rattay (forearm).