Behind Enemy Lines – Offseason movers and shakers

The 49ers and Rams make coaching moves and the Cardinals prepare to go on a free agent shopping spree.

St. Louis – Rams head coach Mike Martz wasted little time in hiring a replacement for deposed special teams coach Mike Stock. On Saturday, the Rams hired Bob Ligashesky as the fourth special teams coach under Martz.

"He's what I'm looking for in an assistant coach, with the passion for what he does, the high energy level," Martz said. "He's a terrific teacher. He knows the details and the fundamentals of the kicking game."

Most around the organization were surprised Martz hired someone in only his second year as an assistant. His only experience was as an assistant to Jacksonville Jaguars special team's guru Pete Rodriguez in 2004.

Ligashesky has a daunting task ahead of him as the return and coverage units he has inherited were among the worst in the entire NFL in 2004.

Rumors are swirling around Rams Park that coaches and front-office staff are quietly concerned about the durability of 2004 first round selection Steven Jackson's durability.

Jackson suffered a sprained knee late in the season and while he recovered enough to play the final three games of the regular season and in both playoff games, he didn't seem to hit the hole with his normal burst of speed. Jackson seemed tentative and unsure of his assignments and there is word the Rams could be looking at a running back late on day one of the upcoming draft.

San Francisco – New 49ers head coach Mike Nolan is rounding out his staff and one hire has pleased many around the Bay Area.

Former Chicago Bears linebacker Mike Singletary was tabbed as the Niners' assistant head coach/linebackers coach after Nolan convinced his former assistant in Baltimore to follow him out west.

"I think apart from me knowing Mike as a man and knowing him as a coach and knowing him to be true to his word in every sense, everything he has ever told me he has done," Singletary said. "In coming here when I sat down and talked to Coach Nolan, he said, ‘I want you to understand that I want you to come with me to help me build something great. I want you to come with me and come alongside me and help me with this vision that I have."

Singletary seemed encouraged by what he saw has he started the task of reviewing last year's 2-14 season.

"For me, I am in the business of correcting what is wrong. I am in the business, along with Coach Nolan, of taking something that just may be in shambles or whatever and building it up to be something special," Singletary said. "The one word that I would use more so than anything else when I look at film of the 49ers from last year, there were a ton of injuries. When you look at the amount of injuries, and I don't know what the leadership was and I don't know anybody on that staff I don't think, as I look at the opportunity that we have, there is a lot of talent on this team. There are a lot of young guys and a lot of youth."

As continually stated in this column, look for the Niners to shop the number one overall selection in April's draft as the team has several holes to fill a the need for extra picks will likely override the potential of the number one overall pick.

Arizona – Several of the teams within the NFC West are still making coaching and front office changes, but Cardinals head coach Dennis Green got that out of the way as soon as the regular season ended.

Now Green is focused on who he wants to add to the roster and what direction the team will go in April's NFL Draft.

Some insiders believe that Green may try to raid the Minnesota Vikings' roster when free-agency begins and one of the main targets for the Cardinals will be defensive tackle Chris Hovan.

Hovan has fallen out of favor with the current Vikings coaching staff and his playing time has slipped to almost nil. Hovan would add energy to the front-four as well as an interior pass-rush element, something that was sorely lacking in the desert last season.

Another player rumored to be on Green's radar is Vikings running back Michael Bennett. The Vikings backfield is filled with talent, including Onterrio Smith, Mewelde Moore and Mo Williams. Along with Bennett, the Vikings sport four players who could start for most of the franchises in the league right now.

Green has insisted that Bennett isn't really in his plans but several insiders think if the right deal can be struck, the Cardinals may part with a draft choice or two to acquire his services.

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