Around the NFC West: Gore's role

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers running back Frank Gore expects the Seahawks to change up their defense now that San Francisco is spreading the field with more receiving targets. Gore: "The blocks clear [better]. That's one of the good things about running the ball in the spread. I know [Seattle] will play us different this week knowing we're going to the spread. They can't bring the safety into the box. That's a plus."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee wonders how many carries Gore will get against Seattle.

Also from Barrows: Seahawks coach Jim Mora says he thinks Gore can run effectively from any formation.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers players felt coach Mike Singletary was wearing them out. Singletary responded by reducing time spent in pads. Maiocco: "Now, Singletary does not mind being unpopular if it's the right thing to do for the team. But he knows how to read the room, and he knew things were not right. The general consensus was that the players felt as if they were wearing down because Singletary was working the team too hard in practice. So, last week, Singletary -- after conversations with some of his respected leaders -- decided the team was not going to wear pads in practice any longer."

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers go into every game hoping for offensive balance.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Vernon Davis needs one touchdown reception to break the single-season franchise record for tight ends. The man who set the previous record, Ted Kwalick, says learning the position takes a few years. Brown: "Kwalick said teammate John Brodie once told him that tight end is the second-hardest position to learn, after quarterback. A tight end must learn not only the nuances of passing routes but also the blocking assignments for the running game. Those two, along with receiver Gene Washington and other offensive players, would meet at Brodie's house every Wednesday night to go over game film. It took three seasons of study, but Kwalick's light went on in 1971."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner had his "best day yet" and hopes to play Sunday after missing the last six quarters with a head injury. Somers: "The fogginess Warner was experiencing in his vision is gone, he said, although his eyes remain sensitive to light. A visit to the eye doctor this week revealed no problems, so Warner has been cleared medically to play."

Also from Somers: Left tackle Mike Gandy has started 47 consecutive games at left tackle for Arizona. The streak could end Sunday.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic looks at the pressure teammates put on one another to play through injuries, including concussions. Warner: "We're in a game where courage and toughness reign supreme. And we're so here and now. Win now, play now; nothing else matters. Every game has so much importance. So I know that happens. I know people second-guess you."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Brett Favre and Warner are playing well despite having a combined age of 78.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo marvels at his team's practice habits. Spagnuolo: "Look at them. I mean, practice is over and about half the team's out there working. I think that says a lot. But I'll tell you what, that's typical of this group. They amaze me every week, going through what we’re going through, to come out and practice they way they do."

Also from Coats: The NFL has fined Steven Jackson for throwing a football into the stands following a 1-yard touchdown run.

More from Coats: Kyle Boller feels a "good soreness" following his start against Seattle.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams guard Richie Incognito, recently voted the NFL's dirtiest player. Incognito: "That's great. They polled the players on that. If that's how they feel -- the dirtiest, meanest, however you want to put it. My trademark is, I play at a high level on Sundays. And there's some people in this league that just can't keep up with my level of play."

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Rams center Jason Brown reluctantly missed practice Wednesday for the first time in his career. Brown: "Even though I was out there getting a side workout with Rock [Gullickson], our strength coach, and got extra conditioning in and took a whole bunch of mental reps, yes, it is a missed practice. I tell you what, it is a humbling experience. I did not want to miss this practice, but it is all about doing the smart thing."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Julius Jones looked good in practice Wednesday. Farnsworth: "Now comes the next obstacle: How Jones feels Thursday after getting his most extensive action in practice since he was injured while picking up a blitz in the first quarter of the Week 10 loss to the Cardinals."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks' reliance on free agency under Tim Ruskell contributed to the team being ranked among the oldest third in the league. My records showed Seattle to have the 11th-oldest roster and 18th-oldest starters.

Also from O'Neil: Lofa Tatupu is the only Seahawks player drafted by Ruskell to earn a Pro Bowl berth.

More Ruskell fallout: The link covers all related items posted to this blog.