Around the NFC West: 49ers' plan


John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' decision to evaluate younger players over the final two weeks will not extend to quarterback, for obvious reasons. Coach Mike Singletary: "It would be different if Alex Smith was a proven player. I want Alex to get all the playing time he can. It's important for us and him. Every situation he can possibly be in, I want him to learn every lesson he possibly can. I want to see every drop of everything he has."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers will find playing time for offensive lineman Cody Wallace, a player they would like to evaluate.

Also from Maiocco: 49ers president Jed York anticipates no major changes during the offseason. York: "If there's a Hall of Fame quarterback on the market, we'd explore that possibility. But I don't think you're going to find any Hall of Fame quarterbacks on the market."

More from Maiocco: York assesses Smith's growth at quarterback. York: "I see a guy improving every time he steps on the field. I'm glad we went out to Philly to play an important game, and he didn’t play great and he didn’t play terrible. It’s more the opportunity to play in games like that because he’s going to be in games like that in the future, and Alex is going to grow from that experience."

Taylor Price of 49ers.com says the team has refocused on winning its final two games despite having no postseason prospects.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' Ben Graham looks like a Pro Bowl favorite at punter in the NFC. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "When you talk about a punter, you don't really think about the kind of effects they can have on a game, other than maybe changing field position. But you look at what our guy has done with his plus-20 punts and even the ones inside the 10, it's phenomenal. It's incredible. Our punter has helped us win games and for that, he's been a real weapon for us."

Also from McManaman: The Cardinals expect to sell out their game against the Rams in Week 16.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says outside linebacker Will Davis moved well during his first practice back from injury.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com compares Beanie Wells to Ottis Anderson. Ron Wolfley: "He has a lot higher gear than Ottis I think ever dreamed of having, and that’s not a slam on Ottis. But Beanie has that same kind of coo-coo-cachoo, I call it, that little hiccup where those hips just ‘boom’ and break you down. He can embarrass you. He can embarrass you in front of your family, he can embarrass your wife who is watching you because this man can run right over you. And that makes his moves in the open field that much better." Only 9,567 yards separate the two. Seriously, though, Wells has an outside shot at 1,000 yards this season. He has 706 yards with two games remaining.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Matt Hasselbeck jokingly asked for his money back on the retirement motorcycle Seahawks players bought for Mike Holmgren. Hasselbeck on what it would have meant if Holmgren had returned to the team as an executive: "He'd be up on the third floor with all the important people. We're down here on the first floor, so I don't know how much that would have affected what we do. But we might want to get our retirement motorcycle money back."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Seahawks nose tackle Colin Cole has a point to make against his former team when Seattle visits the Packers. Cole: "Not that this is a vengeance thing, but we’re in a great situation to make it so this team doesn’t get an opportunity to go into the postseason, and if we can make that happen and play spoiler to somebody and make someone’s Christmas not as happy, that’d be awesome."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' offensive line improved during a 24-7 defeat to the Bucs, unlikely as that sounds. Rookie Max Unger played pretty well after moving to center. The Seahawks blocked pretty well. Hasselbeck's struggles overshadowed the progress. Coach Jim Mora on the line: "The way they played Sunday was much more like the way we wanted them to play. That gives us cause for hope, and that was a good sign that came out of an otherwise dismal day. So, if we can build on that, it will be good."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams remain noncommittal on which quarterback will start against Arizona. Coach Steve Spagnuolo: "We haven’t made that decision yet. I did want to see (Kyle Boller) today. It looked like he moved around all right. We’ll kind of wait. We may go a little while before we decide. It’s been a while since he’d been out there, so he needs a couple of days to kind back into the swing of things." Can there be any justification for not taking another look at Keith Null?

Also from Coats: It's been a tough season for Rams cornerback Jonathan Wade. A starter to open the season, Wade was not even active in Week 15. Wade: "It's tough to take. I'm not the coach. I continue to go and give it everything I have. What happens on Sunday, happens on Sunday. I just do as I'm told."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Null admires Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner. Null: "I definitely looked up to Kurt Warner. I think he's a great guy on and off the field. Great Christian man -- that's what I definitely look up to the most about him. He gives God the glory for everything he does. He's definitely been one of those guys that I've loved watching play."

Jim Rodenbush of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says the Rams have named Victor Adeyanju one of their captains for Week 16. Spagnuolo: "You go back and look at the tape, and it may not show up in a stat, but he pressured the quarterback a couple of times and he plays with tremendously great effort. I love Victor. I thought he did a nice job."

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat draws parallels between Null and Warner. Null: "Our stories are really similar in that fact. We both bagged groceries for a time. Mine was only two weeks, though."