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Around the NFC West: Faneca shows value

9/15/2010

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic credits Alan Faneca for much of the Cardinals' success running the ball against the Rams in Week 1. Somers: "At 33, he proved he's still agile enough to pull and be an effective lead blocker. By my count, Faneca pulled on 9 of the 20 called runs (Derek Anderson scrambled once). He pulled both right and left. When he pulled left, the tight end and tackle Levi Brown blocked down. On those nine plays, the Cardinals gained 78 yards and scored a touchdown. A disclaimer: I'm not saying Faneca was responsible for all those yards. Other good blocks were made, and running backs Tim Hightower and LaRod Stephens-Howling made good reads. But Faneca hit someone on almost every one of those plays." Meanwhile, right tackle Brandon Keith struggled against Chris Long.

Also from Somers: Arizona is vastly different at receiver. How different? Practice-squad wideout Tim Brown occupies Anquan Boldin's old locker.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic offers a Q-and-A transcript featuring Steve Breaston. Breaston on the Cardinals' sharpest dresser: "Adrian Wilson. He looks like he's in a Grey Poupon commercial every time he walks into a place. . . . He can pull off the suit thing and still style it up in a T-shirt. He looks fresh." Breaston on pregame meals: "In the morning, I go with the sausage-egg McMuffin from McDonald's. If we have a later game, I go with the double cheeseburger meal. It's not on the menu, but it's there. It's about $4.58."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com explains the origins of Breaston's inclusion in the "Backpack Boys" club.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have had trade talks in their efforts to acquire a backup running back. Also: "The Rams signed former New York Giants tight end Darcy Johnson to the active roster, releasing defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo to free up a roster spot."

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says ratings were up for the Rams' opener, presumably thanks to Sam Bradford. Looks like attendance was down, however.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch puts Bradford's 55-attempt debut in perspective by pointing out that 21 of those attempts came during two-minute situations.

Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports says the 49ers' communication problems stem from procedural changes the team made since last season. Cole: "In Singletary’s first full season last year, offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, one of the more respected veteran coaches in the league, was calling plays from the coach’s box upstairs. Raye would call plays down to offensive assistant Jason Michael, who would then send the play into the quarterback. That system worked effectively even at times when Raye struggled to find exactly the right play or say it exactly the right way. Michael, who worked closely with Raye, was good at filling the gaps in communication. However, one of the problems created by the Raye-Michael relationship was that it began to alienate quarterback coach Mike Johnson, whose involvement in building the game plan had diminished. In addition, some players began to resent Raye’s tendency to blame them if things went wrong. As a result, several players went to Singletary this offseason to complain about Raye and the overall situation. Singletary’s solution was to change the mechanics of how the plays were sent in. He replaced Michael, who is still on staff, with Johnson in the play-calling process. On Sunday, that became a problem because Johnson couldn’t decipher what Raye was saying during tense moments when the Seattle crowd was making noise. Singletary was seen several times yelling at Johnson on the sideline when plays didn’t get relayed in a timely fashion." There's no excuse for having the sorts of problems the 49ers are having. This is basic stuff. Either the 49ers fix this problem by Week 2 or the coaching staff is going to have a hard time recouping credibility.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee looks at the 49ers' receiver situation now that Ted Ginn Jr. is injured.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says coach Pete Carroll is looking forward to the challenge of performing in a hostile environment. Carroll on playing at Denver: "It will be very difficult for us. The thing that we want to learn how to do is how to carry our game on the road. That’s important for us. We need a game like this at this time. We need to figure this part out. And it might as well be as tough as it gets, like it is in Denver."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Max Unger finished the regular-season opener despite a toe injury, but he's finished for the season. O'Neil: "Mansfield Wrotto took Unger's spot on the roster. Wrotto was re-signed Tuesday a little more than one week after Seattle cut him. Wrotto was a fourth-round draft choice of Seattle in 2007, and though he played tackle in training camp, he is expected to be a guard." Losing Unger hurts depth, but it's not a crushing blow, in my view. Getting Chester Pitts back from knee surgery remains important for the long term, however.

Also from O'Neil: Raheem Brock is still finding his bearings in Seattle (the former Colts lineman couldn't find the team hotel Saturday night).

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Brock was a factor against the 49ers.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks are plus-one in turnover differential. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck: "It’s a huge emphasis. I'm really just following Pete’s lead on that. That’s what is most sacred to him. So all of us that get to touch the ball, that’s got to be what’s most sacred to us."