Around the NFC West: Alex Smith endures

August, 15, 2008
8/15/08
9:05
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Dan Brown of 49ers Hot Read paints quarterback Alex Smith as a stand-up guy for the way he's handling a difficult week. Smith is attending his best friend's funeral Friday. He'll rejoin the team for its exhibition game Saturday night, but J.T. O'Sullivan will start.

Coach Mike Nolan wouldn't say whether Smith would have started under normal circumstances. Nolan via 49ers Hot Read:

"I think it is unfair to even comment on that issue with how it relates to what we are doing because that's a personal issue. We went through that last year and I know Alex is having a difficult time. I'd rather leave it at that than tie it into what we are doing because I don't think that's fair."

If the team decided Smith had enough on his plate without worrying about preparing to start, most of us would understand. If the team had decided to go with O'Sullivan either way, hey, that is the least of Smith's worries during a personally trying week. But it's clear Nolan doesn't want to get into the specifics of his thinking on the quarterback situation.

Meanwhile ...

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle can't understand why 49ers coach Mike Nolan won't declare quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan the favorite for the starting job.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says practice ended with Smith's incomplete pass in the end zone during a two-minute drill. He also says the Packers will play their starters about one half when Green Bay visits the 49ers on Saturday night. That is close to what O'Sullivan is scheduled to play as well.

Amy Brittain of the Arizona Republic describes the relationship between Cardinals tight ends Leonard Pope and Ben Patrick as a friendly rivalry. They are fighting for a starting spot, but both figure to play extensively.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks are eager to move into their new facility beginning Monday. Also: Patrick Kerney practiced and felt good after missing time with injury.

Kevin Lynch of Niners Insider recalls his interactions with Alex Smith's best friend, the late David Edwards.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with backup Rams center Nick Leckey, who has enjoyed a strong camp. Leckey, formerly of the Cardinals, has worked some with the first-team offense.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat describes linebacker Tully Banta-Cain as "hungrier" this season. Players tend to feel that way when they're fighting for roster spots.

Also from Maiocco: a detailed look at what the 49ers learned in camp. This is a must read. He describes right tackle Jonas Jennings as the best offensive lineman in camp.

One more thing from Maiocco: Nolan pulled aside tight end Vernon Davis for a one-on-one session after the tight end fought with linebacker Larry Grant.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says Patrick Kerney was "worth every cent" the Seahawks paid him in free agency. But the team still needed to draft a defensive end to help keep Kerney fresh.

Scott Johnson of the Everett Herald says the Seahawks are finally getting healthy. Most of them are, anyway. Center Chris Spencer remains sidelined with back trouble. Spencer, Deion Branch and Bobby Engram are the only starters who remain unavailable.

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