Around the NFC West: More 49ers 'rats'?

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle quotes current and former 49ers players anonymously regarding the team's alleged coaching deficiencies on offense. Those players say the team fails to make the proper adjustments. Coach Mike Singletary previously used the term "rats" to describe anonymously quoted internal critics. Reading between the lines, it appears as though offensive coordinator Mike Johnson feels hamstrung with Troy Smith at quarterback. Johnson has more than once mentioned limitations associated with using a quarterback who did not go through training camp with the team. Johnson was Alex Smith's position coach all offseason. Johnson: "I think if you have a quarterback who has been here the entire time and you go through training camp and you go through an entire playbook, I think that gives you more leeway. The adjustment part of it, you can't do all that you would like to sometimes because of that, but I think we had enough in the game plan to get some things done and we just weren't effective."

Also from White: The 49ers' Justin Smith makes his 150th consecutive start Monday night, an impressive feat that doesn't really impress Smith. Justin Smith: "I mean, I guess I've been lucky and fortunate not to be injured too bad to this point. ... I've had my ribs separated and my fingers broke and the top of foot broke. A lot of guys play through a lot of stuff that you wouldn't believe. Usually it takes something like a major muscle tear or major knee or breaking a bone. I've just been fortunate to not get those. There's been times I've had my ankle rolled up and maybe it should've broke, and for whatever reason it didn't, so I'm just thankful for that."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers and some other teams might be reluctant to hire big-money head coaches this offseason without a labor agreement in place. That seems like a short-sighted mindset given the prominent roles head coaches play and the fact that most earn far less up-front money than star players collect.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Troy Smith is working from a shorter leash this week.

Also from Barrows: a look at the 49ers' efforts to find a young inside linebacker to pair with Patrick Willis.

Jim Gintonio of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals rookie Dan Williams is making strides after getting benched for weight issues early in the season. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "We haven't had any issues with his weight since that time, so if that's the message that he got, that's a good thing. We have high expectations for Dan; he's done a nice job for us. He's been pretty dominant in some of the goal-line situations for us this year, and I think that sometimes with young guys you have to send them a message, and he obviously got that message."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Larry Fitzgerald sees the Cardinals' Monday night game against the 49ers as "make or break" in nature. More here.

Bob Young of the Arizona Republic counts the ways the NFC West isn't all that strong this season. Young: "We keep hearing about how the Cardinals are only two games out of the division lead, which is true. However, they have two losses to the first-place Seahawks, so really they're three games down -- unless there ends up being a three- or four-way tie. Anything is plausible in the NFC Worst."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says cornerback Greg Toler and defensive end Calais Campbell missed Cardinals practice Thursday.

Also from Urban: There's no love lost between the Cardinals and 49ers, regardless of team records.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks' annual turkey trick caught one unsuspecting rookie this Thanksgiving.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says Golden Tate is eager to get back onto the field after missing time with an ankle injury. Tate made impressive plays against Oakland before suffering the injury in that game. Tate has the athletic ability to become a factor in the passing game. He needs to become more in tune with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck by paying closer attention to the finer points of the position. Ben Obomanu and Brandon Stokley have shown the way on that front.

Also from Boling: a Seahawks injury update noting that receiver Mike Williams was still wearing a boot to protect his injured left foot.

More from Boling: Marshawn Lynch's fumbling problems against the Saints might bear some relation to the team's issues on the offensive line.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com offers notes from practice Thursday.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo sent the right message with his angry reaction to the team's loss against Atlanta. Spagnuolo thinks the Rams have improved enough to beat good teams. That is particularly true at home. Miklasz: "We can take note of the Rams' progress. We can be cautiously optimistic over the future. We can be appreciative of the new players that they've added who are turning the franchise around. We can agree that it was a dandy surprise to see the Rams at 4-4 and tied for first place two weeks ago. We can also sign off on the premise that the Rams' best days are most likely in the future. That doesn't mean we should wave off losses now. The 2010 season isn't a school project."

Also from Miklasz: putting Sam Bradford's accuracy in perspective.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams receiver Danario Alexander expects to return from knee surgery Sunday.

Also from Thomas: The Rams' Steven Jackson plans to sleep inside an altitude tent this week in preparation for facing the Broncos in Denver. Guard Jacob Bell: "The altitude, it's a factor. You definitely feel the lack of oxygen. Your throat might burn a little bit, stuff like that. But I've honestly never had too much of a problem with it. You've got to realize that you are in good shape. And for us, we've played 10 games now. So it's not going to affect you as much."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says the Rams have lost some key players to injured reserve, but the 53-man roster is quite healthy for this time of year.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Jackson has been using his altitude tent since training camp.