Around the NFC West: Balmer knows it's time

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle says Kentwan Balmer readily acknowledges he has much to prove entering his second season with the 49ers. FitzGerald: "[General manager Scot] McCloughan said defensive coordinator Greg Manusky told him Balmer was his most improved player from last year to this."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers coach Mike Singletary liked what he saw from the team during the final three practices of the week.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers rookie Michael Crabtree was eager -- perhaps too eager -- to get on the field and run following foot surgery. Singletary set him straight. Also: Rookie tight end Bear Pascoe, perceived primarily as a blocker, made an impressive catch.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Singletary downplayed McCloughan's recent comments about Alex Smith looking impressive in practice. Singletary made it clear Smith must prove himself in games. Shaun Hill has already done so, to an extent. For Smith, beating out Hill in practice isn't going to be enough.

David Fucillo of Niners Nation wonders if Singletary's approach could wear out players before the season. We'll have a better idea after seeing how the 49ers practice at training camp.

Tim Klutsarits of examiner.com sizes up five position battles for the Rams heading into training camp. He thinks the situation at linebacker could be fluid. I don't see much depth beyond the projected starters. Whether Pisa Tinoisamoa was a good fit for the system or overpriced, he appeared to be one of the two, three or four best linebackers on the team.

PRWeb.com carries a news release announcing the installation of a new FieldTurf playing surface in the Edward Jones Dome. The previous FieldTurf surface was installed in 2005.

Nate Davis of usatoday.com lists Rams center Jason Brown as a player to watch in 2009. Chris "Beanie" Wells, Walter Jones and Frank Gore were the other NFC West nominees.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt enjoyed minicamps and organized team activities. Whisenhunt sees the relatively low-pressure environment as conducive to teaching. Meanwhile, quarterback Kurt Warner offers more praise for second-year cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com explains why Bertrand Berry might be unhappy with his situation in Arizona. Beyond the financial concerns Berry might have, the Cardinals' expected shift to more of a 3-4 defense doesn't appear to suit him all that well.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says the Seahawks are opening training camp to the public from Aug. 3 through Aug. 20. This was part of the plan when the Seahawks built their facility. The team presumably needs to construct grandstands of some sort to accommodate fans.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says rookie linebacker Aaron Curry is showing good pass-rush ability in minicamp drills.