Around the NFC West: Deciphering Singletary


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle tries to make sense of Mike Singletary's comments as the 49ers break for the summer. Ratto: "In other words, they are playoff team but not an elite team, the quarterbacks are on equal footing but [Shaun] Hill is still ahead and everyone should enjoy their vacations but not fall behind so that they can be ready to work as never before. They're the sixth-best team in the conference with a quarterback controversy and questions about the head coach -- or something else as soon as camp begins at the end of July." Got that?

The 49ers' Web site provides a transcript from Singletary's most-recent interview session. I'll be analyzing his comments about the quarterbacks in a separate entry.

Taylor Price of 49ers.com says the speed of practices has increased throughout the offseason.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Singletary will not allow players to take their playbooks home for the summer, for security reasons. That marks a departure from the approach Jim Mora is taking in Seattle. How valuable would a playbook be in the wrong hands? I'm not convinced a team would have to make fundamental changes.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Smith now has a legitimate shot at unseating Hill as the 49ers' starter. Also: "Asked about his rookie class, the first two names out of Singletary's mouth were Glen Coffee and Scott McKillop. Of McKillop, the fifth-round linebacker from Pitt, Singletary said: 'He's just raw. He's just got to work on technique, and he's going to be a big help to us as well.' Coffee, meanwhile, took all of the first-team reps at running back. Frank Gore, along with several other veterans, skipped the non-mandatory final day of OTAs."

Also from Barrows: That would be Mike Nolan and Brandon Lloyd reuniting in Denver. Ah, the memories.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News sizes up the 49ers as they finish organized team activities. Brown: "So what did he see in the OTAs to make him think that the 49ers would reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season?" Singletary: "The mindset in terms of the work ethic. Their ability to handle the workload."

Ann Killion of the San Jose Mercury News says Hill needs to be the 49ers' opening-day starter even if Smith continues showing improvement. Killion: "Hill won over his teammates, who love playing for him. He convinced Singletary that he was up to the task. He made things happen on the field. Still, Hill isn't an incumbent in the way that Peyton Manning is an incumbent. He doesn't deserve to be crowned starter-without-question. But if the 49ers hope to have any chemistry at all, any momentum to build on after last season, Hill needs to be the starter."

David Fucillo of Niners Nation sees little drama in the competition for roster spots at linebacker.

Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur isn't complaining about a lack of established receivers [not that coaches generally complain publicly about their players]. The offense St. Louis is running doesn't always require elite receivers to succeed. Keenan Burton says he's benefiting from working against cornerback Ron Bartell in practice.

Carolyn P. Smith of the Bellevill News-Democrat was there when the Rams helped build a playground in East St. Louis. Smith: "The Rams brought their entire staff of 85 players, 45 staff members and 25 coaches out to help dig holes for support poles for the swings and other equipment. Because it was a rainy day, the ground was soaked and very muddy. But, that deterred no one. Quarterback Marc Bulger said it made him feel good to help build a park for children."

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says Derek Stanley remains the favorite to serve as the Rams' primary return man this season.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says he thought Ben Patrick had the best chance to emerge as the Cardinals' starting tight end in Week 1. That cannot happen now that Patrick is facing a four-game suspension.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals hope to reach a contract extension with Karlos Dansby before the July 15 deadline for extending franchise players. General manager Rod Graves: "We will continue to keep a dialogue going and hopefully keep making progress. Our objective is obviously to get [Karlos] extended by July 15. At this point I don't want to say if I think that will be accomplished or not accomplished. But I do believe he wants to be here and we want him here, and I believe as long as we keep working toward that end, something positive will happen."

Revenge of the Birds' pyromnc breaks out the Cardinals' player rankings for "Madden NFL 10." Larry Fitzgerald scores a 99.

Casey McNerthney of seattlepi.com provides two 1970s photos showing Seattle sports icon "Bill the Beerman" at Seahawks games. McNerthney: "The photos, taken in May 1979, are of Bill 'The Beerman' Scott. The second shows him getting a hug from The Weedle -- a mascot quickly becoming forgotten among Seattleites. Scott died in March 2007 from complications of colon cancer originally diagnosed in 2001. He was 58."

Chris Sullivan of Seahawk Addicts provides a detailed report from Bobby Engram's celebrity softball game in Tacoma. He was hoping for more from Aaron Curry. It's early, of course.

John Morgan of Field Gulls expec
ts Julius Jones' performance for the Seahawks to improve if quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is healthy.