Around the NFC West: 49ers favoring QB Smith?

August, 1, 2009
8/01/09
8:45
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News sees evidence of the 49ers favoring Alex Smith over Shaun Hill at quarterback. Kawakami: "Given the right opportunity -- and not an unending string of new offensive coordinators, a wrecked shoulder and a silly cold war initiated by former coach Mike Nolan -- Smith is a tough talent to ignore." The 49ers do seem more positive toward Smith now that the quarterback is healthy and the team has parted with Nolan and offensive coordinator Mike Martz. Smith still has to win the job.

Michael Fabiano of NFL.com thinks Josh Morgan is positioned to jump past Isaac Bruce and Michael Crabtree as the 49ers' leading receiver. Fabiano: "Morgan, a second-year receiver out of Virginia Tech, has made a name for himself among the team's coaching staff this offseason. He was a top performer throughout OTAs and is expected to enter training camp as a starter opposite Isaac Bruce and ahead of Crabtree on the depth chart. Considering Crabtree's lofty contract demands and the chance for a holdout, Morgan could become the better option in fantasy drafts."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' defense figures to appear more straightforward. For example, Justin Smith will line up at right defensive end, not all over the place, as he did early last season.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee explains how the physically unable to perform (PUP) list works after the 49ers used the designation for defensive end Ray McDonald.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the atmosphere at Cardinals camp was far more festive than for past camps. Attendance swelled from an estimated 2,000 for the morning session to perhaps double that in the afternoon. Linebacker Karlos Dansby on the change from past seasons: "Night and day. Apples and oranges. Oil and water. Whatever you want to call it, that's how it is. It's cool. I'm soaking it up."

Also from Somers: Cardinals notes, including one about fullback Dan Kreider suffering a hamstring injury that could sideline him a couple days.

More from Somers: He isn't hearing anything new on unsigned first-round choice Beanie Wells. I haven't seen general manager Rod Graves since camp opened. President Michael Bidwill did make an appearance at practice. He was wearing his newly presented NFC championship ring.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says new cornerback Bryant McFadden was able to match up with Anquan Boldin in practice. Both are physical players.

Also from Urban: Warner has always had confidence in his abilities.

More from Urban: Darnell Dockett is the latest Cardinals player to say he's putting football ahead of personal contract concerns. Boldin and Bertrand Berry struck similar notes.

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune offers highlights from media sessions with Kurt Warner and Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt credits Dockett's meeting with Graves for the defensive tackle's focus on football, not a new contract.

Also from Bordow: Matt Leinart reported to camp at 227 pounds, his lowest weight since college.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones appears well on his way to recovering from knee surgery. Guard Rob Sims also looked good, matching up effectively against defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune wonders whether Marcus Trufant's sore back could become a problem. Williams: "We want to be cautious with backs, given our history. And so when Marcus is ready to go, then he'll be back out there. It doesn't appear to be anything serious, other than just sore."

Also from Williams: There was plenty to stress about at Seahawks camp as the team released Mike Wahle, awaited Aaron Curry's signing and placed Marcus Trufant on the physically unable to perform list.

John Morgan of Field Gulls sees a little too much potential -- as opposed to accomplishment -- from the Seahawks' outside linebackers.

Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com says long hours led to a somewhat sluggish start to training camp, with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck saying the players need to step it up.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times tries to make sense of the Seahawks' offensive line. He has Max Unger as the third-string center and second-string right guard.

Also from O'Neil: Notes from camp, including one about how Nate Burleson impressed despite suffering a torn ACL less than one year ago.

710ESPN radio in Seattle previews the Seahawks' training camp with Brock Huard, Mike Salk, Steve Raible and Warren Moon. Moon recalls the time a team released a defensive player for hitting him during practice. Quarterbacks get special treatment. Moon also thinks the atmosphere at the Seahawks' practice facility makes camp more bearable for players. Raible thinks Seattle has dramatically upgraded on defense.

Also from 710ESPN: an interview with Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.

Dave Mahler of KJR radio in Seattle checks in with Seahawks receiver Deon Butler, who says T.J. Houshmandzadeh makes route running appear effortless.

Elise Woodward of KJR radio checks in with Unger, who has a ways to go before he has command of the playbook.

Bernie Miklasz of 101ESPN radio in St. Louis asks Rams general manager Billy Devaney about upgrades to the offensive line. Devaney expects vast improvement, pointing to center Jason Brown as a smart player with the size to help the team become more physical. Devaney also notes that Richie Incognito had the best offseason of any Rams offensive lineman.

Also from Miklasz: more with Devaney.

Will of RamsHerd.com files a detailed report from Rams practice, complete with photos. Jason Smith's quickness impressed him.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports from Steve Spagnuolo's first practice as the Rams' head coach. The coach had trouble sleeping the night before.

Also from Thomas: details, insights and reflections on a potential franchise relocation.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams running back Steven Jackson, who probably will not be making public predictions about his production this season.

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