Around the NFC West: 49ers' WR decision

October, 12, 2011
10/12/11
8:11
AM ET
On the surface, the San Francisco 49ers's decision to sign Brett Swain over more established receivers doesn't make much sense.

Why not sign one of the veterans they brought in for a tryout? T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chris Chambers and Brian Finneran have combined for 1,394 career receptions. Swain, meanwhile, has six receptions in only 22 games, with no touchdowns.

Signing Swain makes sense only in the context of special teams. He played extensively on the Green Bay Packers' special-teams units last season. Of the more accomplished veterans brought in for tryouts, only Finneran played on special teams last season, and only then in a limited role. He's 35 years old. Swain is 26. The fourth receiver on a game-day roster generally must contribute on special teams, particularly for an offense that keeps two tight ends on the field as frequently as the 49ers do.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers did not immediately announce the move to add Swain because the team was still deciding how to clear a roster spot. Noted: That suggests the team isn't ready to place Josh Morgan on injured reserve even though Morgan required surgery to repair the broken leg he suffered making a sideline reception during the final minutes of the 49ers' 48-3 victory over Tampa Bay.

Also from Maiocco: a player-by-player review of the 49ers' offense against the Bucs.

More from Maiocco: a look at the defensive players as well.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with Jerry Rice for thoughts on Alex Smith's improved play this season. Rice: "You can tell [Smith] is more relaxed. He's not holding on to the ball. His decision-making is so much better. The ball is out of his hands just like that. I think as long as they continue that, they're going to have success. All these guys, everybody pitched in -- Frank Gore. Carlos Rogers. Delanie Walker. Vernon Davis. The weight is not on Smith's shoulders, and I think that's why he's playing so well."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says Tom Cable, like the Seahawks' offensive line, is getting better these days. Cable recently underwent major back surgery. Cable: "It’s an old injury that all of a sudden got really bad. So the choice is either you lose the use of your left leg or you go get this done and now you can move forward. I feel great -- it obviously worked. The incision is a big one, so that’s the only real negative left … just letting that heal up."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says quarterback Charlie Whitehurst runs through the team's no-huddle offense in unconventional places, including when he's trying to fall asleep at the team hotel. Whitehurst: "I’ve often wondered if people can hear me through the walls."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with current Rams players with roots on the Packers' roster, notably Al Harris, who opened last season on the physically unable to perform list, then was released in November. Thomas: "Harris told the Journal Sentinel at the time that Packers coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson led him on, giving him the false impression that he still fit into the team's plans as he completed the PUP-list process. But that was then. With the season-ending knee injury to Bradley Fletcher during the Rams' bye week, Harris might start Sunday against his old team. So Harris is concentrating on the here and now, not a stroll down memory lane."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic explains the gap between public comments from Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb and coach Ken Whisenhunt regarding whether players are showing up for meetings on time. Somers: "According to sources, (Whisenhunt) told his players that too many details were being ignored, that the sloppiness wasn't going to be tolerated, that it was time to stop sliding into meetings seconds before they were scheduled to start. That speech prompted quarterback Kevin Kolb to tell reporters Sunday that his head coach 'hit the nail on the head. We have to get more detail-oriented. It starts with meetings, showing up to work on time, getting in early, getting your work done, and all the stuff a professional is supposed to do. Maybe it takes a game like this to figure out.'"

Also from Somers: a look at key areas where the Cardinals need to improve.

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