Around the NFC West: Flirting with truth?

May, 31, 2012

They say timing is everything, and those who enjoyed the 7-9 post Wednesday will hopefully appreciate the timing of this one.

It's as clever as I'm going to get at this relatively early hour. First person to solve the riddle in the comments section wins blog-wide acclaim.

Just don't expect San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh to "flirt" with you or even "pursue" you. He wouldn't do those things to Peyton Manning, let alone for someone lacking the ability to transform his football team.

Or so he says.

Matt Maiocco of provides context for Harbaugh's remarks regarding the team's non-flirtatious flirtation with Manning during free agency. Maiocco runs Harbaugh's comments in full, which I hereby enter into the divisional record:
"There's a perception out there, and it's an erroneous perception, that we were flirting with Peyton Manning. I keep hearing that over and over and over again. It's silly. And it's untrue. It's phony. Even the perception we were pursuing him. We were evaluating him. I said it all along that Alex Smith is our quarterback. There's no scenario other than Alex choosing to sign with another team that we would've considered him not as our quarterback.

"Don't like to compare or talk about somebody else who's on another team, but in this case, wanted to set the record straight. Alex Smith is our quarterback, was our quarterback and had every intention of always bringing him back. There'd be no circumstance where we would've let Alex Smith go.

"Now, were we out there seeing, evaluating if we could have them both? Heck, yeah. You evaluate that. You eliminate the possibility. Further evidence, we would not have given any player that was out there in free agency (one-sixth) of our salary cap and let six or seven of our own guys go. So hopefully that sets the record straight and you don't have to keep reporting the silliness and the phoniness."

Of course, there was no way in the world Manning was going to sign with a team that planned on making him compete for a starting job. The 49ers had to know this going into the process. They had to know signing Manning and Smith was highly unlikely.

Monte Poole of Bay Area News Group says Harbaugh's comments run counter to the image the coach projects as someone unconcerned by what others think. Noted: Everyone cares what others think, especially those who act as though they do not. Coaches and athletes tend to thrive on what others think of them. They use it for motivation.

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News offers 49ers notes relating to other subjects.

Ian Rapoport of notes that the Rams and 49ers would benefit if the league suspended the Lions' Nick Fairley and Mikel Leshoure, who have run afoul of the law this offseason. Rapoport: "Fairley has looked strong in OTAs, and Leshoure is progressing nicely after tearing his Achilles. The absences would sting. Both are going to be counted on big-time. And both could be on the sidelines when it all begins. If the Rams, under a new coaching staff, fulfill some of their promise, that’s a scary game for the Lions. And that trip to SanFran won’t be pretty. An 0-2 start heading to a road game in Nashville? Not what the Lions are looking for. Yes, they can overcome a slow start. But it will keep happening unless some of their younger players learn to behave."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic sizes up the situation at tight end for the Cardinals. Somers: "Much was expected, and the 65 receptions by the tight ends were more than the Cardinals had in 2010 (25) and 2009 (23) combined. King's 27 receptions were the most by a tight end since Freddie Jones had 45 in 2004. But as a receiving threat, the position didn't produce as expected. Heap was not fully healthy after the first month. Housler's season was a series of setbacks and climbs because of injuries."

Darren Urban of quotes tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens on second-year tight end Rob Housler: "This league is about reliability, accountability and availability. If you don’t have all three of those, the rest doesn’t matter. Hopefully that’s all gotten better and it will allow his ability to take over."

Clare Farnsworth of says Jason Jones' ranginess appeals to the Seahawks. Center Max Unger: "He's real long. A guy with long arms can create a bunch of issues, especially inside where you usually have a little more compact type of player. So with a guy like that, who’s real long, it’s a different set of rules you’ve kind of got to follow when you’re blocking somebody like that." Noted: Jones looks nothing like the traditional 4-3 defensive tackle. He's taller and leaner in appearance than his listed weight (276 pounds) would suggest.

Also from Farnsworth: Kellen Winslow impresses.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Seahawks rookie Bruce Irvin is looking good while Chris Clemons stays away from voluntary practices. Noted: The speedy Irvin should have an added advantage while practicing without pads. How he fares initially in a more physical environment will reveal itself during training camp.

Also from O'Neil: Jones' contract gives all parties flexibility.



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