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Saturday, December 6, 2008
Around the NFC West: Hightower's patience

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Tim Hightower is trying to remain patient and disciplined instead of becoming frustrated when big plays fail to develop.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the playing surface at University of Phoenix Stadium graded out highest in a survey of NFL players.

Also from Urban: Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt blames overall special-teams problems, not Steve Breaston, for the receiver's diminished numbers as a punt returner.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals hope an extended layoff makes them fresher against the Rams.

Chrissy Mauch of 49ers.com quotes Mike Martz as saying former Cardinals linebacker Calvin Pace fits the Jets' defense exceptionally well.

Also from Mauck: Niners cornerback Donald Strickland welcomes a chance to block Jets kicker Jay Feely in the open field.

Dr. Kristine Setting Clark of 49ers.com revisits the career of Freddie Solomon as the team prepares to honor the former 49ers receiver.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers could be without cornerback Nate Clements against the Jets. Clements underwent thumb surgery during the week.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat looks at the criteria by which the 49ers might decide to retain Mike Singletary as head coach. I touched on this in a mailbag item scheduled for later in the day.

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers have until 90 minutes before kickoff Sunday to announce whether Clements will be available against the Jets.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Strickland would likely start at cornerback, with Tarell Brown in the nickel role, if Clements does not play.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wonders what Mike Holmgren could have done to deserve this type of sendoff. Matt Hasselbeck is doubtful and Walter Jones is questionable for Sunday. 

Also from Farnsworth: Newly signed backup center Steve McKinney got a crash course at Seahawks practice.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says Mansfield Wrotto is fired up about making his first NFL start Sunday, even though the Seahawks would prefer to have their regular starters available.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at Donnie Jones' credentials for the Pro Bowl. Jones leads the NFL in gross average. He leads the NFC in net average.

Also from Coats: Jim Haslett wasn't happy about having to leave for Arizona a day early, but changing Scott Linehan's itinerary would have been cost-prohibitive.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat looks at the relationship between Haslett and running back Steven Jackson.

Also from Korte: Jones punts with his left foot despite being right-handed. Haslett vouched for Jones' Pro Bowl credentials.