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Thursday, September 23, 2010
Around the NFC West: Lott's speech

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com passes along Ronnie Lott's thoughts regarding the speech Lott delivered to the Saints one day before New Orleans faced the 49ers. The Saints asked Lott to address their team about what it takes to win back-to-back championships. Lott: "So it is my responsibility to at least share some thoughts. A lot of that is, if you go back and look at that 1982 Super Bowl, 15 guys got in trouble because we didn't know how to handle a Super Bowl experience. Fifteen guys got in trouble because they didn't understand what it was like. ... I'm very confident and comfortable that whatever I did was for the right intentions of making sure I never fracture the game and I never fracture my relationship with the 49ers." The fact that Lott would see no conflict in addressing the Saints before their game against the 49ers shows players think differently than some fans think. I just don't see this as a big deal and Lott obviously did not, either. Lott will always be a 49er, and I've always thought he valued his legacy in San Francisco. Side note: I spent part of pregame warm-ups on the field speaking with another former NFC West great whose relationship with the current Saints regime is even stronger. Cortez Kennedy has worked for the Saints and he sometimes travels with the team. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was with the Seahawks when Kennedy played for the team. They remain close.

Also from Maiocco: Frank Gore has played all but two offensive snaps this season.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Lott was "rooting [his] butt off" for the 49ers on Monday night, according to Lott.

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers used their editorial input to remove KPIX's Dennis O'Donnell from their weekly interview show featuring coach Mike Singletary. That's no surprise after O'Donnell agitated Singletary with repeated questions about communication problems at Seattle in Week 1. Brown: "KPIX originally posted the interview on its web site but removed it when it became a minor sensation. Singletary on Tuesday acknowledged that he lost his cool during the interview. He vowed to be more measured in his responses."

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says rookie NaVorro Bowman is the 49ers' only real option for replacing the injured Takeo Spikes.

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' communication will face challenges at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 3. Alex Smith: "Yeah it will be another really good test for us," he said. "In the first three weeks, we'll be playing in the two, I think, of the two loudest outdoor stadiums. So yeah, it will be another good test for us as far as communication goes. I think it's something we've improved on but, you know, I think it's one of those things that you can never stop working on."

Also from Branch: Smith runs well for a quarterback.

More from Branch: Gore says rookie guard Mike Iupati improved markedly in his second regular-season game, allowing the 49ers to run inside effectively against the Saints.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says three of the Cardinals' five receivers in Week 2 were rookies. Somers: "All have had shaky moments early in their careers. Last week, (Stephen) Williams lined up wrong on the first play and dropped a pass. In Week 1, (Max) Komar lost a fumble at the Rams' 5. Roberts struggled to catch the ball in camp and hasn't seized the opportunity to become the team's main punt returner." Veteran receiver Steve Breaston and more recently Stephen Spach have also had problems lining up properly over the last couple seasons. They have incurred penalties. The Cardinals mixed up their personnel groupings in Week 2, sometimes using running back LaRod Stephens-Howling as a receiver. They used two tight ends and three wide receivers at times. They used three running backs and two tight ends. The changes were not very productive, though.

Also from Somers: Beanie Wells is eager to make his 2010 regular-season debut.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with Larry Fitzgerald regarding NFL teams' willingness to make changes. Fitzgerald: "This game is about winning. Whatever a coach feels is going to give his team the best chance to win, he’s going to do. The New York Giants, they are 0-2. We’re talking about a team that won the Super Bowl three seasons ago. And they are talking about that coach being on the hot seat – a perennial playoff football team. That shows you how fickle this league is. It don’t matter what you did two years ago. People just don’t care. What are you doing right now today? Are you having success with your quarterback play, that’s all that matters. In Tennessee, Vince Young, wins what, 10 of 11 down the stretch last year and he gets benched Week Two. That’s just how it is these days."

Also from Urban: The Cardinals are working to improve on third down.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams did make an offer to the Chargers for receiver Vincent Jackson. Thomas: "One of the sources also said that the hangup in Jackson going to the Rams was the trade terms with the Chargers. In any event, it became apparent Tuesday that the Rams had decided to pass on Jackson."

Also from Thomas: The Rams are 0-2 despite holding their first two opponents to 17 points or fewer.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Bradley Fletcher is getting lots of action at cornerback in what almost amounts to another rookie season for him. Coats: "It's no surprise that opposing offensive coordinators have been targeting Fletcher and trying to stay away from veteran cornerback Ron Bartell. Fletcher expects more of the same Sunday, when Washington and veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb visit the Edward Jones Dome."

Also from Coats: The Rams could seek an extension for selling tickets to avoid a local television blackout in Week 3.

Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have added Laurent Robinson and Oshiomogho Atogwe to their injured list.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' coaches must be more creative in helping an undermanned roster. Miklasz: "In 18 games under (Steve) Spagnuolo and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, the Rams have scored 28 points -- with only one touchdown from scrimmage -- in the third quarter. That's an average 1.5 points per third quarter. It hasn't been so bad in the second quarter of the 18 games; the Rams have been outscored 127 to 91. But in the third quarter the Rams have been outscored 103-28. This perhaps explains why I'm of the opinion that the staff seems to be slow to adjust, adapt and counter the other team's strategy when reorganizing at halftime." Spagnuolo took over the team in 2009. The 2008 Rams averaged 9.6 points per game -- make that 2.2 now that I'm looking at the right stats -- in third quarters on their way to a 2-14 record.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Rams rookie Mardy Gilyard wants more playing time on offense and the Rams might give it to him.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com offers a few Rams-related notes. Wagoner: "The Rams added QB Thaddeus Lewis to the practice squad and he was back on the field Wednesday. Lewis was released to make room for CB Marquis Johnson last week. Because of the injuries up and down the roster, the Rams need every spot possible so carrying a third signal caller didn’t make sense."

Also from Wagoner: a look at James Laurinaitis' leadership skills.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says rookie safety Earl Thomas expects more action against the Chargers, a team that features its tight end in the passing game.

Also from Farnsworth: Colin Cole has anchored the Seahawks' strong run defense. Coach Pete Carroll: "He’s been very effective in the first couple of games and really given us good play. The style really suits his makeup. He’s very physical at the point, doesn’t get knocked around and also has good instincts to find the football." That last part has stood out. Cole has come off blocks and gotten near the football.

More from Farnsworth: Carroll and Lofa Tatupu are together again. Carroll: "When you’ve been with guys for some time, the depth and the reservoir of things that you have in your pocket really makes you versatile and can make you really strong and very adaptable. And that’s something you have to have in this league."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks think Deon Butler can stretch defenses. Carroll: "This is a guy honestly, I tell you, when we looked at him on film last year we thought, 'Boy, it's going to be a long ways to get him to be a factor for us.'  ... We just didn't really know what we had because we hadn't been on the field with him. We saw the speed and the explosion and natural catching ability. He's just improved tremendously."

Also from O'Neil: Leroy Hill is out, again.

More from O'Neil: The Seahawks plan to introduce St. Louis Blues executive Peter McLoughlin as their new CEO at a news conference Thursday. McLoughlin is a Harvard graduate with vast experience brokering deals in the NHL and the corporate world (while with Anheuser-Busch and NBC Sports). The Seahawks have previously said they like their setup. That suggests McLoughlin will fit into the current structure without shaking things up too significantly. Outgoing CEO Tod Leiweke is a St. Louis native with strong hockey roots, and he played a leading role in identifying his successor. The Seahawks job has to be attractive for McLoughlin relative to his job with the Blues, an unprofitable team facing ownership uncertainty.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Charlie Whitehurst has little trouble playing the role of Philip Rivers in Seattle practices.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says rookie Golden Tate feels in control of his own destiny. Tate: "The way I see it, being active or inactive is up to me,” he said. “It’s not up to somebody being injured or not playing well, it’s up to me to practice hard and do everything right, to show the coaches I deserve to be out there. How I practice these next days is what will determine whether I deserve it or not."