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Friday, November 19, 2010
Around the NFC West: Troy Smith's future

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com provides a chat transcript featuring this thought on Troy Smith: "Yes, Troy Smith has a chance to be the starting 49ers' QB in 2011. I've been impressed with his mentality. I like that he keeps his eyes downfield and he's not afraid to let it fly. When I look at the potential free-agent quarterbacks, he might be the best guy out there -- assuming, as everyone would assume, Michael Vick returns to the Eagles. As for what he needs to 'clean up,' I address that in the link I posted at the top. There was one play last week against the Rams in which he threw a pass up for grabs that was a bad decision. I think that's the play that Mike Singletary did not like." Projecting the 49ers' future at quarterback could require knowing how the coaching situation will shake out. The team's thinking on the position could change dramatically with a new head coach.

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers' offense has improved with Mike Johnson as its coordinator. Singletary: "There was a reason why Mike Johnson was chosen as the coordinator. I think the best thing about Mike Johnson is his ability to get everybody in that room (involved). All those guys have the opportunity to have input. And when you do that, then you're going to get creativity. You're going to get a different thought process when everybody is involved, so it's definitely going to make a difference and it has so far."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers' offensive coordinator leans on assistants.

Also from Barrows: The 49ers need to re-sign center David Baas, among others. On Alex Smith: "Smith bashers can take out their tambourines and snare drums, but don't start banging them quite yet. There's still an X-Wing-fighter-hits-a-small-hole-in-the-Death-Star chance the quarterback will be re-signed. It likely would involve a Troy Smith injury/collapse and a miracle finish by Alex Smith and the 49ers. That or Norv Turner is named the 49ers new head coach in January."

Taylor Price of 49ers.com says Patrick Willis has stepped up when needed.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News has this to say about Johnson, the 49ers' offensive coordinator: "Johnson has figured out how to use (Troy) Smith all on his own. Against the Rams, for example, Johnson often used a max-protect scheme that helped buy Smith extra time to take a deep shot down field. That led to a 65-yard completion to Josh Morgan in the first quarter and reminded St. Louis that the 49ers had other players to worry about besides running back Frank Gore. Get used to it, Johnson said. Over the past two games, the 49ers have nine pass plays of at least 25 yards -- with zero interceptions."

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat offers this quote from 49ers tight end Delanie Walker: "All my life playing football, it’s the first time the offensive coordinator let the other coaches talk (in meetings)."

Also from Branch: Josh Freeman is the latest rising young quarterback to face the 49ers.

More from Branch: Brett Favre gets a mention in relation to the 49ers.

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers want Troy Smith to improvise without losing control.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says tight end John Carlson has had to learn fullback while Michael Robinson recovers from injury. Carlson hasn't fared well enough as a receiver to command a more prominent role in that capacity. Chris Baker was the one catching a deep ball against Arizona.

Also from Farnsworth: Matt Hasselbeck's left wrist is not limiting the quarterback.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times offers details regarding Raheem Brock's DUI arrest. O'Neil: "Brock declined to submit for voluntary field-sobriety tests. He did consent to a preliminary breath test, which measured his blood-alcohol concentration at .133, according to the report. The legal limit in Washington is 0.08. Brock was then arrested. He was taken to University of Washington Police Department for further tests. According to the police report, the two breath samples were measured at .115 and .111."

Also from O'Neil: Russell Okung appears ready to return from an ankle injury. Seattle needs him, particularly in the running game.

John Boyle of the Everett Herald sizes up the Seahawks' next opponent, New Orleans.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt spoke of his special teams when asked about his offensive line. Whisenhunt: "It's hard for me to sit here at 3-6 and say we're doing anything good. The only thing that I would say is playing well is special teams. They've been pretty consistent the whole year. Like every other area of our team, I've seen them (offensive linemen) play very well, I've seen them play not so well. Sometimes the offensive line is judged by the number of sacks they give up and unfortunately this year, we've been in situations where we've trailed in games. And that makes it even more difficult on your offensive line."

Also from Somers: a Cardinals-Chiefs scouting report. The Chiefs have suffered a league-low seven turnovers. Somers: "The Chiefs have been intercepted four times and lost three fumbles. The Cardinals will need to change that trend Sunday. The offense needs all the field position help it can get, and turnovers will be a key. The Chiefs fumbled three times last week in a loss to the Broncos, but lost only one of them."

More from Somers: Beanie Wells is eager to get back on the field for Arizona. Quarterback Derek Anderson: "We haven't really had him, so I can't really say that we miss him. We don't know what he can do. I think he's a special back and someone that can help us."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says he will be "shocked" if Wells does not play against the Chiefs.

Also from Urban: a more detailed look at Wells' situation.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have sold enough tickets to avoid a local television blackout for their Week 11 game against Atlanta.

Also from Coats: Rodger Saffold has made a quick recovery from the ankle injury that sidelined him for most of the Rams' game at San Francisco.

More from Coats: Punter Donnie Jones is enjoying another excellent season for the Rams.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have concerns in pass coverage heading into their game against Roddy White and the Falcons. The 49ers repeatedly made big plays in the passing game last week. Rams defensive coordinator Ken Flajole: "If you would've been in our meeting room on Monday watching the tape, I think you would fully appreciate that our guys were bitterly disappointed. Bitterly disappointed on how we performed, bitterly disappointed in the outcome. I appreciate that as a coach, the fact that the guys take a lot of pride. It means something to them. It means something to them that when the game was on the line, and we had a chance on defense to overtake the game, that we didn't get it done."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says the Rams added Fred Robbins to their injury report with an upper back injury. Robbins was limited in practice. Strong play from Robbins has helped the Rams' defensive ends get to the quarterback against more favorable matchups.

Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis says the Rams rank first in sacks, sixth in points allowed and among the NFL's best in third-down defense and red zone defense.