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Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Around the NFC West: Reading Alex Smith

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers quarterback Alex Smith was more aggressive than usual in his comments after practice Monday. Smith indirectly said receiver Isaac Bruce and other veteran no-shows need to attend organized team activities (OTAs). Barrows: "That's about as powerful as anything that Smith has said -- to the media, at least -- since he was drafted in 2005. One of the criticisms of Smith is that he is too nice, that he doesn't have that certain jerk-ishness ... that seems to be a prerequisite for running a huddle. Perhaps this is an indication of no more Mr. Nice Guy from Mr. Smith." More edge from a quarterback can help as long as he's playing well enough to have credibility.

Also from Barrows: Jimmy Williams' release means former cornerback Reggie Smith will almost certainly remain at safety.

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News thinks Williams' release could help Mark Roman earn a roster spot. Roman's health will be a key variable. 

Also from Brown: Jerry Rice is keeping busy in retirement, if you can call it that.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat provides an overview from 49ers practices. One note: "Two rookies are unable to participate because of a rule that prevents them from practicing with the team until graduation ceremonies are held at their respective schools. The two players are: offensive tackle Alex Boone [Ohio State] and defensive end Pannel Egboh [Stanford]."

The 49ers' Web site provides a transcript to coach Mike Singletary's news conference. Singletary wasn't happy with practice Monday.

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind lists where Cardinals players ranked on Sporting News' top 20 lists at each position. Larry Fitzgerald was the top receiver. Anquan Boldin was fourth-best receiver. Kurt Warner ranked eighth at quarterback. 

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says newly signed receiver Edward Gant gives the Cardinals' more depth at the position as OTAs begin Tuesday.  Boldin will not be participating, most likely.

Tim Klutsarits of examiner.com thinks the Rams' radio decision makers made a mistake in moving Jim Hanifan to the pregame and postgame shows. He thinks Hanifan's emotional reactions would work best as the third man in a three-man booth. Klutsarits: "I believe that Rams Radio did make the right decision in moving Hanifan out of the second position and placing D'Marco Farr into that role. Farr is developing into a very good broadcasting talent and is not only insightful, but very good at following the lead of the host and being concise. Hanifan, although very entertaining and very insightful in a different way, was not good at getting in and out in the time constraints of the game."

Dave Mahler of KJR radio in Seattle checks in with former longtime Seahawks receiver Bobby Engram. Engam, now with the Chiefs, says he wanted to finish his career in Seattle.

John Morgan of Field Gulls thinks the Seahawks will have a hard time fielding an elite defense. Morgan: "Jim Mora has never done anything like that as a coach, where his Falcons were average to below average every season. He never did anything like that as a defensive coordinator, where his 49ers were average to below average every season. Gus Bradley is pure Tampa 2, and if you see a Tampa 2 talent on this roster not named Tatupu or Tapp, give me a heads up. ... Maybe Bradley is an undiscovered genius, but there's no evidence of that, and it would be abnormal for a defensive minded head coach to hire a defensive mastermind to work beneath him. Mora, depressingly so, is supposed to be the defensive mastermind."

See also: In 2007, I touched on where Mora's defenses ranked when he was head coach, defensive coordinator, secondary coach and quality control coach. Note that Seattle's defenses ranked 15th (2007) and 30th (2008) with Mora coaching the secondary, although I wouldn't hold him accountable for those seasons. The 2009 season will mark our first opportunity to evaluate Mora as a defensive coach in Seattle.

Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com says rookie receiver Deon Butler continues to impress during offseason practices. Butler also has a new jersey number, switching from 85 to 11 because he wanted a sleeker look.