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Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Around the NFC West: 49ers' GM move

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers, having hired Trent Baalke as their general manager, might be favorites to land Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh. Kawakami: "The 49ers absolutely want him, and a high-ranking NFL source said Tuesday that team president Jed York remains more than willing to pay a premium price to get him. Now the 49ers have to finish the deal."

Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea.com says 49ers president Jed York was fibbing when he said he wanted to hire a strong general manager to run the team. Ratto: "Lies are like money, you see. When you spend one, it better be for something valuable, and making people think you want to divorce yourself from the football side without actually doing so is a wasted lie. A good lie is feigning non-interest in Jim Harbaugh if he wants that news kept quiet. That’s a tactical lie with known benefits. This was not. This was a smokescreen for Jed York’s benefit, so he could look for a moment like someone who understood the magnitude of the problem while all the time deciding he was the solution to it."

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers fell short when they hired Baalke. Cohn: "Jed rushed through this process just as he rushed through the disastrous hiring Mike Singletary, the joke head coach Jed subsequently needed to fire for not comprehending how to be a head coach. An owner who knows how to act like an owner interviews multiple candidates from winning teams. The operative phrase is “winning teams.” People from winning teams have a lot to offer."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Baalke and Mike Lombardi were finalists for the GM job.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains why he thinks the Rams should have given Steven Jackson more carries against Seattle. Miklasz: "Jim Hanifan and Rick Venturi also pointed out that when the Rams put the tight end in motion to attack Seattle's smaller defensive end (Chris Clemons), Jackson had two runs that picked up nearly 20 yards. Seattle likes to flip Clemons to the open side, away from the tight end. So the answer to that is to motion your tight end over to Clemons' side and ram him. Makes sense to me. Look, you can dismiss my questioning of this as the worthless whining of an idiot sportswriter. But I believe Coach Hanifan has established credibility. His evaluations of an NFL running game should be taken seriously."

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says the Rams need to work on their inside run game.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch examines Pat Shurmur's candidacy for the Browns' head coaching job. Thomas: "Shurmur has never worked directly with Holmgren, but he got to know him as an assistant coach at Michigan State while his uncle, the late Fritz Shurmur, was on Mike Holmgren's Green Bay Packers staff in the mid 1990s. In addition, Pat Shurmur was on Andy Reid's staff in Philadelphia from 1999 through 2008. There's even more familiarity with the Browns, because Shurmur, Holmgren, Reid and Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo all are represented by the same agent -- Bob LaMonte. Another LaMonte client is Browns general manager Tom Heckert, who was in the Philadelphia front office during eight of Shurmur's 10 seasons with the Eagles."

Also from Thomas: a look at Sam Bradford's rookie season.

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coaches deserve scrutiny.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Cardinals players are bracing for a different offseason, one in which they could be locked out by team owners. Center Lyle Sendlein: "I just think everyone will have to have a backup plan for working out. It’s our job. If you’re not going to be working out you might as well not come to camp. If you’re not doing something, somebody else is. That’s how I think of it."

Also from Urban: a look at the Cardinals' roster by position, with contract status and other details. Urban: "The problem is that the labor deal might not be done for a few months. The free agency period might have to be a very quick (Three weeks? Four weeks?) time frame late in the summer. There is no question until that CBA is figured out (and when), it is a complicated offseason."

John Boyle of the Everett Herald says Charlie Whitehurst and Matt Hasselbeck split reps in practice Tuesday as the Seahawks prepared to face New Orleans.

Liz Mathews of 710ESPN Seattle updates Seahawks-related roster moves. Mathews: "Both guard Chester Pitts (head) and tight end Chris Baker (hip) have been placed on season-ending injured reserve."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says it's easy for the Seahawks to adopt an us-against-the-world mentality as they head into the playoffs with a 7-9 record.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times checks in with Marshawn Lynch, who played a leading role in the Seahawks' playoff-clinching victory Sunday. O'Neil: "Lynch led Seattle with 573 yards rushing, marking the fifth consecutive season the Seahawks didn't have anyone gain 1,000 yards. Detroit is the only other team in the league that has gone that long without a millennium man. But on Sunday night, Lynch helped Seattle find its stride at precisely the moment the Seahawks needed to run the ball more than anything. Held to 22 yards rushing in the first half, Seattle racked up 119 in the second as Lynch didn't put the game on his back so much as he tucked it under his arm and refused to let go."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Raheem Brock's father played for the Seahawks in the mid-1980s and was in attendance when Brock collected 2.5 sacks against the Rams. Brock: "It felt great to play in front of my dad. For my dad and my whole family to see this atmosphere and the 12th Man, and for us to go out there and play like we did, it’s a great feeling. Having my dad here just gets my adrenalin pumping even more. Just to know that he was going to be in the building and I was going to get to play in front of him, it had me pumped all week."