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Monday, March 21, 2011
Around the NFC West: Judging Jed York

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider evaluates Jed York as the San Francisco 49ers' president, outlining the good and bad during York's tenure. Lynch on one of the positives: "York held the line against draft-slot busting contract demands of wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Drafted with the 10th selection in the 2009 draft, Crabtree held out until October for top-seven money. York and then general manager Scot McCloughan never buckled, which won York some admiration from his older owner brethren." Hiring Mike Singletary as head coach goes down as probably the biggest mark against York to this point. Hiring Jim Harbaugh appears to protect the 49ers against some of Singletary's primary limitations, notably when it comes to overseeing an offense in general and quarterbacks in particular.

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat rounds up 49ers-related notes from around the Web, including this comment from Ravens coach John Harbaugh about facing his brother, Jim, when Baltimore takes on San Francisco: "Like I’ve already told a bunch of guys on the team, we’ve got Pittsburgh; that’s a must-win. We’ve got a bunch of must-wins, but the San Francisco game is going to be a must, must-win. There’s no doubt the motivation for that one is going to be there."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com checks in with former Rams executive Tony Softli for thoughts on the 49ers' draft options at quarterback. Softli thinks Blaine Gabbert's recent workout helped the Missouri quarterback's cause. He thinks Cam Newton will not get past Washington at No. 10, and he thinks Jake Locker will be taken among the top 18 choices.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers thoughts on Alex Marvez's report noting that the 49ers had interest in Kevin Mawae following Eric Heitmann's injury. Barrows: "Heitmann has since been bothered by a neck/upper back injury that has clouded his 2011 availability while both (David) Baas and (Tony) Wragge are impending unrestricted free agents. My guess is that Baas is the 49ers' top priority when it comes to re-signing their own free agents."

Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group updates the 49ers' search for a quarterback in the draft.

Carly Gillis of the Huffington Post says former Seahawks running back T.J. Duckett has re-evaluated his life and become more charitably inclined since Seattle released him. Duckett: "I lost a sense of who I was. But once I started to get rid of myself, I began to get a sense of self-worth. With football, and I think with any job, you get caught up in it and it starts to run your life -- consumes it. When it was taken away from me, I had to think, 'Now what am I about?' " According to the report, Duckett did not shave his beard during the two years since the Seahawks released him. He'll be having it shaved off as part of a charity benefit in Michigan this week.

Joe Conroy of insidenova.com says Seahawks receiver Deon Butler was back at his high school recently to honor an injured Marine.

Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun has this to say regarding Kurt Warner's recent comments suggesting Marc Bulger could be a good fit for the Cardinals: "It is believed Bulger chose being a backup for the Ravens last season over being a starter in Arizona because the Ravens’ offer ($3.8 million) was more. Bulger didn’t take a snap backing up Joe Flacco in 2010. It’s been reported that Bulger would prefer to stay close to St. Louis, where his wife is a doctor. Tennessee and Cincinnati could be other options for Bulger." Last offseason, the Cardinals felt as though they could not wait for the Rams to release Bulger. They needed to address the quarterback position quicker. The timing was never right. The lockout is preventing anyone from addressing anything at this point. Bulger did sign only a one-year deal with the Ravens last offseason, so the Cardinals know he'll hit the market whenever the league does re-open for business.

Gil Brandt of NFL.com says Rams receivers coach Nolan Cromwell participated in working out Maryland receiver Torrey Smith at the school's recent pro day. Brandt: "Smith was one of 15 NFL hopefuls looking to increase their stock in front of representatives from 28 teams at Maryland pro day on March 16. Smith, a 6-foot-1, 208-pound wideout, stood on everything he did at the combine, but went through positional workouts indoors on AstroTurf. Smith worked out with St. Louis Rams wide receivers coach Nolan Cromwell and Cincinnati Bengals wide receivers coach James Urban. He’s had three private workouts to date. Smith figures to be a bottom of the first or top of the second round draft choice next month."