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Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Around the NFC West: Rams' RB needs

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams continue to seek help at running back behind Steven Jackson. Thomas: "Even if it's not a potential replacement, there appears to be little doubt that the Rams will add a running back in the draft. Whether it was in New England or as head coach in Denver, new Rams coordinator Josh McDaniels has always been a part of offenses that use more than one running back. For years, Kevin Faulk was an extremely effective change-of-pace back for the Patriots. But if the Rams spring for Alabama's Mark Ingram or Illinois' Mikel Leshoure early in the draft, that's a pretty strong signal that they're looking for more than a change-of-pace pack."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the San Francisco 49ers will meet with Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Maiocco: "Gabbert has already met with the teams holding the top four picks in the April 28 draft: Carolina, Denver, Buffalo and Cincinnati. The Arizona Cardinals, who hold the No. 5 selection, may also be in the market for a quarterback. Veteran David Carr is the only quarterback the 49ers have under contract for 2011. The 49ers own the No. 7 overall draft pick. Coach Jim Harbaugh also attended Gabbert's pro day on March 17."

Also from Maiocco: a look at some of the local prospects scheduled to visit the 49ers on Wednesday.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says the 49ers are looking at bigger wide receivers.

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Harbaugh has valued fullbacks as blockers, not as multidimensional players. Branch: "Harbaugh’s use of his fullback obviously could change in the NFL, but the way he used Owen Marecic and Jon Polk primarily as lead-blocking battering rams reflects a trend in the league. Last year, for example, Atlanta’s Jason Snelling was the only fullback with more than 25 receptions. In 2000, eight NFL fullbacks had more than 25 catches and five had at least 35. The 49ers will no doubt be looking for a fullback in the draft, if for no other reason than the 250-pound Moran Norris, who had seven touches in 2010, will turn 33 in June."

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says Seahawks general manager John Schneider offers "cool, confident and quirky" leadership. Brewer: "Schneider will guide the franchise through a well-thought-out and solid process next week. And when he's finished, he'll make some self-deprecating jokes, tease Pete Carroll, crack on reporters and make it seem like he didn't do anything but entertain the masses. Don't let him fool you, though. He knows his stuff. His staff knows its stuff. All kidding aside, the Seahawks figure to do a trustworthy job in this awkward draft."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times passes along Schneider's thoughts on the quarterback situation, noting that Seattle hopes to draft at least one quarterback every year. O'Neil: "That is not a formula followed recently in Seattle, though. In Tim Ruskell's five years as president, the Seahawks chose just two quarterbacks: David Greene of Georgia in 2005, and Mike Teel of Rutgers in 2009. Neither developed enough to ever appear in a regular-season game."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune joins Brian McIntyre for a Seahawks chat. McIntyre on Aaron Curry: "I'm not as down on Curry. Needs to make more splash plays (sacks, forced fumbles, INTs), but he did a lot of the grunt work last year, playing tackle and nose in dime and 'Bandit' packages, allowing teammates to make plays. Is signed through 2014. Most ($8M) of his base salary in 2011 and 2012 base salaries are guaranteed."

Doug Farrar of Sportspress Northwest says Schneider has settled into his role.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic will be watching to see how many 10 a.m. PT games the Cardinals get when the NFL announces dates and times for its 2011 regular-season schedule. Somers: "Under Ken Whisenhunt, the Cardinals have adjusted their travel schedule on East Coast trips. They usually leave on a Friday, giving them two days to acclimate to a possible time change. In 2008, the Super Bowl, they stayed in Washington D.C., the week between games against the Redskins and Jets. The Cardinals lost both of those games."

Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis sizes up draft needs and possibilities for NFC West teams. He sees Gabbert and Von Miller as first-round possibilities for Arizona. Softli: "John Skelton coming into his second season could be called upon to deliver in flashes but is not ready to compete at the level coach Ken Whisenhunt needs."