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Thursday, May 19, 2011
Around the NFC West: Missing Crabtree?

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports on Alex Smith's situation with the San Francisco 49ers after the veteran quarterback spent more than four hours at informal workouts for players Wednesday. Barrows: "Smith, who seemed unwilling to return to the 49ers when the 2010 season ended, said he's been impressed with Jim Harbaugh, with whom he met regularly before the lockout began. Smith has never had an offensive-minded head coach in San Francisco, and he said it is clear that Harbaugh knows how to handle quarterbacks. Smith also is familiar with – and well-liked by – 49ers players who live in the San Jose area. He's been working out regularly with them since February. ... Top receiver Michael Crabtree has not been part of that group. He has been working out in the Dallas area." Smith and Crabtree seemed to click right away when Crabtree was a rookie, but they haven't built on the early rapport.

Also from Barrows: Nothing much happening on the Nate Clements front. Of course, with the lockout, nothing can happen yet.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News calls Harbaugh's interest in bringing back Smith an "incredible leap of faith" given Smith's history. I would call it a convenient one-year stopgap.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com points to three factors in the 49ers' decision to pursue Smith. One of them: "There is nowhere Smith can go in the NFL that gives him a better opportunity than the 49ers to be a starting quarterback in 2011. Harbaugh has given no indication veteran David Carr fits into the team's plan. The 49ers added Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the second round, but it's unreasonable to expect the rookie to be ready to play early in the upcoming season. Smith might not face a whole lot of competition, either."

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers requested and received permission for Harbaugh to visit Smith and family to offer congratulations on the birth of their child.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider points to the 2007 draft as the 49ers' best under former personnel chief Scot McCloughan.

Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis assesses the quarterback situation in the NFC West. Softli on Seattle: "While the Seahawks took a page out of Bill Walsh's draft philosophy and secured two offensive linemen with their first two picks, the reigning NFC West champions are going about their business to develop a ball-control offense by establishing the run first, and hiring Tom Cable as the offensive line coach is the cherry on top. With that said they are still in desperate need for a quarterback. Charlie Whitehurst did a great job managing the team when defeating the Rams in the season finale to bring the NFC West crown back to the Pacific Northwest, but he is not the future for the Seahawks."

Liz Mathews of 710 ESPN Seattle says Matt Hasselbeck and John Carlson are consulting with former players for advice on dealing with the labor situation. A group recently gathered at a Seattle-area hotel. Hasselbeck: "Some of these guys have gone through work stoppages before and it's good to hear their side of it -- what they did to stay in shape, how they kept their teammates together, communicating and those kinds of things. The reason that we are here is that I think it would just be wonderful for new guys as they come to town if they had guys that have sort of been there and done that. So I just told them how when I was struggling here as a player in Seattle, all the former quarterbacks in this area -- whether it be Warren Moon or Jim Zorn or Jeff Kemp or Tom Flick -- guys that just played, they were just there as a resource. 'Hey man, I get it.' "

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with Chad Brown, who earned a spot on 35th anniversary team and misses the game despite staying busy. Farnsworth: "He still lives in the Denver area, where he runs Pro Exotics and Ship Your Reptiles, which breed, sell and ship non-venomous snakes and reptiles; has coached his daughter (Amani) in basketball, is coaching his son (Aram) in football and also doing private coaching for players in high school and at the University of Colorado, his alma mater; and has a weekend gig on a Denver sports talk radio station. But while Brown is out of football, and has been for the past three seasons, that doesn’t mean football is out of Brown."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says it's tough to get a feel for the dynamics at cornerback without Patrick Peterson, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Greg Toler at the team's facility. Urban: "One thing is guaranteed, and that’s the confidence both DRC and Peterson own. Perfect for their position, and necessary. As has been noted many times, whomever plays cornerback will need a steady pass rush to achieve high-profile status. But if DRC can take his 2009 season and ratchet it up, and Peterson becomes the player everyone keeps saying he should be, high expectations should be the bar the two are able to reach."

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic checks in from the Cardinals' informal workouts. Boivin: "Approximately 30 players participated in the practice, including quarterbacks John Skelton and Max Hall, who were leading passing drills; wide receiver Steve Breaston; and an assortment of peripheral players such as 49ers receiver Kyle Williams, who went to ASU; free agent quarterback Shane Boyd, who has spent time with five NFL teams, including the Cardinals in 2006; and Sun Devils wide receiver Aaron Pflugrad, who said he was just trying to get in extra work. Players who have appeared at past workouts included the Ravens' Todd Heap, Terrell Suggs and Joe Flacco."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coaches spent part of their Wednesday assisting tornado victims in the St. Louis area. Coats: "The coaches took on a number of chores, including cutting up and removing downed trees, and cleaning up assorted debris." This would normally be about when rules permitted most rookies to join their teams for offseason workouts and minicamps. The lockout continues to prevent that from happening.