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Thursday, June 16, 2011
Around the NFC West: Praise for Crabtree

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com passes along comments from 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh regarding receiver Michael Crabtree, via KNBR radio. Harbaugh was apparently alluding to recent interactions between Crabtree and Alex Smith. Harbaugh: "I've been around him a little bit. And Crab to me is a good guy and a good football player. Just some of the things lately kind of goes back to the analogy I gave a little bit ago, when you're kids and working it out and sometimes you get into some tussles and shirts get ripped and noses get bloodied, but that's part of figuring it out. I know he's a good guy. I know the other guys on our team are good guys. That's another interesting part of watching these guys figure it out. ... From my experience begin around him, I think he's a guy who's about us and about the team being successful."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers receivers coach John Morton has high expectations for Crabtree and Josh Morgan. Morton said he expects Crabtree to become "a phenomenal football player in this offense." The 49ers should have high expectations for Crabtree in particular. Encouragement and optimism from the coaching staff can be constructive, particularly at a time when lockout rules prevent the team from reaching Crabtree directly.

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Harbaugh spoke more about the 49ers in general than Alex Smith in particular.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says the Rams are asking fans to help determine which game the team selects to wear its throwback uniforms. Said team exec Kevin Demoff: "We wanted to find a way to engage our fans and give them a voice on which game the club wears our throwback uniforms. The reason to wear the throwbacks is to celebrate the Club’s history and our fans are an important part of that history. What better way to recognize our fans’ passion for our team past and present than to give them the opportunity to select the game we wear our throwback jersey?"

Also from Wagoner: a look at Rams rookie draft choice Jermale Hines. Wagoner: "Hines’ versatility to come up in the box and stop the run or drop into coverage could allow him to work at either safety position or perhaps even fill in as the second linebacker in the team’s nickel packages. Will compete for playing time on defense right away but figures to help on special teams immediately."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, who will visit Kuwait on a USO trip later this summer. Somers: "Whisenhunt's father, brother and father-in-law served in the Air Force. His brother, Harry, who is two years older, flew F-16s for eight years in the Air Force and is now a pilot for United. Whisenhunt and his family, coincidentally, are vacationing with the families of his brother and two sisters, an annual occurrence."

Also from Somers: He expects the Cardinals to show no interest in Plaxico Burress or Terrelle Pryor.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com has this to say about the USO trip featuring Whisenhunt and former Seahawks coach Jim Mora, among others: "In the end, it doesn’t really matter how you stand on why soldiers are where they are in the world. It matters that they are willing to do a job many, frankly, aren’t. For what they do for us, it makes sense to send over celebrities -- in this case, NFL coaches -- to remind them their work isn’t forgotten." More from Urban here.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says David Sims' 15 touchdowns stood as one of the bigger surprises from the team's 1978 season.

Also from Farnsworth: Sims recalls the 43-yard scoring pass he threw to Steve Largent.

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle quotes Mora on quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Mora: "I just think he's got a lot left. I watched what Kurt Warner did when he went from the Rams to the Cardinals and kinda revived his career again, and I see that happening for Matt. I know Matt's work ethic. I know Matt's commitment. I know his drive to succeed and I just think that he's going to have a few more good years left in him." For Hasselbeck to follow Warner's lead, he would need to change teams. Warner was not an immediate success with Arizona, however.