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Monday, July 18, 2011
Around the NFC West: Seeing the world

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch caught up with Rams running back Steven Jackson, no small feat during the offseason. Burwell: "Over the past three years alone, he has been to about a dozen foreign countries, swam with blood-thirsty sharks, zip-lined through the tree tops of tropical rain forests against howler and Capuchin monkeys, sat in the stands in South Africa cheering at the World Cup, walked through the catacombs of the Roman Colosseum, co-produced award-nominated documentaries, studied the architecture of Europe's great cities and gotten an up-close-and-personal glance at Mona Lisa's smiling face. So, when I ask him how he spent this summer's vacation, Jackson is eager to retell this year's odyssey." Jackson says he did not attend player-organized practices this offseason in part because he's better served learning from coaches on the field than by studying a playbook on his own. Also, Jackson said he was concerned about injuries.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have so far weathered the lockout well from a business standpoint, according to team executive Kevin Demoff. Miklasz: "The Rams have season-ticket renewal rate of 94 percent -- assuming that fans follow through on their deposits, which is a fairly safe bet. According to Demoff, this will be the Rams' highest season-ticket renewal rate in more than a decade. The Rams already have sold 4,000 new season tickets, which doubles what they sold in new season tickets a year ago. And the Rams figure to get another boost from the end of the lockout and the start of camp."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com sizes up the Cardinals' situation at quarterback heading toward free agency. Urban: "Speculation has made Kevin Kolb, the Eagles’ backup to Michael Vick and a free-agent-to-be after the 2011 season, the name to watch once teams can begin to make moves. The price the Eagles demand for Kolb figures to be a factor. His potential is just that -- potential -- and no sure thing. Does Kyle Orton make more sense? Or, given the fact both Orton and Kolb are scheduled to become free agents after 2011, maybe the Cards wait and pick up a free agent this year. After the position as a whole underperformed last season, any added veteran projects to an upgrade."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in from Jacob Green's annual charity golf tournament in the Seattle area, noting that the retired pass-rusher has raised millions to fight cancer. Farnsworth: "Green [led] the Seahawks in sacks nine times -- including 1983, when he had a career-best 16; and the four-season stretch from 1983-86 when he produced 54.5. He was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor in 1995, selected to the Seattle Post Intelligencer’s 25th Anniversary team in 2000 and voted the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team last year."

Also from Farnsworth: The Seahawks' facility got high marks from Manchester United players visiting over the weekend.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee passes along a story from an HBO show reflecting early signs of the competitiveness that typifies 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Barrows: "Jim Harbaugh once beaned a little girl square in the back with a fastball. He was only nine years old at the time, but that didn't seem to make a difference to the horrified parents watching from the stands."

Also from Barrows: 49ers fullback Bruce Miller is hanging out with quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Barrows: "Kaepernick said he trained with Miller before the combine in February. Back then Miller thought he would play defensive end, his position at Central Florida, at the NFL level or perhaps try his hand at outside linebacker. The 49ers, however, view Miller to as a fullback, and Kaepernick has been impressed with what he's seen from him at that position so far."

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers snapper Brian Jennings has been teaching his craft to youngsters this offseason, including during a camp Saturday. Branch: "Jennings hosted a long-snapping camp at San Jose State on Saturday for 20 high-school-aged hopefuls and has plans to develop an online long-snapping school. The six-hour camp was filmed and Jennings will use the footage as content for his online school, which will feature drills and coaching tips. Jennings is passionate about providing an affordable way to teach others across the nation the finer points of his craft."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com asks whether the lockout will lead to more false-start penalties as the 49ers break in a new offensive scheme.

Also from Maiocco: He offers thoughts on the comments 49ers general manager Trent Baalke recently made to San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami. Maiocco: "Outside linebacker Manny Lawson and nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin will get some free-agent attention around the league. The 49ers drafted Lawson's replacement, Aldon Smith, with the No. 7 overall pick. And the 49ers have contingency plans to place a priority on re-signing defensive end Ray McDonald, starting him at left defensive end, and shifting Isaac Sopoaga to nose tackle to replace Franklin."