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Monday, August 8, 2011
Around the NFC West: Aldon Smith update

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' rookies. On first-round choice Aldon Smith: "Most young pass rushers try to out-quick their offensive tackle opponent by going to the outside, and in doing so they are easily pushed wide of the play. Smith, however, has a wicked inside move in which he uses his long powerful arms like battle axes to club away the offensive tackle's hands. Smith is far more powerful than most rookies, much less those enter the NFL as underclassmen. He's working on his flexibility and on playing in space, which he must do as an outside linebacker."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com looks at potential quarterback options for the 49ers. Maiocco: "I'm told if there's a quarterback who shakes free or becomes available that Jim Harbaugh likes, the club will make an effort to get him. The No. 1 name on everybody's list is Tampa Bay backup quarterback Josh Johnson, who played for Harbaugh at the University of San Diego and greatly desires a chance to play for him again. Johnson enters the final year of his contract, and there are no long-term hopes of being a starter with Josh Freeman firmly entrenched as the Buccaneers' starter. There would be hope for Johnson if he came to the 49ers, as Alex Smith is signed to just a one-year deal and Colin Kaepernick is promising but very raw."

Cam Inman of the Contra Costa Times checks in with new 49ers center Jonathan Goodwin.

Also from Inman: a Harbaugh interview transcript.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider sizes up Goodwin and Braylon Edwards.

Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' changes on defense should help their pass defense. Cohn: "It’s fair to say the 49ers have the most talent in the NFC West. If the coaching staff lives up to expectations, the 49ers should win the division. So, all credit to Jed York, who let Trent Baalke do his job unhindered. Baalke said he had a plan, he said he wanted to be patient, and he was true to his word." The quarterback position will come into play as well. Can Alex Smith make it through a season? How ready will Kaepernick be as a rookie if called upon?

Also from Cohn: The 49ers' quarterbacks like operating from the shotgun.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Marshall Faulk shared his Hall of Fame experience with former teammates. Miklasz: "Faulk was more interested in giving credit than taking a bow.Of all the inductees that spoke on Saturday night, Faulk singled out more teammates than anyone at the podium. What does that say about the camaraderie and closeness of the 'Greatest Show' Rams?"

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Hall of Fame experience was a dream come true for Faulk. Thomas: "Faulk was emotional, yet composed; sincere and at times humorous. His eyes moistened and voice quavered at times; he wiped sweat from his brow with towel on a couple of occasions. But just like he did on the football field, Faulk never broke stride. His speech went 33 minutes, 50 seconds, outlasting his talkative predecessor on the stage, tight end Shannon Sharpe, who went 26 minutes. Faulk even outdid the last enshrinee to speak Saturday, the always-gabby cornerback, Deion Sanders, who went 24."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Sam Bradford tossed four touchdown passes during the Rams' scrimmage Sunday. Coats: "The defense controlled things early, as the offense struggled with new coordinator Josh McDaniels' system. When the offense went back to more familiar calls, it perked up. It was especially impressive in a red-zone session, scoring touchdowns on four of five opportunities."

Also from Coats: Mike Sims-Walker stood out at times for the Rams during their scrimmage.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says third-year running back Beanie Wells is looking to tighten his grip on the job as the Cardinals' starting running back. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "What Beanie's had to learn is you have to adapt to whatever you're faced with. It seems like Beanie's always been a very good football player, and it seems like dealing with adversity is not something he probably had done a lot of. It's not easy, and when you have to do it for the first time as a young back in a town that's unfamiliar to you, it's tough. Especially with as important as family is to him and they are not all out here (in Arizona)."

Also from Somers: losing Adrian Wilson to injury would be significant for the Cardinals. Somers: "The loss of Wilson for any amount of time is a huge blow, even though Wilson is coming off a down season. He is expected to thrive in the new scheme installed by coordinator Ray Horton. Even with Wilson, the Cardinals had little depth at safety. Rashad Johnson replaced Wilson after the injury on Saturday. The team also has Hamza Abdullah and now Matt Ware."

Diana C. Nearhos of the Arizona Republic says rookies face difficulties at Cardinals camp.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says rookie Duke Lemmens is making a name for himself at Cardinals camp. That name is "Kenny G" to this point.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times offers notes regarding the Seahawks' evolving roster. O'Neil: "The Seahawks took a two-handed approach to recruiting. A scout and a coach were assigned each targeted free agent."

Also from O'Neil: a look inside the free-agency frenzy. O'Neil: "It was after 1 a.m. on July 28, which meant Thursday night had officially given way to Friday morning, and John Idzik was on the phone with Brandon Mebane's agent. Idzik is Seattle's vice president of football operations and its salary-cap expert. John Schneider and Pete Carroll were in the room, hearing half the conversation and becoming increasingly entertained by Idzik's hair. It was kind of sticking out, fittingly frazzled given the circumstances. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation or perhaps the knowledge Seattle was nearing an agreement to re-sign its starting defensive tackle, but all of a sudden there was a junior-high giddiness hovering around a deal worth millions. Schneider went behind Idzik, further mussing his hair as the coach laughed."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks appear to be making strides with their running game under assistant head coach/offensive line Tom Cable. Williams: "Cable’s trying to change the culture of the Seahawks’ running game, which finished in the bottom third of the league the past four seasons – including second-worst last season, averaging 89 yards a contest. Cable received help from general manager John Schneider in the talent acquisition department. Three of Seattle’s five line starters are first round picks in Gallery (second overall in 2004), left tackle Russell Okung (sixth overall in 2010) and right tackle James Carpenter (25th overall this year)."

Also from Williams: fullback Michael Robinson showcases his multimedia skills.

More from Williams: Red Bryant is looking to pick up where he left off before suffering a knee injury last season.