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Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Around the NFC West: Kevin Kolb's appeal

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic examines the Texas roots of the Cardinals' quarterbacks. On Kevin Kolb: "Once, he was walking with his future wife when they encountered an angry western diamondback. Kolb took off his boot, put it at the end of stick and dangled it in front the snake. According to a published report, the snake struck the boot 10 times before giving up the battle. Kolb then picked up the snake, took out his gun with the other hand and shot the snake in the head. He removed its rattles with a pocket knife, keeping them as a good-luck charm. He was 17 at the time." Kolb struck me at training camp as the sort of person teammates could rally around. These sorts of stories reinforce that feeling.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic passes along thoughts from Cardinals receivers coach John McNulty regarding wideouts not named Larry Fitzgerald. McNulty on Stephen Williams: "He's one guy who would have benefited from being around all (off-season). The main thing was to get power in his legs, so he could change direction a little bit better. He's already a fast guy. And he definitely strengthened his legs, his lower body from the hip down. He's a more powerful guy. He was raw to start and he's always a guy who wants reinforcement, like, 'Is this O.K.?' Rather than just letting it go. Lately, he's let it go a little bit, particularly in the game."

Also from Somers: New rules will affect returners such as LaRod Stephens-Howling.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says rookie Sam Acho, not second-year pro O'Brien Schofield, worked with the starters at outside linebacker when Joey Porter received a veteran's day off. Urban: "Maybe coaches just wanted to get a look at Acho with the first team. But I don't think it would be off-base to assume they want more out of Schofield. I'm not saying he's had a poor camp, but he hasn't stood out, either. But it's early and pass-rushers have a hard time making a statement in camp, where hitting quarterbacks is prohibited and tackling is permitted only occasionally. That right outside linebacker spot will be an intriguing one to watch Friday night against the Packers."

Also from Urban: DeMarco Sampson keeps pushing for a roster spot at receiver.

More from Urban: another take on what awaits returners.

More yet from Urban: Larry Fitzgerald makes the spectacular appear routine.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea says Alex Smith's strong day of practice didn't mean backup Colin Kaepernick struggled. Maiocco: "Kaepernick took over for the two-minute drill and led the first-team into field-goal range for the end-of-half situation. Kaepernick completed 5 of 8 for 40 yards, including a spike to stop the clock. On a third-down play from the 15, outside linebacker Aldon Smith got a 'sack' against the attempted pass protection of running back Anthony Dixon."

Also from Maiocco: Smith's thoughts on playing before the home crowd at Candlestick Park during Week 2 of the preseason.

More from Maiocco: 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh on "separation" at quarterback.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers thoughts on the 49ers' interest in Matt Hasselbeck as a free-agent passer they could have signed to compete for the starting job. Hasselbeck indicated his choice came down to the 49ers and Titans, but I'd be surprised if the 49ers were offering anything close to what Hasselbeck got from the Titans, who had a bigger need for a veteran.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News explains why it was so unlikely for the 49ers to make a competitive offer to Hasselbeck. Kawakami: "He went for three years, $21M to Tennessee, and I reported at the time of the negotiations that the 49ers were not likely to get into a bidding war for Hasselbeck. I think the 49ers viewed Hasselbeck as a 1/1A deal with Smith -- not as a clear starter -- which meant they had to fit him into a smaller salary scale. There’s no way they would’ve given Hasselbeck $7M per for three years when they were already, by that time, committed to paying Smith $5M."

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers running back Frank Gore claims to feel six years younger than his actual age. Spoken like a 28-year-old running back seeking a long-term contract extension. Gore: "Hopefully, it will get done before the season. If it doesn't, I've just got to go play and if I have to be a free agent, I'll be a free agent."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com profiles 6-foot-4 cornerback Brandon Browner, who played previously in the CFL. Said secondary coach Kris Richard: "Yes, he can cover. He has attributes that are uncommon. Typically a guy that size, you would think he’d have trouble getting in and out of breaks. But Brandon has shown the ability to get in and out of breaks. So the attributes that you look for in a corner, you’re finding. He’s been a pleasant surprise.”

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times has Seahawks tackle Russell Okung in mind when he checks in with two doctors for thoughts on high-ankle sprains. "No one's prone to this," one of them says.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune takes a closer look at Seahawks cornerback Jesse Hoffman, a former running back seeking to become an NFL rarity: a white cornerback. Marcus Trufant: "It’s all about ability, and that’s all the way around the field at every position. No matter what complexion you are, as long as you can go out there and ball, I think you’ll be all right. He’s good. He actually had some good plays in the preseason game last week. So he’s just trying to build on that and get better."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who has this to say regarding the transition from head coach back to coordinator: "This has been great for me. We're blessed to have the opportunity to work in this profession every day. The group of guys and the coaching staff has made this transition for me unbelievable. ... Focusing on the offense, trying to get better on that side of the ball, coaching the quarterbacks is really something I love to do."

Also from Coats: a Rams injury update noting that Steven Jackson rested a sore hip.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers thoughts on the Rams' situation at cornerback during a recent chat: "The Rams need to find one or two corners because they'll probably take five or six into the regular season. They had veteran Rod Hood in for a visit last week, but it's my understanding they told him they wanted to look at some of their younger corners for now. (Dionte Dinkins, Tim Atchison, Jeremy McGee, etc.) But trust me, the Rams are keeping their eyes open for corners."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com takes a closer look at the Rams' depth behind Jackson. Jerious Norwood played for Rams running backs coach Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State.