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Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Around the NFC West: 49ers break rules?

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says Michael Crabtree's return to the practice field Monday might have violated NFL rules regarding players on the physically unable to perform list. Maiocco: "Crabtree, whom the 49ers have yet to remove from the physically-unable-to-perform list, caught more than 20 passes during warmups from quarterbacks Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Josh McCown and McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Crabtree even caught a pass from coach Jim Harbaugh before general manager Trent Baalke walked onto the practice field, apparently, to inform Harbaugh that Crabtree was not allowed to physically participate in any aspect of practice until he's removed from the PUP list. Crabtree was not in uniform. He wore a red sweatshirt, gray shorts and a backward baseball cap." Harbaugh has created an adversarial relationship with reporters by banning them from the bulk of practices and withholding even the most basic injury-related information. When I visited camp, Harbaugh bristled when asked about injuries and even threatened to curtail access further if the questioning continued. In short, the 49ers have invited harsher scrutiny. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello: "We are looking into it. We appreciate Trent Baalke contacting our office to report what happened. Our understanding is that it occurred during warm-ups and that Michael Crabtree did not participate in practice."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee indicates Crabtree did catch passes during the practice session. Barrows: "Wearing shorts, a red sweatshirt, black cleats and a baseball cap, Crabtree spent about 10 minutes during the warm-up period catching passes from Alex Smith. When practice began, he headed to a middle field with the four quarterbacks and Harbaugh. He lined up wide of the group and took a few quick steps like a receiver would before catching screen passes from each of the quarterbacks. He caught passes from both sides of the formation, but never ran more than five yards. After about five minutes, general manager Trent Baalke walked over to Harbaugh, presumably to tell the coach that Crabtree was not allowed to take part in practice. Crabtree then moved to the team's artificial-surface field where he began his usual rehabilitation work."

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers deserve none of the breaks a rebuilding team would get when fans evaluate the 2011 season.

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News says Frank Gore does not expect a quick resolution to his contract situation.

Also from Inman: The 49ers admitted to an "oversight" regarding Crabtree.

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers received a 2013 seventh-round choice in return for safety Taylor Mays after making it clear Mays was not in their plans.

More from Maiocco: Left tackle Joe Staley makes no excuses for the 49ers' struggles on the offensive line.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says fifth-round draft choice Mark LeGree faces stiff competition for a roster spot despite entering camp amid high expectations from the team. Farnsworth: "He was very productive in college and drafted with the thought that he could play free safety in the nickel and dime packages, allowing Earl Thomas to step up and cover a slot receiver. But Josh Pinkard and even free agent Jeron Johnson have been better in that role during training camp and the preseason. LeGree has the potential to develop into the player the coaches expect him to be. He’s just not there yet."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times has this to say about the Seahawks trading cornerback Kelly Jennings to Cincinnati: "The trade of Jennings reflects the fact Seattle is so pleased with the performance of Brandon Browner and the development of rookies Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell that the Seahawks didn't foresee a role for Jennings in the secondary this season."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic updates Greg Toler's injury situation with the Cardinals. Somers: "Coach Ken Whisenhunt wouldn't say who will move up the depth chart to take over for Toler, although many assume it will be first-round draft pick Patrick Peterson, who has been brought along slowly. Peterson said he and veteran Richard Marshall split time running with the first-team defense during Monday's practice, but he wasn't ready to declare the starting job is his."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says practicing in severe heat Monday took a toll on the Cardinals. The Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers do not have indoor practice facilities. The Cardinals in particular need one. Whisenhunt has affected significant change since arriving as head coach in 2007. Getting an indoor facility built should be a top priority. Larry Fitzgerald: "The first thing to go when you are dehydrated is memory, you forget your routes, things like that, so honestly, it does condition you to push through. You have to find a way to persevere."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch updates rookie Lance Kendricks' progress with the Rams. Coats: "After three preseason games, Kendricks is the Rams' leading receiver, with eight catches for 82 yards. He's scored two touchdowns, also a team high. ... Kendricks played basketball his freshman and sophomore years at King, and twice placed in the state track meet in the triple jump. He chose Wisconsin over Louisiana State and Arkansas despite the Badgers' run-first approach on offense. At the time, Kendricks was a wide receiver, and he'd observed the success that St. Louisan Brandon Williams and Jonathan Orr were having at wideout for Wisconsin."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com passes along roster-related updates for the Rams. Wagoner: "On Monday, the Rams made a few more moves to get closer to the final 80. Heading the list is veteran LB Na’il Diggs. Diggs signed with the Rams before last season and was solid at strong side linebacker before a pectoral injury ended his season about a month early. But the team signed Brady Poppinga in the offseason and he appears to have won the job. DB John Dempsey and DL Kenneth Charles were also let go."