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Thursday, October 20, 2011
Around the NFC West: Who gets the credit

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

NFL coaches and personnel people tend to be very much attuned to the credit/blame handed out for putting together their teams.

They should be. Their jobs often hang in the balance.

Terry Donahue, Steve Mariucci, Scot McCloughan, Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh were responsible to varying degrees for putting together the suddenly world-beating San Francisco 49ers. Some helped more than others. Some arguably did more damage than good.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com points out which current 49ers players joined the roster under which coaches and personnel people. Noted: Teams often don't get enough credit for the moves they decide against making. The 49ers have shown restraint in free agency over the last few years, taking care to maintain balance in the locker room by rewarding their own deserving players, such as Patrick Willis and Vernon Davis. They could have gone after Nnamdi Asomugha this past offseason and many of us would have supported such a move, but they've done quite well with the much cheaper Carlos Rogers, and they didn't set a new pecking order in their locker room with his signing. The 49ers could have thrown money at Aubrayo Franklin and Dashon Goldson. They could have re-signed Takeo Spikes. Every one of those moves would have drawn public approval. Instead, the team paid Ray McDonald, promoted NaVorro Bowman and let the market settle on Goldson before re-signing him at a reduced rate. It's impossible to know how the season might have played played out had the team acted differently, but a 5-1 record makes every move appear a little wiser.

Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat details what goes on during quarterback meetings.

Bay Area News Group has a story about 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree tweeting that a Raiders fan police officer pulled him over and caused him to miss his flight.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams receiver Mark Clayton, who is returning from the physically unable to perform list. Clayton: "It's been a complete year since I've done anything team-oriented and practice-wise. I'll feel like a college freshman kind of coming back in and getting started with everything again."

Also from Thomas: Sam Bradford remains hopeful about playing Sunday despite a sprained ankle. Thomas: "It occurred on the Rams' last offensive play of the game against Green Bay. Basically, the entire pocket collapsed on him and he got hit from a few angles. There was such a heap of humanity that game tape doesn't really show exactly how Bradford's left ankle was hurt."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic looks at what options the Cardinals had in signing a No. 2 receiver opposite Larry Fitzgerald. Somers: "I think it's unfair to place a ton of blame on the two receivers for the failures in the passing game. Quarterback Kevin Kolb has struggled the past three weeks, both with accuracy and decisions. The protection has been leaky. And there have been too many drops by everyone -- receivers, tight ends and running backs. It's important to note, too, that this offense is built differently than those in coach Ken Whisenhunt's previous four seasons. The Cardinals have threats at tight end, and everyone assumed the acquisition of Todd Heap would mean fewer opportunities for the second and third receivers. But the Cardinals have had trouble getting the ball to Heap and rookie Rob Housler, who have the skills to make catches deep down the middle. Those kinds of completions would relieve pressure on Fitzgerald, too."

Also from Somers: The Cardinals have made a couple of unnamed offensive tweaks, typical for a bye week.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren has no plans to coach again, according to what Holmgren told Sports Radio 950 KJR in Seattle. Holmgren on how long he plans to be with the Browns: "It’s hard to tell for sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be 10 years. We still have our home in Seattle. And like I said, the kids are there, the grandkids are there. And I don’t think they are going to be moving anywhere too soon. So our vision is to kind of get back to that area at some point. Exactly when that is (I don’t know). I would like to see improvement here and lay the foundation here so they can feel good about their team again before I make any changes at all." Noted: Holmgren's use of the word "they" to describe the Browns could simply reflect him adopting a Northwest mentality when speaking with people he knows from Seattle. It also could reflect his previously stated desire to have stayed with the Seahawks.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times is past the point of rehashing what precipitated Holmgren's departure from the Seahawks, and what it means now. Me, too.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com provides an update from practice, noting that Tarvaris Jackson was a limited participant.