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Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Around the NFC West: Cards' draft issues

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Kevin Kolb is taking much of the blame for the Arizona Cardinals' 1-6 record. So is coach Ken Whisenhunt.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says some of the blame lies with a series of blunders in the draft. Somers: "Trade away a chance to take an elite pass rusher (Terrell Suggs, 2003), and a team could find itself trying to find a similar player for years. Miss on a quarterback (Matt Leinart, first round, 2006), and a team finds itself trying to solve the problem via free agency (Derek Anderson) or trade (Kevin Kolb). Miss on an outside linebacker (Cody Brown, second round, 2009), and a team has to gamble that an old free agent (Joey Porter) has something left. Miss on a left tackle (Levi Brown, first round, 2007), and a team might be continually reminded that it passed on a star running back (Adrian Peterson)."

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic checks in with Cardinals backup quarterback Rich Bartel, who offers hunting advice. Bartel: "Feral hogs and javelinas are completely different, though. We've got javelinas here in Arizona, and they're smaller. They're really dangerous, and you can't use your (hunting) dogs on them because they'll kill your dog. Feral hogs you can use dogs on. They're bigger, but it's no problem for your dog."

Also from the Republic: reasons why the Cardinals' streak of no local TV blackouts has a chance to continue against the Rams even with about 2,000 tickets remaining.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says backup John Skelton is a popular guy with Kolb and the Cardinals struggling.

Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle goes to the whiteboard to break down the Seahawks' problems on fourth down Sunday, pointing to left guard Robert Gallery among the culprits for the failed Marshawn Lynch run as the first half ended.

Dave Wyman of 710ESPN Seattle says the Seahawks, and NFL referees, need to pick up their games when it comes to the rules.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Chris Clemons has been playing at a Pro Bowl level against run and pass alike. Farnsworth: "It’s not just that the 254-pound Clemons gets sacks, it’s how he gets them -- with relentless efforts against offensive linemen who outweigh him by 70-80 pounds. And it’s not just the sacks that define his role as the 'Leo' end in the Seahawks defense. As underrated as he is as a pass-rusher, Clemons is even more overlooked when it comes to his contributions to a run defense that ranks 11th in the league and tops the NFL in per-carry average allowed (3.16)."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times offers thoughts on the Seahawks, including this one: "Seattle finished with 411 yards of net offense, 159 more than the Bengals. It's the second time the Seahawks have lost despite outgaining their opponents while Seattle has been outgained in both of the games it has won this season. It's something to keep in mind as everyone goes ga-ga over the large passing totals this season. Yards don't always translate to victories."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sees good things from Rams linebackers Chris Chamberlain and Bryan Kehl. Thomas: "Chamberlain really has good range, doesn't he? He got to start several games last year on the weakside but wasn't nearly as effective. But he was playing hurt all last year, and is healthy this year. But he looks like he's blossoming as a player. He's a bit undersized, so he's not always going to hold up against the run. But he's looked good in space. Kehl made at least one eye-opening hit Sunday and also runs around well. Again, he's not ideal size, particularly for strongside linebacker, but he did bring some energy to the position."

Also from Thomas: a look at the Rams' patchwork secondary, which held up better than anticipated against Drew Brees and the Saints.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com notes in his offensive player-by-player review that Frank Gore played 53 snaps to Kendall Hunter's nine during the 49ers' victory over the Browns. Also, regarding Alex Smith: "Again, he did not have any turnovers. . . Showed athleticism in first quarter when he avoided pass-rusher Jabaal Sheard in the pocket about 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, scrambled right, avoided cornerback Joe Haden and dove head-first, eluding defensive tackle Phil Taylor to pick up 3 yards on a third-and-2 play. . . . Opened himself up to a big hit from safety Usama Young with a late slide at the end of a 9-yard keeper in fourth quarter. . . . On next play, overshot a wide-open Michael Crabtree 20 yards down the left sideline."

Also from Maiocco: player-by-player review on defense. On rookie corner Chris Culliver: "Entered game as 49ers' third cornerback and played 35 snaps. He had another good showing in coverage and he broke up one pass and recorded five tackles. . . . Had good coverage on pass intended for Little on third down down in first quarter."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee runs through the injury list for running backs who start games against the 49ers this season.

Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee says Gore is perfectly happy. Gore: "I'm so happy, man. We're 6-1. We're winning. I'm just having fun.” In previous season's, “I was young, man. I was thinking about the Pro Bowls and other crazy stuff. I was selfish. Now, I'm not thinking about yards, just enjoying the ride."

Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers' Alex Boone has, by all accounts, overcome the off-field issues that threatened his career.

Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle offers thoughts on the 49ers' first-half performance against the Browns. Second half here.