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Thursday, January 26, 2012
Around the NFC West: 'Make it happen'

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

The time for moving past the San Francisco 49ers' overtime defeat in the NFC Championship Game has not arrived just yet.

The 24-hour rule applies only during a season.

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says former 49ers quarterback Steve Young, himself 1-3 as a starter in NFC Championship Games, felt as though the team wasted a prime opportunity Sunday. Young: "This is a legit team. They were not overmatched at all. In fact, if they played 10 times, I would expect them to beat (the Giants) six times. ... You’re there. Make it happen. I think that’s why it’s such a tough one."

Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat hands out season-long grades for the 49ers.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee saw little difference between Eli Manning and Alex Smith in the second half of the NFC Championship Game. Barrows: "Both of the Giants' second-half scores followed turnovers by return man Kyle Williams and started deep in San Francisco territory. The 49ers didn't have any takeaways in the game, although Manning had two poorly thrown passes that should have been intercepted but instead fell to the ground when 49ers defensive backs ran into each other."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com can't figure out why the 49ers got away from running with Frank Gore on first down during their defeat to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game. Having Anthony Dixon in the game at critical moments seemed odd to him. Maiocco: "In two playoff games, Gore carried 29 times for 163 yards (5.6 average). He had not been limited in a practice in more than a month due to any injury. Gore played 105 of the 49ers' 125 offensive snaps in the postseason. He was healthy, as his production in the playoffs seemed to prove. But the 49ers got away from running on first down. When Kendall Hunter gained 18 yards on a run play with 7:39 remaining in regulation, that was the last time in the game the 49ers attempted a run on first down."

Also from Maiocco: Did 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh tear up during his day-after-game news conference. Noted: I attended this news conference, but was seated too far away from Harbaugh for a clear look at his demeanor as the news conference ended. Replays were inconclusive.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's editorial board says Missouri taxpayers are still paying for the Edward Jones Dome even while the Rams appear poised to demand upgrades. Says the editorial board: "NFL teams are for-profit companies, but the league is organized as a 501(c)6 'business league' under Internal Revenue Service code. If an owner gets public help for a stadium, the league will lend the owner money to help pay the team's share. The money is paid back from visiting teams' share of gate revenue at the new facility. It's nice that the tax code helps out needy NFL owners. Taxpayers here could use a similar break because they're still on the hook for $152 million of the original stadium debt. Given the economy, the team's recent dismal performance and the one-sided terms of the Rams' lease, we don't sense much sentiment for taking on any more debt."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals continue to operate without a quarterbacks coach. Somers: "Ken Whisenhunt reportedly talked this week with former Chiefs coach Todd Haley while in Mobile, Ala., for Senior Bowl practices. But the meeting could have been nothing more than old friends getting together. NFL sources said it remains unlikely that Haley will re-join the Cardinals, where he was offensive coordinator in 2007-08. Whisenhunt interviewed veteran NFL receivers coach Jerry Sullivan last week, but Sullivan has since joined the Jaguars' staff. Whisenhunt also was expected to interview former Raiders coach Hue Jackson at the Senior Bowl."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Arizona's Steve Keim remains a candidate to become general manager in St. Louis.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks have gone from having very few notable starters to employing five Pro Bowl players. Boling: "Suddenly there are five Seahawks in Hawaii for the 2012 Pro Bowl, four having been added as alternates. They’re all young (average age 25), they were all acquired during the two-year reign of Pete Carroll/John Schneider, and all but one has represented a bit of a reach in some respects. What it says, then, is that these managers are willing to take a few chances, and they seem effective at targeting talent when they do."

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle says Seahawks beat reporter Eric Williams thinks the 49ers' Larry Grant could fit in the Northwest.