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Monday, May 7, 2012
Tough keeping NFC West QBs in one piece

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Alex Smith had a sturdier look to him upon reporting for San Francisco 49ers training camp last season.

That was my first impression while watching Smith walk toward an interview podium between practices.

One of the quarterback's best friends on the team, left tackle Joe Staley, was standing nearby. I mentioned something about Smith's guns and Staley, ever the jokester, used the opportunity to tease Smith, striking body-building poses from a distance while Smith answered questions at a podium.

It's tough to say whether Smith was actually sturdier, but he did start all 16 games in a regular season for the first time since 2006. He started two playoff games as well. Smith's body held up through 18 starts, 51 sacks and 59 rushing attempts.

Other NFC West quarterbacks weren't as fortunate.

With Dan Graziano taking a closer look at Michael Vick's injuries, I decided to revisit the ones affecting NFC West passers in 2011, with special attention toward whether they could have been avoided.
Jackson and Kolb have competition for their jobs this year.

New Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn hasn't played enough to demonstrate durability one way or another. His ratio of pass attempts (115) to sacks (12) over the last two seasons was about 9.6 to one, between those for Kolb (8.4) and Smith (10.1) last season.

Kolb's competition, John Skelton, appears durable. He's the biggest starting quarterback candidate in the division at 6-foot-6 and 244 pounds.