Friday, June 15, 2012
Around the NFC West: Banks and the 49ers
By Mike Sando
Brian Banks will have the West Coast nearly covered when his NFL tryout tour takes him to the San Francisco 49ers next week.
The free-agent linebacker already worked out for the Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers, in addition to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says it's unclear whether the 49ers view Banks, recently exonerated from a wrongful rape conviction, as an inside or outside linebacker. Noted: Banks worked at middle linebacker in the Seahawks' 4-3 scheme. He would presumably project as an inside linebacker in the 49ers' 3-4 defense.
Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News says Alex Smith tightened his grip on the 49ers' starting job, but the No. 2 spot remains open for competition. Coach Jim Harbaugh: "Alex definitely separated himself even more from where he was, which already was a lot coming out of last season. He's the solid starter. I don't think anybody questions that. But nothing is set in stone behind him."
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle looks at Aldon Smith's conversion to full-time player.
Also from Branch: Colin Kaepernick finished the 49ers' minicamp on a positive note.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says Harbaugh was pleased with the team's performance during its minicamp. Also: "Second-round draft pick LaMichael James was the only rookie ineligible to take part in the minicamp due to Oregon's late graduation. James is expected to attend the 49ers' rookie minicamp next week. Harbaugh, however, will not be there for the rookie minicamp. He is scheduled to leave Friday to spend seven days working to build houses in Peru as part of a church program, he said."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic offers thoughts on a range of Cardinals subjects, speculating that Kevin Kolb might have a narrow edge over John Skelton in the quarterback race. Also, the team expects running back Beanie Wells to be ready for training camp after taking extra time to recover from knee surgery. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "He's got to work himself back into being ready. We’ve done the right thing with Beanie, as far as the off-season. He’s got to bust his tail over the next few weeks to be ready for training camp because we’ve had some guys look good there." Noted: Wells was arguably rushed into action a year ago, with negative results. The plan this offseason called for greater caution. Whisenhunt expects a payoff.
Also from Somers: a look at key questions regarding the Cardinals' offense.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Whisenhunt gave players a break as minicamp was ending.
Also from Urban: where the Cardinals stand.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Kellen Winslow brings an edge to the team's offense. Cornerback Richard Sherman: "It’s amazing. He’s definitely brought a different element out there. And I think we appreciate it on defense. He makes it real lively out there. When he makes a catch you can hear him. We finally have somebody to go back (and forth) with, because sometimes we’re kind of going back with ourselves -- it’s kind of one-sided. They’ll make a catch, then there’ll be a little bit of talk. But it won’t be the kind like we’re doing. But Kellen, we’ll bring some of the trash. … He plays with a lot of swagger, and I like that. I like his style of play."
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune reviews Russell Wilson's performance in practice Thursday, concluding the rookie generally fared well. Williams: "Wilson looked more comfortable working with the first unit offense today. He made a couple impressive throws, but missed on others, including a diving interception by Richard Sherman, who went up high to pull down the ball on a go-route over the outstretched arms of Kris Durham. Wilson also appeared in control, sometimes correcting veteran receivers like Kellen Winslow if he didn’t feel the route was run correctly, something you seldom see a rookie quarterback do."
Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle says fullback Michael Robinson is among those with praise for Wilson.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recaps the Rams' offseason to this point. Coach Jeff Fisher: "I'm pleased with where we are right now. Guys have a great understanding of how we practice and what we're trying to get done in the playbook. It's important when they take off -- and they need to get away -- that they continue to build their conditioning level and work and train for training camp and not put the book down."
Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the newly signed Rocky McIntosh participated in the Rams' practice. Fisher: "We worked him out yesterday morning, did a great job in an individual (practice). He's moving around good. He's an experienced veteran, has some experience in the scheme, with the terminology, so he can pick it up fast. He's one of those guys that we're going to put in the mix and compete and see what happens."
Roger Hensley of the stltoday.com asks colleagues for thoughts on the Rams' receiver situation. Thomas: "Most expectations are that when all is said and done rookies Brian Quick and Chris Givens, and veteran Danny Amendola, will be the top three receivers. But Steve Smith, the veteran picked up in free agency from Philadelphia (and former New York Giant) came on strong over the final two weeks of the spring practice period and shouldn’t be overlooked. Greg Salas, who was flashing as a rookie before a season-ending injury, had a strong spring. And even Danario Alexander reminded everyone of what he’s capable of with a couple of big catches Wednesday. So the short answer is the unit should be better, but as to whether there’s a true No. 1 or a game-breaker in the group -- stay tuned."
Matthew Hathaway of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' stadium impasse is heading to arbitration, as expected.
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com wraps up the Rams' minicamp/offseason. Wagoner: "As for the happenings on the field, Fisher made special mention of not being pleased with his team during some pass rush drills but overall thought it was another competitive practice. I’ve written it in this space before but it bears repeating: Fisher is not afraid to let the top units square off on offense and defense. He encourages it and he likes what it brings out of his players because they get extremely competitive."
Also from Wagoner: Left tackle Rodger Saffold has added about 10-15 pounds, checking in at 325.