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Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Around the NFC West: Crabtree as starter

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat quotes 49ers coach Mike Singletary as saying there is a "strong possibility" rookie Michael Crabtree will start for the 49ers in Week 7. So much for bringing him along slowly. If Crabtree is indeed ready for that role, the 49ers selected the right man with the 10th overall choice, regardless of the contract dispute. If they rush him into the lineup and Crabtree struggles or suffers an injury, they should have known better. This decision might show how eager the 49ers are to upgrade their talent in the passing game, particularly with games against the high-scoring Texans and Colts ahead. Josh Morgan: "I'm helping him learn my position and take my position. It is what it is. If he can help us win, I'm all right with that. They gave him my spot. So if he's going to be in there, I might as well help him out so I can make sure he gets it right."

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News is a bit surprised the 49ers would start Crabtree so quickly. Kawakami: "This sounds very fast, but also very 49ers: They need instant oomph in their offense, and Crabtree clearly has been impressive in the practices and workouts during the bye week. And Mike Singletary and Scot McCloughan are not people who like to keep their best, fastest talent sitting on the sidelines while the team struggles."

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says Jeff Ulbrich's career could be finished after the 49ers placed him on injured reserve with a concussion.

Rod Mar of seahawks.com fills his photo blog with high-resolution shots from the Cardinals-Seahawks game.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks are waiting to find out whether Lofa Tatupu might be able to play again this season. The team expects to have a more definitive diagnosis in the next few days. O'Neil: "Tatupu's prognosis is uncertain, and even in a best-case scenario Tatupu suffered a partial tear and likely will miss some time, meaning second-year player David Hawthorne must get ready to start. The next step in Tatupu's diagnosis was to have images taken of his right pectoral muscle for a comparison to see just how severe the tear is on the left pectoral."

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are bracing for a tougher test when they visit the Giants in Week 7. Arizona has a 6-22 record in road games against the Giants since 1976. The Cardinals are 2-0 on the road this season, a bit of a surprise. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "It's exciting, but I don't want to get too caught up in it, because it's only the fifth game of the season. The thing I'm excited about is we're improving. We've improved over our game last week. We played a good half of football against Houston, and this week we played a good game against Seattle. Now the challenge for us is to sustain that."

Also from McManaman: The Cardinals will not know until later in the week whether Anquan Boldin's ankle injury will prevent him from playing against the Giants.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are being left behind in a season when teams are passing with tremendous success. Miklasz: "Sunday in Jacksonville, after Donnie Avery limped off with yet another injury, the Rams were left with (Marc) Bulger throwing the ball to only three healthy wide receivers: Keenan Burton, Tim Carter and Danny Amendola. Burton has his moments but isn't a speed guy; in 19 NFL games he has only four receptions of 25-plus yards. Carter and Amendola weren't on an active NFL roster as the 2009 season began. Burton, Carter and Amendola entered 2009 with a combined 93 career catches, and no more than 26 in a season. If you want to include Avery, then you can put his 72 career catches into the equation. But Avery -- easily the fastest and most dangerous wideout here -- can't stay healthy."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo is defending his game management against the Jaguars. Thomas outlined Spagnuolo's late-game rules this way: "Do not attempt to run a play from scrimmage if there are fewer than 8 seconds remaining in a game, when a field goal can tie the game. Do not attempt to try a field goal with no timeouts left unless you have at least 22 seconds to get that unit on the field and set up for the kick."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says an MRI exam showed no fracture in Avery's injured hip.

Jeff Gordon of the stltoday.com blames the Rams' front office for the team's situation at receiver. It's a fair criticism as long as one acknowledges how many holes the team needed to fill during the offseason. The decision to release Torry Holt made sense from a salary-cap standpoint, particularly given that Holt had asked for his release. The decisions the Rams made early in the draft -- selecting James Laurinaitis in the second round, specifically -- made more sense than taking a chance on a wideout.