NFC West: Amy Trask
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee singles out a few players for praise following the 49ers' preseason game against Oakland. On rookie running back Kendall Hunter: "Hunter's no-nonsense approach, of course, is in contrast to No. 2 running back Anthony Dixon who has been criticized for dallying too much. Dixon, however, also had a nice game (12 carries, 53 yards) but did not have the flashy plays Hunter had. Hunter also showed nice pop as a blocker, upending a blitzing Raiders safety."
Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers-Raiders preseason games should not continue following recent fan violence. Cohn: "The motivation behind the Battle of the Bay exhibition game was exemplary. Amy Trask of the Raiders and the 49ers' Yorks reinstated the game for all the right reasons, as a gesture of solidarity and goodwill and just plain good fun between the teams and fans. Under normal conditions the game would have worked out splendidly, like the Big Game for Cal and Stanford fans, a game which, year after year, brings both sides together in celebrating a wonderful tradition. But the Raiders-49ers rivalry is not like that. How terribly sad. What a rip-off for all of us. I am not blaming Raiders fans and I am not blaming Niners fans. I am saying this rivalry, for whatever reason, brings out the worst in people."
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News offers his take on 49ers stadium security.
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune offers thoughts on the Seahawks' following their game against Minnesota. Boling: "Charlie Whitehurst has been the best quarterback. Or at least the best at passing against opponents’ backups. Props due: He’s playing decisively and with confidence, and the accuracy he lacked on some short routes in the past has been discovered. Starter Tarvaris Jackson has thrown only 26 passes, mostly in the face of lousy protection, and his one interception was a ball that should have been caught. He hasn’t generated any points, but it’s not a fair sample size to scrap the depth chart."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times shares what he learned from watching the Seahawks' second preseason game of the season, including this: "Charlie Whitehurst is a more decisive quarterback this season. Yes, he's playing against second-unit defenses while Tarvaris Jackson faces starters, but compared to last season, Whitehurst has been more effective in his second preseason as a Seahawk. He has completed more than 70 percent of his passes and currently ranks No. 11 in passer rating out of all NFL quarterbacks." Whitehurst led the NFL in passing yards last preseason.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Josh Pinkard's touchdown-saving play against Minnesota in the Seahawks' most recent preseason game recalled a play Pinkard made in high school, when Pete Carroll was recruiting him. Carroll: "Ever since Pink was a junior in high school, he’s knocked balls out like that. He did it in college all the way through. He’s an uncanny guy at getting the football out."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic looks into Larry Fitzgerald's ability to make the overhead reception. Somers: "A few years ago, offensive line coach Russ Grimm told Fitzgerald about a drill Grimm used when he coached tight ends with the Redskins. The player would stand with his back to Grimm, who would lob the ball over the player's head. The player would have to locate the ball and try to catch it. Fitzgerald loved the drill, and before every game, he has Grimm throw him passes. Grimm laughs off the significance of his contribution."
Also from Somers: a doctor expects the Cardinals' Ryan Williams to bounce back strong from a torn patella tendon.
More from Somers: The Cardinals do not want to "panic" after losing Williams for the season. They'll consider their options at running back and look for someone with some mentoring skills if possible. And they'll monitor the waiver wire over the coming weeks.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Sam Bradford has grown into a leadership role with the Rams. Bradford: "There's no doubt that that's something that I wanted to improve on. I felt like last year being a rookie there were times where I probably could've or should have stepped up and said something but didn't because I didn't want to step on toes. Because I felt like I was a young guy. But this year, being in my second year, I'm a lot more confident just being in the huddle around the guys. So I have no problem saying things this year, and hopefully the guys do see me as more of a leader."
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch updates the race for roster spots at receiver in Rams camp. Coach Steve Spagnuolo: "We'd like to get a number of those receivers some more reps going forward. But we don't know how many plays in a game the offense is going to get, so we're going to have to make sure that in practice we get them. I think all the guys realize that every rep, whether it's on the practice field, in the dome, away at Kansas City, away at Jacksonville, is going to be really important."
Also from Coats: The Rams weren't all that impressive against Tennessee. Watching the game on video didn't chance Spagnuolo's opinion.
Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis runs through various Rams roster battles.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
DANA POINT, Calif. -- West Coast teams were entitled to a collective roll of the eyes when NFL owners passed a resolution sparing East Coast teams from hardships associated with playing on the West Coast.
The Seahawks, 49ers, Cardinals, Raiders and Chargers have long dreaded playing East Coast games with 10 a.m. PT kickoff times. From their perspective, the rest of the league has largely shrugged. But after the Patriots faced back-to-back road games on the West Coast last season, owners acted decisively to fix the injustice Monday.
Owners passed a resolution adjusting the scheduling rotation so that teams drawing the AFC West and NFC West would not play San Diego and Oakland in the same season or Seattle and San Francisco in the same season.
"I understand the inequity of the Patriots playing two games back-to-back on the West Coast," 49ers president Jed York said. "We need to come together as a group of West Coast teams. You've got [five] teams that are literally traveling 3,000 miles for one game two or three times a year. If it is playing a later game, I think it makes sense."
Even though owners didn't vote on the West Coast teams' concerns, the league could still allay some of their protests by reducing those 10 a.m. PT kickoffs when feasible. The NFL generally releases its schedule within the first two weeks of April.
York joined Cardinals president Michael Bidwill and Raiders executive Amy Trask in lobbying for owners to consider their concerns.
"We always had 4 p.m. games growing up in Ohio," York said. "I still can't get used to watching Notre Dame playing at 9:30 a.m. It's just weird, very weird."