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Around the NFC West: Alex Smith's time?

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Alex Smith is picking up where he left off with Mike McCarthy in 2005. Smith on Jim Harbaugh: "Meeting with him this offseason, I was excited to get coached like that, getting coached hands on and how he was talking about the quarterback position, the offense. No question, you guys can see it out there. We sure get it every day -- the detail coaching on every level, not just in the film room but on the field. It never ends. That's what I wanted. No question it's intense at times and it can be a lot, but that's what I wanted and the way you want it as a player." It's never been easier to write off Smith simply because he's had so many chances to this point. It's also probably true that 2011 represents his best chance at succeeding -- not as a franchise quarterback, but simply as a competent one. Can he throw with touch and accuracy on the shorter throws in Harbaugh's system? Does he have a good enough feel for the game to play effectively when acting instinctively?

Also from Barrows: a look at the most competitive camp battles for the 49ers. On Adam Snyder's battle with Jonathan Goodwin at center: "When the 49ers signed Goodwin, it seemed as if the Snyder experiment would end very quickly. After all, Snyder hadn't played center before in his career while Goodwin was the starting center on the Saints' Super Bowl team. That Snyder has remained the first option at the position shows how much faith the coaching staff has in him there. Goodwin also has been working with the first-team offensive line, but not as much as Snyder. It will be interesting to count the snaps for each in Saturday's game. My guess is that Goodwin ultimately will start at the position, but the 49ers seem in no hurry to move Snyder out of the lineup."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com projects which players have the best shot at sticking on the 49ers' initial 53-man roster. Maiocco: "Seven offensive linemen will suit up on game days, and this group appears pretty solid, regardless of the winner of the center competition."

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News says Patrick Willis cautions against reading too much into how the 49ers have played during preseason.

Also from Inman: a transcript from Willis' interview session.

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle handicaps the Snyder-Goodwin battle.

Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat describes Michael Crabtree's routine during the 49ers' media-availability session.

Also from Cohn: music prevails in the 49ers' locker room. Speak up, Vernon Davis.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times updates Mike Williams' career with the Seahawks. Great quote from Williams, who continually downplays his achievements: ""If there's a getting-tackled-at-the-1 Pro Bowl, I definitely would have been first ballot for that."

Also from O'Neil: thoughts on cornerback Walter Thurmond. O'Neil: "Thurmond is not an exceptionally tall cornerback like 6-foot-4 Brandon Browner or 6-3 rookie Richard Sherman. He is 5-11, but has a large wingspan, and is an explosive athlete. Seattle chose Thurmond in the fourth round of the 2010 as he was coming off a knee injury in which he suffered three torn knee ligaments during his senior season of 2009. Prior to the injury, he was regarded as a second, perhaps even late first-round choice."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says rookie Byron Maxwell had the play of the day for Seattle.

Also from Williams: checking in with new Seahawks linebacker David Vobora, formerly of the Rams. Williams: "Vobora also rolls in an interesting car. Last summer he bought a 1984 Chrysler LeBaron convertible 'Woody' edition off Craig’s List for $1,500. The car’s still in St. Louis, so he has to have it shipped back to Seattle. He said the only accessories he bought for the car was some fuzzy dice and Bob-a-Hula Girl, along with a car tree air freshener decorated in wood paneling."

More from Williams: Free-agent receiver Doug Baldwin continues to impress for Seattle. Baldwin: "One (of) my strengths is my creativity in the slot, being able to be witty and creative matched up against a nickel corner or a (weakside) linebacker, so just being able to be creative in there, getting open and getting separation."

Liz Mathews of 710ESPN Seattle checks in with Seahawks fullback Mike Robinson, who covers the team for which he plays.

Also from Mathews: Thurmond expects to play against Denver.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com recaps the practice day for Seattle. Thurmond stood out.

Also from Farnsworth: Maurice Fountain is making the most of his latest NFL opportunity. Farnsworth: "Despite not practicing with the team since January – or any team, for that matter – the 6-foot-4, 270-pound Fountain tackled Vikings running back Lorenzo Booker for a 5-yard loss in the third quarter and then teamed with rookie middle linebacker K.J. Wright to make another tackle in the fourth quarter."

John Boyle of the Everett Herald provides a Seahawks injury update. Boyle: "Linebacker Aaron Curry returned to action after missing Tuesday's practice with a sore knee. Seattle's other two starting linebackers, Leroy Hill and David Hawthorne, remained out for a second straight day, however, also with knee injuries. Carroll didn't meet with the media today, however he did tell 710 ESPN Seattle that Hawthorne has a knee strain, and that Hill's injury is an old issue, but that he should be OK."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says catching up with Adrian Wilson can be an adventure. Somers: "When motivated, Wilson can be a great interview. In bad years, he's been brutally honest about teammates who didn't care enough about the game. In good years, he's been one to pump the brakes on excitement, pointing out that the team hadn't done anything. There have been times in one-on-one interviews when he's opened up about how much his wife and kids mean to him, when he's talked about his changing definition of leadership. And there have been times when he has been begged to talk, when team's media relations people have been asked to intercede and remind him that NFL players are required to be available to reporters at least once a week."

Also from Somers: It's unlikely Max Hall will the see the field again for Arizona.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says Hall was never the same after taking a huge hit against New Orleans.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com offers thoughts on Hall's status and Brodie Croyle's arrival. Croyle should have a decent feel for the Cardinals' first regular-season opponent, Carolina. Panthers coach Ron Rivera was running the Chargers' defense when Croyle was quarterback for the AFC West-rival Chiefs.

Also from Urban: Kevin Kolb looks forward to his first home game as a member of the Cardinals.

More from Urban: Injuries affected Stewart Bradley's career with the Eagles. He's healthier now. Urban: "The Cardinals are counting on that. Bradley got a five-year deal worth up to $30 million for Bradley to come in and solidify the middle of the linebacking corps after the team released Gerald Hayes. Playing behind fellow veteran Paris Lenon for now, Bradley should team with Lenon and Daryl Washington for a three-man rotation."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch visits with Rams quarterbacks Sam Bradford and A.J. Feeley. Feeley: "Sam's a really bright guy and an amazing quarterback; you could see that from day one when he came in here. He's mature beyond his years, he's got all the physical tools, he's got the charisma, he's got the moxie. He's got everything you could possibly want in a quarterback."

Also from Coats: The Rams want to size up their new outside linebackers in game situations.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Bradford wants more consistency from the first-team offense.

Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asks colleagues whether they think the Rams have improved at wide receiver. Thomas: "Well, if you could tell me that the group was healthy – and could stay healthy – it would be an emphatic yes. But who knows if Donnie Avery and Danario Alexander can stay healthy for 16 games – or close to it. Same goes for Mardy Gilyard. Mike-Sims Walker will help, but he’s had only a couple weeks of practice time and still needs to get in sync with Sam Bradford. The rookies, Austin Pettis and Greg Salas, haven’t shown a whole lot. Salas was out with a hamstring injury for a while, but made a couple of nice catches on the fourth-quarter field goal drive against Tennessee." Pettis looked pretty good when I visited Rams camp.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says Mike Hoomanawanui, Mikail Baker, Jermelle Cudjo and Fred Robbins will not play in the Rams' next preseason game.

Also from Wagoner: Darian Stewart's push for playing time in the Rams' secondary.

More from Wagoner: Mike Sims-Walker's expectations for the season.

Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis appreciates what Bradford offers the Rams.