NFC West: Deante' Purvis

Front-office dynamics can be tricky as NFL coaches, personnel people and administrative types exert power in various ways.

Power plays can result when one person feels threatened by another.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic suggests that happened recently when general manager Rod Graves fired salary-cap manager Justin Casey. Somers: "Casey's firing prompted speculation in league circles that Graves made the move to prove that he, not coach Ken Whisenhunt, ran the football side of the organization. Sources said Casey and Whisenhunt occasionally played golf together." Graves called that thinking ridiculous. Noted: The timing of Casey's firing does seem unusual. Graves' explanation, that he was simply making a switch following a routine review of personnel, is ultimately unsatisfying. We should not expect Graves to provide full details for every front-office move, but some elaboration would be helpful. The implication from Somers is that Graves fired Casey against Whisenhunt's wishes. If that happened, it's a significant development. I'd be interested in hearing Whisenhunt's take.

Darren Urban of says cornerback Greg Toler has added muscle and appears more physical.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee thinks Jim Harbaugh's recent comments regarding A.J. Jenkins will draw even more attention to the San Francisco 49ers' rookie first-round draft choice. Barrows: "One of the results of Jim Harbaugh's harangue today about A.J. Jenkins is that Jenkins is bound to receive even more scrutiny than he was getting before as a first-round pick. Jenkins' big test today was one-on-one drills with cornerbacks, who for the first time this offseason could chuck him at the line of scrimmage. He faced off against Perrish Cox -- one of the more aggressive 49ers DBs -- twice and fellow rookie Deante Purvis once. Jenkins did ok at getting off the line of scrimmage but he only hauled in one of the three passes. On his one reception, he absorbed a big shot from Cox early and also jostled with him on the sideline before turning back and catching the ball."

Matt Maiocco of says it appears 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree is missing practice because of a calf strain. Noted: The team doesn't disclose injury information except when NFL rules require it before games, leading to speculation. We know Crabtree isn't practicing, and that he appeared to injure a leg during practice recently.

Also from Maiocco: Jenkins welcomes criticism. Noted: While players sometimes feed off skepticism, no one likes to be criticized, in my view.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' Chris Long wanted to remain in St. Louis despite the team's struggles during his first four seasons with the team. Jeff Fisher's arrival was one factor. Long: "I've been here along with some other guys for some years now, and seen the downs. Well, when it turns around, I want to be a part of it. And I don't want to be watching it from somewhere else. When Coach 'Fish' got here, it gave us some hope, and he does things the right way. I think (GM) Les (Snead) has a vision for it, and Stan (Kroenke)'s obviously a great owner."

Also from Thomas: practice observations, with an emphasis on lineups. Thomas: "Granted, a no-pads session like Sunday's favors the defense, but defensive ends Long and Robert Quinn gave offensive tackles Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold all they could handle in pass protection in 11-on-11."

Nick Wagoner of made this observation from camp: "First, this was as dialed in as QB Sam Bradford has been in this regime. He was flat out spinning the rock in team drills and seven on seven. Several of his throws drew oohs and aahs from his teammates and exasperated looks and reactions from defenders. There is something to be said for having a full offseason and it’s clear Bradford’s comfort level in this offense is miles ahead of where it was at this time last year in Josh McDaniels’ offense with no offseason program."

Clare Farnsworth of updates Robert Turbin's development as the primary backup to Marshawn Lynch. Line coach Tom Cable is working with Turbin on one-cut running. Cable: "He kind of went in there and pity-pattered. Kind of stomping snakes, you know. You can’t do that in this system -- and in this league -- because you’re going to get hit about 18 times."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune notes that Deuce Lutui looked comfortable working with the Seahawks' first-team offensive line at right guard. Golden Tate and Matt Flynn were among the others catching his attention with positive plays. Boling: "I thought Flynn separated himself a little, showing a nice sense of timing and connection with Doug Baldwin. But Wilson, again, looked dangerous when plays break down and buys second chances."

Also from Boling: where Sidney Rice stands at this point in camp.
Our two-day look at NFC West rosters continues with projections for the San Francisco 49ers’ defense and special teams.

Defensive linemen (10)

Average number kept since 2003: 7.0

Safest bets: Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Isaac Sopoaga, Ricky Jean Francois

Leading contenders: Will Tukuafu, Demarcus Dobbs, Ian Williams

Longer odds: Patrick Butrym, Matthew Masifilo, Tony Jerod-Eddie

Comment: The top three are firmly entrenched. All are playing at a high level. The 49ers might want to address this position in the 2013 draft. For now, though, they're set. San Francisco kept seven defensive linemen on its Week 1 roster last season. Tukuafu, Dobbs and Williams combined to play about five percent of the defensive snaps.

Linebackers (13)

Average number kept since 2003: 7.6

Safest bets: Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Parys Haralson, Larry Grant, Tavares Gooden

Leading contenders: Cam Johnson, Kourtnei Brown, Eric Bakhtiari

Longer odds: Michael Wilhoite, Joe Holland, Darius Fleming (injured)

Comment: The 49ers have kept eight linebackers on their Week 1 roster for each of the past six seasons. Brown, an undrafted rookie from Clemson, stands 6-foot-6, weighs 255 pounds and moves well. He's also raw and has had injury problems. Johnson, a seventh-round choice, might need to fight off Brown and the more experienced Bakhtiari for a roster spot. Special teams will be a determining factor.

Defensive backs (17)

Average number kept since 2003: 10.0

Safest bets: Carlos Rogers, Donte Whitner, Dashon Goldson, Tarell Brown, Chris Culliver, C.J. Spillman

Leading contenders: Perrish Cox, Trenton Robinson, Curtis Holcomb, Tramaine Brock, Colin Jones

Longer odds: Ben Hannula, Mark LeGree, Michael Thomas, Deante' Purvis, Cory Nelms, Anthony Mosley

Comment: The 49ers lack experienced depth at safety. They could go young this season or consider adding a veteran later. Robinson, a sixth-round rookie, took some first-team reps while Goldson stayed away as an unsigned franchise player. Spillman also worked with the starters. The undrafted Thomas could have the inside track for a practice-squad spot after playing for coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio at Stanford. Holcomb, a seventh-rounder in 2011, is coming off Achilles surgery.

Special teams (5)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.9

Safest bets: Andy Lee, David Akers, Brian Jennings

Leading contenders: none

Longer odds: Giorgio Tavecchio, Kyle Nelson

Comment: All three specialists earned Pro Bowl honors last season.
The Miami Dolphins' marriage with "Hard Knocks" sat there on a tee Tuesday.

At least two NFC West teams, San Francisco and Seattle, had resisted opportunities to appear on the HBO series. Both of those teams and a third from the division, St. Louis, had outflanked the Dolphins for a coach or player over the past couple offseasons.

This was the latest opportunity to draw a contrast between Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and the NFC West, except for one thing. At the bottom of a recent NFC West mailbag, I'd promised A.J. from New Jersey to lay off Ross after A.J. accused a recent item of having gone too far.

"I don't think the Dolphins were sold on Matt Flynn," A.J. had written. "Jim Harbaugh wanted to stay in Northern California much more than he was uncomfortable with Miami's owner. Jeff Fisher would have taken the Miami job had he been granted total personnel control."

No item from me, but ...

Clare Farnsworth of passes along coach Pete Carroll's explanation for steering clear of the program. With apologies to A.J. from New Jersey, the explanation doesn't make Ross or the Dolphins look all that great. Carroll: "It’s nice that they asked us and that they want to see what we’re doing and what we’re all about, and I think we would make a fantastic show, but that’s not what we’re here to do. Some guys see it otherwise. We're here to win football games and we’re here to do things right and we don’t need to be concerned about that kind of stuff. I think that’s a distraction to our purpose. It’s an awesome show. I like watching it, too. I just want to see someone else’s team." Noted: "Hard Knocks" could work out well for the Dolphins. Carroll could use a .500-or-better season record more than any notoriety that might have come with the program.

Also from Farnsworth: a look at players making their mark at the Seahawks' organized team activities.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times looks at reasons why Kellen Winslow did not fit in Tampa Bay, but he ultimately concludes that the tight end should be a welcome addition in Seattle. O'Neil: "Yes, Zach Miller's production dropped off a cliff last year, and no, Winslow isn't getting any younger, but these are two of the league's most productive, pass-catching tight ends in the previous five years, and if opponents load up to stop the Seahawks run game, Seattle now has a pair of tight ends to search out mismatches against linebackers in the passing game."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says every pound counts for Larry Fitzgerald, who is shaving off a few of them as he gets back into football shape following his offseason travels. Classic quote from Fitzgerald: "You've seen my dad. I don't mean that in a derogatory way, but he's not a little man by any stretch of the imagination. I can't play receiver at that weight." Noted: Funny stuff. I do recall television cameras showing Fitzgerald's father wolfing down a hot dog in the press box while watching the Cardinals play a few years ago. On a serious note, Fitzgerald prefers to play at around 212-213 pounds.

Darren Urban of checks in with Kevin Kolb regarding the quarterback's decision to change helmets. Kolb on concussions: "I don’t worry about them. It was a freak deal. They don’t happen all the time." Noted: There's a difference between showing concern and worrying. Any smart football player would be concerned about concussions. Kolb was concerned enough to change helmets. As an athlete, however, there's no advantage in become consumed with worry. Kolb has to play the game.

Also from Urban: a look at the Cardinals' depth at outside linebacker.

Dan O'Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams long-snapper Travis Tripucka, son of former Notre Dame and NBA star Kelly Tripucka, for thoughts on carving his own path in athletics. Travis Tripucka played lacrosse at Massachusetts and was the long-snapper on the football team. O'Neill: "What's more, he became quite good at it, good enough to draw post-draft attention from NFL teams, good enough to work out for teams, good enough to draw a recommendation from Rams special teams coach John Fassel and a contract from the Rams." Noted: Tripucka's grandfather, Frank, played quarterback for the Broncos and recently granted them permission to unretire his No. 18 jersey for Peyton Manning.

Matt Maiocco of offers notes from the 49ers' recent OTA. Maiocco: "During a two-minute drill to conclude practice, quarterback Alex Smith hit Randy Moss on a 45-yard pass down the right sideline against unsuspecting rookie cornerback Deante' Purvis. Moss gave no indication the ball was en route and Purvis never turned around as Moss gently reached up to catch the pass and stepped out of bounds. The 49ers' first-team offense scored on Smith's short-pass to Kyle Williams on fourth down."

Also from Maiocco: picking up where we left off with the 49ers, specifically why an increase in passing yardage could benefit the team. Maiocco: "If they had converted 40 percent of their third downs, that would've meant 23 more first downs. Let's just say the 49ers achieved each of those additional first downs through the air. The 49ers averaged 11.5 yards per completion. That's 265 more yards passing on third downs. Then, the 49ers would've had 23 more sets of downs through the course of the season. Let's just say each of those sets resulted in only three more plays, that's 69 more offensive plays. The 49ers threw the ball about 50 percent of the time. So let's say, they attempted 34 more passes. The 49ers averaged 7.1 yards every time they attempted a pass, so that's another 241 yards passing. In all, that's 506 more yards passing for the 49ers on the season."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee takes a closer look at the 49ers' depth chart.

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says there are no guaranteed roster spots, even for a player as established and specialized as long-snapper Brian Jennings.

Also from Branch: Brandon Jacobs wants to cut weight.

Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown has vowed to donate one game check to charity if he fails to earn Pro Bowl recognition this season. Noted: Brown would be doing well to emerge as one of the four or five best corners in the division. That's no knock on Brown, either. But with Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman, Cortland Finnegan, Patrick Peterson and Carlos Rogers in the NFC West, the division is stacked at the position. Teams also invested early draft choices in corners.