NFC West: Jesse Holley

Around the NFC West: Gallery's surgery

September, 21, 2011
Three NFC West teams signed veteran guards to start for them in 2011.

Harvey Dahl (St. Louis Rams) and Daryn Colledge (Arizona Cardinals) have brought toughness and experience to their new teams. Robert Gallery was supposed to do the same for Seattle. News that Gallery needs groin surgery and will miss at least a month raised a question in my mind: Was the injury affecting him over an extended period, preventing Gallery from playing as well as anticipated?

That was apparently the case. According to coach Pete Carroll, Gallery had a tougher time playing through the groin injury once he suffered a sprained knee in the final exhibition game. He wound up aggravating the groin injury during the first quarter of Seattle's Week 2 game at Pittsburgh, but Gallery didn't tell anyone about the injury until after the game.

Clare Farnsworth of says Gallery's absence means sixth-year veteran Paul McQuistan will start for the first time since the 2007 season. That means Seattle will use its third starting combination in as many games along its offensive line, continuing a trend that has complicated life for the Seahawks' running backs and quarterbacks.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks' latest starting quarterback, Tarvaris Jackson, hasn't made much of an impact either positively or negatively. Carroll: "He hasn't had that many opportunities where we said, 'He should have done this, he should have done that.' He has pretty much taken what's there. There hasn't been a lot of situations where he's turned down a big throw."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with a medical expert for thoughts on labrum injuries such as the one Sidney Rice is battling through.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals might simplify their defense after allowing 466 yards per game over the first two weeks of the regular season. Safety Kerry Rhodes: "It's a tough system to learn. Coming to a new season with it, it's been a little frustrating. But we've got a lot of time to rectify it, though. Yeah, it's complicated, but we've got to be pros at the same time and figure it out. This is what we get paid to do. We don't have anything else to do but learn it and try to get it down."

Darren Urban of says playing the Seahawks' offense should help Arizona's defense.

Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch updates the injury situation in the Rams' secondary. Tim Atchison is headed for injured reserve. Nelson: "An undrafted rookie from Baylor, Atchison was with the Rams in camp, signed to the practice squad, released, then signed to the active roster last week. He will be the fifth cornerback to go on IR since the start of camp. The others are Ron Bartell (neck), Jerome Murphy (ankle), Dionte Dinkins (ankle) and Mikail Baker (hamstring). In addition, Marquis Johnson, a seventh-round pick in 2010, was placed on the physically unable to perform list because of a hamstring injury and won't be available until at least Oct. 23, when the Rams face the Cowboys."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams aren't panicking at 0-2.

Matt Maiocco of offers his player-by-player review of the San Francisco 49ers' defense against Dallas in Week 2. Safety Donte Whitner played every snap. Maiocco: "He was credited with four tackles and three passes defensed. . . Was in the right spot to get an interception in the end zone against Jon Kitna. . . . He bit hard on a run fake on the first play of overtime, allowing Jesse Holley to get behind him for a 77-yard gain that set up the winning field goal."

Also from Maiocco: player-by-player review of the 49ers' offense. On Frank Gore: "Started at running back and played 53 of the team's 54 offensive snaps. There wasn't much room for him to operate. He gained 47 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. But do you want to know why the 49ers like him so much? His pass-protection was outstanding. He leveled blitzing safety Barry Church off the right side to allow Smith to complete a 21-yard pass to Braylon Edwards. On 49ers' second drive, cut-blocked DeMarcus Ware to the ground to allow Smith to hit Ted Ginn 14-yard gain."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee runs through each of the six sacks the 49ers allowed Sunday.

Wrap-up: Cowboys 27, 49ers 24 (OT)

September, 18, 2011
Thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 27-24 overtime defeat to the Dallas Cowboys at Candlestick Park in Week 2:

What it means: The 49ers joined the NFC West-rival Arizona Cardinals in blowing an opportunity to take an early lead in the division with a 2-0 record. This defeat will hurt because the 49ers were leading through much of the game. Their long-running problems in pass defense are back in the spotlight after San Francisco made Miles Austin and even Jesse Holley appear unstoppable. In the bigger picture, the 49ers picked up where they left off in 2010, losing another close game. The team went 1-4 in games decided by three or fewer points last season.

What I liked: Quarterback Alex Smith found Delanie Walker and Kyle Williams for touchdowns, showing the 49ers can spread around the ball. The run defense was strong for a second week in a row. Ray McDonald had another sack. Patrick Willis and Justin Smith forced fumbles. Tramaine Brock and Donte Whitner picked off passes. The 49ers' defense roughed up Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, knocking him from the game briefly.

What I didn't like: Smith took a sack in overtime to kill the 49ers' opening drive of the period. Cowboys outside linebacker Demarcus Ware appeared to catch the 49ers off-guard by dropping into coverage, preventing Smith from throwing a quick outlet pass against pressure. The sack set up third-and-11, and the 49ers would have to punt. Smith tossed an interception earlier in the game. Frank Gore struggled gaining much on the ground for a second week in a row. The 49ers' pass defense, largely untested in Week 1 until Seattle struck for two second-half touchdown passes, too often had no answer for Austin and Jason Witten. Austin caught three scoring passes. Both players went over 100 yards for the game. The 49ers sought to improve their pass defense this season. Allowing Holley's 77-yard reception to set up the decisive field goal in overtime was a killer.

What's next: The 49ers visit Manny Lawson, Taylor Mays and Nate Clements and the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3.