NFC West: Josh Howard

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, mostly recovered from knee surgery this offseason, claimed a narrow victory over rookie Navorro Bowman in a footrace. Willis: "It's hard not being out there. Because it's what I do. Football right now is ... is me. Just to be able to be out there and see it is kind of like a tease. You see something you love and you can't have, and it almost kills you. Football to me is like an addiction. So maybe I get a little annoying and a little nagging."

Also from Barrows: 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks has become more sophisticated in his approach to rushing the passer, according to teammate Joe Staley.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com recaps the 49ers' offseason. Maiocco: "Coach Mike Singletary said third QB Nate Davis is not coming along as quickly as the coaches would like. But the 49ers had to know this was going to be a process. From an outsider's view, Davis seems to be progressing about as well as one could expect. Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye said he expects Davis to compete with veteran David Carr for the backup job." Completely agree. It's usually a long shot for a late-round quarterback to become a factor in his first of couple seasons. In evaluating what Singletary says about Davis, we should remember that Singletary was speaking from the vantage point of a defensive-minded head coach.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Julius Jones continues to work with the first-team offense at running back, but coach Pete Carroll plans to play multiple players at the position.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Leroy Hill's next court hearing is July 23, with the Seattle linebacker's domestic-violence trial likely to being a week or so later. The Seahawks have asked Hill to stay away from team activities while the case shakes out. Seems to me they would want him around if they were convinced he would fit prominently into their defense for the long term.

John Morgan of Field Gulls sees some good things from Golden Tate even though it's unlikely the Seattle rookie will make a huge impact right away. Morgan: "Tate has time to get better. He's just 21. If I don't seem concerned about minor hitches in his route running, it's because he's already shown tremendous growth in a short amount of time and he's young. Route-running is the premier skill of playing wide receiver. It encompasses much of what makes a wide receiver successful: deception, cutting, footwork, concentration. But, as a skill, it's an expression of talent: agility, explosiveness and coordination. Tate is still learning his craft, but he has time and a deep well of raw talent to draw from."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com reports from the ceremony to retire Adrian Wilson's high school jersey. Urban: "The night wasn’t all serious. Former teacher Debbie Garvlee told a story about Wilson accidentally tripping a fire alarm and getting in trouble. Former basketball coach Frank Hairston recalled a time when Wilson, with his team down 30 to a school led by future NBA star Josh Howard, jacked up three bricks in a row and came to the sideline at an ensuing timeout to declare 'I'm feeling it.'"

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals feel better about themselves now than they had reason to earlier this offseason. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "We've gotten a lot more accomplished this off-season, I think, than any of us thought back on the first day of free agency, or especially after Kurt retired. Where we go from here as a team, that's going to be determined by training camp, but I'm very pleased with the effort, with the attention to detail and with the consistent attendance."

Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette says the Packers' Jermichael Finley will be among the receivers working out with the Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald this offseason.

Jim Rodenbush of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says offensive lineman Hank Fraley sees in the Rams what he saw in his former Eagles teams. Fraley: "We had veteran guys like [cornerback] Troy Vincent, but we had a lot of young guys. Especially offensively, with Donovan McNabb at quarterback. I get the same sense here. We’re building this thing in the right direction. That’s the reason I signed here. I feel like we can change it around."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams feel better about their defense after having a full season in the system. Cornerback Ron Bartell: "It's pretty much night and day from last year. Guys are able to move around a lot faster because you know what you're doing. We've played together for a while. We have a core group of guys that have been here, been in the system. So I think it'll make a huge difference."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the Rams' efforts to add seasoning to their roster by signing veteran players this offseason. General manager Billy Devaney: "We had made a concerted effort to get younger. We just thought to have some guys blend in wasn't a bad idea, to get a couple of veterans in, as long as it was the right guy. We weren't going to just bring in older guys."

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