NFC West: Justin Casey

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.
Clare Farnsworth of asks whether the team has had a free-agent signing better than the one that landed linebacker Chad Brown, who went to two Pro Bowls over an eight-season span with the organization. Brown was an outstanding linebacker. But the franchise often struggled during his tenure, never winning a playoff game. Other players the team signed through free agency weren't as physically talented, but they played key roles for teams that enjoyed postseason success. Center Robbie Tobeck and receiver Bobby Engram would have to rank high on the list. Brown was, at his best, a better player. But Tobeck and Engram made significant impacts as well, helping the team enjoy sustained success that included a Super Bowl appearance.

Also from Farnsworth: a look back at the Seahawks' 1984 season. The team went 12-4 despite losing running back Curt Warner to injury.

Michael Kanellos of says the solar panels Seahawks owner Paul Allen has approved for facilities associated with his sports franchises have stirred controversy within the industry. Kanellos: "Solyndra is easily the most controversial company in solar and rivals Better Place and Bloom Energy for the overall title in green technology. Critics contend that its CIGS solar panels will never economically compete with crystalline panels and that the DOE loan guarantee and over $1 billion in equity investments will go swirling down the S-bend. Solyndra, on the other hand, says its products will dramatically decrease in price over the next few years. ... To top it off, the IRS has ruled that companies that install Solyndra solar systems can also get a tax credit for a new roof. Maybe Paul Allen's tax lawyer is sharper than yours."

Matt Maiocco of says it's fair to question whether Michael Crabtree could be doing more to prepare this offseason. Crabtree has not been participating in player-organized practices sessions. Maiocco: "There are about a dozen players who are taking part regularly in the workouts. How much benefit are the players getting from meeting four days a week? It's difficult to gauge. But I understand the fans' concerns about Crabtree. After all, he has yet to play in an exhibition game with the 49ers. With it now apparent that Alex Smith will be back at quarterback, both Crabtree and Smith have a lot to gain from spending more time together and talking about the new playbook." Would this be yet another item leading with or featuring the 49ers? Yes, it would. This makes it eight blog entries in a row. Look, I tried to break the streak and mix it up a little, but at this precise point in the NFL lockout, we're reduced to stories about solar panels and clothing lines. On Crabtree, he's become an enigmatic figure. Smith's expected return adds another layer to the story.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee checks in with former 49ers running back Glen Coffee. Coffee on the gun that was discovered in his car: "In Tuscaloosa, I had two instances where pretty much -- in one instance, a guy pretended he had a gun and in another instance, a guy attempted to rob me. That happened my sophomore year in college. So I purchased a gun. I put it in my car for safety reasons. So then we go ahead on the timeline: I find Christ, but it's almost like, I already had the gun in my car. I'm already riding around with a gun in my car. And just because I found Christ, I didn't think in my head, 'Ok, I don't need to have a gun in my car anymore.' You know what I'm saying? It's almost it wasn't as a big of a deal. It didn't cross my mind to say, 'I need to take the gun out of my car.' If I had it in my car, I didn't feel I needed to take it out of my car."

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman worked extensively with quarterback David Carr in Houston under then-coach Dom Capers. This profile is more about Roman than about Carr, who is not expected back with the team. Barrows: "In two seasons with Roman as his quarterbacks coach, Carr had 30 touchdowns, 25 interceptions and an 80.5 passer rating. In his three other seasons as Houston’s starter, Carr had 29 touchdowns, 40 interceptions and a 71.7 rating." Capers: "He understood the total concept so well that I ended up making him the quarterbacks coach. That was just because I felt he was the best guy for the job and he understood defense. He understood how to attack things. He not only knew the protections in the pass game, but he knew the route concepts."

Darren Urban of profiles team administrator Justin Casey. Urban: "He helps negotiate contracts. He’s the go-to man in the organization when it comes to rules – be it about the collective bargaining agreement, player personnel or salary cap. He’s the liaison for rookies when they first come to the Cardinals, lining up their new NFL lives. During the draft, he’s one of the few who stays in the war room, organizing all the information flowing around the league. On game days, the 35-year-old Casey helps out in the coaches’ booth in the press box. And in his spare time -- infrequent as it is -- he watches video, of both pro players and potential college draftees."

Mark Clayton of the St. Louis Rams is promoting his faith-based clothing line during the lockout. Says the promotional release: "Clayton's perseverance and faith have played a large role in his career and in his life. While this talented wide receiver has set and broken records time after time, his focus has always been on a higher purpose: his relationship with God. Now, Clayton is using his entrepreneurial skills to bring spirituality into the fashion world, creating a place where faith meets fashion in the form of T-shirts and a complementary online community that fosters acceptance and brings a spiritual message to a new audience."