NFC West: NFLPA

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, 49ers receiver Isaac Bruce and Rams linebacker Chris Draft have made the cut among 12 finalists for the NFLPA's highest honor for community service.

One player from each NFL team qualified for consideration. A panel will name its winner from the 12 finalists during the NFLPA's annual gala April 16.

Teammates nominate candidates each year. CBS host James Brown chooses finalists and names them "JB Award" winners for the contributions they have made within their NFL communities. Draft, Warner and Seattle's Mack Strong were JB Award winners and White Award finalists last year. Warrick Dunn won the award.

Other finalists this year, with cities where they made their contributions listed parenthetically: Daniel Wilcox (Baltimore), Mike Furrey (Detroit), Tony Pashos (Jacksonville), Drew Brees (New Orleans), Brian Dawkins (Philadelphia), Greg Camarillo (Miami), Gary Brackett (Indianapolis), David Thornton (Nashville) and Rock Cartwright (Washington).

Update, April 16: Dawkins has won the award.

49ers: Upshaw 'epitome' of NFL ideals

August, 21, 2008
8/21/08
1:39
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The 49ers released a statement today on the passing of Raiders great and NFLPA union chief Gene Upshaw (the statement includes a quote from 49ers owner John York):

The San Francisco 49ers are deeply saddened to learn of the untimely death of Gene Upshaw.

Today, the 49ers stand side-by-side with our cross-Bay rival team, the Raiders, in mourning the passing of a great player on the field and a great leader off the field. For 14 years, Upshaw set the standard on one of the best offensive lines in the game. And after he retired, he devoted 25 years to being an outstanding advocate for his fellow players as executive director of the NFLPA.

"This is a loss for the entire NFL. Gene was the epitome of what the NFL stands for," said team owner John York. "He was not only a man who gave his very best on the field every game during his great career, but he was a man of integrity and service off the field. The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the San Francisco 49ers organization are with his family today. Gene passed away far too young, and he will be greatly missed."

Upshaw's sudden passing from pancreatic cancer has rocked those who knew and respected him, including on-field opponents such as the 49ers.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams running back Steven Jackson is taking a big risk by holding out past Tuesday. Thomas previously reported that Jackson needed to show up no later than 30 days before the Rams' regular-season opener to receive credit for the final season of his contract. This new story says Jackson, demanding a new deal as he enters the final year of his contract, must show up within 30 days of the NFL's regular-season opener, which makes the deadline today, not the previously reported Aug. 8.

Discussions of such matters invariably explain what players must do to earn "accrued seasons" toward free agency. Jackson's contract expires after the 2008 season; he needs one accrued season to become an unrestricted free agent.

An NFLPA memo dated June 10 says: "Players earn an Accrued Season for any season in which they are on full pay status for at least six regular season games."

But wait. The collective bargaining agreement reads: "A player shall not receive an Accrued Season for any League Year in which the player is under contract to a Club and in which he failed to report to such Club at least thirty days prior to the first regular season game of that season ..."

We have not heard the end of this one. ...

Also from Thomas: A look at how Rams quarterback Marc Bulger is learning Al Saunders' offense, right down to the tests Bulger received via FedEx earlier in the offseason.

Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers provides the transcript to a fantastic interview with right tackle Jonas Jennings. Maiocco also turned the interview into a story for the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. Jennings isn't happy about moving from left tackle to right tackle. He doesn't have anything nice to say about coach Mike Nolan, describing their relationship as one of necessity (Nolan as coach, Jennings as player). Jennings also takes issue with how people portray him. Winning makes a lot of things better, but the 49ers haven't won enough.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer gets into what Chris Gray has meant for the Seahawks. Mike Holmgren and Lofa Tatupu offered kind words. Clare and I were standing along the sideline at practice on July 26 when Gray, in obvious pain, walked past us toward the locker room. He was walking with his back angled awkwardly. The look on his face suggested wooziness, as if Gray had been involved in a collision. All he had done was hit a blocking sled. We had no idea at the time that Gray's career was finished. Gray had no idea. As Holmgren said, the sudden ending comes as a shock.

The 49ers' coaching staff has released a tentative depth chart showing rookie Josh Morgan buried behind Bryant Johnson, Jason Hill and Ashley Lelie at one receiver spot. Isaac Bruce is the other starting receiver. The depth chart shows Alex Smith, Shaun Hill and J.T. O'Sullivan as the starting quarterback. A referee would see this as 13 men on the field. The depth chart also shows the injured Mark Roman ahead of Dashon Goldson at the free safety spot. Jeff Ulbrich is the starting "Ted" linebacker. Fullback Moran Norris is ahead of Zak Keasey. As I've said before, stuff this one under the mattress. Do not take it to the bank.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle quotes 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz as saying Cam Colvin has emerged, unexpectedly, as a receiver to watch in camp. Colvin caught six passes practicing against the Raiders.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee quotes 49ers tight end Vernon Davis celebrating the human race's inability to cover him. Davis averaged 9.8 yards per reception last season. That ranked tied for 210th in the NFL.

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