Around the NFC West: How 49ers' Nolan wins

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle compares 49ers coach Mike Nolan to a guy "being given a wedgie by a crane operator." Left unsaid: Ratto is operating the crane, and quite ably, too. This is a rollicking read. The way Ratto sees things, Nolan can't win unless 2005 No. 1 overall draft choice Alex Smith wins the starting QB job and plays well. Almost any other scenario could make Nolan vulnerable. As noted here previously, and again in the chart below, every QB drafted first overall since at least 1967 has started in his fourth NFL season. Smith is looking to avoid becoming an exception to the rule.

Meanwhile, Tom FitzGerald of the Chronicle notes that 49ers owner John York huddled with Nolan following practice. York was predictably vague when reporters stopped him afterward. They asked about Nolan's job security. York wasn't going to go there.

Also from FitzGerald: a story on J.T. O'Sullivan's reemergence as a candidate for the 49ers' starting job. This is turning into theater. I'm half-expecting Jim Plunkett, Steve Spurrier and Norm Snead to take reps with the 49ers in the coming days.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals think rookie tackle Brandon Keith could one day become a starter on their offensive line (see last note in story). Keith is a seventh-round choice from Northern Iowa. The Cardinals have drafted eight offensive linemen this decade and all eight remain in the league. Reggie Wells is probably the best among those who remain with the team. Leonard Davis seems to be better in Dallas. I'll throw in a bonus chart below showing summary information for the Cards' OL picks this decade.

The Associated Press describes Glenn Dorsey's injury in Chiefs camp. Some thought the Rams should have taken Dorsey second overall instead of Chris Long. Others wondered if Dorsey's injury history might make him a risky choice. Every NFL player gets hurt, so we shouldn't read too much into Dorsey's sprained knee. Yet.

Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian describes the Seahawks' pecking order at receiver. After the top three -- Bobby Engram, Nate Burleson and Deion Branch, in no particular order -- Fentress lists Courtney Taylor and Ben Obomanu. He then places Jordan Kent, Logan Payne and undrafted free agent Michael Bumpus as candidates for the sixth spot. I could see Engram, Burleson, Branch, Taylor, Obomanu and Payne if Seattle keeps six. The team has kept between four and seven receivers on its last five opening-day rosters, an average of 5.2 per season. Keeping six would make sense depending on Branch's health.

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times, making a rare appearance on the Belleville News-Democrat's site, says the Seahawks' young receivers generally stepped up during the scrimmage. Coach Mike Holmgren is putting pressure on them to emerge as the fourth, fifth and possibly sixth receivers.