Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks Rams owner Stan Kroenke will keep the team in St. Louis even though a group from Los Angeles wants to bring a team to Southern California. Miklasz: "Kroenke is a buyer and a collector, not a seller. Just look at all of the sports properties he's purchased or developed: the NFL Rams, the NBA Denver Nuggets, the NHL Colorado Avalanche, the Pepsi Center in Denver, the MLS Colorado Rapids, a soccer stadium in Colorado, a pro lacrosse team in Colorado, and the Arsenal soccer club in the English Premier League. Sure, Kroenke could try to move the team without selling it. But in my conversations with Kroenke, he has consistently and repeatedly stated his desire to keep the Rams in St. Louis. He points to his Missouri roots, his Missouri family ties, his Missouri business interests, his key role in bringing the Rams to St. Louis." Moving the team becomes more likely if Kroenke cannot get a suitable stadium agreement in St. Louis once the Rams likely qualify for breaking their lease at the Edward Jones Dome following the 2014 season. As Miklasz notes, that is a ways off.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com passes along quotes from San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh regarding quarterback Alex Smith. Harbaugh was speaking to Dick Enberg during a baseball broadcast. Harbaugh: "He's a neat guy. I'm really interested in him, in just the character of Alex Smith. He's been maligned by the hometown fans there. And his family's had to read a lot of that on the internet. And he's really even been thrown under the bus by his own team more than once. And the kind of character of a guy that would want to come back, prove himself with that same football team, that's rare kind of character. (It) probably falls somewhere in the endangered and extinct range. So we can win with that." Smith is also convenient. The shortened offseason and uncertain labor situation make it tough for the 49ers to count on acquiring another veteran quarterback. Trading for a long-term solution at the position would not make sense after the team used a second-round choice on Colin Kaepernick in April. Targeting another veteran in free agency would risk having to settle for a prospect less suitable than Smith. Bringing back Smith for a season just makes sense under the circumstances.
Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat questions Smith's ability to lead the 49ers when it matters. Cohn: "There are worlds of difference between being an offseason leader on a balmy, casual June day and an in-season leader with the clock ticking and the universe of a football stadium depending on Alex Smith to make the right decision in the blink of an eye and then throw a good pass. When the season starts, his skill at organizing the players' training camp won't matter anymore. Can the guy play quarterback?"
Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle also has doubts about how Smith's offseason leadership applies to on-field results.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers a player-by-player review from the 49ers' recent practices. On Michael Crabtree: "Crabtree, of course, practiced on Monday but only took part in the classroom session Tuesday-Thursday because of sore feet. The problem didn't appear to be serious. Crabtree was walking around without a limp on Tuesday and Wednesday. While he defended Crabtree, Alex Smith also acknowledged having on-field chemistry issues with the receiver. Those issues have not been addressed so far this offseason despite the fact that Crabtree has been training only a short distance from where Smith and others have been working out. Crabtree said he would head back to Texas shortly."
Jared Muela of 49ers.com checks in from a recent 49ers clinic for high school coaches.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals still hope to hold training camp at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, a site that has grown on coach Ken Whisenhunt. Somers: "If the Cardinals have to conduct camp in the Valley, Whisenhunt will be creative with his practice schedule and meeting schedule. A typical day could include a very early start. Night practices are a possibility, as is practicing at University of Phoenix Stadium. Whisenhunt and his coaching staff are taking their vacations now, with the understanding they could be asked to return quickly. Some coaches like to travel abroad, but that's been discouraged this year. Coaches normally would leave for vacations now, but they left earlier this season because of the work stoppage."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com revisits the team's early days under coach Jack Patera. Former running back Sherman Smith, who coaches the position for the team now: "Right before the final cut, guys would come to Jack and say, ‘Hey Jack, I’d like to bring my family to town. Can I go ahead and do it?’ Sometimes, Jack would say, ‘Yeah, go ahead.’ But there were times Jack would say, ‘Nah, I think you’d better wait. We’re not sure yet.' Guys really appreciated that."
Also from Farnsworth: a look back at the Seahawks' 1977 season. That was the year Seattle traded an early pick, which Dallas used for Tony Dorsett, on the theory that a second-year expansion team needed quantity over quality. Farnsworth: "The Seahawks got the Cowboys’ first-round pick and three second-round choices -- which were used to draft Steve August, who would start 91 games at right tackle over the next six seasons; Tom Lynch, who sat as a rookie but then started at left guard for three seasons; and middle linebacker Terry Beeson, who would lead the team in tackles as a rookie and for the next two seasons; as well as add Ferguson, who was obtained from the Cowboys as the Seahawks traded a second-round pick back to Dallas."
More from Farnsworth: a heads up on Pete Carroll's coaching clinic, set for Friday in Seattle.