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Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Around the NFC West: 49ers' Smith revisited


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat explains why he thinks Alex Smith has failed to realize his potential as the 49ers' starting quarterback. Maiocco: "Of the 49ers' past 32 games, Smith has missed 26 due to injuries to his throwing shoulder. Moreover, three of the six games in which Smith appeared he played with a separated shoulder. Anybody could tell he was in excruciating pain every time he was asked to throw the ball. There might be those that say this is just an excuse. The injuries are not excuses why Smith has not produced the past two seasons; the injuries are facts. Like most, I question just how effective Alex Smith would have been had he remained healthy. That is an entirely different argument."

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat recently caught up with Smith for an interview. Smith: "I think I'm in a very different place mentally than where I was even last year."

John Ryan of the San Jose Mercury News cites CNBC's Darren Rovell in saying Michael Crabtree's jersey trails only Mark Sanchez's jersey in sales among NFL rookies.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider is warming to the 49ers' selection of Crabtree. The biggest concern, in his eyes, is whether the Texas Tech offense inflated Crabtree's production.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says four of the 49ers' rookies, including third-round choice Glen Coffee, had off-field issues in college. Coffee faced a four-game suspension at Alabama for his role in a textbook scandal. Coach Mike Singletary: "None of these guys caught us by surprise. Some of them have their issues. They're good kids. They want to make better decisions. They want to make the right decisions."

VanRam of Turf Show Times says the Rams' lack of established receivers shouldn't automatically disqualify their offense from a successful season. The Dolphins' three leading receivers last season resemble the Rams' current wideouts, and new Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo was with the Eagles when Philadelphia won without great wideouts.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says learning new terminology is the biggest challenge facing Rams quarterback Marc Bulger. Bulger: "That's the toughest part, just words that carry over from year-to-year, when they mean one thing in one offense and then (something else in) another. Sometimes I'm on the same word with a third different meaning, so you just have to try to block out the past."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch outlines what he thinks Bulger must do to succeed in 2009. Thomas: "Bulger must work the ball more to his backs and tight ends as the young wide receivers develop. He must cut down on mistakes, and get back in the habit of throwing the ball away when nothing's there. An incompletion is always better than a sack or an interception. Accuracy remains one of Bulger's biggest assets, so he needs to make the Rams' new West Coast scheme -- which generally relies on timing and shorter passes -- play to that strength."

Also from Thomas: The Rams' roster is pretty much in place.

William P. Tomisser of Seahawk Addicts says there's a feeling a more unified Seahawks organization is operating more effectively. Tomisser: "How long has it been since we had multiple players (Tatupu, Trufant, Hill, Jones, and Strong for example) who expressed a desire to follow Cortez Kennedy as lifelong Seahawks? Seattle has become a desirable place to play and even though some players, notably from the East coast, still shun the idea of coming out West, more and more marquee players such as [T.J.] Houshmandzadeh are not only happy to come out here but make it a priority."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune saw good things from defensive tackle Red Bryant at the Seahawks' post-draft camp. Boling: "The 320-pound Bryant just keeps shoving people around, and looking more comfortable as a run-stuffing force in the middle of the defensive line. Since the job in the middle is to stand ground against double teams and stack up a pile of bodies, nose guards have evolved into squatty, leverage players. At 6-foot-4, Bryant is from a much taller mold. But, according to defensive line coach Dan Quinn, other attributes are more important." Quinn says Bryant has the right temperament.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times sizes up the most competitive positions for the Seahawks. Defensive end comes to mind. Coordinator Gus Bradley: "One of the big things we've challenged Lawrence [Jackson] on is just his overall effort. Through this offseason -- things that he's done -- you're seeing it starting to show up here on the field."

Also from O'Neil: How could NFL.com exclude Aaron Curry from its list of potential impact rookies?

More from O'Neil: Seahawks safety Jamar Adams should be ready for training camp despite suffering a high ankle sprain during the post-draft camp.

ProfessorBigelow of Niners Nation thinks the 49ers are finished with their major offseason moves.

Revenge of the Birds' CardsFan08 cites Ken Whisenhunt's comments during an ESPN.com podcast in revisiting whether the Cardinals preferred Donald Brown to Beanie Wells.

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind sizes up the Cardinals' defense. Hawkwind: "The pressure will be on Clark Haggans and Chike Okeafor to produce a pass rush [or] the Cardinals secondary will be in trouble."

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic looks at how the NFL's new rule against blocking wedges with more than two players might effect games. Cardinals Pro Bowl special-teamer Sean Morey: "It's hard for me to visualize what it's going to look like until it really happens and until coaches go back to the chalkboard and start drawing up their schemes. Things will definitely be different, I'm sure, but personally, I think there are going to be more high-speed and violent collisions than we already had."

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic offers advice for Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin. Bickley: "As his pity party continues, the love affair is ending. People are getting tired of Boldin's sour mood, and by design, his Q rating is plummeting. He's trying to make you, me and the team so sick of him that he must be traded elsewhere. What a terrible way to go."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals "promptly rejected" Darnell Dockett's most recent trade request.