Around the NFC West: Seattle GM search

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune does not expect the Seahawks to name a new general manager anytime soon. Williams: "League rules mandate that the Seahawks wait until the end of the season before asking permission of another organization to contact a potential candidate under contract whom the Seahawks covet. And if that team makes a deep run into the playoffs, Seattle may have to wait until February to finish the vetting process."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with right tackle Ray Willis, a co-captain who has started every game for the Seahawks this season. Coach Jim Mora: "Ray is a strong presence in the locker room. The guys listen to him and he’s got toughness, and we’re looking for toughness."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune profiles Seahawks linebacker David Hawthorne. Boling: "When he showed up, undersized and unheralded, Hawthorne made people notice him from the first practice. Whenever there was tackle that looked like a car wreck ... Hawthorne was involved. Whenever helmets flew off or the sound of contact caused heads to turn, Hawthorne was supplying the pop."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals have fared better than some teams coming off Super Bowl defeats. Kurt Warner: "I just think we believe a little bit more now than we did last year. I think there was a period of time [last season] where we were kind of satisfied with where we were. I just think confidence was built after some of the things we did last year."

Also from Somers: Some Cardinals players are suffering from a respiratory ailment.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals will not celebrate too wildly if they claim the NFC West title at Candlestick Park on Monday night.

Also from McManaman: Karlos Dansby is playing with two separated shoulders. McManaman: "It was a play Karlos Dansby has made before, but this one was different. When he dropped back into coverage last Sunday and leaped to make a critical, two-handed interception of a Brett Favre pass, it hurt Dansby as much as it hurt the Minnesota Vikings. That's because the Cardinals linebacker has basically been playing with a pair of separated shoulders. The pain has been there for the better part of a month now, but it hasn't stopped Dansby, who, with 95 tackles, is in line to finish the season as the Cardinals' leading tackler for the third consecutive year."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says having Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston healthy makes a big difference for the Cardinals. Urban: "I don’t think you can measure the impact of having a healthy Boldin and Steve Breaston back in this game, compared to the first meeting. And that doesn’t include how much more effective Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells have been. I know the Cards and Niners have recently always had close games. But frankly, I don’t see the teams being that close right now. Not if the Cards play the way they can."

Also from Urban: He expects the Cardinals' offensive line to play better Monday night than it did against the 49ers in Week 1.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch revisits the Rams' Super Bowl victory a decade ago. Thomas: "The day after the Super Bowl, Tom Nütten boarded a pickup truck in downtown St. Louis. Each truck had a bale of straw to sit on, with two Rams players per truck. It was freezing cold. Nütten heard a din in the background, but couldn't see anything." Nütten: "And then the truck turned the corner onto Washington Avenue, and what was it -- a quarter million people on the street cheering? That gave me chills over and over again."

Also from Thomas: a look at what members of that championship team are doing now. Linebacker Mike Morton is a dentist in North Carolina.

More from Thomas: Alex Barron's matchup against Kyle Vanden Bosch is a key one when the Rams and Titans play Sunday.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sound wistful looking back on that 1999 Rams season, noting that team owner Georgia Frontiere has passed away, while Dick Vermeil and Mike Martz are out of coaching and the opposing quarterback in that Super Bowl game, Steve McNair, met a horrible death. Miklasz: "Given that the 1998 Rams went 3-13, there's always hope for a turnaround. But such optimism will be difficult to muster Sunday in Nashville. Seeing the Rams and Titans will conjure up the old regrets and sorrow."

Also from Miklasz: Steven Jackson and Chris Johnson should put on a show.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree disputes some passes that might have been characterized as drops.

Also from Barrows: revisiting the curse of Terrell Owens. Owens: "Maybe to remove the curse, they have to put me back in that uniform."

More from Barrows: The 49ers' defensive backs hope an aggressive approach helps them against Larry Fitzgerald, Boldin and Breaston.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat checks in with 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, asking how Smith deals with dropped passes. Smith: "It does no good, especially during game situations, to really worry about things like that. Do your job to the best of your ability. Go out there and try to execute it. Those things are going to happen. Dropped balls are going to happen just like errant passes are going to happen. You try to minimize them as much as possible."

Also from Maiocco: a look at the 49ers' relative success against Fitzgerald in the Nate Clements era.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers' offense is seeking improvement on third down. Brown: "The problem for the 49ers: the Cardinals defense that they face on Monday night at Candlestick Park happens to specialize in stopping teams when it counts. Arizona ranks second in the NFL by holding opponents to a 33.1 percent conversion rate on third downs. Only the Cincinnati Bengals (32.9 percent) are better. And if gets to third-and-long, forget it. Arizona has allowed only 7 of 57 third-down conversions of 10 yards or more." The 49ers fared well in third-down conversions against the Cardinals in Week 1.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle profiles 49ers assistant coach Jim Tomsula. Crumpacker: "Certainly Tomsula's career arc is anything but typical. Concurrent with coaching stateside at Catawba and Charleston Southern, Tomsula hauled wife Julie and daughters Britney, now 16, and Brooke, now 14, to Europe every spring for nine years to coach in Germany, Scotland and England."

Also from Crumpacker: Crabtree is producing.