Around the NFC West: 49ers let Bryant get away

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat offers thoughts on former 49ers receiver Antonio Bryant. Former coach Mike Nolan regrets releasing Bryant, but if you pay attention to Nolan's wording, the blame apparently lies elsewhere. Nolan: "There's no question he was making more effort than I was made aware of. I truly regret that."

Also from Maiocco: Fullback Michael Robinson knows the Wildcat offense better than most, having run a version of it in college.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Shaun Hill and Chad Pennington have been winning games despite mediocre (by NFL standards) arm strength.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says Dominique Zeigler, not Allen Rossum, will return punts against the Dolphins. That's a change from previous expectations. Rossum apparently isn't quite healthy enough to resume his role.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers receiver Isaac Bruce is defying his age. The Dolphins have certainly noticed.

Tully Banta-Cain uses 49ers.com to take a look at the Dolphins' special teams. Miami's punter is tall, which means the defense will have an easier time sniffing out a fake.

Chrissy Mauck of 49ers.com checks in with offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who compares the Dolphins' 3-4 defense to the one the 49ers faced in Dallas. Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky prepares for the Wildcat offense, which the Dolphins have used to score eight touchdowns this season.

Also from Mauck: Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes vouch for nose tackle Aubrayo Frankllin.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer looks at the red-zone troubles facing the Seahawks and Rams. Seattle's offense did score touchdowns on all three red-zone trips in Week 14, with Seneca Wallace playing one of his better games.

Also from Farnsworth: Teammates would never know if Walter Jones were hurting from an injury. Bobby Engram recalled the time in 2001 when Jones suffered a severe ankle sprain in the season opener. Engram: "Here I am thinking he's going to be done for five or six games, and he never missed a game. I guess Big Walt has an unbelievable pain tolerance. He is a warrior."

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times quotes Mike Holmgren as saying Sean Locklear is getting a three-game audition at left tackle. Locklear's contract includes escalators should he play half the snaps at left tackle during a season.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' Monty Beisel is the first backup at multiple linebacker spots while Clark Haggans and Pago Togafau deal with injuries.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals are working with Kurt Warner to help him avoid the type of interception Warner threw against the Rams. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "You don't want to take away his aggressiveness to an extent because that is why he is so good. But in that situation, we can't turn the ball over."

Also from Urban: Special-teams ace Sean Morey might not play against the Vikings. His status will be evaluated Sunday.

More from Urban: He looks at the last game in Arizona between the Vikings and Cardinals. The 2003 matchup left the Cardinals with the third overall pick in the draft, a pick they used for Larry Fitzgerald. Had Arizona lost, the Cardinals would have had the first overall pick, a choice they might have used for Eli Manning. For the Vikings, their 18-17 defeat bounced them from the playoffs, a memory Vikings center Matt Birk declined to discuss this week.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says Warner has thrown ill-advised interceptions in each of the last two games.

Kyle Odegard of the East Valley Tribune says Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has overcome dou
bts to prove he's an elite player. "DRC" received no Division I scholarship offers after playing sparingly in high school.

Bill Coats of Around the Horns lauds Rams executive Billy Devaney for adding Jason Craft, Kenneth Darby, Daniel Fells and Gary Stills during the season.

Also from Coats: Torry Holt is looking to finish strong in what might be the receiver's final season with the Rams.

More from Coats: Rams kicker Josh Brown expects to play against his former team despite a groin injury.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat say Holt is lamenting the Rams' fall from Super Bowl contender to NFC West doormat.

VanRam of Turf Show Times says stopping the run should be the Rams' top priority Sunday. The team last allowed a 100-yard rusher in Week 12 (Matt Forte).