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Around the NFC West: Gore's carries

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News quotes Roger Craig as saying the 49ers would be better off with Frank Gore sharing carries, a concept Gore has resisted. Craig: "I think (Gore) needs to take a step back and realize it's about the team. I could have run for 1,000 yards a lot of years, but we were not going to win that way. There's no point in running for 1,000 yards if you're not going to be in the playoffs. You do what it takes to win. There were times when the most important thing I could do was selling a play-action fake so that Jerry Rice or John Taylor could get open and make a catch." It's natural for a running back to want the ball and I wouldn't hold it against Gore for feeling that way. Doesn't mean he's not a team guy. So much for a little solidarity among running backs.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers personnel man Trent Baalke was quite guarded during a meeting with reporters Monday. Baalke: "I think you can realistically expect five to six offensive tackles to be gone in the first round. Now will that happen, I don't know. .... I think if you look at history, the better tackles always have gone in the draft. It's a need, it's a position that teams place a lot of value on in the National Football League, especially the left tackle position."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Baalke would not rule out drafting a quarterback early.

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle said Baalke recommitted to Alex Smith as the 49ers' quarterback. Baalke: "We're not going to rule out anything at this point, but I want to make this clear: Alex Smith is our quarterback. We have total confidence in his ability to get the job done."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Deion Branch enjoyed a strong three-day minicamp -- not just because coach Pete Carroll said so. Farnsworth: "Early in practice, Branch reached back to make a one-handed grab of a pass from Matt Hasselbeck. Later, in the 7-on-7 drill, Branch made a nice falling grab along the sideline of a pass from Charlie Whitehurst. In the same drill, Branch caught a pass over the middle and another in the flat." The Seahawks have consistently said good things about Branch and sometimes it sounded self-serving, as if they were trying to build his trade value. They've also said they prefer big receivers. But they also lack depth at the position and Branch is clearly one of the better receivers on the team. Seattle could need him.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks signed former USC receiver Mike Williams following a three-day tryout, but there was no word on Reggie Williams' status. It's tough to tell much at a three-day camp in shorts, but Mike Williams was the one I noticed more during practice Tuesday.

Also from O'Neil: Seahawks general manager John Schneider downplays losing Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins. Schneider: "It didn't really set back our plans. There was a certain level of risk. We got in. We did our investigation. We had great contact, we had great communication all the way through, and we had a certain level we were willing to go to and it just didn't happen. We weren't going to come off of where we were, and congratulations to Brandon and Miami and Denver for working it out."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' quarterbacks were better than Carroll expected.

Also from Williams: Seattle also signed Reggie Williams.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune offers thoughts on new Seahawks offensive line coach Alex Gibbs. Tackle Sean Locklear: "I was a little intimidated coming in … just from all the things you hear. But, honestly, he’s a good guy. At the end of the day, he sincerely cares for you. Guys have told me that. (He’s) old school, but I love him and I’m going to enjoy playing for him." Can Gibbs keep up the unrelenting intensity for a full season? He pushes so hard that he can be a candidate for burning out a bit down the stretch. At least that's what people who have worked with him have told me.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals strength-and-conditioning coach John Lott isn't all about bulking up. Lott: "There's a perceived notion that a defensive tackle should be 305 pounds, 6-feet-4. Shoot, (Darnell) Dockett is 6-foot-1, 280 pounds. You can't hit what you can't touch."

Also from Somers: The Cardinals will probably focus on defense in the upcoming draft. Somers: "Most immediate spots to fill are nose tackle and inside linebacker. Whisenhunt didn't say which nose tackles he liked, but he did joke that the team would stay away from drafting another one from Michigan. They have two Wolverines on the roster: Gabe Watson and Alan Branch. Branch has moved to end but likely will see some work on the nose, too."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com passes along draft memories from Cardinals players. Beanie Wells: "I wanted to be the first running back taken. I wanted people to know I was the best at my position. (Draft status) was more of a pride thing with me. You are worried about the guys before you. You have been comparing yourself to them the whole time, so it makes for a stressful day."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch puts the Rams' draft options in perspective by recounting debates at the top of past drafts.

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the stakes are high for the Rams. Brian Billick: "Imagine this conversation now. You have to go to your boss and say, 'Okay, we're going to take Sam Bradford -- and that seems to be the conventional thinking now -- and can you give me $40 (million) or $45 million guaranteed for a guy that history tells us at best is a 50-50 crap shoot?' "

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reminds Rams general manager Billy Devaney of his role in the Chargers' selection of Ryan Leaf. Thomas: "Rams general manager Billy Devaney was the Chargers' director of player personnel in 1998. But San Diego general manager Bobby Beathard ran the show, and the trade-up for Leaf was his call. Beathard was known as a draft non-conformist, with a knack for taking risks. This one backfired. But as Beathard's right-hand man, there was some guilt by association for Devaney. He has kidded himself at times during his Rams tenure whenever Leaf's name comes up. And he has said the biggest lesson learned from the Leaf experience was to put more stock in intangibles -- leadership, work ethic, character traits, etc. -- when evaluating talent, particularly at the quarterback position."

Also from Thomas: The deadline for signing restricted free agents to offer sheets passed quietly for the Rams.

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke serves on the NFL's Los Angeles Stadium Working Group. Whether that means Kroenke would like to build a stadium in Los Angeles isn't really known. I've been a skeptic on the concept simply because there's been so much talk -- and no meaningful action -- when it comes to restoring the NFL to the city.