Around the NFC West: 49ers, Clausen

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News is convinced the 49ers' ownership wants to draft Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Kawakami: "The 49ers absolutely are sure that Mike Singletary will get the most out of the improved talent already on the roster. So they believe they’ll be in the playoffs this year and therefore probably end up with a 20+ pick in 2011. Tough to pick in the 20s and land a franchise QB. You can do it, but it’s tough. With Smith on a one-year deal, David Carr on a two-year deal and Nate Davis still up in the air as a NFL QB… maybe this is the time to strike for a QB they love."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers face a heavy dose of road games early and late in the season. Barrows: "The 49ers open on the road against Seattle and three of their first four games are on the road. Perhaps more significant is that four of their final six games are on the road, three of them against potential playoff contenders in Green Bay, Arizona and San Diego. Last year's game in Green Bay had sunny and (relatively) warm weather. This year's game is on Dec. 5 and the 49ers have a short week to prepare for it. Ouch."

Also from Barrows: Adding Travis LaBoy gives the 49ers four outside linebackers with experience.

More from Barrows: He has "no idea" whether the 49ers' rumored interest in Jimmy Clausen has merit.

More yet from Barrows: Trent Baalke has much at stake during his first draft as the 49ers' primary football decision maker.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat takes a game-by-game look at the 49ers' schedule. On the Philly game: "Donovan McNabb averaged 306 yards passing and the Eagles averaged 37 points per game against the 49ers in the past four meetings between the clubs. The 49ers aren't disappointed Kevin Kolb is taking over for McNabb, who was shipped to Washington."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News profiles Baalke and explains how the 49ers' acting general manager arrived in his current position. Brown: "If his plan had gone the way he envisioned, Baalke would have walked away from football long ago. In fact, he quit the game once. He gave up his job as a college assistant to become a high school administrator in the late 1990s. Baalke became the athletic director at Shanley High, a small but mighty sports powerhouse in Fargo, N.D. Leo Ringey, who helped hire him, recalled that Baalke's predecessor was still too much of a coach at heart to spend any time in an office. Baalke, in contrast, could push paper as if it were a tackling sled."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times profiles new Seahawks general manager John Schneider. O'Neil: "If history is any indication, expect Seattle to be quick on the trigger and slide back in the draft order. Over the previous five seasons when Schneider was in Green Bay, the Packers completed 15 draft-day trades. Thirteen of those trades were to move back in the draft order, accumulating more picks." The Packers have drafted more players than any team since Schneider's former boss, Ted Thompson, became Green Bay's general manager for the 2005 season.

Also from O'Neil: Clemson running back C.J. Spiller could tempt the Seahawks. O'Neil: "Can Seattle afford to use one of its first-round picks on a situational back? That's one of the biggest questions surrounding the Seahawks entering Thursday's draft. Seattle's need for a home-run threat on offense has prompted some to project Seattle will choose Spiller as high as sixth overall."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' extra third-round choice could conceivably help them move up from 26th to about 20th in the first round of the draft, should the team seek to move up. Somers: "In a deep draft, it's going to be hard for the Cardinals to make a case for using one of those third-round picks to move up. Perhaps it would make some sense in the first round if, say, Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain were to be available in that range, or if the Cardinals wanted to move up to make sure they could get a nose tackle they coveted."

Also from Somers: None of the Cardinals' 2010 opponents will be coming off a bye before playing Arizona.

More from Somers: A look at the boom-or-bust nature of third-round choices in Arizona.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams general manager Billy Devaney has not made a final decision on which player the team will draft first overall. What more could the Rams possibly learn about the prospects they've been studying for months and even years? Devaney: ""I kind of have a feel in my mind. I have an idea. But that's just in my mind. I want to go to the scouts, and go to the coaches and say, 'OK, now, tell me who you would take.' I haven't done that yet. ... We need to get everybody on record (Wednesday), 'Which way should we go with that first pick?' "

Also from Thomas: The Rams practically gave away Adam Carriker. Thomas: "All offseason, Rams general manager Billy Deavney has showed no hesitancy towards shooting down one erroneous trade rumor after another. With one exception: Devaney never denied reports about a possible trade of defensive tackle Adam Carriker to Washington. And on Tuesday it happened. The Rams confirmed the trade, but did not announce the compensation. The Redskins were happy to announce the compensation a while later."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers comments from Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke, who is seeking to assure fans he plans to keep the team in St. Louis if his ownership bid is approved. Kroenke: "I've always stepped up for pro football in St. Louis. And I'm stepping up one more time." There was no mention of Kroenke's role on the Los Angeles Stadium Working Group.

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are moving beyond past draft failures.