Around the NFC West: Seeking Jackson's backup

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders who will emerge for the Rams as Steven Jackson's primary backup. Kenneth Darby might be my early guess because his versatility could make him useful in some third-down situations.

Also from Coats: He thinks it's highly unlikely the Rams will move to Los Angeles. Also, the team will wear its throwback jerseys for three home games to commemorate its 1999 championship season.

Reid Laymance of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts remains interested in spearheading a group to purchase the Rams.

Taylor Price of 49ers.com examines the competitive relationship between Alex Smith and Shaun Hill as they battle to become the starting quarterback. Smith is the better golfer, but Hill claims the advantage when cooking with a charcoal grill.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle quotes Frank Gore as saying he prefers Jimmy Raye's power offense to the "finesse" offense Mike Martz ran last season. Elsewhere last offseason: "A lot of the 49ers' offense will go through RB Frank Gore, who is excited about the prospect of playing in Mike Martz's offense. Gone are the days of facing eight men in the box to stop the run, Gore says."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers cornerbacks Dre' Bly and Tarell Brown appear sharp in practice. Maiocco also thinks the 49ers will keep all four quarterbacks, although he didn't say whether all four would be on the 53-man roster.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee details efforts from Smith and Hill during red zone drills. Vernon Davis makes a strong play, earning coaches' approval.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with second-year 49ers receiver Josh Morgan, who is feeling more comfortable this season. Morgan averaged 16 yards per reception last season, most in the NFL among rookies with at least one catch.

David Fucillo of Niners Nation provides a transcript of his interview with 49ers president Jed York. York on what the Cardinals' success last season showed the 49ers: "They were a very good football team last year. But they raised their game to the next level once they got in and that's something that we need to learn from and see that it's a possibility to get in and raise your level, and who knows what happens. And I think we've got the ability to have that type of season."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Bertrand Berry is skipping Cardinals practices after accepting a reduced offer from the team. The Cardinals offered more heading into free agency. Berry decided to test the market. When a superior offer failed to materialize, Berry returned to the Cardinals. The team reduced its offer. Berry signed the reduced offer, but he apparently isn't happy. I can see both sides of this one. Berry outplayed his deal last season. Then again, NFL teams routinely take the approach Arizona is taking here.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says coach Ken Whisenhunt singled out receiver Lance Long and outside linebackers Cody Brown and Will Davis as having enjoyed strong offseasons.

Adam Caplan of scout.com says the Cardinals have reached agreement with seventh-round running back LaRod Stephens-Howling.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune explains how Seahawks snapper Bryan Pittman honed his snapping skills while on duty as a security guard. Pittman: "I mean, it was an eight-hour shift, and about all I was doing was snapping. I don't mind admitting it now ... it's not like they can fire me."

Gregg Johns of seattlepi.com quotes Seahawks coach Jim Mora as saying the team will not pursue Michael Vick. Perhaps that will end the speculation.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says second-round center Max Unger took a few snaps at center for the Seahawks after working exclusively at guard in past camps. Incumbent center Chris Spencer can't afford another injury-plagued summer, in my view.

Also from Williams: Seahawks receiver Deion Branch says he won't think about his surgically repaired knee once he's in a game.