Around the NFC West: Quarterback edition

Good morning.

We began Thursday with a riddle, since solved by mightyjoemoon13.

Another larger mystery remains unsolved: why San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said what he said Wednesday afternoon.

I know, I know. We've gone over this plenty. But there's a little more, followed by items touching on other quarterback situations around the division.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News cast Harbaugh's comments downplaying the 49ers' interest in Peyton Manning as "patently and egregiously silly." That was the easy part. What did the comments mean in the bigger picture? Kawakami: "Maybe Harbaugh is more sensitive to the Smith issue than we thought, and maybe his over-protestations reveal that the 49ers aren’t as lock-step on the QB position as they say they are. There was Manning. There is Smith. There is Josh Johnson. There is Colin Kaepernick. Let’s keep an eye on all of this, not because of anything the phonies did or said, but because of what Jim Harbaugh just decided to discuss. That’s his reality. He chose this."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Kevin Kolb's price tag won't influence the Cardinals' quarterback competition, according to coach Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt: "I don't think about that when you're on the field. I don't look at a player and think what he's making or what you did to get him here. I look at them based on what kind of plays they're making. I obviously know how much we invested in Kevin. I want Kevin to be successful. I want him to be our quarterback, but I'm not going to ignore the fact that John Skelton worked pretty hard and did a good job in there when he was playing, too. He's earned the right to compete for that spot."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com runs through a few changes to the team's scouting department.

Also from Urban: attempts to raise accountability.

Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle sees a clear gap between the Seahawks' quarterbacks, with Tarvaris Jackson at the bottom. Huard: "It has become clear that Jackson peaked in his third year in the league and has not been able to rise from that plateau. He may be very well-liked and even more respected, but the inconsistency of his game as he enters his seventh year in the same system is maddening. One play he shows the zip to fire an option route into a very tight window; the next play he throws an errant interception to a safety sitting right over the top of a downfield post route. One play he effortlessly zings a deep in-cut 25 yards on a rope; the next play he sits under center for an inappropriate amount of time, misses the check and leaves his offensive coordinator with his hands on his hips."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times looks for trends from the Seahawks' free-agent acquisitions over the past few seasons. O'Neil: "Seattle has looked to package an opportunity for a different role with a short-term contract to provide the most motivation. For someone like Alan Branch, he's offered a different, more defined role than the one he had in Arizona with the caveat that if he performs the way he hopes to, he'll be back in the free-agent market with the chance at a bigger deal in two years. The team knows the player will be motivated by the reality of a short-term deal while not having money tied up long-term if things don't work out."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says rookie Bruce Irvin impressed tackle Breno Giacomini with a counter move that sent Giacomini to the ground Wednesday. Giacomini: "That’s the first time that’s ever happened. It was all about timing on that one. But hey, that was a good move. He caught me."

Brian McIntyre of NFL.com read through Sam Bradford's recently adjusted contract and saw nothing of much consequence, other than Bradford receiving some of his 2012 compensation up front. McIntyre: "The final three seasons of Bradford's contract were unchanged. He is still scheduled to earn $9 million in base salary in 2013, $8 million of which is guaranteed, $14.015 million in 2014 and $12.985 million in 2015. Up to $800,000 in escalators are available in each remaining year of the contract with $2 million available in total incentives."