Around the NFC West: Starting Leinart?

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals should start Matt Leinart against the Titans. Somers: "The most important reason is Warner's health. The Cardinals and Warner need to make sure he's healthy for not only the rest of the season, but the rest of his life. It also would be an ideal time for the Cardinals to gather evidence about the future of backup Matt Leinart. Can he play?" It would be tough to sit Warner if the quarterback were medically cleared for the game. Even if he sits out this week, the Vikings figure to hit him quite a bit in Week 13.

Also from Somers: Adding Monty Beisel should help the Cardinals' depth on defense. Beisel played well in passing situations last season. Somers: "The Chiefs released him in September, and the Cardinals were reluctant to sign him right away. They were fairly healthy at linebacker then and there was no need to take on Beisel's salary. Things have changed, and the club is fortunate Beisel was available. And Beisel fortunate to have a job. It's a good late-season addition."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat casts the 49ers' final six games as critical for the direction of the team on that side of the ball. Maiocco: "Team sources say there is no plan to ever go back to (Shaun) Hill because he was never viewed as more than a short-term solution. Smith, the No.1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, is the quarterback who gives the 49ers the best to win, club officials believe. The 49ers need to find out in the final six games of the season whether Smith is the long-term answer at the most important position."

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat quotes 49ers coach Mike Singletary this way on the team's offense: "One of the worst things we could do right now is to put Alex Smith in shotgun and say, 'OK, let's go get it, guys,' and let him throw 40, 50 times a game. Alex is throwing as well as any quarterback in the league right now. He is as accurate as any quarterback in the league." The first part of that statement is true. The second part -- about Smith playing as well as any quarterback in the league -- is pure flattery. If Smith were playing as well as Peyton Manning, the 49ers would be wise to overhaul their offensive philosophy 10 games into the season. Smith is not playing at that level, of course, and that is why the team should not ask him to carry the offense for four quarters.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch expects the Seahawks-Rams game to be blacked out locally in St. Louis. More than 8,000 tickets remained Tuesday.

Also from Thomas: Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo aches over the team's problems stopping the run. Spagnuolo: "It kills me." This is what happens when a team with sketchy depth in its front seven loses multiple defensive tackles to season-ending injuries. More from Spagnuolo: "I wish it was one thing all the time. But it's not. And we did talk as a defense [Monday] that when we do play the so-called eight-man front, like what everybody does against us, you can't be giving up runs of 10, 18, 18, 10 [yards] -- I mean, they're in my head, so I know."

More from Thomas: "If I had to handicap it, I'd say it's better than 50-50 that Bulger won't be back next year. The problem with the QB class in the draft is that it's suddenly a muddled picture. Bradford gets hurt. Tebow has the concussion and Florida isn't nearly as prolific offensively. I've said this before, I think it's far from a slam dunk that the Rams take a QB in the first round."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks need to rebuild their offensive line. O'Neil: "Seattle has not drafted a person to play tackle since choosing Ray Willis in the fourth round of the 2005 draft, resulting in a lack of depth at that position exposed so glaringly this season. Seattle has started a player signed one week before the regular season began (Brandon Frye) and one signed in the middle of the season (Damion McIntosh). Both played left tackle, and if a team can just go sign one off the street the whole NFL salary structure is off-base."

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com wonders what happened to the swaggering, aggressive Aaron Curry seen early in the Seahawks' season. The NFL repeatedly fined that Curry. Will he come back? Coach Jim Mora: "What we've tried to do the last couple weeks is take a little bit off his plate, let him focus a little more on being a first- and second-down linebacker now that we've got Leroy back and Leroy can do some of the things in the nickel. Hopefully that gives him a little surge to go down the stretch here."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks cannot take for granted a victory over the 1-9 Rams.

Field Gulls' crushedoptimist revisits a Mike Holmgren timeline I put together years ago, still available here and featuring this entry for April 14, 2000: "RB Ahman Green is traded to Green Bay for CB Fred Vinson. Holmgren was fed up with Green’s fumbling and nearly released the talented runner before aides convinced him to work a trade with his former team. The trade backfires famously when Vinson suffers career-ending knee injuries while Green leads Packers’ revival." Drafting Shaun Alexander that year helped make up for Green's departure.

John Morgan of Field Gulls says Matt Hasselbeck hasn't been the same since suffering a rib injury against the 49ers in Week 2. Hasselbeck looked good against the Jaguars in his first game back, however.

Also from Morgan: The Seattle running game should fare better down the stretch based on the opposition. I think the entire offense will gain momentum over the final six games.

Rod Mar of seahawks.com offers photos from the Seahawks' trip to Minnesota, including one of Brett Favre and Matt Hasselbeck catching up pregame.