Around the NFC West: Troy Smith starts

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers have named Troy Smith to start against the Denver Broncos in Week 8. This move reflects a season-long aversion to David Carr. Why did the 49ers sign Carr and pay him No. 2 money if they weren't going to start him when something happened to Alex Smith? Because they made a mistake. They signed Carr for the physical talent that once made Carr a No. 1 overall draft choice. They preferred that talent and long-shot upside to what Shaun Hill offered in the No. 2 role. They put raw talent before the package of traits quarterbacks need to function. And then they determined Carr was lacking in those areas. The 49ers signed Carr back in March, when Scot McCloughan was their general manager. Was McCloughan a driving force behind the move, and did Carr lose a top supporter when McCloughan left the 49ers? I do not know the answer to that question, but it's a fair one to ask. Of course, the 49ers presumably wouldn't have signed Carr and traded Shaun Hill if Singletary had been strongly against the decision. This was an organizational decision in the end. But if Singletary was ever excited about Carr, he hid that excitement well.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the move to Troy Smith comes as a surprise. It seemed unlikely Troy Smith would get the start this quickly, but with zero evidence to suggest Singletary had confidence in Carr, the prospect of Troy Smith starting at some point this season appeared likely if Alex Smith were to miss an extended period.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says fans aren't happy with Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt. Bickley: "There's no doubt that head coach Ken Whisenhunt has taken a tremendous gamble with the quarterback position. He left himself exposed and is beginning to hear national ridicule for entering the season with two rookies and a Cleveland reject. It didn't have to be this way. But let's not forget how much the offense struggled under Matt Leinart's command. Truth is, the moment Warner ruined their plan, walking away from $11 million, the 2010 season became a transition year. But too many fans are acting surprised, attacking Whisenhunt's intelligence with renewed fervor. How could this happen? It's a good question, but one that should've been asked months ago, in real time, when Whisenhunt's maneuvers were met with blind faith and unanimous approval." I think there was a near-unanimous understanding that giving Leinart a full season as the starter made some sense from an organizational standpoint. Going into the season with Derek Anderson and Max Hall wasn't even discussed until very shortly before Arizona decided to go down that road.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic offers a five-step plan for the Cardinals.

Also from Somers: Hall passed his concussion test and appears on track to start Sunday.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com looksof at what is new and what has changed with Arizona's offense.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders why the Rams seem to suffer second-half struggles. Miklasz: "For whatever reason the Rams start off fast, keep it going for a while, but become increasingly vulnerable in the second half. That's especially true of the offense."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams did not immediately sign any of the four defensive backs to try out recently.

Also from Thomas: The Rams' defensive players are dropping too many would-be interceptions.

More from Thomas: a chat transcript in which he says there are basic reasons the team lost at Tampa Bay. Thomas: "You can talk all you want about scheme, approach, play-calling, ability of WRs to get open. And I think those are all valid discussion points. But just tackle somebody. Sunday was easily the team's worst tackling performance of the season. LeGarrett Blount is a physical runner at 241 pounds; and he broke a lot of tackles. However, on one of the key plays of the game, the 20-yard catch-and-run by wide receiver Mike Williams on third-and-10 from the St. Louis 21, three Rams defenders had a chance to drop him to the turf for a minimal gain, and all three whiffed."

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says the Rams face big challenges off the field, not just on it. Gordon: "Discussions on the Dome lease will intensify next year, when the folks running the facility must provide specific upgrade plans. Moving the stadium back toward “state of the art” standing won’t be easy. That challenge could become even greater if Proposition A passes. That would give voters the opportunity to decide the fate of city earnings taxes. Proposition A supporters believe that earning taxes deter job growth in the city. They believe there are better ways to fund local government. The campaign is resonating with voters, according to a recent Post-Dispatch-KMOV TV (Channel 4) poll. Opponents of this initiative fear the city sales taxes would climb higher if earning taxes are phased out. The high sales tax has long been a sore spot for the owners of local sports teams."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com updates moves Seattle made around the fringes of its roster. There's a perception that Seattle is churning its roster to a degree unseen elsewhere in the NFL. That was generally true throughout the offseason and again when Seattle made a couple of trades. These moves, however, are consistent with what teams around the league do as injuries affect them during the regular season.

Also from Farnsworth: Olindo Mare will be special-teams player of the week in the NFC.

Brian McIntyre of scout.com looks at the Seahawks' personnel use against Arizona.

Also from McIntyre: Quinton Ganther's familiarity with Seattle's offense made him a natural to re-sign once Michael Robinson suffered an injury.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune looks at the Seahawks' issues in the red zone. The team converted at a good rate against San Francisco and Chicago, but the performance against Arizona -- one touchdown on seven trips -- was one of the worst I can recall seeing in an NFL game.