Around the NFC West: Cards' QB options

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals had interest in signing Marc Bulger even after landing Derek Anderson and while Matt Leinart was still on the roster. Somers: "There was interest in Marc Bulger, but the Rams didn't release him until April, and the Cardinals couldn't afford to wait that long if they wanted to sign a veteran. Even then, the team had interest in Bulger, but ownership balked at paying for three veterans: Leinart, Anderson and Bulger. By demoting and then releasing Leinart, (coach Ken) Whisenhunt gambled that he could turn Anderson into something he had never been: an accurate passer. Whisenhunt lost that wager. Whisenhunt also knew he was taking a chance by having two rookies, Max Hall and John Skelton, as backups in the event Anderson was hurt or played poorly. Now the Cardinals are lost in dark waters with no competent quarterback to guide them to safety." Bulger signed a one-year, $4.3 million deal with Baltimore. Perhaps he winds up in Arizona next season.

Also from Somers: The Chicago Bears have signed offensive lineman Herman Johnson from the Cardinals' practice squad. Somers: "Johnson is the third of eight 2009 draft picks to leave the team. Outside linebacker Cody Brown, the second-round pick, was cut in training camp. Guard Trevor Canfield was gone last year. The production from most of the other members of the 2009 class has not been great. Running back Beanie Wells, the first-round pick, has not produced consistently. Rashad Johnson, the third round pick, plays in sub packages and on special teams. Cornerback Greg Toler, the fourth round pick, is the only player from the class starting. Outside linebacker Will Davis is on injured reserve with a broken leg."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Skelton might start Sunday even if doctors clear Anderson.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Kelly Jennings will remain the starting right cornerback for Seattle, but rookie Walter Thurmond will continue to get playing time. Also: "Leon Washington’s kickoff return average has dipped to 27.0, which ranks fifth in the league. But his punt return average has spiked to 20.9 after his 84-yarder against the Panthers. But he does not have enough attempts (10) to qualify as the league leader -- although he’s well ahead of the league-leading average (16.0) that belongs to the Titans’ Marc Mariani."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times checks in with Seattle players for a look at what happens during loose-ball pileups in the NFL. Linebacker Will Herring says someone tried to rip his lip and mouth by hooking it with a finger. Herring: "You ever been bass fishing? The bass will jump and just kind of shake their head? I just gave it the old shake-loose." Of course!

Also from O'Neil: a chat transcript noting that Seattle will start the same five offensive linemen for the third game in a row, something that hasn't happened previously this season.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune previews the Seahawks' game at San Francisco. Boling: "Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck used an interesting term when he noted that the Hawks now are, after several seasons as afterthoughts, once again 'relevant.' Perfect terminology. Relevant doesn’t necessarily mean good, and it certainly doesn’t say anything about consistency. But they truly are relevant to the discussion, and even that feels like an improvement. This time two years ago, the Seahawks had just two wins in Mike Holmgren’s final season as coach. His 10 seasons coaching the team to a Super Bowl and six playoff appearances soon would be celebrated by his getting pelted with snowballs during his final lap of Qwest Field."

John Boyle of the Everett Herald asks whether the Seahawks' victory over Carolina ends their midseason slump.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are looking to become the third team in franchise history to win road games in three consecutive weeks. All they'll have to do is knock off Drew Brees and friends in the Superdome. Thomas: "The Rams have had some successful road teams, most notably the 2001 NFC championship squad that went 8-0 on the road that season. But that team never played away games in three successive weeks. The best they did was back-to-back road victories twice. The current league policy, according to Rams executive vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff, is to have teams play as many as three consecutive road games only about once every eight years."

Also from Thomas: The Rams signed linebacker David Nixon from their practice squad.

More from Thomas: a chat transcript with thoughts on what happened to rookie receiver Mardy Gilyard. Thomas: "Gilyard was doing a good job as a gunner, running down punts and kickoffs. But once he got passes by Danario Alexander as the No. 4 wide receiver, his role became extremely limited. Except for that one kickoff return attempt which he bungled against San Francisoo a few weeks ago, Gilyard hasn't returned kickoffs for weeks. So is this season a disappointment? Sure. But do you write him off? Certainly not. Unless he breaks into the top four WRs or regains his kickoff return job, he may not factor in over these final four games." That's a significant disappointment, I think, given that the Rams are not exactly loaded at wideout this season.

Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asks colleagues for thoughts on how to beat the Saints. Jeff Gordon: "One, keep Brees off the field by actually running the football with some consistency and sustaining a ball-control offense. Two, take away the Saints running game – which won’t be easy with Na’il Diggs out for the year and the Rams lacking strong OLB play. Three, generate a consistent pass rush in the base defense to lessen the reliance on the blitz. Brees has seen it all, so the Rams will have to mix up their defenses. They won’t be able to blitz the Saints into submission liked they blitzed the Cardinals into submission."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says secondary coach Johnny Lynn no longer works for the 49ers. The team cited personal reasons. Mark this down as the latest in a long line of unusual events to define this 2010 season for the 49ers under Mike Singletary.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee has this to say about the 49ers' decision to replace Troy Smith with Alex Smith at quarterback: "The 49ers' coaches feel that Alex Smith gives them more options. Offensive coordinator Mike Johnson said last month that Troy Smith is a much better play-action quarterback than he is a shotgun quarterback. Well, the 49ers' best weapon as far as play-action passing – running back Frank Gore – has a broken hip and is done for the season. The two guys who replace him, Brian Westbrook and Anthony Dixon, hail from more wide-open offenses. Westbrook, of course, played in a West Coast offense in Philadelphia. Dixon was in a spread attack at Mississippi State last season. These are guys who are accustomed to taking handoffs out of the shotgun and who are used to playing a big part in the passing game. In other words, it's a calculated gamble on the part of Singletary (and Johnson, whom I have to believe heavily influenced this move). If the 49ers incorporate more spread ideas, Alex Smith certainly would be more comfortable than Troy Smith. I agree that Troy Smith's swagger and confidence were good for the 49ers offense. But on the other hand, this move may signal that the 49ers -- finally -- may be moving away from their cram-it-up-the-gut style of offense."

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News offers thoughts on the switch back to Alex Smith. Kawakami: "I didn’t 100% disagree with Mike Singletary’s decision to go with ASmith as the starter this season. But I wholeheartedly objected to the team’s total commitment to him–and disregarding of other upgrade options -- to the point that they purposely brought in a bad back-up (David Carr) to make sure ASmith didn’t feel threatened. Backwards, defensive, scaredy-cat thinking. Which has reigned for more than 6 years in the 49ers HQ, of course."

Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News says it's fitting for Alex Smith to start a do-or-die game for the 49ers.