<
>

Around the NFC West: Boldin cautious

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic checks in with injured Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin. As much as Boldin wants to play on a bad hamstring, the receiver also realizes he shouldn't risk further damage to the muscle.

The Arizona Republic says Phoenix-area officials have planned an airport sendoff for the Cardinals as the team heads to Carolina.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt will join players in participating in the rally.

Also from Urban: The Cardinals' defense knows it must stay focused and disciplined to contain the Panthers' running attack.

More from Urban: Rookie cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie knows the Panthers' Steve Smith is a big-play threat at all times.

David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune says the Bears should make a free-agent push to sign Kurt Warner this offseason. Warner visited the Bears as a free agent in 2005. When I think of cold-weather quarterbacks, Warner does not come to mind.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune catches up with Cardinals tight end Stephen Spach, whose unexpected contributions have helped Arizona this season.

Also from Tulumello: Boldin's tone of voice casts the receiver as a likely long shot to play against the Panthers.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Greg Knapp's version of the West Coast offense features fewer three- and four-receiver personnel groupings.

Nick Rousso of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says most mock drafts have the Seahawks taking receiver Michael Crabtree. Quarterback Matt Stafford and linebacker Aaron Curry also received mention.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times, following up a report from Scout.com, confirms that former Bears receiver Mike Hass signed with the Seahawks. Expect a steady stream of these "future" signings as teams move closer to the 80-man offseason roster limits. Fringe players are becoming available after practice-squad contracts expired this week.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Knapp's offenses have a history of success in the running game.

Also from Williams: Knapp's offense in Seattle might not be so run-oriented.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' coaching search is taking on more urgency after the Browns became the first team to hire a head coach from outside their organization this offseason. General manager Billy Devaney says he hopes to have the Rams' next coach in place by the end of next week.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with interim Rams coach Jim Haslett for a look at the remaining NFC playoff teams.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says new 49ers running backs coach Tom Rathman inherits one top-flight rusher (Frank Gore) and a few question marks. Crumpacker: "Backup DeShaun Foster's contract is up and former practice squad member Thomas Clayton is untested. Furthermore, the only real fullback on the roster, Zak Keasey, spent the last nine games of the season on injured reserve."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat addresses perceptions about what Mike Singletary said when talking about building a staff. Singletary said he would let the next coordinator hire the quarterbacks coach. He said nothing of the sort about hiring the next running backs coach.

Also from Maiocco: Rathman is happy to rejoin the 49ers, noting that Singletary "has things headed in a positive direction."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee thinks the 49ers will wait until after the playoffs before hiring an offensive coordinator.

Also from Barrows: Rathman appears to be an "ideal" fit with the 49ers.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Rathman's interview with Singletary was very much to the point, according to Rathman.