49ers, Seahawks, Cardinals on the ascent

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams would seemingly have the most climbing to do among NFC West teams after posting a 5-27 record over the last two seasons. The 49ers, Seahawks and Cardinals have sought ascents outside the division.

While Seahawks coach Jim Mora was preparing to climb Mount Rainier, Cardinals assistant John Lott was leading rookies up Camelback Mountain's Echo Canyon trail. Niners coach Mike Singletary even had a training hill built at team headquarters.

"It works muscles you didn't even know you had," 49ers linebacker Manny Lawson said during an interview earlier this offseason. "I didn't know there are muscles up here around the kneecap. My legs never looked better. I'm wearing shorts every day now. I've got to show them off.

"We do high knees. We shuffle. You talk about hip flexors burning. That hill works you. When I first thought about it, it was, 'Man, we don't want to do it.' Now, once you get into a routine and everything, you can really tell how much it benefits you. It really works on your explosion and muscle strengthening overall."