The difficulty is deciding whether Hester should be paid as the best return man in NFL history or as the best return man in NFL history who also could wind up being a starting wide receiver this year.
"It's a very difficult dynamic," general manager Jerry Angelo said. "I know I've never been involved in one quite like this with a player of Devin's abilities. It's a good problem to have, and we certainly want to take care of Devin. He certainly deserves our attention. We've talked to his agent and we'll just have to wait and see."
Last year, Smith called out Jarrett, then a rookie, during an open locker-room session. While conducting an interview at his locker with two local beat reporters, Smith interrupted and told Jarrett he should spend more time in the film room instead of talking to reporters.
It was an embarrassing incident for Jarrett, who was having trouble producing on the field.
He finished last year with just six catches.
On Monday, after pleading guilty to DWI charges, Jarrett said the much-publicized incident led to some differences between him and Smith, a three-time Pro Bowler, but that now they're on the same page.
"Steve handled things in his own way," Jarrett said. "That's my teammate. He's definitely one of the most explosive players in the NFL, so he's someone you take heed to and look up to.
"We collided heads at times, but along the way he wanted the best for me. We just had that miscommunication between us and we worked things out. There's no bad blood between us. I'm here every day working hard just like he is and I'm just trying to learn from him."
"Our defense was making a lot of plays today," Fisher said after practice. "We had a couple of receivers out of position and those types of things. But it's good to see the defense tightening things up and giving Vince some very, very tight windows to throw in."
Asked if it was offensive struggles or the defense standing out, King said, "It could have been a little bit of both. Guys got a lot hands on balls, and guys were able to get some interceptions, but I'm sure the offense is going to come out tomorrow and try to do their job and come at us as well."
Original Panther John Kasay, who turns 39 later this year, has been one of the more consistent field-goal kickers in the NFL over the years - he was 24 of 28 last year -- but within the past few years his distance on kickoffs has noticeably decreased.
Many of Kasay's kicks that once sailed close to the goal line and beyond weren't even reaching the 10-yard line last season. Five of his kickoffs bounced out of bounds, by rule giving the opponent starting field position at their own 40-yard line. Punter Jason Baker, who has shared some of the kickoff duties in the past, has struggled as well.
Lloyd is a possible solution.
The Panthers added him to their roster late last season and activated him for the season finale against Tampa Bay. It took him only 60 minutes to match Carolina's entire season total in touchbacks, knocking two balls into the end zone that weren't returned. Lloyd's two touchbacks kept the Panthers from finishing last in the league in that category. By comparison, Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski led the NFL in touchbacks in 2007 with 22.
Impressed, the Panthers quickly signed Lloyd to a two-year contract that runs through 2009.
Last season, Walker caught 21 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown. But the decision to give him a contract extension might be an indication that the 49ers expect Walker to flourish with Mike Martz as offensive coordinator. Walker could be featured with Vernon Davis in two-tight end formations.
Walker is the second young 49ers player to receive a contract extension. Running back Michael Robinson signed a three-year, $3.525 million extension in March that included a $1.2 million signing bonus. He is also signed through 2012.
That's a major reason why he wasn't selected until the seventh round of the 2008 draft despite registering double-digit sacks totals his senior season at the University of North Carolina.
But Taylor talks like a guy who's willing to do whatever it takes to be a difference-maker at the next level. When asked on Monday what he foresees his role being this season with the Panthers, Taylor eagerly responded, "My role is to give it up for the team, to do whatever they need me to do.
"Right now they want me to be a pass rushing guy and contribute on teams. I'm happy with that. If I make my mark there, maybe I can eventually be an every-down defensive end."
Taylor said his goal is to gain about 10 pounds and maintain a playing weight around 255 pounds.
That, he figures, will help him against the league's bigger offensive tackles. He idolizes Jason Taylor, the Miami Dolphins' five-time Pro Bowl defensive end who has 117 career sacks. While Jason is about three inches taller than Hilee, he only weighs in at 255 pounds.
Hilee believes he can be that same type of player for the Panthers if he puts on a few pounds.
"Jason Taylor is the guy I pattern my game after," Taylor said. "He's a little taller than me, but he's a high-motor guy and doesn't let his weight issue become a factor. If you play against him you think he's bigger than he is."
"I feel more confident," Hill said. "I feel like I belong. I feel like I'm going to give these guys a reason to believe. I want to help this team, whether it's on special teams, the offensive side, utility, whatever. Whatever it is, I'm here to do it.
"I was disappointed in myself last year. Some of it was due to what I couldn't help - getting injured and stuff. But this year I'm getting reps and gaining confidence and now I know what I'm doing. All the offseason, there was a lot of stuff drilled into me and now it shows that I know what I'm doing. Hopefully, the coaches who make the decisions see that, too."
"I had difficulty coming in (as a rookie in 2007). I came in late to camp with an injury. It took a while to gain the respect of the players here. (Defensive line) Coach (John) Teerlinck was like, 'This is how we're playing. You're not used to playing like this. We think you can do it. We see potential in you,'" Pitcock said recently. "Toward the end of the year, I finally started getting more playing time. Toward the end, I was getting in and making plays.
"I know, to a point, that I can keep up with the speed. I am able to make plays, but now I've got to take it to the next level and be more productive, get more of a pass rush and try to be a wild man out there, making plays. It's a lot of little things. I'm always going to be learning. I'm still learning little things about our defense. I want to understand the defense even more in depth. Our defense is simple, but you've got to learn your position and get through that. The more you understand the overall concept and what everybody else is doing, the more you can teach yourself little areas where maybe the coach can't always explain to you. I barely stuck my toe in at the end of the year. I'm just scratching the surface."