Grading the NFC West: Week 7

Handing out grades to the 49ers' three divisional rivals in the NFC West for their performances in Week 7 games.

Cardinals report card: Pittsburgh 32, Arizona 20

PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Kevin Kolb's statistics weren't awful: 18 of 34 for 272 yards, two TDs and an interception. But he missed an open receiver for a touchdown and gave the Steelers a safety when he was called for intentional grounding while in the end zone.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- Beanie Wells didn't play in the second half after suffering a knee injury in the first half. He makes a huge difference in the offense. His backups are either unproven (Alfonso Smith), small (LaRod Stephens-Howling) or old (Chester Taylor).

PASS DEFENSE: F -- The Cardinals gave some effort, but Ben Roethlisberger was brilliant, throwing for 361 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked twice but avoided several others. Cornerback Richard Marshall was beaten by Mike Wallace for a 95-yard touchdown.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Steelers never got their rush game going. Rashard Mendenhall gained 32 yards on 13 carries. Overall, the Steelers gained 91 yards on 28 carries.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- The coverage teams did a decent job, and punter Dave Zastudil was solid. There were three penalties on special teams, however, that cost the team field position.

COACHING: C -- It's a cliché, but the plays were there to be made. It's hard to fault the play-calling or defensive schemes, although many fans will. The biggest challenge Ken Whisenhunt faces now is to keep his team focused and engaged.

Rams report card: Dallas 34, St. Louis 7

PASSING OFFENSE: D -- At least the protection was better, as QB A.J. Feeley was sacked only once, but most of the plan was to get the ball out quickly. Feeley averaged just 9.8 yards per completion, and his four longest completions (34, 27, 21 and 16) were accomplished with yards after the catch. Those four plays accounted for 98 of Feeley's 196 passing yards, so his 16 other completions totaled just 98 yards. WR Brandon Lloyd was targeted 12 times and caught six for 74 yards, but 34 came on a late-game catch-and-run. His other five receptions gained just 40 yards.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- The totals look better because of RB Steven Jackson's 40-yard run that preceded a 6-yard touchdown run. Other than that, the running game sputtered, as Jackson's other 16 carries totaled just 24 yards, and Cadillac Williams gained 1 yard on two attempts.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- The Rams did about as well as could be expected with a depleted secondary that has been ravaged by injuries. CB Al Harris had a solid game in coverage, as the plan was not to get beat for the big play, a strategy that led to being gashed in the running game.

RUSH DEFENSE: F -- If there were a grade lower, it would be given. Bad tackling and gaping holes in the run defense led to the Cowboys rushing for 294 yards and RB DeMarco Murray setting a franchise record with 253 rushing yards. That was also the most yards ever by a runner against the Rams. In the second half, when the St. Louis offense couldn't stay on the field, Dallas rushed for 175 yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- There was little impact from either side on special teams. Austin Pettis returned one punt 9 yards. Quinn Porter was better on kickoff returns, although he fell down on one return. He averaged 22.8 yards on five runbacks with a long of 29. P Donnie Jones had a net of 42.0 yards, putting three inside the 20-yard line.

COACHING: C -- The staff is coaching short-handed because of the secondary injuries that have forced a change of philosophy from press coverage to mostly Cover 2. The defensive coaches deserve better than the poor tackling that was displayed Sunday. Offensively, the key to any success was with Jackson running, and there was very little room for that to occur.

Seahawks report card: Cleveland 6, Seattle 3

PASSING OFFENSE: F -- Charlie Whitehurst had his worst performance as a pro, finishing 12 of 30 for 97 yards, an interception and two fumbles. He finished with a dismal 35.0 passer rating, quelling talk of a quarterback controversy in Seattle.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- The Seahawks finished with 65 yards on the ground, but only ran the ball 17 times. Marshawn Lynch was a late scratch because of a back issue, so Leon Washington got the start, finishing with 39 yards on seven carries.

PASS DEFENSE: B-plus -- The Seahawks held Colt McCoy to 178 passing yards and sacked him five times. Linebacker David Hawthorne finished with an interception, and Seattle did not allow a passing touchdown.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus -- The Seahawks gave up a season-high 141 rushing yards on the ground, but the Brown ran 44 times, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry. Montario Hardesty ran a career-high 33 times for 95 yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- The play of these units almost won the game for Seattle. Defensive lineman Red Bryant blocked two field goals, and Leon Washington had an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown called back because of a questionable call on a block in the back. Jon Ryan finished with a 50.1 average on punts.

COACHING: B-minus -- Defensive-minded head coach Pete Carroll has Seattle's defense playing at a high level, but the same cannot be said for the offense. One of the things that Carroll has successfully done is getting his players to perform with the same type of intensity and energy that they play with at home on the road. Now he needs to get the offense to perform at the same level the defense is playing at right now.

Niners Digest Top Stories