Grading the NFC West: Week 11

Handing out report cards to the 49ers and their three divisional rivals in the NFC West for their performances in Week 11 games, when all four teams squared off against opponents from within the division.


49ers report card: San Francisco 23, Arizona 7


PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Alex Smith did throw for a fair number of yards (267), but he missed a lot of throws, including two in the end zone. Receivers also dropped passes, with tight end Vernon Davis mishandling two and Braylon Edwards missing three catchable balls. Smith also broke a streak of 151 attempts in the red zone without an interception.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Anthony Dixon and Smith rushed 49 times for 164 yards, only a 3.3-yard average per carry. But even at that, the 49ers' time of possession was ridiculous at 44:16. Once again, Smith used his legs appropriately, bolting for yards when needed. He said he sometimes uses his ability to run as his own check-down.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- John Skelton threw half as many interceptions (three) as completions (six) and compiled a paltry passer rating of 10.5 before getting pulled. Much of this had to do with Skelton himself, but the 49ers did trick him into picks, particularly safety Dontae Whitner's interception, which happened when he rotated late to steal a long pass intended for Larry Fitzgerald.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Trailing for the entire game, the Cardinals were held to just 11 rushes. The 49ers limited starter Beanie Wells to 33 yards on eight carries. In garbage time, Chester Taylor did get loose for a 34-yard gain, beefing up Arizona's average on those 11 chances to 7.3 yards per carry.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- One of few mediocre performance for the 49ers' special teams this season. PK David Akers missed three field goals, including two that were blocked. Andy Lee nearly had a punt blocked. The 49ers were also called for two holding penalties on punt returns. Forcing a fumble out of Cardinals punt returner Patrick Peterson was the only positive.

COACHING: B -- The 49ers did what they needed to do: They handled a division opponent with relative ease. Nevertheless, there is a lot to correct. They need to shore up their blocking on punts and kicks, and they need to improve their efficiency in the red zone. How they handle a short week in the lead-up to the Ravens game will be telling for the coaching staff.


Cardinals report card: Arizona 23, San Francisco 7


PASSING OFFENSE: F -- Quarterback John Skelton was erratic on a day when he was under little pressure. The 49ers didn't rush more than four men on any play, and Skelton had time to throw. He completed just six of 19 and was intercepted three times before he was replaced by Richard Bartel.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- The grade is low only because runs weren't called often enough. The Cardinal had just 11 attempts. It should have been more.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- The defense is improving overall, and it's limiting big plays. Cornerback Patrick Peterson gave receivers too much space, and the 49ers worked him over.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The 49ers gained 164 yards, but it took them 49 attempts. The Arizona defense was on the field a lot because of five turnovers.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- The Cardinals blocked two field goals, and punter Dave Zastudil had a net average of 43.8 yards. The return teams did little, and punt returner Patrick Peterson lost a fumble.

COACHING: D -- The defense has made steady improvement for a month, and young players are showing signs of improvement. That's not the case on offense, and coaches continued to rely upon the pass Sunday, even though Skelton was having a horrible time throwing. They should have gone with the run more.


Rams report card: Seattle 24, St. Louis 7


PASSING OFFENSE: D -- QB Sam Bradford completed just 50 percent of his passes with the only bright spot a 30-yard touchdown pass to WR Brandon Lloyd. Without that play, Bradford's 19 other completions totaled just 151 yards. He was sacked five times.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- RB Steven Jackson totaled 42 yards on 15 runs, and 13 rushes gained just 14 yards. On eight first-down runs, he totaled four yards. Should they have run more? Perhaps. But there is little indication it would have worked.

PASS DEFENSE: B-plus -- The Rams got to Tarvaris Jackson for four sacks, intercepted him twice and held him to 148 passing yards and a passer rating of 55.6. And he was the winning quarterback.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus -- A late 22-yard touchdown by Justin Forsett was a negative, but the Rams stuffed the Seahawks' ground game most of the afternoon. Even with that 22-yard run, Seattle averaged just 3.2 yards per attempts, and Marshawn Lynch had 88 yards, but it took him 27 runs to do it.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Donnie Jones punted 10 times, and many were good, but a couple low, short ones ended up being 25- and 37-yard returns by Leon Washington that tilted field position in Seattle's favor.

COACHING: C-plus -- The offensive coaches were being hammered for the spread passing approach they believed would work because Seattle had troubles with it during the season and were stout against the run. Then problem was in the execution, and that became more difficult when rookie tackle Kevin Hughes had to replace Mark LeVoir at left tackle.


Seahawks report card: Seattle 24, St. Louis 7


PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus -- Seattle receiver Sidney Rice actually had the longest pass of the day, a 55-yarder to fellow receiver Mike Williams on the first play of the game. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson threw two interceptions on the first two drives, but settled down after that. Jackson finished 14 of 24 for 148 yards and a touchdown, along with the two interceptions.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Seattle finished with 126 rushing yards, the third straight game the Seahawks ran for over 100 yards as a team. Marshawn Lynch led the team with 88 yards on 27 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- The Seahawks sacked Sam Bradford five times. Defensive end Chris Clemons had three of those sacks, and also forced two fumbles. Defensive end Red Bryant notched his first career interception. Bradford finished 20 of 40 for 181 yards.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Seahawks held Steven Jackson to 42 yards on 15 carries, the 14th straight time Seattle's defense held Jackson under 100 yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Punter Jon Ryan did a nice job of helping Seattle control field position, finishing with a 44.9 average on nine kicks, including a long of 71 and four punts inside the 20-yard line. Returner Leon Washington also had two punt returns of 37 and 25 yards to help with field position.

COACHING: B -- Seattle head coach Pete Carroll has done a much better job of getting his team prepared to win on the road. Seattle is 2-4 on the road this season. However, penalties continue to be an issue. The Seahawks had 13 penalties for 100 yards for a second straight week.



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