Grading the NFC West: Week 12

Handing out grades to the 49ers and their three divisional rivals in the NFC West for Week 12 performances.

49ers report card: Baltimore 16, San Francisco 6

PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Alex Smith had no time, and even when he did no one got open. Part of the nine sacks were on him for failing to get rid of the ball. Smith also threw his second interception in two games on a pass to the end zone intended for Braylon Edwards. Edwards was blanketed on the play and the decision to go downfield prevented David Akers from attempting a tying field goal right before the half.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D-plus -- Have teams figured out how to stop the 49ers' running game? Over the last three games, Frank Gore has averaged 2.8 yards per carry after going over 100 yards five consecutive games. Gore's two ankle injuries and his wrenched knee may have something to do with it. However, his backups are struggling also. There's simply nowhere to go.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- The 49ers limited the Ravens to only 161 yards passing. Their strategy was not to get beat deep and they allowed only one pass over 20 yards and that was to Anquan Boldin, who got most of that yardage with a run after the catch. What the 49ers did not do was cause a turnover, which has been a key to their success.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus -- The 49ers have now gone 33 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher and their goal-line stand was the best thing they did all night. This team is flawed, but it would be hard to find a defense that plays the run better than they do.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- David Akers boomed another 52-yard field goal. It's his sixth three-pointer from over 50 this season. Returner Ted Ginn Jr. consistently had the 49ers starting drives past their own 30. Andy Lee might have had his best game punting of the season averaging 57.6 yards per punt. That's fourth highest in the league this year.

COACHING: C-minus -- The 49ers were playing on a short week, three time zones away from home, and it showed. The offensive game plan had no answer for the Ravens' strong pass rush and the running game has grounded to a halt.

Cardinals report card: Arizona 23, St. Louis 20

PASSING OFFENSE: F -- Quarterback John Skelton played poorly for the second consecutive game, completing 12 of 23 passes for 114 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns. Skelton was sacked three times, but all weren't the fault of the offensive line. He seemed tentative in releasing the ball, probably because he was erratic at the beginning of the game.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- Running back Beanie Wells set a franchise record with 228 rushing yards and broke career-long runs of 71 and 53 yards. His previous longest run was 39 yards, done earlier this season against the Giants. The offensive line and tight ends obviously did a nice job, and Wells didn't seem to suffer any from a problematic knee.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- The Cardinals pressured Sam Bradford, stripping him once and recovering a fumble. They did a decent job against the Rams' receivers, but then, that group isn't very good.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- Steven Jackson gained 64 yards on 17 carries and wasn't much of a factor. Inside linebackers Daryl Washington and Paris Lenon played well, as did the defensive front. The Rams had to renovate their offensive line because of injuries, and the Cardinals dominated.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Patrick Peterson got his fourth punt return for a touchdown this season, tying an NFL record, but the Rams returned a punt for a score, too. Jay Feely made three field goals. The longest was 37 yards, but in a tight game, it was important he make the easy ones.

COACHING: A -- The Cardinals' offensive staff had a nice game plan. Arizona used more jumbo packages, with three tight ends, and pounded the ball on the Rams. Defensively, the Cardinals are improving. If the offense had made as much progress over the last month, the team would be feeling good about itself.

Rams report card: Arizona 23, St. Louis 20

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- QB Sam Bradford had a respectable passer rating (85.8), but that was largely because he didn't throw an interception. He was sacked just twice, but both were game-changers in the red zone, and one resulted in a lost fumble. Bradford did have a nice throw to Brandon Lloyd in the corner of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- The Rams tried to run Steven Jackson, but there was little room. Save for a 19-yard run on the second play of the game, Jackson totaled just 45 yards on his other 16 attempts.

PASS DEFENSE: B-plus -- The coverage was good, the Rams had two interceptions, and Cardinals QB John Skelton had a passer rating of 30.0. However, just as Skelton had two big runs on the only touchdown drive in the Rams' Nov. 6 loss, he had a 13-yard run on third-and-13 in the third quarter that led to Arizona's only offensive touchdown of the game Sunday.

RUSH DEFENSE: F -- The Rams had no answer for Beanie Wells, who rambled for a club-record 228 yards, including runs of 71 and 53 yards. One positive was a play in the fourth quarter in which LB Brady Poppinga dropped Wells for a 5-yard loss and stole the ball away from him. That led to the Rams' only offensive touchdown of the game and tied the score at 20. However, on the fourth play of the Cardinals' next possession, Wells went 53 yards to the Rams' 9-yard line, setting up the game-winning field goal.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- Some good things were overshadowed by the 80-yard punt return for a touchdown by Patrick Peterson. Donnie Jones' net average for the game was 33.4 yards; without the touchdown, it was 42.8. Nick Miller raced 88 yards for a touchdown on a punt return. However, Josh Brown, one of the best long-range kickers in the league, missed from 50 yards.

COACHING: D -- Most would give the coaches a failing grade, but execution wins and loses games. Coach Steve Spagnuolo was criticized for not having confidence in his offense, but that offense has given him no reason to have confidence in it. On run defense, adjustments were made to what Arizona was doing, but the players failed.

Seahawks report card: Washington 23, Seattle 17

PASSING OFFENSE: F -- Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson finished 14 of 30 for 144 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Jackson had a 69.3 passer rating. Doug Baldwin was Seattle's leading receiver with five receptions for 60 yards. But Seattle had at least six drops.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- The Seahawks had their fourth game with over 100 rushing yards, totaling 124 on the ground. Marshawn Lynch finished with 111 yards on 24 carries. But leading by 10 points in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks failed to grind out the clock with the running game.

PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- The Seahawks allowed Washington quarterback Rex Grossman to throw for a season-high 314 yards and two touchdowns. Seattle also intercepted Grossman twice, but cornerback Brandon Browner allowed a 50-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Armstrong for the game-winning score.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- Washington rookie running back Roy Helu finished with 108 yards on 23 carries, including a 28-yard touchdown where he hurdled Seattle defensive back Roy Lewis. Helu became only the second running back this season to rush for over 100 yards against Seattle's stout defense.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Returner Leon Washington finished with returns of 37 and 51 yards. But Seattle effectively iced kicker Steven Hauschka when tight ends Zach Miller and Anthony McCoy rushed onto the field late for a 51-yard field-goal try. Seattle had to call a timeout, and Hauschka pushed his attempt wide right.

COACHING: D -- There appears to be no real end in sight for Seattle's rash of penalties, and head coach Pete Carroll has failed to realize the important of limiting his team's miscues, particularly during critical moments of the game.

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