Grading the NFC West: Week 13

Handing out grades to the 49ers and their three divisional rivals in the NFC West for their performances in Week 13 games.


49ers report card: San Francisco 26, St. Louis 0


PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus Alex Smith missed on two deep passes to Ted Ginn Jr., but made up for it with perfect deep throws to Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree. Davis dropped a 40-yard pass in the end zone, but Crabtree caught his for a 52-yard score. Smith completed 17 of 23 passes for 274 yards and his 142.3 passer rating was the highest of his career. He also connected with Kyle Williams for a 56-yard scoring pass – San Francisco's longest offensive play of the season.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Frank Gore averaged only 3.5 yards per carry, but the run game was helped out by two reverses and an end-around that netted a combined 55 yards. Nevertheless, this was Gore's fourth consecutive game without gaining 100 yards rushing after reaching that figure in each of the five games before that. This team also continues to struggle in the red zone. Gore did have a nice 20-yard burst and, while picking up 73 yards on 21 carries, he became San Francisco's all-time leading rusher in just his seventh NFL season.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- Backup Rams quarterback A.J. Feeley was constantly harassed and sacked four times. Trailing most of the game, Feeley could only muster 156 yards passing with a long of 34 yards. The 49ers also swatted away four of his passes and intercepted him once. The 49ers lead the league with 84 passes defensed. Dashon Goldson swooped in for the pick to stop one of the three drives in which St. Louis drove into San Francisco territory, and the Niners sacked Feeley four times, with rookie Aldon Smith looking dominant while getting two of them, giving him 9.5 for the season.

RUSH DEFENSE: A-plus -- The Rams averaged 1.3 yards per carry and did not get a first down rushing as the NFL's leading rushing defense again was dominant with perhaps its best game of the season. This was the first time the team had not allowed a rushing first down since last November against Arizona. Even without star middle linebacker Patrick Willis most of the game, the 49ers completely shut down the Rams, limiting them to just 31 yards on 23 carries. Star running back Steven Jackson was stoned to the tune of 19 yards rushing on 10 carries, and Jerious Norwood needed 11 carries to get his 19 yards. The two other Rams to carry the football both lost yardage. The Rams were simply overwhelmed practically every time they tried to rush the football.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- David Akers again kicked four field goals and has a team record 32 made field goals on the season. Akers needs 17 points to beat Jerry Rice's 1987 franchise record of 138 points scored in a single season. Andy Lee had another sky-scratching 61-yard punt and dropped three of his five efforts inside the Rams' 20. Once again, these units helped the 49ers win the battle of field position with another commanding performance.

COACHING: B-plus -- Excellent rebound game after the nationally televised loss in Baltimore. But the persistent red-zone problems fall partially on the coaches, as does the offense's poor performance on third downs. The 49ers cruised to a 26-point victory and their first shutout since 2009, but this was a game they easily could have put 40 points on the scoreboard against a reeling, overmatched opponent. Just the same, the 49ers have 10 victories and a NFC West title in their pocket just 12 games into the season, and Sunday's outcome was never in question.


Cardinals report card: Arizona 19, Dallas 13 (OT)


PASSING OFFENSE: C -- There were bad throws, poor protection and dropped passes, but the Cardinals rebounded from them all to be productive. Kevin Kolb threw for 247 yards, with 52 of them coming on the game-winning screen pass for a touchdown in overtime.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Beanie Wells gained 56 yards in the second half, and Kolb accounted for 20 yards in the game. A solid effort against a defense that was stacking the box. Wells finished 67 yards rushing on 20 carries.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- The Cowboys didn't commit a turnover, but the Cardinals prevented big plays and sacked Tony Romo five times. The secondary is doing a much better job than it did in the first month of the season.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Cowboys gained 75 yards on 20 carries, and their longest gain was 11. The Cardinals have allowed one rushing touchdown in the last five games.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Kicker Jay Feely made both of his attempts, and the field-goal block team is scaring opponents. A long kickoff return by the Cowboys, however, could have proved costly. Punter Dave Zastudil's net average was 45 yards to continue his strong season.

COACHING: A -- The players stuck with coach Ken Whisenhunt during the six-game losing streak. It's clear they trust him. The defense has improved greatly in the last month, a credit to coordinator Ray Horton and his staff. Offensively, things still look ugly at times, but the improvement in the second half provides some hope that better days are ahead.


Rams report card: San Francisco 26, St. Louis 0


PASSING OFFENSE: F -- QB A.J. Feeley passed for only 156 yards and 34 came on a circus catch by WR Brandon Lloyd. However, Lloyd was targeted only twice, the same number of targets for WR Danario Alexander, who returned to the field after missing five games because of a hamstring injury. Brandon Gibson and Austin Pettis were each targeted seven times.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- If there was a grade lower than F, the Rams would get it. The Rams ran 23 times for 31 yards, and 14 came on a nine-yard run by Steven Jackson and a five-yard run by Jerious Norwood. The other 20 attempts by running backs totaled 23 yards. On a third-and-1 play in the fourth quarter, FB Brit Miller lost a yard and LG Jacob Bell was injured on the play.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- The Rams sacked QB Alex Smith four times and generally did a decent job in pass defense. Two big touchdown plays of 52 and 56 yards ballooned Smith's total yards to 274. However, TE Vernon Davis also dropped a sure touchdown pass in the end zone, and Smith overthrew another open receiver. Smith's passer rating was 142.3.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The Rams – who entered the game ranked last in the NFL in rushing defense – did a good job on the 49ers' running backs, allowing just 79 yards on 29 attempts to Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon. They did get gashed on reverse runs of 25 yards by WR Kyle Williams, 16 by Ted Ginn Jr. and 14 by TE Delanie Walker.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- They weren't really a factor in the game. Punter Donnie Jones made sure Ginn wasn't able to spring a return, averaging just 39.6 yards per punt, but with a net of 37.3.

COACHING: B -- The reality is that the Rams' coaches enter games with a gun that isn't loaded. Despite a 2-10 record, the players enter each game with a will to win. But, they simply aren't good enough, and that was never more apparent than against the Niners, who could have made this game even more lopsided on the scoreboard than it already was.


Seahawks report card: Seattle 31, Philadelphia 14


PASSING OFFENSE: B -- The Seahawks didn't throw much against Philadelphia, but they were effective when they did, with Tarvaris Jackson finishing 13 of 16 for 190 yards and an 11-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- Marshawn Lynch bowled his way for 148 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, five yards short of a career high. Lynch has rushed for at least 100 yards in four of his past five games.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- Seattle held Philadelphia quarterback Vince Young to just 208 passing yards and forced him to throw four interceptions. Cornerback Brandon Browner rebounded from a poor performance against Washington and finished with two picks.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Seattle's stout run defense held explosive Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy to just 84 yards on the ground.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka booted a 49-yard field goal. Punter Jon Ryan helped control field position, finishing with two punts inside the 20-yard line. Not much out of the return games.

COACHING: A -- Pete Carroll did a nice job of getting his guys prepared to play after they let one slip away last week against Washington. Even though the Seahawks are likely out of the playoff hunt, Carroll still has his team playing with intensity each week.



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