NFC West report card: Week 11

Grading the 49ers' three divisional rivals in the NFC West for their performances in Sunday's games


PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Kurt Warner turned in another great performance, throwing for three touchdowns. He wasn't sacked, and his two young receivers, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, made big plays.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- The Cardinals still haven't gained 100 yards in a game this season, but they had 94 Sunday. They had the lead for much of the game and were able to stick with the run.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- They had five sacks, one of which knocked Marc Bulger out of the game. But Bulger also passed for three scores, and the Rams had 385 yards.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- Rams running back Steven Jackson gained just 6 yards on 12 carries. The Cardinals brought a safety down to the line of scrimmage on almost every play, and the Rams didn't adjust.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Neil Rackers made all three field-goal attempts, extending his streak to 31. Reggie Swinton set up a touchdown with a 90-yard kick return. It was the best all-around performance of the year by the special teams.

COACHING: A -- The Cardinals aren't very good, but they play hard. Both the defensive and offensive schemes were creative, even though the team was missing several key players because of injury.


PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Marc Bulger and Jamie Martin combined to complete 33 of 43 passes for 385 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. That's very good. But Bulger was sacked three times and Martin twice, with the last sack on Bulger knocking him out of the game. Stats mean little when the starting quarterback is lost because of failure to pick up blitzers.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- Brutal. RB Steven Jackson rushed 12 times for 6 yards, lost a fumble deep in Arizona territory, and five of his attempts went for minus-11 yards. In one second-quarter stretch, Jackson had 13 yards on three attempts. His other nine rushes "totaled" minus-7 yards.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- Except for one sack/fumble in the first quarter, the Rams got no pressure on QB Kurt Warner, who picked them apart all afternoon. Warner, playing in St. Louis for the first time since leaving the Rams after the 2002 season, completed 27 of 39 passes for 285 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was 115.9.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- The Rams weren't gashed for big plays, but they still allowed a team that had averaged 67.4 yards a game to gain 94 yards on 26 carries. Rookie RB J.J. Arrington had 45 yards on 11 attempts.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- The Rams were showing improvement on coverage units until a huge breakdown late in the game. After kicking a field goal to pull within 24-20 with 3:35 remaining in the game, the Cardinals' Reggie Swinton took the ensuing kickoff 90 yards to the 5-yard line, setting up a touchdown that virtually sealed the victory. David Allen did average 26.5 yards on six returns, while K Jeff Wilkins hit two extra points to extend his streak to 301, tying Norm Johnson for the second-longest consecutive streak in NFL history.

COACHING: C -- First, there was interim coach Joe Vitt's questionable decision to kick a field goal on fourth-and-5 from the Arizona 14-yard line, training by seven points. Later, Vitt used the team's final timeout with 2:04 left in the game.


PASSING OFFENSE: B -- QB Matt Hasselbeck's rating was well into the 90s, but this was not an efficient performance by Seattle's standards. The team failed to sustain drives. There were dropped passes by WR Peter Warrick and TE Jerramy Stevens. Hasselbeck also nearly threw a critical interception that the 49ers might have returned for a touchdown had they not dropped the ball. The 49ers came close to another interception on a pass that caromed high into the air. The pass protection was very good, with pressure resulting only when Hasselbeck held the ball too long, which he did with some frequency.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- RB Shaun Alexander gained 40 of his 115 yards on a single run. The running lanes seemed to shrink as the game progressed. Alexander still scored twice on the ground, but this was not a signature performance by his standards. The worst play resulted in a 12-yard loss when Alexander tried to reverse field. He admitted to making a poor decision on the play. The 49ers did a nice job against the cutback runs that Seattle has used effectively this season.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- Seattle's cornerbacks found themselves in position to make plays a few times, only to watch the 49ers come away with the football. That was the case when 49ers WR Brandon Lloyd made his acrobatic one-handed grab for a 44-yard gain against CB Kelly Herndon. The pass rush was definitely good enough, however. DT Rocky Bernard collected two more sacks, giving him 7.5 on the season (more than any DT besides the 49ers' Bryant Young, who has eight).

RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus -- Seattle has yet to allow an individual 100-yard rusher, but the run defense remained vulnerable to the occasional big play. Seattle shut down starting RB Kevan Barlow, but backup RB Maurice Hicks broke loose for a 50-yard run. Seattle also allowed a rushing TD for only the third time this season. DT Rodney Bailey again was effective, even when the 49ers double-teamed him.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Seattle suffered three more penalties on special teams returns, continuing a season-long trend. K Josh Brown also missed from 50-plus yards for the first time this season. FS Marquand Manuel did make a huge play by forcing a fumble on a 49ers kick return. RB Josh Scobey recovered to set up a field goal. Manuel also recovered the 49ers' late onside kick with Seattle clinging to a 27-25 lead.

COACHING: B -- The superior game plan belonged to the 49ers. Their defensive scheme took away the cutback runs while largely masking severe personnel shortcomings in the 49ers' secondary. The special teams took a step backward after showing progress the previous week.

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