Grading the NFC West: Week 4

Handing out grades to the 49ers' three divisional rivals in the NFC West for their performances in Week 4 games.


PASSING OFFENSE: D -- QB Matt Hasselbeck tossed two ill-advised interceptions in the first half. This was a classic case of a quarterback trying to do too much. Yes, the Seahawks were without RB Shaun Alexander. Yes, the Bears have a tough defense. But this was no time for Hasselbeck to play the way he might have years ago. Those interceptions, coupled with a few drops, left Hasselbeck with his second-lowest passer rating as a starter. Five sacks hurt, too.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- The Seahawks struggled to run the ball because their offensive line didn't get enough push. RB Shaun Alexander wasn't available for this game, but his absence was largely irrelevant.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- CB Kelly Herndon and CB Marcus Trufant gave up several big plays, but it wasn't all their fault. Seattle's pass defense entered the game without nickel CB Jordan Babineaux, and the defense weakened further when SS Michael Boulware left the game with a concussion. The pass rush struggled as well. Seattle's small, quick pass rushers had problems against the Bears' bigger front. The Bears stoned a safety blitz on third-and-6 as they kept alive their opening touchdown drive, a sign of things to come.

RUSH DEFENSE: D -- The Bears hadn't run the ball well all season, but they got the ground game going after jumping to a big early lead on the strength of two turnovers. RB Thomas Jones and RB Cedric Benson combined for 35 carries, 135 yards and two rushing TDs. Seattle DT Craig Terrill's missed tackle near the line of scrimmage allowed Jones to break free for a 29-yard run, part of a 10-play, 65-yard TD drive.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Seattle allowed a 26-yard punt return and a 32-yard kick return while putting up mediocre return numbers of its own (3.0 yards per punt return and 23.9 yards per kick return). P Ryan Plackemeier suffered two touchbacks on his way to a 32.5-yard net average, a full 8.5 yards less than the Bears' 41-yard net.

COACHING: D -- The Seahawks were banged up and it showed, but that was no excuse for failing to be competitive. Coach Mike Holmgren eventually tried to move the pocket to keep Hasselbeck in one piece, but it wasn't enough. The defensive plan had no chance because the execution was so poor. This loss had less to do with scheme than simply not having the players ready to compete against an NFC contender on a national stage.


PASSING OFFENSE: A -- QB Marc Bulger passed for 328 yards, three touchdowns and had a passer rating of 110.0. Most important, Bulger showed outstanding pocket awareness, stepping up to avoid the rush, and hitting checkdowns when needed. RB Steven Jackson had six receptions for 65 yards. WRs Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce each had at least 100 yards receiving and rookie TE Joe Klopfenstein scored the first touchdown of his career. In the red zone, Bulger completed five of six passes for 53 yards and all three of his touchdowns.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Against a tough run defense, Steven Jackson and Stephen Davis combined for 26 rushes and 107 yards, and got mostly positive yardage, creating manageable down and distance situations. Jackson had 22 carries for 81 yards, and reached 20 attempts for the fourth straight game. He scored his first touchdown of the season.

PASS DEFENSE: B-minus -- Blitzes generally weren't effective, and the pass defense had issues. However, QB Jon Kitna's 29 completions averaged less than 10 yards (9.7), and two interceptions were crucial. When needed, at the end of the game, the defense got some pressure and stopped the Lions.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Save a 35-yard touchdown run by Kevin Jones on 3rd-and-1, the run defense was solid. Even with that run, Jones totaled just 93 yards on 19 rushes. On his other 18 attempts, Jones gained 58 yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus -- The kickoff coverage had no answer for Eddie Drummond except for two Jeff Wilkins late touchbacks. Drummond had six returns for 210 yards, an average of 35.0, and he had a 65-yard return. Give rookie cornerback Tye Hill credit, though. He had three tackles on Drummond, bringing him down from behind and preventing further damage because of his great speed. The punting and punt coverage was good, the Rams return game got little done. Jeff Wilkins had another four field goals, but a late miss from 47 yards (after he had made kicks from 42, 46 and 47) prevented the Rams from gaining as 10-point lead with 47 seconds remaining.

COACHING: B-plus -- Except for getting somewhat out of control on several occasions with the officials, Scott Linehan had his best day as a head coach, as his offense finally got on track.


PASSING OFFENSE: F -- The Cardinals gave up four sacks and had two passes intercepted, including one that was returned for a touchdown. Receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin combined for just 7 receptions and 108 yards.

RUSH OFFENSE: F -- Edgerrin James rushed for 41 yards on 20 carries and two of his first three runs went for minus yardage.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- The Falcons passed for just 143 yards, and the Cardinals returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown.

RUSH DEFENSE: D -- The Falcons had two 100-yard rushers, and the Cardinals gave up a 78-yard touchdown run.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- The kickoff return team was horrible, and the Falcons returned a punt 41 yards to set up a field goal. The Cardinals return teams produced nothing.

COACHING: D -- The Cardinals are 1-3 for the third straight year under Dennis Green. The offensive line doesn't look any better, and now the club is going with a rookie quarterback.

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