Grading the NFC West: Week 10

Handing out grades to the 49ers' three divisional rivals in the NFC West for their performances in Week 10 games.


PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Seattle tossed two touchdown passes without an interception, but there were other problems. QB Seneca Wallace held the ball too long on a play that led to a sack, forced fumble and 89-yard touchdown return. Wallace lost two fumbles while dropping back to pass. WR Darrell Jackson scored another touchdown, but he also dropped a pass near the sideline.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- RB Maurice Morris topped 120 yards for the second consecutive week. Though no one knew it at the time, Morris had been playing with some nagging injuries that limited his effectiveness. He found ample first-half running room against the Rams' soft defense. C Chris Spencer was very physical in the ground game while filling in for injured veteran starter Robbie Tobeck.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- CB Kelly Herndon played one of his finest games of the season as Seattle held Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce without a touchdown reception. Holt in particular had given Seattle problems over the years. The Pro Bowl wideout averaged only 10.8 yards per catch in rainy conditions against an improved secondary. SS Jordan Babineaux nearly picked off a pass while DT Chuck Darby, starting in place of injured Marcus Tubbs, had two sacks. LB Julian Peterson did not get a sack, but his pressure led to at least one sack by a teammate.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The Seahawks kept Rams RB Steven Jackson from racking up huge numbers. Jackson found running room and the Seahawks never really stopped him. But they contained him just enough so that Jackson, who rushed for 93 yards, didn't influence the outcome of the game. Jackson's size was a concern after Chiefs RB Larry Johnson dominated Seattle on the ground late last month.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus -- The Seahawks can't complain about a 90-yard punt-return touchdown or another game-winning field goal. There were some warts, notably a kickoff out of bounds early in the game, but Seattle could live with those given the big plays. RB Josh Scobey set up the winning field goal with a 33-yard kick return in the final minutes. Seattle special teams played one of its best games when the team needed it most.

COACHING: B -- Special-teams coach Bob Casullo has taken plenty of heat when things didn't go right. He deserves some credit after Seattle's special teams essentially won the game. WR Nate Burleson changed the momentum of the game with a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. K Josh Brown made his third game-winning kick of the season. The offensive plan was solid in terms of focusing on the run, but two play calls stood out as questionable. One was an ill-fated receiver pass. The other was an empty-formation play that exposed inexperienced QB Seneca Wallace to a blind-side hit from unblocked Rams DE Leonard Little. Defensively, the staff got more out of its secondary than expected against such a high-powered offense. SS Jordan Babineaux made aggressive plays on the ball. CB Kelly Herndon played an outstanding game. A few blitzes got pressure at key times.


PASSING OFFENSE: C -- On a windy and rainy afternoon, QB Marc Bulger had one of his worst games of the season. His 26 completions totaled only 215 yards (8.3 per completion) and his passer rating was 68.2, breaking a string of six consecutive games with a rating of at least 106.6. The 68.2 rating was his lowest of the season. Even in the final drive that resulted in the go-ahead touchdown, Bulger was 7-for-9, but for just 47 yards.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Steven Jackson had 93 yards on 18 attempts, and scored the 14-yard touchdown that put the Rams ahead late in the fourth quarter. His 30-yard run in the game was his second longest of the season.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- Even though Seneca Wallace had a passer rating of 114.6, he threw for only 161 yards and the Rams got to him for five sacks and two forced fumbles. In the second half, he was 4-for-8 for 15 yards, although 12 of the yards came on the final drive for the game-winning field goal.

RUSH DEFENSE: D-minus -- Maybe it should be an F, but the bottom line is another poor outing. Maurice Morris rushed for 124 yards on 21 attempts and had 15 yards on the first two carries of the game-winning drive. It seems the run defense is getting worse, not better.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- OK, Jeff Wilkins had another three field goals and is now 23-for-26 for the season. That's the good news. But the punt coverage team, which had allowed a long return of 12 yards in the first eight games, broke down and allowed a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown. The kickoff coverage was very good (14.4 per return) until the 33-yarder that set up the game-winning field-goal drive.

COACHING: C -- Coach Scott Linehan is deservedly getting criticized for going for a first down on 4th-and-a-long-1 from the Seahawks' 12-yard line in the fourth quarter. The Rams led 16-14, and a field goal would have given them a five-point lead. The play failed, a pass to rookie TE Joe Klopfenstein, on a play call where FB Paul Smith claimed he didn't hear the play that required him to go out on a pass pattern.


PASSING OFFENSE: D -- QB Matt Leinart struggled for a third consecutive game. He was sacked only once, but too many of his passes sailed high. He completed 20 of 38 passes for 216 yards but didn't throw a touchdown pass and had two interceptions. Larry Fitzgerald had six receptions for 80 yards and Anquan Boldin broke two catches for 53 yards, but it didn't help the offense put points on the board.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- The run game was actually effective at times, but the club fell behind and couldn't stick with it. Edgerrin James averaged 4.5 yards on his 15 carries against the league's fifth-ranked rushing defense, a number that must look particularly good with the season he is having.

PASSING DEFENSE: D -- Dallas QB Tony Romo passed for 308 yards and two touchdowns and wasn't sacked. He was able to pick apart the Cardinals secondary, completing 20 of his 29 throws without an interception.

RUSHING DEFENSE: B -- The Cardinals stopped the run for most of the day, but the defense eventually wore down, giving up a total of 126 yards, but a respectable average of just 3.6. The return of NT Kendrick Clancy helped immensely.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- They didn't do anything to impact the game, either positively or negatively. The coverage teams were better, but the return teams still aren't producing.

COACHING: C -- At least the effort was there this week, unlike the previous two games. Coach Dennis Green showed some daring by going for it on two fourth-down situations. The offense appears to have no direction, however, and the Cardinals remain the worst team in the league, proving it this time with a 17-point loss on their home turf.

Niners Digest Top Stories