Around the NFC West: 49ers' prospects

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49rs' dominance of the Cardinals will not necessarily carry over into other games. Kawakami: "It's the weird chemical relationship between these two teams: The Cardinals always make the 49ers look good, and usually make the 49ers believe they are good. It's never correct, but on Monday night, before a national TV audience, Arizona whimpered and fumbled from the start." The 49ers have proved they can beat the Cardinals and Rams. They'll need to beat both of them again -- and beat Seattle in two weeks -- to realistically contend for the NFC West title. The Cardinals' run defense resembled the Seahawks' run defense Monday night, giving the 49ers hope within the division. Sustaining that ground game without Frank Gore could be tough, however.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says Brian Westbrook stepped up for the 49ers after the team lost Gore to a season-ending hip injury. Maiocco: "Coach Mike Singletary had the option of having Westbrook and rookie Anthony Dixon, who added 54 yards and a touchdown, share the load after Gore's injury. However, Singletary said he was driven to stick with the experience that Westbrook brings to the field."

Also from Maiocco: Vernon Davis' emotional pregame talk came complete with tears.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers had the emotional edge on Arizona.

Also from Barrows: An aggressive strike to Michael Crabtree early in the game set the tone for San Francisco.

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers finally found a team they could bully. White: "Not only did Westbrook earn the starting job, but he made sure quarterback Troy Smith kept his job for another week. All Smith had to do was hand off the ball, roll out of harm's way and throw an occasional pass, just to mix up things. Smith's numbers weren't good -- 11-for-23 for 129 yards with an interception -- but his play-action strike to Michael Crabtree was a thing of beauty, a 38-yard touchdown one play after Arizona fumbled on its first snap of the game. Heavy on the run, play-action on the pass ... it's how Singletary thinks the West still can be won."

Also from White: Niners rookie Anthony Davis had a good game Monday night.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt was extremely unhappy with his team's performance Monday night. Somers: "The 49ers (4-7) did nothing fancier than hit the Cardinals in their mouths, again and again. Gore rushed for 52 yards in the first quarter before leaving because of an injury. It was announced after the game that Gore had a fractured right hip and is out for the season. The 49ers didn't need him. By halftime, the 49ers had rushed for 128 yards and had a 21-6 lead. They finished with 261 yards rushing."

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' fumble on their first play set the tone.

Also from Bickley: The Cardinals' outlook keeps getting worse, with Derek Anderson's postgame tirade featuring more "fire and defiance" than the Cardinals' defense. Bickley: "During training camp, coach Ken Whisenhunt said this group was the most-talented team from top to bottom that he had since arriving in Arizona. Clearly, he has made serious mistakes in judgment along the way, ending one of the longer honeymoons a football coach has enjoyed in these parts."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says he did not expect the Cardinals to play so poorly.

Also from Urban: That early fumble sent Arizona tumbling.

More from Urban: a general overview of the Cardinals' problems against San Francisco.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks do not know whether they'll have receiver Mike Williams back from injury against Carolina. Coach Pete Carroll: "They looked at him and there wasn't a lot of improvement so we've got to wait and see what happens Tuesday until Wednesday. We'll have to go day-to-day and we'll rest him until he's ready to run fast. Until he can really go. We're not going to push him back on this thing until we get it kind of resolved. We'll shoot for the game time for sure."

Also from O'Neil: what he learned from the Seahawks' loss to Kansas City. O'Neil: "Red Bryant really did make that much of a difference in Seattle's rush defense. Through the first 22 quarters of this season, the Seahawks allowed an average of 3.3 yards per carry by their opponents. Why is that time frame significant? Because those were the 22 quarters that Red Bryant played before suffering a season-ending knee injury at the end of the first half in Oakland. Since then, Seattle has given up an average of 5.1 yards per carry, and on Sunday the Chiefs ran for 270 yards -- the most rushing yards Seattle has allowed in any game in 10 years." It's easy to see how quickly the Seahawks' prospects drop off when the team suffers injuries to key players. It had to be disconcerting for the team to see left tackle Russell Okung limping around during the game Sunday.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams could lose rookie tight end Mike Hoomanawanui for the remainder of the season. The Rams expect Hoomanawanui to miss four to six weeks, a significant blow to an offense already short on receiving targets. Hoomanawanui has touchdowns in consecutive games.

Bernie Miklasz of the Arizona Republic expounds on why he thinks the Rams' coaches erred with their late-game strategy against Denver. Miklasz: "With Denver crazed to stop the run, go ahead and exploit it by faking the handoff and throwing relatively safe, low-risk play-action passes. The Broncos were vulnerable to that strategy. Of if you want to run it, then spread the formation and loosen up the defense to give Jackson some running lanes. I've been writing it and offering the stats for weeks now; Jackson averages 4.5 yards per carry when the Rams go with 3 WRs. He averages 5.2 yards per carry when the Rams go with 4 wides."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says eight victories should be enough for the Rams to win the NFC West. That is particularly true if the team wins its remaining division games. The Rams have to like their chances at Arizona in Week 13.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' victory at Denver drew a 28.2 local TV rating.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says the team keeps crossing off items from its to-do list.