Around the NFC West: New rankings loom

Good morning. It's a busy one here as I compile and tabulate our Power Rankings heading into Week 2. The rankings haven't been kind to the NFC West for some time, and it's looking like a couple teams from the division are heading south based off results from opening week.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down some of the reasons we should expect the Rams to drop, and all of them are related to injuries. Thomas: "All in all, it was the worst injury outcome from any one game that Steve Spagnuolo could recall as Rams head coach." We've gone over the injuries in great detail already and there will be plenty of opportunities to do so again. For now, let's quietly move along to the next item.

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch does not change the subject entirely. He looks at how the Rams could have been caught without a quarterback Sunday. Spagnuolo: "I thought [Sunday] was a real learning experience, not just for the players, but for the coaches as well. It was a learning experience for me on the quarterback situation. ... And I'm not sure how we'll handle it going forward."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says losing Danny Amendola for an extended period would hurt the Rams more than some might realize. Miklasz: "Sure, Amendola is limited in scope. He's not a downfield threat, per se. Since the start of last season he's averaged only 8.2 yards on his 90 receptions. But Amendola has emerged as a constant go-to guy for QB Sam Bradford. The young Bradford knows that Amendola will read the defense, adjust if necessary, run the correct routes, be where he's supposed to be, and catch the football. That's an important resource for an inexperienced NFL quarterback."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times runs through what we should have learned from watching the Seahawks in Week 1. Problems on special teams would be particularly problematic if they continued, he notes. O'Neil: "Special teams was the strength of this team last year whether it was Leon Washington running back three kickoffs for touchdowns in 2010, nearly running a punt back or Seattle consistently shifting field position in its favor through solid coverage units. The Seahawks' special teams won Seattle's Week 3 game against San Diego last season, and while special teams didn't lose the season-opener in San Francisco, it cost the Seahawks a chance to win. Was this an aberration or a sign of decline among the special-teams units."

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times is not expecting quick improvement from Seattle.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com runs through the major themes of the day from Seahawks headquarters, including this one: "After being off Tuesday, the players will return to an East Coast schedule on Wednesday because they’re playing in Pittsburgh this week. The walk-thrus on Wednesday and Thursday will begin at 10:15 a.m. -- or 1:15 p.m. EDT. Practice those days will start at 11:45 PT."

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are focused on improving their defense. McManaman: "Against the Panthers, the Cardinals defense delivered on new coordinator Ray Horton's promise to blitz and attack. The Cardinals sacked Cam Newton four times, hit him seven times and had nine tackles for a loss. With that kind of pressure, they also managed to stuff Carolina's running game, holding the Panthers to 74 yards. But the secondary struggled all day. There were several missed assignments. There were too many players out of position. And it didn't help that the Cardinals were using two young, new starters at cornerback, Patrick Peterson and A.J. Jefferson."

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic looks at how new Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb is earning teammates' trust. Boivin: "Poor body language was an issue last season. After a game, when a player was asked about the team's quarterback play, he often would shift his feet. Pause. Force a compliment. Not Sunday. During a postgame radio interview, wide receiver Early Doucet kept talking about the look in Kolb's eye and how he's the type of leader you want to follow." Noted: Kolb's personality does appear to lend itself to leadership. That jumped out to me right away upon visiting Cardinals camp. He put up big numbers in his first game and came away with a victory. That is more than any other quarterback in the division can say coming out of Week 1.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says Jim Harbaugh's comments about the 49ers getting no recognition dovetail with what Bill Walsh once said during the first few years of his 49ers tenure. Maiocco: "The 49ers were coming off a 6-10 season. The 49ers took a huge step forward with a monumental 45-14 over the Dallas Cowboys at Candlestick Park. In those days, the only national highlight show took place at halftime of "Monday Night Football," with Howard Cosell narrating. When the 49ers-Cowboys highlights were not shown, Walsh used the snub as fuel for motivating his players. The 49ers won a rematch with the Cowboys in the NFC Championship game, and won the organization's first of five Super Bowls. Coincidentally, the Cowboys are coming to Candlestick Park on Sunday. And another victory should attract some attention around the country." Noted: Harbaugh has a pretty firm grasp of 49ers history since the Walsh era. I wouldn't be shocked if his comments were calculated, even though Harbaugh has to realize his current team differs from the one Walsh took into that 1981 season.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers' depth at receiver isn't as good in reality as it appears on paper. Also, the agent for free-agent quarterback David Garrard suggests several unnamed teams are interested in his client, with a new one emerging recently. Noted: Sounds like the agent wants to enliven a soft market.

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat offers thoughts on Harbaugh's style.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers will have to open up their offense against superior opponents.