NFC West Stock Watch


1. Free-agent wide receivers. Sidney Rice, the Seattle Seahawks' marquee addition in free agency, landed on injured reserve following his second concussion of the season. Shoulder, knee and foot injuries bothered him earlier. Another free-agent receiver in the division, Braylon Edwards, was inactive for the 49ers while recovering from knee and shoulder injuries. The 49ers invested far less in Edwards than Seattle invested in Rice. Still, these big-name receivers have seen their stock fall. Cheaper, younger alternatives stepped up Sunday, notably the 49ers' Kyle Williams and the Arizona Cardinals' Andre Roberts. Seattle has gotten strong play from undrafted rookie Doug Baldwin all season.

2. Job security in St. Louis. The Rams have lost twice to John Skelton over the past month. They failed to score against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. They are trending in the wrong direction and appear unable to do anything about it. Consider this your weekly "falling" item on the Rams. Not much more to say.

3. Bill Leavy's self-esteem. What's this about the league assigning the Super Bowl XL referee to work a game in Seattle for the first time since the Seahawks complained about multiple controversial calls in the big game six years ago? It's scheduled to happen Monday night. Fans have long memories and loud voices. This could be a rough night for Leavy.


1. Jed York, San Francisco 49ers president. The week would have been a success for York and the 49ers even if the team did not clinch the NFC West title. That is because the 49ers secured $850 million in financing for their proposed stadium. Throwing in a 26-0 home victory over St. Louis for a 10-2 record, division title and team's first playoff berth since the 2002 season was certainly nice, of course. Stocks are rising for quite a few other 49ers, including Williams, new franchise career rushing leader Frank Gore, quarterback Alex Smith, receiver Michael Crabtree, rookie outside linebacker Aldon Smith and others. There wasn't space to honor them all.

2. Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle Seahawks QB. Jackson appeared to be winding down for the season until he completed 13 of 16 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns during a 31-14 victory over Philadelphia. Marshawn Lynch certainly could have represented Seattle in this spot as well. He was phenomenal against the Eagles. Lynch's stock was already quite high, however. Jackson's enjoyed a higher percentage gain, for sure. This was probably his best game of the season even though the team lost Rice to injured reserve a few days before the game.

3. Ray Horton, Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator. The Cardinals have won four of their last five games, allowing 63 points in those victories. They held Dallas to 13 points, the Cowboys' second-lowest total of the season. They collected five sacks, a high against Dallas this season. Young outside linebackers Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield are improving. Arizona has allowed only five touchdowns in its past five games after allowing 20 in its first seven.