Final Word: NFC West

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 13:

Seeking historic start: The San Francisco 49ers have gone 2-0 in Colin Kaepernick's first two starts at quarterback. A victory against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday would make Kaepernick the first 49ers quarterback since the 1970 merger to win his first three starts with the team. Joe Montana went 0-3 for the 49ers when Bill Walsh was in the early stages of an organizational rebuild. Steve Young went 1-2 in his first three starts with the team, tossing one touchdown and four interceptions in those games.

Not bad for a backup: Recently demoted 49ers quarterback Alex Smith can point to a 19-5-1 starting record since the start of last season as evidence he is getting a raw deal. Kaepernick (2-0), Smith and Seattle's Russell Wilson (6-5) are the only quarterbacks with winning records as starters for NFC West teams over that stretch. Records for the others: Tarvaris Jackson (7-7), John Skelton (6-6), Kevin Kolb (6-8), Sam Bradford (5-15-1), A.J. Feeley (1-2), Ryan Lindley (0-1), Charlie Whitehurst (0-2) and Kellen Clemens (0-3).

Linebackers in focus: The Rams had their way with the 49ers' defense in the running game when the teams battled to a 24-24 tie in Week 10. They succeeded in getting blockers on the 49ers' usually outstanding inside linebackers, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.

Vic Fangio, the 49ers' no-nonsense defensive coordinator (is there any other kind?), wasn't about to blame the defensive struggles on some imaginary lack of focus or motivation. "Well, to me, that’s just an excuse," he said. "We got blocked."

The 49ers have subsequently tightened up their run defense and rewarded Bowman with a contract extension through 2018. Can they better contain Steven Jackson, who has 321 yards over the past three games? Note that the Rams have scored 20-plus points just 15 times since 2010, and four of those were against the 49ers. They have 270 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns in their past two games against San Francisco.

Central time: The Seahawks have a 3-4 record under coach Pete Carroll when playing in the Central time zone. Oddly, that includes a 2-0 mark against the Bears at Soldier Field, site of Seattle's game this week. The Bears are 15-5 at home against everyone else.

Dropping off the map: The Cardinals averaged 22.8 points per game during their 4-0 start. They have averaged 12.7 points per game while losing their next seven. They went from winning games by 7.5 points on average to losing them by 11 points on average.

This is the third consecutive season Arizona has suffered a losing streak of at least six games. Arizona is the only team in the NFL with more than two such streaks over the past three seasons. Buffalo and St. Louis each have two. Thirteen other teams have one. The Cardinals haven't lost eight in a row since 2006. They fired Dennis Green as coach after that season.

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this item.