Around the NFC West: Nedney's toughness

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers released Jason Hill to clear a roster spot for a kicker after finding out Joe Nedney will miss at least one game. Maiocco: "The 49ers are looking at three young players as possible kickoff specialists: Shane Andrus, Swayze Waters and Garrett Lindholm." Nedney deserves praise for finishing the game Sunday and making the winning kick in overtime after suffering what turned out to be a significant injury early in the game. According to the team, the left-footed Nedney suffered a right knee strain and bone bruise.

Also from Maiocco: a player-by-player review from the 49ers' overtime victory against the St. Louis Rams. On rookie guard Mike Iupati: "Started at left guard. His best play might have been his pass protection against defensive tackle Darell Scott on a short pass to Frank Gore. Iupati tossed Scott aside and then hustled 20 yards down the field to block James Laurinaitis to help Gore pick up 30 yards. Did a good job of picking up James Hall after he started to spin away from Staley (who had a broken leg) on the go-ahead touchdown pass to Crabtree late in the game. Blasted Gibson out of the way on play Gore gained 6 yards in OT to set up Joe Nedney's winning field goal."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee looks at how the 49ers' offense changed in Week 10. Also, right tackle Anthony Davis had problems against Rams defensive end Chris Long. Barrows: "Indeed, the 49ers' running game over the first half of the season was predicated on which direction Iupati was pulling. The team's first play to open the first four games was the same -- Frank Gore following Iupati through the hole. Against the Rams, however, offensive coordinator Mike Johnson often used Iupati as a decoy. If he pulled right, Troy Smith would pitch the ball to Gore left. It was a play that caught the Rams going in the wrong direction all afternoon."

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Alex Smith's shoulder injury might have saved the 49ers' season.

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle looks ahead to the 49ers' game against Tampa Bay. White on Davis, the rookie right tackle: "The rookie first-round draft pick has allowed seven sacks and is one of the most penalized linemen in the NFL. If he can't hold his ground against a Bucs defense that has an NFL-low eight sacks, oh brother."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Mike Williams' 35 receptions over the past five games rank second to Steve Largent's 36-catch team record over the same period. Farnsworth: "Largent caught 36 passes in a five-game stretch that stretched over two seasons: 12 vs. the Broncos, eight vs. the Lions, four vs. the Chiefs and seven vs. the Broncos to close the 1984 season and five vs. the Bengals in the 1985 season opener."

Also from Farnsworth: Roy Lewis is the Seahawks' man of the year.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks' situation at quarterback remains unsettled beyond this season in part because Matt Hasselbeck's contract expires.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune passes along Brian McIntyre's personnel report for the Seahawks against Arizona. Aaron Curry played nearly 91 percent of defensive snaps. McIntyre: "Curry played strong-side linebacker, defensive tackle in nickel and dime packages, and the nose in 12 of the 13 plays run out of the 'Bandit' package. Curry tied Thomas with a team-high 8 tackles, including one on special teams and two quarterback sacks. Chris Clemons had 17 snaps as the 'Leo', with Raheem Brock picking up the remaining four snaps. Kentwan Balmer was the 5-technique for 16 snaps, with Jay Richardson playing five snaps, all paired with Clemons."

Also from Williams: J.P. Losman is happy to be back with Seattle.

John Boyle of the Everett Herald says we shouldn't read too much into whatever happens when Seattle visits New Orleans. I think an upset victory would be more impressive than a defeat would be troubling. Boyle: "Maybe the Seahawks will surprise everyone and knock off the defending Super Bowl champs, or maybe they’ll be humbled on the road as they have so often been in recent years. But whatever occurs, it’s safe to say the Seahawks won’t be defined by this weekend’s result. We’ve seen impressive wins this season, and we’ve seen head-scratching losses, and at this point it’s futile to try to figure this team out based on either."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals were surprised to discover that starting right tackle Brandon Keith had suffered a third-degree hamstring tear. Jeremy Bridges could become the new starter. Coach Ken Whisenhunt on Keith: "He seems to have been making strides lately. He’s been pretty consistent as a run blocker. When he uses his technique right, he’s a very, very good pass protector. We were definitely encouraged by his play, and we feel good going forward with him as our right tackle."

Also from Somers: Keith was already playing despite a torn meniscus in his knee. He'll have surgery for that injury.

More from Somers: Former Cardinals and Seahawks running back Josh Scobey is working in Arizona's personnel department.

More still from Somers: hard questions for Whisenhunt.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic checks in with Cardinals linebacker and Rembrandt fan Paris Lenon.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says during a chat that rookie tight end Mike Hoomanawanui should probably get more playing time. The pass veteran Daniel Fells dropped in the fourth quarter proved costly.

Also from Thomas: Former NFL officiating director Mike Pereira says he thought the pass from San Francisco quarterback Troy Smith to tight end Delanie Walker -- the one that drew a key 22-yard interference penalty against Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe -- was uncatchable. That was my initial take from the press box, but my opinion changed after watching the play repeatedly on replay. More on this one later.

More from Thomas: The Rams face a tough road ahead.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch considers reasonable expectations for the Rams. Miklasz: "Even with the roster imperfections and youth, do we really give the team a free pass for blowing a 14-point lead at Tampa Bay after thoroughly dominating the Bucs for the first half? If the roster is so flawed that we can't expect the Rams to win on the road, then why was the same roster able to go into Tampa Bay and take firm control of that game, outgaining the home team 189-87 in the first half?" These were what I would consider growing pains. Teams often suffer such setbacks on their way to better things.