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NFC West Stock Watch

Falling

1. Cardinals leadership. Coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves lost their jobs following Arizona's second 5-11 season in the past three years. Their inability to upgrade the quarterback position was the No. 1 reason for their demise. Having a head coach with a background on offense should have translated to better play at the position.

2. David Akers, 49ers kicker. Akers missed wide left from 40 and 44 yards during the 49ers' 27-13 victory over Arizona in Week 17. His numbers are down from 40-plus yards. The situation has gotten bad enough for the 49ers to consider other kickers. They signed Billy Cundiff this week.

3. Beanie Wells, Cardinals RB. Wells went into Week 17 saying he would be auditioning for the 31 other teams. Whisenhunt responded by leaving Wells on the bench against San Francisco. Wells, a first-round pick in 2009, had been expected to stabilize the offense upon returning from injury Nov. 25. He finished the season without averaging more than 3.9 yards per carry in a single game.

4. Patrick Peterson, Cardinals CB. Peterson's stock should be rising after his selection to the Pro Bowl. However, he had a rough game against San Francisco's Michael Crabtree. Peterson had issues against the 49ers earlier in the season as well. He pointed to injuries after this one. "I went into the game with a nagging injury that kind of fell over into the game," he told reporters in Arizona. Peterson did not finish the game.

Rising

1. Highly drafted WRs. The 49ers' A.J. Jenkins is excused from this discussion after dropping a pass and finishing his rookie season with zero receptions. Crabtree joined Seattle's Golden Tate and Arizona's Michael Floyd in putting up big numbers in Week 17. Those three totaled 19 receptions for 443 yards and three touchdowns on 27 targets. Each averaged better than 20 yards per reception. All three were high draft choices over the past few seasons.

2. Rams' pass protection. Barry Richardson, Shelley Smith, Scott Wells, Robert Turner and Rodger Saffold get some credit for allowing zero sacks over the Rams' past two games. Line coach Paul Boudreau got more than anticipated from this patched-together unit. Seattle collected zero sacks against the Rams on 43 drop backs. Chris Clemons did have a fumble-forcing sack converted to an incomplete pass through replay.

3. Snubbled players. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman played at a Pro Bowl level all season, including when he picked off Sam Bradford's final pass Sunday to secure a 20-13 Seattle victory. He was nonetheless left off the Pro Bowl team this season, settling for first-alternate status. 49ers tackle Anthony Davis and Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane also failed to earn Pro Bowl honors despite playing at a high level during various parts of the season. Both appeared to play well in Week 17.

4. Franchise QBs. Colin Kaepernick, Bradford and Russell Wilson each passed for at least 250 yards while combining for a 70.8 Total QBR score for their teams in Week 17. They combined for five total touchdowns with just one interception. Wilson averaged 13.2 yards per pass attempt. Kaepernick averaged 9.9.