Around the NFC West: 49ers step forward

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle quotes cornerback Nate Clements as saying the 49ers took a step forward by winning at Buffalo. Ray McDonald says the 49ers will continue playing hard for Mike Singletary as the team builds for the future.

Also from Crumpacker: Clements and Takeo Spikes enjoy their Buffalo homecoming. Fans booed Clements, but deep down they love him, the cornerback said.

More from Crumpacker: Frank Gore promises to rebound from a tough performance.

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers finally played a game in Singletary's image. Spikes says the performance showed the 49ers' true character.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' secondary stepped up against the Bills. Maiocco also provides links to his report card, game story and a story about Clements. The report card gives an "A" to the defensive line.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Joe Nedney prevailed in the battle of kickers after Rian Lindell missed twice. Also, Bills fans pelted the 49ers' team bus with snowballs before the game.

Also from Barrows: The 49ers beat the odds in overcoming the elements to beat a team with a winning record on the East Coast.

More from Barrows: Linebacker Manny Lawson and the 49ers' defense was dialed in against the Bills one week after floundering in Dallas.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News sees Singletary's fingerprints all over the 49ers' victory.

More from Brown: Bay Area product Trent Edwards succumbed to the 49ers' defense and a groin injury.

Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers were literally numb Sunday. Nedney couldn't feel his feet, thanks to the cold weather.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' past is standing in the way of its future heading into the final four games.

John Morgan of Field Gulls asks how the Seahawks should use what figures to be a very high draft choice in 2009. Quarterback and offensive tackle are two high-profile possibilities.

Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times cites sources as saying there's no way Jim Mora will be the next head coach at the University of Washington. Mora, of course, is under contract to coach the Seahawks beginning in 2009.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams will lose 10 or more games in a season for the sixth time in 14 seasons in St. Louis.

Also from Thomas: The Rams' defense showed improvement. Leonard Little says the defense had a different mentality.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams stopped giving the ball to Steven Jackson because coach Jim Haslett thought the running back was worn out. Jackson: "No, I wasn't gassed. I had 21 carries and felt great. So, it wasn't me and my conditioning. I wish [Haslett] would stop saying that."

Also from Coats: A report card with an "F" grade for Rams quarterback Marc Bulger.

More from Coats: Rookie seventh-round choice David Vobora played "fairly well" under the circumstances, Haslett said.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat sizes up Jackson's performance in his first game back from injury. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano says the Rams' running back looked like a defensive lineman running through the secondary.

Also from Korte: The Rams have scored one touchdown in their last four games.

More from Korte: Rams rookie Chris Long managed two quarterback hits and a tackle for loss in his matchup with Dolphins rookie Jake Long.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Bulger has lost whatever magic he once had as Rams quarterback. Opponents stomped it out of him a long time ago, Miklasz says. The question is whether Bulger can recover.

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says the Rams rediscovered their competitiveness even though they lost again.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals will have to wait until Week 14 for their next chance at winning the NFC West.

RugbyMuffin of Arizona Sports Fans Network noticed something while watching NFL action Sunday. Bad weather and tough defense prevailed over teams fitting the Cardinals' profile. The Steelers' victory at New England was particularly instructive.