How I See It: NFC West Stock Watch


1. Delanie Walker, 49ers tight end. The fumble he lost at the New Orleans 8-yard line killed a potential scoring drive, turning momentum against the 49ers. The running game seemed to perk up with rookie Nate Byham on the field as the second tight end and situational fullback. But that fumble was what landed Walker on this list.

2. Derek Anderson, Cardinals quarterback. Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck probably deserved a spot on this list, so I'll mention him, too. But Arizona hadn't gone a full game without a third-down conversion since a Sept. 28, 2003, defeat at St. Louis, a span of 109 regular-season games. That it happened in Anderson's second start with the team drags down his stock.

3. Steve Spagnuolo, Rams coach. Spagnuolo admitted the Rams appeared undisciplined against Oakland in Week 2. The team hasn't shown an ability to win close games even against bad teams. The defeat in Oakland was ugly.


1. Alex Smith, 49ers quarterback. Smith hasn't led a fourth-quarter comeback victory since 2007, but he came close Monday night, forcing a tie against New Orleans with an impressive drive late. Two interceptions proved costly, but it was tough to fault Smith for one of them.

2. Golden Tate, Seahawks wide receiver. Tate's stock fell when Seattle named him inactive for Week 1. Sufficiently motivated, the rookie broke out in Week 2 with a 63-yard punt return and 52-yard reception on his first two NFL touches. He's the new punt returner.

3. Tim Hightower, Cardinals RB. Hightower ranks sixth among NFL players in rushing yardage after collecting a career-long 80-yard scoring run during an otherwise forgettable game against Atlanta. Hightower is averaging 7.0 yards per carry, putting more distance between himself and injured challenger Beanie Wells.