NFC West Stock Watch


1. Steve Spagnuolo, Rams head coach: Cornerback Justin King would make for a convenient scapegoat here after allowing three touchdown passes to Ravens rookie Torrey Smith. Singling out King would also miss the broader point. Spagnuolo tops the list this week not only because the Rams were horrible during a 37-7 home defeat to Baltimore, but also because they've been horrible too frequently in losing their first three games. Their defense has vastly underperformed. That was the one component of the Rams that appeared best positioned to play well based on continuity and personnel. It was also the one area Spagnuolo could influence the most. The Rams rank 32nd in rushing yards allowed.

2. Frank Gore, 49ers running back: Gore is averaging 2.5 yards per carry through three games. He lost a fumble and had a pass bounce off his helmet during critical points of the 49ers' victory over Cincinnati. Gore's rookie replacement hasn't fared any better from a yards-per-carry standpoint, a reflection of shaky blocking. The 49ers haven't fielded offensive lines packed with Pro Bowl players in seasons past, yet Gore managed to get his yardage then. An ankle injury might have slowed Gore some against the Bengals.

3. Kevin Kolb, Cardinals quarterback: Two interceptions and three sacks worked against the Cardinals during their 13-10 defeat to Seattle. Kolb was not entirely to blame for the defeat, obviously, but the Cardinals acquired him with an expectation that he would make a positive difference in games such as this one.


1. Sidney Rice, Seahawks receiver: Not long ago, reports of a torn labrum raised questions about whether Rice might be headed for season-ending surgery. Those fears were misplaced. Rice caught eight passes for 109 yards in his Seahawks debut. His shoulder proved strong enough to prevent the Cardinals' Adrian Wilson from wresting the ball away after an early reception. Seattle will have to open up its offense to compete with better teams. That would be impossible without Rice.

2. Vernon Davis, 49ers tight end: Davis met with coach Jim Harbaugh to discuss his role in the offense after catching only seven passes for 65 yards through the 49ers' first two games. The 49ers made him a bigger part of the plan during their 13-8 victory over Cincinnati. Davis caught eight passes for 114 yards, becoming Alex Smith's go-to receiver with the game on the line.

3. Calais Campbell, Cardinals defensive end: The NFC West produced plenty of defensive candidates for a spot on this list. Kam Chancellor, Leroy Hill, Chris Clemons, Ahmad Brooks and Carlos Rogers come to mind. I went with Campbell for the sheer level of his dominance against Seattle. Campbell finished the game with 10 tackles, four quarterback hits and 2.5 sacks, sensational numbers for anyone, let alone for a 3-4 defensive end.