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Thursday, December 1, 2011
Around the NFC West: Fumbling it away

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford dropped back to pass on first down and had no idea the Arizona Cardinals' Sam Acho was about to sack him.

Acho had swiftly beaten left tackle Adam Goldberg. Bradford had been holding the ball in both hands, but he was just beginning his throwing motion when Acho wrapped both arms around Bradford at biceps level. The ball came out and Bradford had no chance at a recovery with Acho slamming him to the ground.

Paris Lenon recovered for the Cardinals, killing a Rams drive that had reached the Arizona 16-yard line.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says fumbles have been a big problem for Bradford this season. Thomas: "(Bradford) has fumbled 10 times in nine games this season and lost a league-high seven fumbles. The only players in the NFL even close to the latter total are quarterbacks Joe Flacco of Baltimore and Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets, who have five lost fumbles apiece this season." Noted: Improved pass protection, better receiving targets and a quick passing game would help Bradford significantly.

Also from Thomas: a closer look at those fumbles.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com updates the team's injury situation, noting that Tarvaris Jackson felt better this week than in the recent past. Coach Pete Carroll: "I think his confidence that he can get through it is there. And he’s throwing the day before the game, and he hasn’t thrown less than two days before the game in past weeks. So this is a big improvement for him." Noted: This comes as a surprise after Jackson seemed to struggle making throws against the Redskins. Jackson has three touchdowns and seven interceptions since returning from the injury in Week 8. He ranks 29th in completion percentage (55.0), 17th in yards per game (210.6), fourth in most interceptions and 27th in Total QBR (37.7) during that time, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with Neil Hornsby of Pro Football Focus for thoughts on various Cardinals players' viability for Pro Bowl consideration. Hornsby named Adrian Wilson to his Pro Bowl team through Week 12. Hornsby via Urban: "Very consistent, very balanced all-round performance with underneath coverage being a strong suit. Giving up less than 50 percent completions when thrown at and has a passer rating of 66.8 into his coverage. Areas to work on: cutting back on penalties and getting better value than two hits and four pressures from his 46 blitzes." Noted: Wilson seems to have improved as the season has progressed. That comes as a surprise, in my view, given that Wilson suffered a torn biceps tendon during training camp. I wondered whether Wilson might be vulnerable as he tried to play with the injury. Instead, Wilson has been able to start every game, and his biceps seems to have improved. He has long since shed the protective wrap he had been wearing.

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle asks whether opponents have solved the 49ers' offense in recent weeks. Branch: "Consider that in their past three games, the Niners have: scored four touchdowns, with just one coming on a drive of more than 50 yards. They have scored one touchdown on 26 drives originating in their own territory; converted 13 of 44 third downs (29.5 percent), a lower conversion rate than their season total of 30.6 percent, which ranks 30th in the NFL; and collected three touchdowns (and four field goals) in nine trips to the red zone." Noted: This is a fair question. I thought the 49ers were unusually sloppy in multiple phases during their 23-7 victory over Arizona. Their performance against Baltimore last week stood as their worst of the season. Facing the Rams should help this week.

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News says Frank Gore needs only 22 yards to become the 49ers' all-time rushing leader.

Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers great Steve Young doubts the team can become elite offensively. Young: "What you learned last week is our defense can go anywhere, anytime, anyplace. We just pack it -- I don’t care if it’s on a two day rest, a bye week -- this defense is going to be good and down the road they’re going to be great. But the offense is not ready for prime time, generally in a playoff atmosphere. You see how they couldn’t protect. They just couldn’t kind of get going. And so it depends on who they play. They're going to have a home game against Detroit, Atlanta. ... It doesn’t always show early. To me it will show later when they need to score 31 against the Packers, they need to score 35 against the Saints. That’s a tough one there, and that’s where you ask your defenses, 'Look, these are the best offenses in the league. Keep them under three scores. You’ve got to do that.'"