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Tuesday, November 13, 2012
NFC West Stock Watch

By Mike Sando

Falling

1. Wayward Rams rookies. The St. Louis Rams battled to a 24-24 tie in San Francisco without cornerback Janoris Jenkins or receiver Chris Givens. Coach Jeff Fisher named both players inactive for violating team rules. Jenkins had been struggling in recent weeks. Givens was coming on strong and had produced at least one 50-plus reception in five consecutive games, a rookie record. The Rams ran their offense through Danny Amendola, but they certainly could have used another big-play threat in such a close game. Jenkins and Givens saw their stock fall Sunday.

2. 49ers run defense. The Rams weren't the first team to have success with inside runs against nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga and the 49ers' usually stellar defense. Steven Jackson (101 yards), Marshawn Lynch (103) and Ahmad Bradshaw (116) have topped 100 yards rushing against San Francisco over the 49ers' past four games. The team had allowed just one 100-yard rusher (Lynch) over its previous 43 games.

3. Isaiah Pead, Rams RB. The rookie running back lost a critical fourth-quarter fumble against the 49ers. The 49ers took over at the St. Louis 20 and scored a quick touchdown for a 21-17 lead with 8:29 remaining in regulation. Pead fumbled during a kickoff return following a 49ers touchdown. The miscue was part of a 19-second sequence in which a 10-point Rams lead turned into a four-point Rams deficit.

4. Rams' opposing QBs. The Rams sent 49ers quarterback Alex Smith to the sideline with a concussion Sunday. They previously picked off Seattle's Russell Wilson three times and sacked Arizona's Kevin Kolb nine times. The rough treatment largely explains why the Rams are 2-0-1 in the NFC West after going 0-6 in the division last season.

Rising

1. Danny Amendola, Rams WR. Amendola caught 11 passes on 12 targets for 102 yards against the 49ers. Penalties wiped out a 62-yard punt return and an 80-yard reception for Amendola. So much for easing back into the Rams' offense following a five-week injury absence. Amendola ranks 14th in the NFL with 14 third-down receptions despite missing all that time. His 12 third-down receptions for first downs rank tied with Wes Welker and Steve Johnson for 12th most in the NFL.

2. Sam Bradford, Rams QB. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady overshadowed Bradford in the Rams' two most recent games before Sunday. Bradford stepped up in class against the 49ers' defense and won more battles than he lost. He completed 8 of 12 passes for 102 yards on third down. He completed 14 of 19 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter and overtime.

3. Ball hogs. The Seattle defense forced the New York Jets into five three-and-out possessions. The Seahawks' offense possessed the ball for 12:05 of the fourth quarter. Seattle has held possession for more than 24 of 30 minutes in fourth quarters over the team's past two games. Lynch leads the NFL in rushing yards (270) for fourth quarters and overtimes. He had six carries for 60 yards in the fourth quarter Sunday. Lynch finished with 127 yards. His production helped Seattle's offense finish what its defense started.

4. Rams offensive line. Rodger Saffold returned to the lineup at left tackle, but the Rams were still without projected starters at left guard and center. Together, the line won more battles than it lost against the 49ers' defense. Bradford took two sacks in 39 drop backs. Jackson topped 100 yards rushing. The Rams finished with 159 yards rushing and a 4.3-yard average. They had 458 yards