NFC West: nfc stock watch 8
Shaun Hill, 49ers QB
The 49ers' former starting quarterback became their former No. 2 quarterback when the team signed David Carr to a two-year deal. Hill can point to a 10-6 starting record and support from the 49ers' locker room. Usually reserved Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis even criticized the 49ers' interest in Carr via Twitter (later apologizing). Of all the 49ers' quarterbacks in recent seasons, Hill was the only one with a winning record and the only one to demonstrate clear leadership skills. Hill can't measure up physically to Carr or starter Alex Smith, and there was a sense he had peaked during the 2008 season. Hill went only 3-3 as the starter last season (Smith went 5-5). His salary is $1.5 million in 2010 and the 49ers appear positioned to part with him.
Steve Breaston, Cardinals WR
Arizona's decision to trade receiver Anquan Boldin moves Breaston into a starting role. The Cardinals acknowledged as much by tendering Breaston to a first-round choice as a restricted free agent. Breaston played nearly 65 percent of the Cardinals' offensive snaps last season. That figure should rise as the Cardinals move on without Boldin. Breaston provides needed speed to the Cardinals' offense. He should also be healthier this season after fighting through a knee injury last season. Breaston should have little trouble increasing his receptions total from 55 last season closer to the career-high 77 he caught in 2008, even without Kurt Warner at quarterback.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
1. Leonard Weaver, FB, Seahawks. Four catches for 116 yards? From a fullback? Get real.
2. Donnie Avery, WR, Rams. Rookie receivers aren't supposed to catch on this quickly. Not even the Rams expected this level of production so soon.
3. Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals. Caught nine passes, two for touchdowns, in first game back from injury. Nice effort on 30-yard rush.
5. Billy Devaney, VP of player personnel, Rams. The Rams have taken heat for poor drafting, but their 2008 class is looking marvelous. Even Keenan Burton made contributions Sunday.
6. Mike Singletary, head coach, 49ers. His postgame rant bordered on bizarre in my view, but it's tough to fault Singletary for benching O'Sullivan and Davis. And we all know Singletary is boss.
8. Chris Long, DE, Rams. Two more sacks put him on pace for nine. Long is improving and getting more comfortable.
9. Josh Wilson, CB, Seahawks. Seattle hasn't gotten many interceptions this season, but Wilson made his count.