How I See It: NFC West Stock Watch


1. Jed York, 49ers president. Let's go right to the top. It's not Mike Singletary's fault the 49ers hired an inexperienced, apparently one-dimensional head coach. It's not Singletary's fault expectations surged when York promised a playoff appearance last season. It's not Singletary's fault that York came out this week saying the 49ers would win the division despite their 0-5 start. It's not Alex Smith's fault the 49ers committed to an unproven quarterback when Donovan McNabb was available during the offseason. York is the one who enthusiastically hired Singletary, then watched as the organization moved forward without viable fallback options at head coach and quarterback. York appears to have the right intentions, but to say the organization has fallen short on the execution front would be an understatement.

2. Steve Spagnuolo, Rams coach. That failed onside kick to open the Detroit game put the spotlight on Spagnuolo following one of the more discouraging performances of this young NFC West season. The Rams had won two games in a row, beating the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks with strong defensive efforts. They should have been competitive, at least, against a 0-4 Lions team. Losing 44-6 to one of the worst teams in the league will drag down the stock of any head coach.

3. Sam Bradford, Rams QB. Losing top receiver Mark Clayton for the season accounts for Bradford's inclusion on this list. Bradford has played more like a veteran than a rookie for significant stretches this season. That was not the case Sunday and Clayton's early departure from the game obviously hurt. On a side note, I could have named in this spot any number of 49ers players, from Smith to the uncharacteristically fumble-prone Frank Gore, but York served as 49ers catch-all this week. As for Bradford? His long-term stock forecast remains decidedly positive. It's the short-term outlook that took a hit when Clayton's patella tendon gave out.


1. John Schneider, Seahawks GM. The Seahawks didn't even play in Week 5, but they scored a significant victory by landing a 2011 fourth-round draft choice from New England in the Deion Branch trade. The Patriots hold two fourth-rounders, their own and one from Denver. Seattle gets the highest of those two choices. I wondered whether Seattle could get even a fifth-round choice for the 31-year-old Branch. Getting the better of two fourths allowed Seattle to recoup most of the value lost when Seattle sent its own fourth-rounder to Buffalo for Marshawn Lynch.

2. Kerry Rhodes, Cardinals S. Two fumble recoveries for touchdowns in a two-week period will get any safety noticed. Rhodes made other significant plays during the Arizona Cardinals' 30-20 victory over New Orleans. The Arizona defense played its best game of the season and Rhodes played a key role.

3. Michael Crabtree, 49ers WR. Nine catches for 105 yards against Philadelphia showed the 49ers are more committed to getting the ball in Crabtree's hands. Crabtree has 14 receptions for 163 yards in the two games since Mike Johnson replaced Jimmy Raye as offensive coordinator. He had six catches for 81 yards in the 49ers' previous three games.