The 49ers still have to play their third preseason game later tonight, but the rest of the NFC West is a wrap this week, and we continue to learn things about the 49ers rivals. It was a good week for most, but a bad week for the Arizona Cardinals, which I suppose should no longer be a surprise.
The Cardinals suffered a significant loss to their offensive line as left guard Jonathan Cooper left the game with an injury that is now being described as a broken left fibula. The Cardinals invested their first round pick in the North Carolina prospect, in hopes of shoring up what had been a weak offensive line. His backup is Chilo Rachal, and we don't really need to go into any details on him.
The Cardinals also saw running back Rashard Mendenhall leave the field with a knee injury, but he was later seen walking around on the sideline. Mendenhall is a talented back, but after back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons in 2009 adn 2010 in Pittsburgh, he has struggled with consistency. He is currently the Cardinals number one back, with Ryan Williams and rookie Stepfan Taylor behind him.
While it was a tough day for the Cardinals, the Rams had some highlight-worthy moments in a 27-26 loss to the Denver Broncos. Rookie Tavon Austin was relatively quiet in the passing game, but as expected, he was huge on punt returns. Austin ran back his first punt return for 81 yards, and his second for 23 yards. The 81-yarder did not go for a touchdown, but did set up the Rams inside the Denver 5-yard line. It's safe to say Austin will test the 49ers new look special teams this season.
Tight end Jared Cook caught four passes for 20 yards on a team-high six targets. Cook is a talented tight end, and I suspect we'll see Sam Bradford looking his way a lot. The 49ers linebackers can cover Cook, but it will be a bigger challenge than the Rams have presented in the recent past.
Tavon Austin gets all the rookie love, but the Rams other first round pick, Alec Ogletree, had himself a monster of a game. The linebacker had six tackles, intercepted Peyton Manning, and also forced a fumble by Ronnie Hillman, and then ran it 13 yards for a touchdown. It's only one game, but he looked sharp in his performance.
Oh, and of course there's Legatron, Greg Zuerlein. He booted a 58-yard field goal that probably would have been good from 65 or more. Ridiculous. Head over to Turf Show Times for some of their immediate post-game reaction.
The Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers 17-10 on Friday, in a game that saw 22 penalties called between the two teams. It wasn't pretty football, but Seahawks fans are getting excited about Christine Michael. The final pick of the second round this year carried the ball 11 times for 97 yards, and had one catch for 25 yards. This came after he rushed 16 times for 89 yards in his preseason debut against the Chargers.
Obviously he is getting some time against the end of the roster for some teams, but it is still some solid work. According to Field Gulls, he still has work to do in pass protection, so that is likely to hamstring his playing tim a bit. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how the Seahawks use him along with Robert Turbin behind Marshawn Lynch. Michael is seeming like the more likely long-term play, but which ever of the two gets more time behind Lynch, the Seahawks are in great shape at running back.
The Seahawks and Packers were getting particularly chippy in this game. The 49ers get the Packers Week 1 and the Seahawks Week 2. While the 49ers are generally a fairly disciplined team, the emotions will be a factor to consider in both games, but particularly up in Seattle.