The San Francisco 49ers are taken to again finish the best in the west, but it'll be anough tough battle in the hardest division in the league.
Predicted NFC West finish
- San Francisco 49ers
- LA Rams
- Seattle Seahawks
- Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
The reigning NFC champions were just one quarter away from winning the Super Bowl and getting back to that point is all they can think about. It seems the Niners front office is aware of the Super Bowl window and is doing everything they can to stay in it.
Consistency is the key for this 49ers team that retained the fourth most snaps played in the NFL. They will miss the talents of Joe Staley, Deforest Buckner and Emmanuel Sanders, but the team was quick to find replacements for them all. They used their two first round picks to draft ASU WR Brandon Aiyuk and standout D lineman Javon Kinlaw, while before the draft was even finished they had traded for former Pro Bowler Trent Williams, who may even be an upgrade for them at LT.
They didn’t mess around in keeping their stars either, making George Kittle the highest paid TE by a long way and tying down HC Kyle Shanahan to a long-term deal. They looked like they may lose RB Raheem Mostesrt who requested a trade in the off-season but they reached a compromise on a new incentive laden deal.
The biggest question mark for the 49ers in a tough division will be staying healthy as they struggled with injuries all off-season, they hope to have Deebo Samuel, Ben Garland, Brandon Aiyuk & Kwaun Williams all back early on in the season which could be key for a long play-off run.
Much like the Pittsburgh Steelers, the LA Rams were a team that would’ve made the play-offs last season with the current play-off system. Not only that but they were a chip shot FG miss away from making it anyway and being the wild card team instead of the Seahawks.
Everyone seems to have written off the Rams but this is a team run by one of the best adjustment head coaches in the league. Sure they had some bad losses last season but look at how they adjusted in games against the 49ers and Seahawks.
They were able to create very close games and give McVay a full off-season to adjust and prep and LA could come back with a vengeance. They may not win the division but don’t at all be surprised to see the team that everyone thinks will be last, sitting in second place and going to the play-offs.
The Seahawks were a inch away from winning the NFC West last season, yet they felt miles away from the 49ers. The Niners won eight games by more than seven points while the Seahawks managed to outscore their opponents by more than seven just twice! While they have Russell Wilson they have a chance, he is easily the second best QB in the league, but he had to play at a near MVP level every game just to scrape past teams like the Bengals, Browns & Panthers, this just doesn’t seem sustainable longer term.
The biggest move of the off-season for Seattle was the addition of All-Pro safety Jamal Adams who makes up part of their new look impressive secondary. On the offensive side of the ball, the team looks much the same and they will look to lean on running back Chris Carson again, but will also be hoping for second year WR DK Metcalf to take the next step into becoming a standout WR.
While the Seahawks still have a great chance with Russell Wilson, it feels like they have survived by the skin of their teeth and teams with lots of one-score wins tend to regress due to luck, this begs the question; Were the Seahawks lucky last season, or was Russell Wilson just that clutch?
Arizona have all the makings of a team your average fan can get behind. A young exciting QB coming off a OROY year (let’s not get into how that should’ve gone to AJ Brown), they trade for a Top 3 WR in DeAndre Hopkins while sending a pittance in return, they used their first round pick on freak athlete Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons and they have an exciting HC that is implementing college concepts in the NFL. What more could you want?
The answer to that is production, while the Cardinals were a fun watch last year, they only won five games. They struggled with their offensive line, an issue many expected them to address in the first round of the draft, and many times Kyler Murray made things harder for the O line.
They also made Budda Baker the highest paid safety in the league and while it’s important to lock up your stars, it couldn’t help but feel like this was a bit of a stretch.
Arizona will be a fun watch for sure and they are sure to give their tough division rivals some tight games but it feels perhaps just one year too soon for them to be rising up the NFC West ranks.
One of, if not the best division in football this season, we've had two different teams in the Super Bowl the last two years and the Seattle Seahawks appearing in back-to-back Super Bowls themselves not so long back.
Preference is for the 49ers to remain on top but this one will be a tough slog with brutal games between all four of them. The Rams could bounce back from a tough year last year and while the Arizona Cardinals are certainly exciting, they don't look to have the experience to get out of the division just yet.