Will the 49ers thrive in the NFC West?
By: Jake Rajala
The NFC West is more competitive than a fight between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi (outside of their last-ever fight). The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers may have new faces at the quarterback position, but they should still be unpleasant teams to face. With that said, I’m going to simply rank the NFC West teams and untwine how successful the NFC West teams should be in 2022.
Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams improved in the back-end of last season and I expect them to continue to wreak dominance next season. I believe Allen Robinson is an upgrade over the more popular Odell Beckham Jr. The Rams will also have a healthy Cam Akers in their offense. The Rams team with the salary cap turned off also inked the future Hall of Famer Bobby Wagner — as the Rams could realistically have a Top-5 defense and the best run defense next season. It would be an understatement to say LA is well-equipped to click play on a 2022 season that yields the most difficult schedule in the NFL.
The Arizona Cardinals were underrated entering the 2021 season — excluding a projection from Cynthia Frelund and my personal take on AZ entering 2021.
With that said I believe they are underestimated without DeAndre Hopkins in 2022. They may struggle to beat quality teams without D-Hop (as he has a six-game suspension), but they should still have vengeance and return to the post-season with their talented HC-QB combo, Hollywood Brown, and a healthy J.J. Watt. The Cardinals have the second-most difficult schedule next season, but I like their chances of making the playoffs as a wild-card team.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers were the biggest underdog in 2021, as they clawed their way to an NFC Championship appearance. Their Albert Einstein-like head coach still has Deebo Samuel, Nick Bosa, George Kittle, and a hulk in LT Trent Williams. Although, I don’t like their outlook with a young quarterback and a brutal schedule. I believe they won’t return to the NFC playoffs — as I believe teams like the Saints, Vikings, and Eagles are more logical wild-card destined squads.
Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner fled the Rainy City this off-season. I honestly believe that the likely Geno Smith-led Seahawks could have a Top-5 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. It should also be noted that Jamal Adams is coming off his worst season and D.K. Metcalf is a potential trade candidate at the moment. Hence, It wouldn’t be a complete surprise if their WR was out of the building by the trade block and Adams was out of the west coast in potentially the 2023 season.
If the Seahawks get Baker Mayfield, they could be more likely to retain Metcalf. If Baker is in a Seahawks uniform and he is able to return to Pro Bowl-like form, they could move above the 49ers and be a darkhorse NFC team.