The NFL season is just around the corner and the San Francisco 49ers are looking to claim the NFC west once again. The Niners had no trouble winning the division last year due to a fast start and a slow start by the other teams in the division. Niners are favored to win the division in 2012 but it will not be as easy as it was the previous year. The Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, and Arizona Cardinals were all improving towards the end of last season and made many moves during the offseason. Which team will be the Niners biggest threat to their NFC west title?
I want to begin with the Rams. The success of the Rams will depend on QB San Bradford. Bradford was the Rookie of the Year in 2010 and looked to be headed towards super stardom. The 2011 season was a regressive year for Bradford, but it was not entirely his fault. The offensive line did not do well protecting him, leading to Bradford’s injuries. He also had a depleted wide receiving core, in other words there was not a lot of help around Sam.
The Rams made strong moves in the offseason hiring new head coach Jeff Fisher and by signing free agent cornerback Courtland Finnegan. They also had four picks in the first two rounds in the 2012 NFL draft, that will help the Rams build for the near future. The Rams will be improved from last season but I do not see them winning the NFC west.
Next we have the Cardinals. This was a team that was looking downright scary last season. The Cards got off to a slow start in 2011, but were competitive in their losses. The Cards have weapons on offense lead by arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL Larry Fitzgerald. The Cards also have a sneaky good defense, they have many great playmakers on defense lead by the soon to be superstar CB Patrick Peterson.
The biggest problems for the Cards are their offensive line, like the Rams, they had a difficult time keeping their quarterbacks upright. The other issue is going to be the quarterback battle. Kevin Kolb was brought in last season to possibly bring stability to the quarterback position but had his struggles and injuries during the 2011 season. John Skelton started a few games for the injured Kolb and played well.
Many of those starts for Skelton resulted in wins for the Cards including one against the Niners. It will be interesting who will be named the opening day starter. The Cards will be a threat in the NFC west, but the O-Line issues and possible quarterback controversy might be enough to cut the goal short of winning the NFC west title.
In my opinion the biggest threat to the Niners will be the Seahawks. Head coach Pete Carroll is doing a great job in building a team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Many experts believe the Seahawks have the potential to become a top 5 defense in the NFL. They also have a great running game lead by Marshawn Lynch and are hoping the signing of quarterback Matt Flynn will solve their quarterback issues.
If I had to pick a hole in the Seahawks it would have to be the quarterback position. Something that the division has in common is great defenses and questionable quarterbacks. In the case of the Seahawks they signed Flynn based on one remarkable game with the Green Bay Packers. A game in which he put up video game type numbers, but the Seahawks do not have receivers like the Packers or run the same type of offense. Feels like it’s going to be a hit of miss with Flynn. With the quarterback position being a question mark, I believe the Niners have an edge over the Seahawks.
In the end it is the Niners division to lose. I agree with most NFL analyst that suggests head coach Jim Harbaugh is building a championship contender for many years to come. GO NINERS!!!!!!!!!