The NFC West remains a gauntlet, and the 49ers should be at least somewhat concerned about these four new faces within the division.
The San Francisco 49ers won’t have the luxury of cruising through a relaxed NFC West this upcoming season.
In addition to the Niners’ playoff aspirations, the Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks all remain legitimate postseason contenders, and each squad saw its own notable upgrades and roster changes since Super Bowl LV, and it’s a pretty safe bet to note how these four NFC West teams could all beat each other up pretty significantly during their two-apiece matchups with each other this season.
No wonder why FanSided’s Stacking the Box Podcast listed the NFC West as the most grueling division in all of football entering 2021:
The Cardinals onboarded former Houston Texans EDGE J.J. Watt, while the Seahawks reinforced their shoddy offensive line with former Las Vegas Raiders guard Gabe Jackson. Then the Rams made the blockbuster trade with the Detroit Lions for veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Those are just some of the veteran additions. And there are some NFL Draft additions the Niners should worry about, too.
Let’s take a look at which four new faces in the NFC West who should concern San Francisco the most this season.
49ers worry-about player No. 4: QB Matthew Stafford, Rams
It’s more than safe to admit now-Lions quarterback Jared Goff was holding back the Rams offense under head coach Sean McVay, and the multitude of storylines behind how frustrated McVay was growing with Goff need little rehashing.
Was it bold for Los Angeles to trade with Detroit for the 33-year-old Stafford, who has dealt with a multitude of injuries the last few years? Yes. But does Stafford offer up a lot more upside than Goff likely will at any point in his career.
Yes to that, too.
Stafford is coming off a 4,000-yard season last year with the Lions in which his coaching staff was lackluster and pass-catchers Marvin Jones and T.J. Hockenson were his only legitimate receiving weapons. And without a bona fide run game, Stafford was asked to do too much, too often.
That’ll all change with the Rams.
As long as Stafford stays healthy, which could still be a challenge behind a questionable LA offensive line, he’ll enjoy McVay’s innovative offense and the bevy of weapons at his disposal.
Stafford’s first year with the Rams could go south in a hurry. But if it doesn’t, teams like the 49ers must be wary.