5 bold predictions for 49ers, rest of NFC West in 2021
By Peter Panacy
No. 2: Cardinals fire Kliff Kingsbury before end of season
Based on talent alone, the Arizona Cardinals should have the firepower to be a hot contender within the NFC West, challenging the 49ers, Rams and Seahawks for the division title. After all, quarterback Kyler Murray is looking like he’ll be the real deal, while wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is arguably the best wide receiver in the game.
An upgraded offensive line, quality players at safety and some proven pass-rushers help, too.
Even before Arizona added veterans like wideout A.J. Green and EDGE J.J. Watt, it should have been hot in the playoff mix a season ago. Yet head coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t help matters at all, and he squarely finds himself on the 2021 hot seat, especially according to The Draft Network:
"His team declined throughout the season, rather than get better, and I think that reflects on the head coach. Additionally, Kingsbury routinely has game management blunders and questionable in-game coaching decisions. There is also the question if Kingsbury ever deserved this job to begin with. Before being named the head coach of the Cardinals, he had just been fired by his alma mater Texas Tech, where he had just a 35-40 overall record."
Year three needs to be the season in which the Cardinals either make the postseason or are eliminated effectively the last week, and even the latter might not be enough to save the head coach.
But in this bold prediction, Arizona falls out of contention earlier, ultimately leading to Kingsbury’s dismissal.