49ers rival No. 4: Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals may not be overly high on the list of San Francisco rivals, but after being a tough thorn in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s side over the last few years, it’s rightful to put the Red Birds here.
Arizona might have had its small window close, though, in the wake of promising starts the last two seasons, followed by epic collapses in the second half under head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Following a 2022 offseason that saw more headaches than solutions, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell ranked Kingsbury’s squad third worst in league-wide offseason analysis by writing:
"The Cardinals just aren’t very good at valuing players within the context of the league, and they get too attached to the recent past,” he wrote. “Even if (Marquise) Brown does pan out, trading a first-round pick for the former Ravens wideout basically prices the Cardinals into extending their new receiver, meaning they’ll be investing more than $40 million between (DeAndre) Hopkins and Brown. That’s before getting into the second-round picks they’ve used on Andy Isabella, Rondale Moore and tight end Trey McBride — and the new deal the Cards gave Zach Ertz to keep the longtime Eagles tight end around."
49ers fans have to be laughing there.
And they may be laughing, too, at the standoff quarterback Kyler Murray is having with the Cardinals. Sure, the Niners are enduring their own with All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel, but Murray’s frustrations amid his own extension talks are getting to a toxic level.
San Francisco would love nothing more than this NFC West rival to experience a massive drop this season.