The biggest potential threat to steal NFC West crown away from 49ers

Who is most capable of dethroning the 49ers from their divisional perch?
Los Angeles Rams v San Francisco 49ers
Los Angeles Rams v San Francisco 49ers / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

The San Francisco 49ers were clearly the best team in both their division, the NFC West, and the conference overall last season. They represented the NFC in last year's Super Bowl, nearly winning the franchise's sixth Lombardi Trophy overall.

While quarterback Brock Purdy and Co. are returning with most of their star players and capable veterans, the Niners will have their hands full repeating both feats this year.

Who is the most likely threat to win the NFC West if it is not San Francisco?

The Seattle Seahawks are in an interesting position as a franchise. This will be the first year in over a decade without head coach Pete Carroll calling the shots.

They have not won the NFC West in four years, though. The Hawks have finished at 9-8 the past two seasons. They have a quarterback in place, Geno Smith, but not for the long haul. Star receivers in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are still under contract, however.

The Seahawks don't exactly pose a major threat to the 49ers, at least not yet. Less scary are the Arizona Cardinals.

In the last five seasons, Arizona has only had one winning season which came in 2021, 11-6. The red birds have failed to win more than four games in the past two years as well.

While quarterback Kyler Murray is coming back from injury, the Cardinals added high-profile rookie wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. to their receiver core. Running back James Conner returns after recording more than 1,000 yards on the ground last season.

Yet, neither Seattle or Arizona looks to be a "guaranteed" playoff team.

The Los Angeles Rams are.

They sprinted to the Wild Card standings as they won seven of their last eight games to end the 2023 season. LA boasted the league's seventh best offensive yardage with 359.3 and the 10th best passing attack averaging 239 yards per game.

Putting a twist on things, quarterback Matthew Stafford is now backed up by former Niners signal-caller, Jimmy Garoppolo.

Los Angeles has veterans Cooper Kupp and DeMarcus Robinson along with Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell for Stafford to throw the ball down field to. The Rams added a stud in the first round with edge rusher Jared Verse out of Florida State, too.

Furthermore, they drafted running back Blake Corum out of the University of Michigan. He should make for a viable backup to Kyrien Williams, who had the third most rushing yards in the NFL with 1,144.

While the departure of now-retired and future Hall of Fame defensive tackle Aaron Donald hurts the defense, the Rams are the most likely candidate to win the NFC West crown, if it's not the incumbent winners, the 49ers.

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