Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann
As with every season, the San Francisco 49ers’ 2019 schedule will feature two games against each of their NFC West rivals. Before the offseason really kicks into gear with free agency in March, here is a preview of where each of the other NFC West teams stand right now.
The Cardinals find themselves very much in flux. First-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury will be looking to avoid the one-and-done fate that former HC Steve Wilks suffered last season. Last year the Cardinals drafted quarterback Josh Rosen in the first round and despite reports tying Kingsbury to QB prospect Kyler Murray, Arizona maintains that Rosen is their quarterback of the future. For the first time since 1958, the Cardinals will draft first overall. This provides an opportunity to plug one of the many holes across the roster. Offensive line is a standout need as Rosen spent much of his rookie campaign on his back. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is also nearing the end of his career and will need a replacement. Overall, the Cardinals need help in multiple positions and are unlikely to have a quick turnaround. In 2018, the Cardinals were able to win both matchups against the 49ers, however with QB Jimmy Garoppolo set to return from injury, it is difficult to envision this happening again in 2019.
Los Angeles Rams
The real question for the Rams is simple: Is the Super Bowl hangover real? In just HC Sean McVay’s second season, he was able to lead his talented roster all the way to the big game before losing to the ageless wonder that is Tom Brady, and Bill Belichick’s seemingly impregnable defense. The Super Bowl showing was less than ideal as McVay’s wunderkind offense screeched to a halt to the tune of 3 total points. The Rams’ young core of skill position players combines very well with the veterans in the trenches. They do have several players set to be free agents, including defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, free safety LaMarcus Joyner, guard Rodger Saffold and outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. Last season, the Rams saw C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens at quarterback and won both games rather handedly. The 2019 season should see better matchups between two offensive masterminds in McVay and Kyle Shanahan.
The Seahawks defied many expectations when they secured a playoff berth last season. However, they were handed a quick exit by the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round. Looking forward, the Seahawks must find a way to replace the last member of their famed “Legion of Boom.” When FS Earl Thomas suffered a broken leg against the Arizona Cardinals, he gave the Seattle sideline a one-finger salute, a clear sign he would not be returning to the only team he’s ever played for once free agency began. HC Pete Carroll must also figure out a way to fix his perpetually ailing offensive line for the sake of QB Russell Wilson. The Seahawks and 49ers split the 2018 season series, representing the first 49ers win over Seattle since 2013. It is reasonable to predict another split next season as not even Kyle Shanahan has managed to figure out how to win at CenturyLink Field.
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