NFL Gridiron Gab Pre-Camp Division Previews: NFC West

The NFC West seems to be the least intriguing and most predictable division to forecast.  Mike Singletary’s 49ers are prime to take over Arizona’s reign atop the standings.   It would be the first time in doing so since 2002.  San Francisco certainly should accomplish this feat, likely being crowned best as soon as early November.

As for Arizona, Seattle, and St. Louis they may be better off served hitting the fast forward button on their remotes, seeking the opportunity to take an early sneak peek ahead toward New York City’s Radio City Music Hall come mid-April.  Call it what you want but call it, this division could be over before it even gets started.

San Francisco (12-4) – Can you name any other team that’s more sure of a lock to wrap up their division before Thanksgiving?  Could this be the most anticipated season since the Steve Mariucci Era?  Things are looking up for the Bay Area fans, and deservedly so, seeing the expectations are as high as they’ve ever been in almost a decade.  And why not, considering S.F. has the top LB, a feisty leader and excellent example calling the shots, and one of the most electrifying trios on the offensive side of the rock, you can only wonder and ask yourself, “Could this be “the year”?”

What’s not to like?  They upgraded an average offensive line via draft, Alex Smith looks the part, and they participate in possibly the weakest division. Niners faithful may even become hard-pressed to find a ticket entering winter at Candlestick!  Things are definitely looking up.

Arizona (5-11) – The post-Kurt Warner days begin, insert Matt Leinart -stay tuned.  With the retirement of Warner, you can clearly see why more questions than answers arise approaching camp.  Yet the main cause for concern could translate over into a balanced offensive attack, a new change of identity for Ken Whisenhunt’s group.  Chris “Beanie” Wells and Tim Hightower lead the ground gang and will likely be seeing more opportunities to make their presence known and stamp their impact on a Leinart-led offense.  Larry Fitzgerald still remains, however, he will be without his exclusive partner in crime Anquan Boldin.  Could we see trouble generating points in the Desert?  Finding the end zone could be the equivalent to finding a diamond in the rough for a squad two years removed from representing the NFC.

So if that proves true, the defense, already minus Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle,  may be under a tremendous amount of pressure to help balance out the team’s fortunes and success.  In essence, I’m unsure if they are fully prepared and quite ready yet to embrace the challenge which is set and presented before them.   And who knows if they’ll be able to take on the treacherous task of stepping outside new boundaries with such short notice.  Fully grasp yourselves for change, albeit a sad one, Cardinals fans.

Seattle (5-11) – Good news: It’s all possible Justin Forsett could have himself a Ray Rice type of season.  Bad news: When Justin Forsett is your most reliable weapon on offense you’re in bad shape.  While you’re at it, don’t bank on the good news coming to fruition, its just a possibility.  It just seems like a rebuilding year is inevitable for the proud supporters of the team with the most eccentric uniforms.  Undoubtedly the 12th man will still be on display, yet nonetheless, it begs to question: Will Pete Carroll give the fans a product worthy of cheer?

Matt Hasselbeck is always hurt and has seen better days, constant whispers and rumors of the mega-hyped Terrell Owens bug the team and surround the organization, and Charlie Whitehurst is being looked at as the heir apparent at QB.   Not good news for a franchise that used to be a guaranteed lock come fall for NFC West dominance.   Supremacy has past, the new era for mediocrity has just begun.  Why won’t it be a rebuilding year in Seattle?

St. Louis (2-14) – Once upon a time they were considered one of the most dynamic and entertaining teams to watch.  The darlings of football, a team anyone would love to see on TV -the casual fan, the kids, the wives.  Who wouldn’t want to witness “The Greatest Show On Turf”?  Ponder that era of aerial excitement and scintillating sensational fireworks for just a split-second, and then return to earth, back to reality.  You know its another down year for the Rams when everyone and their brother is fretting about whether or not to draft Steven Jackson because of the team he’s suits up for on Sunday.  One moment he’s the second coming of Eric Dickerson, the next moment he’s the remix of Ricky Williams because of the unreliability factor.  It’s not good when Jackson is the player whom the Rams count on and come to expect big things from, week in and week out.

If Spagnuolo and staff can’t rely on their so-called superstar and face of the franchise, then who can they rely on?  Rookie 1st overall pick Sam Bradford?  QB, yet another position where you don’t know what will happen and what to expect.  Defensively, a slew of holes are clearly evident, and you can be sure a plethora of points will be allowed.  An abundance of more reasons can be produced to why this team will be once again owners of the #1 selection in next year’s draft -and that’s the one thing you can expect from this team chalk-full of non-expectancies.


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26 Responses to “NFL Gridiron Gab Pre-Camp Division Previews: NFC West”

  1. james says:

    wow! are you 10 yrs. old and sleep with your montana jersey? The cardinals have better WRs, a better O-line, a better D-line a better secondary, and a better one-two punch at running back than this current crop of wishful-thinking niners who haven’t won a significant game since I don’t know when. They also have been one of the best drafting records of the last 5 yrs. (look it up) And don’t brag about the niner sweep last yr. everyone wins when they get 7 turnovers. If they were worth a damn they would have scored 45 that monday night. Talk to me SF fans when you a 4-2 playoff record like Whisenhut. I mean really dude the cards have something to prove but research it……Rhodes is better than Rolle, Dansby only had 84 tackles last yr. and their WRs destroyed the Packers to the tune of 45 Offensive pts. in the playoffs WITHOUT BOLDIN. Oh, and by the way AZ. probably has a better QB too.

  2. jimmythejim says:

    Yeah, 12-4 is a little too kind.

    It’s very simple, whichever suspect QB, Matt Leinert or Alex Smith, has the better year, that team wins the NFC West, goes to the playoffs, and loses in the first round.

    -a 49er fan

  3. Jon says:

    I agree 1,000% with james! How can you say the Cards are going to be 5-11? If Leinert cant do it then i think Anderson will do OK. I can’t wait to see John Skelton play!

  4. Russ Loede says:

    10 years old? If so, then I wouldn’t be old enough to remember Joe Cool.

    Anyways, don’t sleep on Crabtree.

    Vernon Davis is starting to realize his potential. He had 13 TD’s last year. He’s beginning to figure things out.

    Better OL? I don’t think so. See 49ers improvement via Draft? And, I hope you’re not leaning on Faneca too heavily. How much does big boy Lutui weigh now? 500? 600? 700? Day by day, keeps going up.

    Better DL? Well, if Darnell Dockett shows up more than just once or twice a year. He will have his big game or two, then that’s about it. He’s oftentimes too quiet. 49ers 3-man front is rock-solid. They won’t wow or impress you like a Dockett, but they flat-out get the job done.

    Secondary. I’ll give you that. Rolle vs. Rhodes? You’re kidding? Rhodes could not even hold down a starting spot in New York. What makes you think he’s going to come to Arizona and all of a sudden turn things around?

    Your boy Darnell is already calling him out on Twitter, referring to Antrel mentioning “he” (Antrel) would be ready, but will “you” (Kerry) be ready? What’s that say? What’s that tell ya? Not a good sign. Rhodes is too busy with all the off-the-field stuff unrelated to the game of football. He’s concerned more so with his image outside the game than he is with his performance on Sundays. He’s made his money. He’s content. He’s pleased. He’s happy.

    Give me the younger Rhodes during his first two-three seasons. Now that was a true player. His play has dramatically dropped off since. Rolle clearly is a playmaker. Returns TD’s with the best of ’em. Great range, coverage, excellent hands and knack for the rock. Rolle in a heartbeat!

    Also, better hope DRC doesn’t go down again. He’s injury-prone and there’s no other solid corners behind him, at all. None, whatsoever.

    As far as significant games go: Embrace yourselves for Change! 49ers on the Rise! Cards on the Decline! 2010 The Year Of Change In The NFC West! Hand Over The Keys, Hand Over The Reigns! Can already taste it. Can you smell it?

    You guys draft well. One of the best? I doubt it. 49ers/Cards even Draft-wise.

    As for RB’s: You guys have two good ones. I’ll give you that. However, 49ers have Frank Gore. Too easy. Gore is doing work this season. 1500/15? Mark it down. Gore over Wells/Hightower.

    Forget about last year. I ain’t even talking about last season. 2009 is done. Out with the old, in with the new! 2010 baby!

    Sweep will happen again. No Kurt Warner. Starting at QB, from USC, #7, Matt Leinart…

    What do the Cards have to prove, other than Leinart? I like your team, the players, the coaching staff, yet I just don’t see a successful season in a transition year. Could it be a rebuilding process?

    Why bring in Joey Porter? Another move I don’t really like. He’s washed up. I say go young. Forget Porter and Faneca.

    Karlos Dansby or Porter? Come on.

    Give me Alex Smith over Matt Leinart. I don’t even have to think about it.

    12-4 is a little bit too ambitious.

  5. Russ Loede says:

    So you’re saying the teams are so similar and dead-even, that it will alone just come down to the play of Smith and Leinart? Flip a coin? How about the supporting casts? Will they figure in to the equation? Not giving your 49ers much credit? Cards too much credit?

  6. Russ Loede says:

    “If Leinert cant do it then i think Anderson will do OK. I can’t wait to see John Skelton play!”

    You Just Made My Prediction That Much More Appealing! Thank You!

    John Skelton? I can’t wait to see him play!? Derek Anderson!? If Leinart can’t do it…

    No more further comments needed. Thanks!

    The Story Of Your 2010 Arizona Cardinals:

    “If Leinert cant do it then i think Anderson will do OK. I can’t wait to see John Skelton play!”

    I absolutely love your sense of humor/sarcasm! Is this a joke?

  7. james says:

    don’t all 49er dads tell their 10 year old sons bout Joe Cool?
    Faneca? no,not depending on that. OL comment simply based on the fact that niners will probably start 2 rookies. Has that ever worked for anyone?
    As for V. Davis he’s the reason I kept my comment to AZ having better WRs instead of passing game, he’s surging towards his prime and theres no TE better right now.
    Can’t back off the Rolle comment, AZ gave up way too many big plays in his territory and I can still see him getting spun to confusion on by Greg Jennings on that pass overthrow on the firts play of playoff OT.
    Who knows about matt really but wells really does have the potentail to be a top 5 back. Speed, power, moves, steel-bar stiff-arm, the guy does have it all.
    I actually beleive both teams have 10-11 win potential. Sports is cyclicle, the nfc west wont be down FOREVER

  8. Russ Loede says:

    Chris Wells next Steven Jackson?

    Steel-Bar stiff arm! Love it! So funny, yet so true! Good insight/analysis on Wells!

    Just don’t see “it” in Leinart.

    Cards defense scares me just as much Leniart does. They have the talent. Its just…I don’t know…injuries? What’s wrong? I can put my finger on it exactly. Its weird.

  9. jimmythejim says:

    “So you’re saying the teams are so similar and dead-even, that it will alone just come down to the play of Smith and Leinart? Flip a coin? How about the supporting casts? Will they figure in to the equation? Not giving your 49ers much credit? Cards too much credit?”

    Dude, look at the division. It’s pretty clear that there are only two teams competing for the title. So it will be one or the other. I’m not saying they’re similar or dead even. But they are both solid teams, with playmakers on both sides of the ball, and good coaching staffs. The prominent unknown is the most important position in the game, Quarterback. You seem to have more faith in Smith than Leinart. That’s your hunch. I’m saying I don’t know who will have a better year. But whoever does takes his team over the top.

  10. Russ Loede says:

    Post-Kurt Warner, Arizona is in disarray.

  11. james says:

    On target about Cards D. Last year they SHUT DOWN Vikes then looked completely hapless in playoffs. Its such a coach driven leauge it makes one wonder big-time about D.coordinator Davis. The opposite is true of the Whiz, he has truly become a big game coach. I have been a Cards fan since 1974, I know about dissaray, can’t see it in Whisenhut.

  12. james says:

    By the way, to the comment that west winner will lose their first playoff game……..did you even see the last two playoff seasons???????

    What we have in the west is two teams that can compete with anyone. The season will bear it out.

  13. Russ Loede says:

    I’m with you on Whiz-man and Playoffs comment.

  14. Russ Loede says:

    Any of you guys think the Rams have a shot at history? What are the chances they go 0-16? Worst team ever?

    At least the city of St. Louis has Albert Pujols and the Desert still has Steve Nash. What does Seattle have? Safeco? Any hope for the 12th Man?

  15. Russ Loede says:

    The more I think about it, I believe I gave StL and Seattle too much credit. I should have used the more I gave them that I should not have to give more to Arizona whom I did not give enough credit to.

  16. james says:

    NONONO!!!!! take it back plz. AZ plays much better when told they suck. Now you’ve went and ruined it.

  17. james says:

    I guess it really depends on if hassleback is really done. And what do they have on defense really? However, it bodes one to remember that carrol took the pats to playoffs twice.

    Rookie QBs win only when they have good teams around them (see Mark “overrated” Sanchez) Can you imagine any QB getting so much attention with 12 TDs and 20 INTs?…..Oh yeah, Mr. Nameth got to hall of fame with more INTs than TDs………..I hate New York.

  18. warren says:

    you all know more than likely when the niners make the play- offs they take the super bowl. remember I predict this the niners go all the way, why you ask remember d-fence win championships. With the new pick-ups on the offensive side all we need is some scores believe that.

  19. Russ Loede says:

    I like your ambition Warren.

    Mark Sanchez is not overrated.

    Just a very confident QB who played really well during postseason.

  20. james says:

    2009
    Only QBs with passer ratings under 64
    Mark Sanchez 63.0
    Matthew Stafford 61.0
    Josh Freeman 59.8
    Jake Delhomme 59.4
    Jamarcus Russell 50.0

    Selected QBs with higher rating than fraudulent jet

    Brady Quinn
    Ryan Fitzpatrick
    Matt Hasselback
    Mark Bulger

  21. james says:

    BRADY QUINN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. james says:

    Hey Cards fans check out Jeff Risdons preview at RealGM

  23. jimmythejim says:

    Well, somebody agrees with me…

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/424392-its-a-two-horse-race-breaking-down-the-rosters-of-the-49ers-and-cards

    Bottom Line: “The battle between these two QB’s is so important that it will probably decide the division. “

  24. RKT says:

    People never give the Rams a slither of a chance. Has anyone forgotten that the NFL is made of turnarounds. The Rams where in SO Many games last year but couldn’t keep pace because of poor QB play. IF, and only IF, Sam Bradford can’t at least manage a game will the Rams suffer a nother REDICULOUS Season. 49er fans should know what im talking about. All you guys want for Alex Smith to do is not “LOSE THE GAME” instead of attempting to make incredible plays. Last year you got a glimps of that and your team becomes the talk of the NFL. The 49ers D has been in place for years due to the fact that singletary was your D-coordinator so all you need was an offensive leader to take control of the offense. 2 Years ago Everyone always said that you only had Frank Gore, and that your recieving corp sucked. They called your defense pittiful and claimed that they had too many gaps to be successful. So why Can’t 49ers fans out of all people understand that we can at least make some sort of run with a new QB, Top notch RB, Underated WR corp, and So called “pittiful” Defense that(might i add) is run by the guy who shut down what was known to be the greatest offense in NFL history, the 2007 New England Patriots.

  25. RKT says:

    (FUN FACT) The 49ers And Rams Head coaches both beat the Patriots in super bowls. Singletary as a player and Spags as a D-Coordinator. Both Guys lead Top of the line Defenses. 49ers fans, the Rams aren’t THAT far behind you. The real tragedy of the division is the Seahawks. Who is their RB, Can Their Coach be man enough to lead the team against grown men instead of college boys. I know the hasselback said that they respect him but that’s only until they get demolished repeadatley. Can old man Hasselback even complete a season. IF not, can Whitehurst fill in as the Starter. Who’s going to generate their pass rush and can the offensive and defensive lines hold up against up coming and proven teams.

  26. james says:

    can’t help but say again, hassleback had a better qb rating than that WAY overated stiff that throws ints for the jets