The San Francisco 49ers don’t operate in a vacuum. While their free-agent signings attempt to lessen the loss of Donte Whitner and Tarell Brown by bringing in Antoine Bethea and Chris Cook, that alone won’t determine their success in 2014.
The quality of the team’s 2014 opponents has changed over the free-agency period, with big names coming and going from each team. It’s not enough to expect each opponent to be as good as it was in 2013; each is doing its best to get better in a very competitive league.
With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the offseasons so far for each of San Francisco’s 13 opponents in 2014. We’ll rank them from top to bottom in terms of quality added to their team.
Now, just because a team has added a lot of talent doesn’t mean it's a great team. The Oakland Raiders could have a fantastic offseason, and the Seattle Seahawks could have a poor one, but that doesn’t mean the Raiders would be better than the Seahawks. These are just rankings relative to the talent that the team started with—how much it improved or slid back during free agency.
Consider these brief capsules your first scouting reports for 2014.