The NFC West looks to be another pitched battle between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks for division supremacy, but don’t count out the odds of a surprise team coming from behind to challenge for the crown.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis Rams boast a defensive front line with four first-round picks: Chris Long, Michael Brockers, Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald. They might have been the best last-place team in 2013—put them in the NFC North or NFC East, and they would have been co-favorites, at worst. If Sam Bradford takes a step forward this year, the Rams could very well challenge for a playoff berth themselves.
With that in mind, the 49ers need to concentrate on winning their division before thinking about a potential appearance in Super Bowl XLIX.
How do the 49ers compare to their divisional rivals? Where are they clearly the cream of their class, and where are they looking up at the rest of the division?
Let’s go through each position group one-by-one and compare where the 49ers are with their rivals—and figure out what needs to happen for them to be the best at each slot.
These rankings are, in the end, a matter of my own opinion, but I’m basing them heavily on their performances in the past few seasons, as well as the potential of the new players who have been added and lost since the end of 2013. You don’t have to be the best anywhere to be the divisional favorites—a team that’s second-best in each category is going to go pretty far.