In 2009, the Arizona Cardinals won the NFC West fairly easily. This year that will not be the case.
When Kurt Warner announced his retirement earlier this year, that knocked the Cardinals off of the top rung of the NFC West ladder.
The off season that followed hurt their chances even more. The losses of Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby, and Antrell Rolle hurt the team significantly.
With all of this being said, that leaves the San Francisco 49ers atop the pre-season power rankings of the division.
We also know about the strong defensive line and linebacker play led by all-pro Patrick Willis.
But what we don't know is how well the offensive line will hold up, and whether Alex Smith can take another step away from being a complete draft bust (taken at No. 1 in '04).
In the draft they picked up Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati to help the offensive line. Both have a chance to start and be big time contributors this season.
Overall, the offensive line should be improved from a year ago.
As for Smith, he certainly has talent to work with.
Josh Morgan is coming along nicely and Michael Crabtree is ready to breakout. Smith also has a pro bowl TE in Vernon Davis, not to forget the addition of Tedd Ginn Jr., and of course he also has Frank Gore to fall back on.
He posted decent numbers last year and I expect him to continue to improve. A QB rating in the mid to high 80's would be fine.
I look forward to seeing if the 49ers can strike gold in 2010!
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