The NFC West divisional hierarchy got even tighter after the San Francisco 49ers traded for the No. 3 overall pick with the Miami Dolphins.
A year after getting to the Super Bowl, the 49ers ended up with the worst record in the NFC West. Much of this had to do with cluster injuries all over the gridiron. A lot of it also had to do with their three rival teams all being playoff-caliber. After moving up from No. 12 to No. 3 in a blockbuster deal with the Miami Dolphins, have the 49ers closed the gap on their three divisional rivals?
NFC West power rankings after San Francisco 49ers trade for No. 3 pick
Trading for Matthew Stafford puts them into the NFC West driver’s seat
Even though the Los Angeles Rams lost defensive coordinator Brandon Staley to the Los Angeles Chargers and front office executive Brad Holmes to the Detroit Lions, they massively upgraded at quarterback by getting Matthew Stafford in exchange for Jared Goff. Sean McVay’s team never loses with a halftime lead. This team is loaded defensively with Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey.
Russell Wilson is still without question the best quarterback in the division
Though it feels like they are at the end of their competitive life cycle, the Seattle Seahawks still have Russell Wilson as their quarterback and that is all that matters. Regardless of how chaotic their offseason has been or how poorly they will probably draft this spring, it is hard to envision the Seahawks not being at least a wild card team if Wilson does start all 16 games for Seattle.
Kyler Murray could be good, but Kliff Kingsbury could be an issue going forward
A lot of pundits are high on the Arizona Cardinals this year, and for good reason. They have talent all over the gridiron, whether that is Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, Chandler Jones or newcomer J.J. Watt. However, they have easily the worst head coach in the division in Kliff Kingsbury. Therefore, Arizona is the only team in the NFC West that can win the division or finish in last place.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s replacement must be a star, but probably not right away
This is a critical year for head coach Kyle Shanahan. He has been riding on the 2019 season and what he did with the 2016 Atlanta Falcons offense. Though the 49ers are certainly replacing Jimmy Garoppolo with Justin Fields or Zach Wilson in the draft, or even trading for Sam Darnold with the New York Jets, right now, they still have the worst quarterback situation in the division.
Overall, you could probably argue for the 49ers to be as high as No. 2 if you are not keen on the Seahawks or Cardinals. However, the division looks like it will belong to the Rams, especially after how they dismantled the Seahawks on the road in the NFC Wild Card round back in January. Unless the 49ers trade for a Pro Bowl quarterback before the draft, they have some work to do.
The 2021 NFC West could be the first division to get all four of its teams into the postseason.