NFL kickoff 2023: Will the 49ers win the NFC West again?

49ers beat writer Cam Inman looks at the NFC West comings and goings, and predicts who will win it in 2023


Kyle Shanahan (7th year) is the head coach.

LAST YEAR: 13-4, 1st place; NFC runner-up

DT ARRIVES QB Sam Darnold (Panthers), QB Brandon Allen (Bengals), CB Isaiah Oliver (Falcons), DE Clelin Ferrell (Raiders), OT Matt Pryor (Colts), OL Jon Feliciano (Giants), DL Austin Bryant (Lions), K Zane Gonzalez (Panthers), DL Darryl Johnson Jr. (Seahawks), DB Darryl Johnson Jr. Panthers: Myles Hartsfield, S Ji’Ayir Brown (second round), K Jake Moody (third round), and TE Cameron Latu (third round).

DEPARTURES: QB Jimmy Garoppolo, RT Mike McGlinchey, DB Jimmie Ward, K Robbie Gould, LB Azeez Al-Shaair, DE Samson Ebukam, DE Charles Omenihu, DE Jordan Willis, DT Hassan Ridgeway, CB Emmanuel Moseley, OL Daniel Brunskill, DB Tarvarius Moore, TE Tyler Kroft, DL Maurice Hurst, QB Josh Johnson.

Analysis: Kyle Shanahan’s perpetual quarterback mystery hasn’t stopped him from choreographing a high-scoring, yard-eating offense, which is doable thanks to top-tier talent like Trent Williams, Christian McCaffrey, Kyle Juszczyk, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle.

Last season, the league’s top-ranked defensive unit in terms of points and yards allowed was led by NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa and fellow All-Pros Fred Warner and Talanoa Hufanga. One of the most significant changes comes at kicker, where rookie Jake Moody replaces the playoff-ready Robbie Gould.

PREDICTED FINAL RECORD: 13-4, Super Bowl champions (33-17 over Bengals).


COACH: Pete Carroll (14th year)

LAST SEASON: 9-8, second place; lost in wild-card playoffs to 49ers (41-23)

ARRIVALS: LB ARRIVES Rams LB Bobby Wagner, Packers DL Jarran Reed CB Devon Witherspoon (first round), WR Jackson Smith-Njigba (first round), DE Devin Bush (Steelers) Derick Hall (RB, second round) Zach Charbonnet (second round), Dre’Mont Jones (Broncos), Julian Love (Giants), and Mario Edwards Jr. (Titans) are all available.

DEPARTURES: RB Rashaad Penny, RB Travis Homer, LB Cody Barton, G Phil Haynes, DL Quinton Jefferson, DL Poona Ford, DL Al Woods are all gone. WR Marquise Goodwin, DL L.J. Collier, and DE Darryl Johnson Jr.

ANALYSIS: The draft added more skill-position talent to D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Kenneth Walker (WR Smith-Njigba, RB Charbonnet). Seattle gambled on quarterback Geno Smith, who won NFL Comeback Player of the Year but went 0-3 against the 49ers. Defensively, the young secondary is Legion Of Boom 2.0, and the linebacker corps welcomes Wagner back to partner with Jordyn Brooks. However, the revamped defensive line must demonstrate that it can stop the run better than last year’s unit, which allowed more than 170 rushing yards in each of the three losses to the 49ers.

PREDICTED FINISH: 9-8, placing second

Los Angeles Rams

COACH: Sean McVay (7th year)

LAST SEASON: 5-12, third place

G ARRIVES: DE Steve Avila (second round) Byron Young (third round), TE Hunter Long (Dolphins), QB Brett Rypien (Broncos), and WR Demarcus Robinson were all drafted.

DEPARTURES: CB Jalen Ramsey, K Matt Gay, DE Leonard Floyd, WR Allen Robinson, LB Bobby Wagner, DL A’Shawn Robinson, QB Baker Mayfield, S Nick Scott, S Taylor Rapp are all gone. (19 players signed elsewhere)

ANALYSIS: After going 5-12 as reigning Super Bowl champions, the Rams haven’t made any significant changes. Their defense said goodbye to some big-name players this offseason, but they still have three-time NFL defensive player of the year Aaron Donald. Offensively, they’ll try to get as much as they can out of Matthew Stafford’s arm (Stetson Bennett is the backup) and a shaky supporting cast led by former Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp, who is recovering from ankle surgery.


Arizona Cardinals

COACH: Jonathan Gannon (first year)

LAST SEASON: 4-13, fourth place

ARRIVALS: LB ARRIVES WR Zach Pascal (Eagles), G Hjalte Froholdt (Browns), OT Elijah Wilkinson (Falcons), OT Paris Johnson Jr. (first round), OLB B.J. Ojulari (second round), WR Michael Wilson (third round; Stanford).

DEPARTURES: J.J. Watt, DeAndre Hopkins, Zach Allen, and CB A.J. Green, WR Byron Murphy, DE Chosen Anderson C. Markus Golden Hudson, Rodney.

ANALYSIS: Kyler Murray is unlikely to be fully recovered from an ACL tear in time for the start of the season, which hurts the Cardinals’ long-shot chances. Gannon and general manager Monti Ossenfort inherited a team devoid of talent, and they let go of their best receiver, Hopkins, for nothing. This dormant franchise has only seven playoff victories in 104 seasons, while the 49ers have six since 2019.

PREDICTED RANKING: 3-14, 4th place

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply