Jun 11, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) hands the ball off to running back LaMichael James (23) during minicamp at San Francisco 49ers training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Pre Training Camp Preview - NFC West

The NFC West was great last year. It had 2 playoff teams, a representative in the super bowl and a number of great games. It’s filled with exciting players and mastermind coaches. After the off season it’s a safe assumption to say that the division has gotten better. With the influx of new players and a new head coach it’s probably going to be the most intriguing and toughest division in the NFL.

San Francisco 49ers-This isn’t exactly the 49ers from the dynasty years of the 90s but the defiantly have that same potential. They have a great coach in John Harbaugh, plenty of talent on both sides of the ball and a QB that can put them over the top. There aren’t many holes in this roster and it was only bolstered by a great draft. They will be missing Michael Crabtree for at least part of the season and don’t have a lot of proven talent behind him outside on Anquan Boldin but they still have talent. They also have an amazing running game and offensive line so they won’t have to pass constantly. The defense is still one of the best in league even though they lost pro bowler Dashon Goldson. That front 7 can stop anyone and the back end will still be good after adding safety Craig Dahl and corner Nnamdi Asomugha. They will have much stiffer competition but they are still the class of the NFC West and possibly the NFC.

Seattle Seahawks-If the 49ers are 1A in the NFC West the Seahawks are 1B and that’s by a very slim margin. They could possibly be the best team in the NFC after the 9ers and maybe the Falcons. They gave star QB Russell Wilson one of the most dynamic playmakers in the game today in Percy Harvin to go along with Sidney Rice, Zach Miller and Golden Tate. If he stays healthy and that offensive line holds up then this will be one of the best offenses in the league. You could say the defense was the backbone of this team last year and with some new additions it looks to have got better. They’ve lost Chris Clemons for a while due to a torn ACL in the playoffs and Bruce Irving for the first 4 games but they did get replacements in Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett who both had over 9 sacks last year. They return all of their amazingly huge secondary aka the Legion of Boom while also adding veteran slot guy Antoine Winfield. Yes the 49ers are good but I’m sure the boisterous Hawks aren’t going to take a back seat to anyone.

St Louis Rams-Technically the Rams were the best team in the division if you go by the records within the division. They were 4-1-1 last year yet finished 7-9 on the season. It seems Jeff Fisher has this team on the cusp of the playoffs and after a really good offseason that could happen this year. They started by adding a very good TE in Jared Cook and giving Sam Bradford some peace of mind in left tackle Jake Long. It continued with a very highly regarded draft class led by the electric Tavon Austin and the talented yet troubled Alec Ogletree. They did lose Steven Jackson so the RB position is in transition and the wide outs are young and inexperienced but the offense has potential. The defense was already good but with the addition of Alec Ogletree and Tj McDonald in the draft it got a little bit better. These are all ingredients for a successful team if it all comes together.

Arizona Cardinals-Larry Fitzgerald has sorely missed Kurt Warner. Since Warner retired he’s had to deal with the likes of Max Hall, Ryan Lindley, John Skelton and Kevin Kolb. He’s made the best out of it but sometimes you have to feel sorry for the guy. Well he finally might have a capable passer with the arrival of Carson Palmer to the desert. He will also benefit from an improved running game. They get Levi Brown back from injury and added stud guard Jonathan Cooper in the draft to open holes for new running back Rashard Mendenhall. Overall they had a really good draft and added a few pieces in free agency especially to the defense. They added vet Karlos Dansby back to the team and we must bring up the risk/reward factor in drafting Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu in the 3rd round which could be a steal. I’m a fan of Mathieu and I think he can add some much needed play making ability to the back end of this defense with friend and fellow LSU Tiger Patrick Peterson. They’ve improved at the most important position on the field with Carson Palmer. Can new head coach Bruce Arians get them back to legitimacy after helping turn around the Colts?

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