2024 NFL Season: Ranking Every NFC West Roster

The 49ers’ quiet offseason left their Super Bowl–ready roster intact. But a 2023 surprise team and a possible sleeper are lurking behind them.
The 49ers decided to keep Aiyuk and Samuel after both star receivers were rumored to be on the trade block.
The 49ers decided to keep Aiyuk and Samuel after both star receivers were rumored to be on the trade block. / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers are still looking to end their 30-year Super Bowl drought, but they at least have back-to-back NFC West titles thanks to a star-studded roster.

Perhaps this will finally be the year the 49ers get the job done, but they’re running out of time with this core group, evident in the team’s quiet offseason and attempts to trade star players for cap space flexibility. 

At the moment, the 49ers are sticking with wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, which might not bode well for the other three teams in the NFC West. But the Los Angeles Rams could push the 49ers in the division after an active offseason.   

The Arizona Cardinals could be this year’s Rams after delivering a promising rookie class to possibly make noise in the division. As for the Seattle Seahawks, they could have a bounce-back season with new coach Mike Macdonald. 

Here’s how we view the rosters in the NFC West with free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror. 

1. San Francisco 49ers

It appears the 49ers will keep their receiving tandem intact after placing Samuel and Aiyuk on the trading block, giving them one more Super Bowl run with this core group. 

With cap space issues, the 49ers were forced to part with defensive tackle Arik Armstead and edge rusher Chase Young. They might not be as talented on the defensive front as last year, but the team added depth with veterans Leonard Floyd, Yetur Gross-Matos and defensive tackle Maliek Collins. The defensive line shouldn’t be an issue if Nick Bosa delivers a season worthy of the Defensive Player of the Year award. The 49ers are stacked once again at linebacker with Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, and added depth after signing De’Vondre Campbell. The secondary was a problem at times last season partly because of the injury to safety Talanoa Hufanga. But safety Ji’Ayir Brown stepped up toward the end of his rookie season. The 49ers are set at cornerback with Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir. 

Brock Purdy answered many questions last postseason after come-from-behind victories against the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. His stacked offense could be better with the arrival of wide receiver Ricky Pearsall, the team’s first-round pick. The 49ers are loaded offensively, which has been the case in recent years, but perhaps this will finally be the year Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Trent Williams and the rest of the squad capture the Lombardi trophy.  

2. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams knew they weren’t going to replace Aaron Donald with one player and made sure to add a group of promising defensive linemen. With an influx of defensive talent, the Rams can build off their surprising 2023 season, despite Donald’s retirement. 

Los Angeles drafted edge rusher Jared Verse and defensive tackle Braden Fiske in the first two rounds to form an intriguing defensive front, along with last year’s rookie sensations Byron Young and Kobie Turner. After a productive 2023 season, middle linebacker Ernest Jones IV could push for a Pro Bowl selection this season. But the Rams are thin at linebacker behind Jones. That’s not an issue in the secondary after the team spent money to sign cornerbacks Tre’Davious White and Darious Williams and safety Kamren Curl. 

Matthew Stafford will likely benefit from the offensive moves the team made this offseason. It splurged on guard Jonah Jackson and re-signed Kevin Dotson to give Stafford a dominant interior on the offensive line. But the team might be taking a risk rolling with Alaric Jackson as the starting left tackle again. Last season, wide receiver Puka Nacua and running back Kyren Williams had breakout seasons to give the Rams a high-scoring offense. They might have gained another player with the third-round selection of running back Blake Corum. If the Rams adjust without Donald, they could push the 49ers for the NFC West title. 

3. Arizona Cardinals 

Not many will agree with this ranking, but there’s plenty to like regarding the Cardinals’ offseason moves, especially in the draft. Every year there are four or five surprise teams that make the postseason, and the Cardinals could be one of them if rookie stud receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. quickly dominates on the field.

The Cardinals were wise to draft Harrison and pass on trading the No. 4 pick to a QB-needy team. GM Monti Ossenfort already had plenty of draft capital after the moves he made last year. It was time for the Cardinals to add impact players to take this rebuild to the next level. Expect Arizona to be a fringe wild-card contender with a healthy Kyler Murray, who has more than just Harrison on his offense. Wide receiver Michael Wilson and tight end Trey McBride impressed last season, and running back James Conner had a productive 2023. The Cardinals might have gained another playmaker in rookie running back Trey Benson, the team’s third-round pick. The offensive line could be a strength, with bookend tackles Jonah Williams and Paris Johnson Jr., who moved from right to left tackle. Arizona also selected guard Isaiah Adams in the third round. 

The defense is where some might question this No. 3 ranking for the Cardinals. It definitely still needs work, but it’s in better shape than last year, especially with the first-round selection of edge rusher Darius Robinson. The secondary could be much-improved with the signing of Sean Murphy-Bunting and the third-round selection of cornerback Max Melton. Pro Bowl safety Budda Baker will likely have more help this season for the rising Cardinals. 

4. Seattle Seahawks 

The Seahawks have plenty of talent on both sides of the football, but they’re coming off a disappointing season because there wasn’t cohesion on the field and inexperienced players didn’t make many strides in 2023. That led the Seahawks to fire Pete Carroll after 14 seasons and hire Macdonald, the 36-year-old defensive guru from the Baltimore Ravens. 

If Macdonald gets the talented defense to quickly fit his scheme and perform at a high level, perhaps this last-place ranking will look silly come November. But the Seahawks lost decades of experience from Carroll and could go through growing pains with a rookie head coach. That said, Macdonald has plenty to work with, including a loaded defensive front featuring Uchenna Nwosu and Boye Mafe on the edges. There’s depth on the interior after the first-round selection of defensive tackle Byron Murphy II. Macdonald will need to find a rhythm with his defensive tackle rotation because he also has Leonard Williams, Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed. In the secondary, the Seahawks are led by cornerbacks Devon Witherspoon and Riq Woolen. Witherspoon had a strong rookie season, but Woolen regressed  from his dominant rookie year in 2023.

After a down season, quarterback Geno Smith might have competition from Sam Howell, the former starting QB of the Washington Commanders. But Smith’s up-and-down performances aren't as concerning as his offensive line. Tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas need to play better than they did last season. There are also questions about the interior spots. Veteran newcomers Nick Harris and Laken Tomlinson could possibly take starting roles. There’s uncertainty on offense, but the Seahawks will likely get another productive season from wideouts DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. It might come down to coaching for the talented Seahawks.  


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Gilberto Manzano

GILBERTO MANZANO

Gilberto Manzano is an NFL staff writer for Sports Illustrated. Starting off as a breaking news writer at NFL.com in 2014, he has since been the Raiders beat reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and covered the Chargers and Rams for the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Daily News. During his time as a combat sports reporter, Gilberto was awarded best sports spot story of 2018 by the Nevada Press Association for his coverage of the Conor McGregor-Khabib Nurmagomedov post-fight brawl. Gilberto, a first-generation Mexican-American with parents from Nayarit, Mexico, is the co-host of Compas on the Beat, a sports and culture show featuring Mexican-American journalists. He also has been a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) since 2017.