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Where the 49ers Rank in the NFC West

The top group receives four points with the lowest group receiving one point.

Earlier this week, CBS Sports put out their ranking of every NFL roster and San Francisco wound up No. 16 and third among teams in the NFC West.

Let’s put their ranking to the test. The process is pretty simple, we’ll look at the depth chart and rank every position group with the same level of importance. The top group receives four points with the lowest group receiving one point.

Quarterback:

Arizona: Kyler Murray/Colt McCoy

Los Angeles: Matthew Stafford/John Wolford

San Francisco: Jimmy Garoppolo/Trey Lance

Seattle: Russell Wilson/Geno Smith

Ranking: Seattle, Los Angeles, Arizona, San Francisco

Russell Wilson has been among the best quarterbacks in the league for a number of years and stays atop the division rankings despite the Rams making a big move to acquire Matthew Stafford from Detroit. The addition of Stafford should prove to be a big improvement for Los Angeles. Kyler Murray has room to grow as a passer, but his athleticism and ability to make spectacular plays keeps the Cardinals in a number of games. Jimmy Garoppolo has proven that he cannot stay healthy, and while Trey Lance shows a lot of promise on his college film, it would be a bit premature to put him over any of the other three starting quarterbacks.

Running Back:

Arizona: Chase Edmonds, James Connor, Jonathan Ward

Los Angeles: Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, Xavier Jones

San Francisco: Raheem Mostert, Wayne Gallman, Trey Sermon

Seattle: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer

Ranking: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Arizona, Seattle

In Mostert, Gallman and Sermon, the 49ers have a combination of speed and size that cannot be matched in the NFC West. Just below San Francisco is Los Angeles. Cam Akers had a solid rookie season with the Rams and will be looked at to carry the load in 2021 along with Darrell Henderson. Arizona added James Connor from Pittsburgh in an effort to bolster their rushing attack and Seattle has little talent behind Chris Carson.

Wide Receiver:

Arizona: DeAndre Hopkins, AJ Green, Christian Kirk

Los Angeles: Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson

San Francisco: Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Mohamed Sanu

Seattle: DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, D’Wayne Eskridge

Ranking: Arizona, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco

If A.J. Green is fully healthy, it is hard to top the talent that Arizona has on the outside with DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett have been a terrific combination of size and speed for Seattle the last couple of seasons, and the Seahawks added more speed on the outside with the addition of Eskridge through the draft. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp give Los Angeles a pair of proven 1,000-yard wideouts who should put up big numbers this season with Matthew Stafford. For the 49ers, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel both have shown potential to be very good wide receivers, but at the moment neither has proven to be the caliber of the starters on the other teams in the NFC West.

Tight End:

Arizona: Maxx Williams, Darrell Daniels

Los Angeles: Tyler Higbee, Jacob Harris

San Francisco: George Kittle, Ross Dwelley

Seattle: Will Dissly, Gerald Everett

Ranking: San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Arizona

George Kittle is among the top tight ends in the NFL and Ross Dwelley is a quietly solid backup. The addition of Gerald Everett to pair with Will Dissly gives Seattle a terrific one-two punch that would be ranked ahead of San Francisco if not for Kittle’s dominance. There is a lot of hype surrounding the potential of Jacob Harris in Los Angeles, and Tyler Higbee is solid. Arizona’s top tight end is Maxx Williams, who has a career high of 268 receiving yards from his rookie season in Baltimore.

Offensive Line:

Arizona: DJ Humphries, Justin Pugh, Rodney Hudson, Brian Winters, Kelvin Beachum

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Los Angeles: Andrew Whitworth, David Edwards, Brian Allen, Austin Corbett, Rob Havenstein

San Francisco: Trent Williams, Laken Tomlinson, Alex Mack, Aaron Banks, Mike McGlinchey

Seattle: Duane Brown, Damien Lewis, Ethan Pocic, Gabe Jackson, Brandon Shell

Ranking: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Arizona, Seattle

The Rams return all five starters from a unit that shined over the latter part of 2020, and they are solid with both run and pass blocking. For the 49ers, this unit is a bit run-heavy but the additions of Alex Mack and Aaron Banks and a possible change at quarterback could help the pass blocking. Arizona added ex-Raider Rodney Hudson to anchor the center of this group but the guards are below average in the run game. Seattle returns four starters from last season but this group has not been good in pass protection for a number of years. The one change for Seattle this season will be guard Gabe Jackson, who they received from the Raiders through a trade.

Defensive Line:

Arizona: Chandler Jones, Zach Allen, Jordan Phillips, JJ Watt

Los Angeles: A’Shawn Robinson, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd

San Francisco: Nick Bosa, Javon Kinlaw, DJ Jones, Arik Armstead, Samson Ebukam

Seattle: Kerry Hyder, Poona Ford, Al Woods, Darrell Taylor

Ranking: Los Angeles, Arizona, San Francisco, Seattle

Similar to the tight end rankings, it is hard to put any other defensive lineman from the NFC West above Aaron Donald, and pairing him with Leonard Floyd gives the Rams the edge for the best in the division. Despite putting up below average numbers the last two seasons, J.J. Watt was still putting a lot of pressure of opposing quarterbacks and could see a resurgence in 2021 playing across from Chandler Jones and next to Jordan Phillips. The 49ers hope that Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead are able to return to their 2019 form and for Javon Kinlaw to show massive improvement to make up for the production lost with the DeForest Buckner trade last season. In Seattle, Kerry Hyder has never shown the ability to produce without the help of Kris Kocurek.

Linebackers:

Arizona: Chandler Jones, Isaiah Simmons, Zaven Collins, Markus Golden

Los Angeles: Micah Kiser, Troy Reeder, Leonard Floyd

San Francisco: Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles

Seattle: Jordan Brooks, Bobby Wagner, Ben Burr-Kiven

Ranking: San Francisco, Seattle, Arizona, Los Angeles

Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw may be the best linebacker pairing in the league, so they have to be on top of the division. Bobby Wagner is still among the best in the league and his presence alone helps solidify Seattle in the second spot. Arizona has invested heavily at linebacker, selecting Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins in the first round the last two seasons and Simmons showed a lot of improvement as the season wore on. On the other end of the spectrum from Arizona is the Rams. Micah Kiser was a fifth-round selection in 2018 and Troy Reeder was signed as an undrafted free agent. This combination is the weakest link on the Los Angeles defense.

Secondary:

Arizona: Malcolm Butler, Jalen Thompson, Budda Baker, Byron Murphy, Robert Alford

Los Angeles: Darious Williams, Jordan Fuller, Taylor Rapp, Jalen Ramsey

San Francisco: Emmanuel Moseley, Jaquiski Tartt, Jimmie Ward, Jason Verrett, K’Waun Williams

Seattle: Akhello Witherspoon, Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs, Tre Flowers

Ranking: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Arizona, Seattle

Despite still having some questions in the slot, Darious Williams and Jalen Ramsey give Los Angeles the best outside cornerback tandem in the NFC West. The San Francisco secondary is right there with the Rams, but the health histories of Jaquiski Tartt, Jason Verrett and K’Waun Williams drop this group down to second. Budda Baker is the leader of the Arizona secondary which has questions with Robert Alford who hasn’t played a down since the 2018 season or a Day 3 selection from the 2021 draft playing in the slot. In Seattle, Jamal Adams has proven to be better as a pass rusher that in coverage, but former 49ers Akhello Witherspoon and DJ Reed may end up as the starting cornerbacks.

Overall Ranking:

Los Angeles Rams: 23 points

San Francisco 49ers: 22 points

Arizona Cardinals: 18 points

Seattle Seahawks: 17 points

The Rams and 49ers are clearly the top two teams in the NFC West with the edge going to Los Angeles primarily due to the three point difference at the quarterback position. The Rams offense finished with 14 points to 13 for the 49ers, while the teams tied atop the division on defense with nine points each.