Previewing the 2020 NFC West: 49ers are the team to beat in a division with three playoff contenders


A look at the NFC West.

1. San Francisco 49ers

Coach: Kyle Shanahan (4th year — 23-25 regular season, 2-1 playoffs)

2019 record: 13-3 (1st in NFC West)

Offensive play-caller: Shanahan (4th year)

Quarterback situation: Jimmy Garoppolo led the 49ers to the Super Bowl last year and the former Tom Brady understudy returns in his second full year as San Francisco’s starter. The backups are Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard.

Young skill-position players: Garoppolo might have the most loaded young skill cast in the NFC. All-Pro and record-setting tight end George Kittle, 26, is the star, while speedy young wideouts Deebo Samuel, 24, and rookie Brandon Aiyuk, 22, give San Francisco plenty of complementary firepower to the run game.

Key statistic: 4.8. That is the average net yards gained per pass attempt the San Francisco defense held opponents to in 2019, which ranked first in the league.

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2. Seattle Seahawks

Coach: Pete Carroll (11th year in Seattle — 133-90-1 regular season overall, 11-9 playoffs)

2019 record: 11-5 (2nd in NFC West)

Offensive play-caller: Brian Schottenheimer (3rd year)

Quarterback situation: Russell Wilson is still the man in Seattle, as he enters his ninth year as the franchise QB and has yet to miss a game. He threw 31 touchdowns to five interceptions in 2019. Geno Smith and rookie Anthony Gordon back Wilson up.

Young skill-position players: Wilson has an arsenal that includes D.K. Metcalf, 22, who posted 900 yards receiving as a rookie. Also of note is the young running back tandem of Chris Carson, 25, and Rashaad Penny, 24, while Tyler Lockett, 27, gives Wilson another option through the air alongside veteran tight end Greg Olsen.

Key statistic: 91. That’s the percentage of Seattle’s regular-season wins (10 of 11) that came by one score or less a season ago, including dramatic victories by one point over the Bengals and Rams. The football might not bounce the Seahawks’ way so much again in tight games in 2020.

3. Los Angeles Rams

Coach: Sean McVay (fourth year — 33-15 regular season, 2-2 in playoffs)

2019 record: 9-7 (3rd in NFC West)

Offensive play-caller: McVay (fourth year)

Quarterback situation: After going to the Super Bowl in 2018, quarterback Jared Goff and the Rams’ offense took a step back last year as the team missed the playoffs. John Wolford is the backup.

Young skill-position players: Rookie Cam Akers, 21, will be the team’s tailback after being selected in the second round out of Florida State in April. Other young playmakers include wideout Josh Reynolds, 25, while the Rams have …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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