16. San Francisco 49ers
With all due respect to the Seahawks and Cardinals, if the Rams are going to worry about any team in the NFC West in 2018, it seems like it’s going to be the San Francisco 49ers when looking at how Kyle Shanahan’s squad ended last season. Once Jimmy Garoppolo took over the starting role under center, the 49ers became one of the hottest teams in the NFL by winning each of their final five games, setting the bar high heading into next season.
For a team that received some criticism for passing on a quarterback during last year’s draft, San Francisco seems to have struck gold with Garoppolo when looking at how quickly he seemed to change the culture for his teammates with a winning attitude. Locking Garoppolo up to that hefty deal may seem like a questionable move, but also the 49ers realized it had to be done in order to avoid competition from other teams in need of a quarterback in free agency.
San Francisco hasn’t been considered a legitimate threat since Colin Kaepernick’s glory days, and it will be interesting to see how this team handles the pressure of being a team expected to make the serious leap to contenders. Now that Shanahan is in a much better position than a year ago, this is his time to shine as head coach for the 49ers.