49ers schedule 2013 preview: St. Louis Rams

USA TODAY Sports

We take a look at the Rams this offseason.

Having wrapped up the NFC South, let us return back to our division and examine the St. Louis Rams. Recently, the Rams had been the laughing stock of the NFC West (which was, in turn, the laughing stock of the NFL). Even with their franchise QB, the Rams could not break free from the problems that plagued them.

A lot of this changed with the hiring of Jeff Fisher. He has done, to a lesser degree, what Jim Harbaugh has done for the 49ers. His presence and coaching acumen has elevated the Rams to the degree that they are a pretty competitive team. Even though they went just 7-8-1 last season, they did so with a 4-1-1 record in the NFC West. That's just insane. The key to getting into the playoffs in this league is winning in one's division. Plain and simple. Obviously, that's not enough - but if the Rams can maintain this type of intradivisional play (and they won't), then they will be a potent force in the NFC West.

Even without such a display of NFC West dominance, the Rams could still develop such potency that they rival the Seattle Seahawks and the 49ers for a division title. Currently, they are over $1 million above the cap, but they will likely make some budgetary moves to get them lower - perhaps to even as low as $10 million under. In addition, they are sitting pretty with two first round picks at 16th and 22nd overall.

The defense is almost playoff reading. Their D-line, in particular, is pretty nasty. Like us, they want to upgrade at safety - especially given Craig Dahl's lackluster play last season. They might want to look for some depth at linebacker as well.

The real room for upgrade on this team, though, is on offense. They should continue to build their O-line, particularly at the Tackle position (even though Rodger Saffold did have a nice second half of the season). The big three areas of need though, RB, WR, and TE, all represent a consistent problem for the Rams: getting Sam Bradford enough playmakers so that he can thrive in his third year. They have already tried the Titus Young experiment. That petered out quickly, with the Rams having already waived him. Look for the Rams to replace Danny Amendola in the draft.

Key Free Agents: RB Steven Jackson; WR Danny Amendola; DE William Hayes.

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