NFC West presents stiff challenge for 49ers in 2013

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

The San Francisco 49ers are among the league's Super Bowl favorites, but they will have more than enough difficulty just getting out of the NFC West.

The San Francisco 49ers will have a much tougher road to the playoffs and potentially the Super Bowl next season. At least, that's what most of the experts think at this point. They have a tough schedule, and on top of that, the Seattle Seahawks have an extremely talented roster, the St. Louis Rams are on the rise and even the Arizona Cardinals got better this offseason.

I recently wrote a piece for SB Nation on what the 49ers need to do to be successful and what can go wrong for them to be, you know, unsuccessful. One thing that was glaringly obvious to me was that the 49ers absolutely cannot falter within the NFC West this time around.

Last season, the 49ers lost one game to the Seahawks and went 0-1-1 against the Rams. That tie game was one of the most frustrating and pathetic football games I've ever watched. A game with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback going without a score was mind-blowing, and the total crash and burn that is David Akers certainly didn't help. But it wasn't just our guys, it was the fact that the Rams are built to beat the 49ers.

The Rams are built to do damage in the NFC West. That's their purpose and that's what they believe will get them to the next level and into the playoffs. The Cardinals, for some reason, always play the 49ers exceptionally hard. The Seahawks have a roster that's on par with San Francisco's, whether we want to admit it or not.

Sure, the 49ers will make it into the playoffs next year. They'll have an excellent record, but the rest of the NFC West might have excellent records as well. Winning outside the division may not cut it this year, and I think we can all agree that a division title is far, far better than a wild card spot.

In short, the 49ers need to tighten up and at least go 1-1 against Seattle next year, hopefully sweep the Cardinals and for the sake of all our sanity ... not lose or tie with the Rams.

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