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Why one NFL Insider sees 49ers as favorites in NFC West

The NFL Network’s Michel Silver believes the Niners are the class of the division going into the 2021 season.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

We are still more than five months away from the beginning of the 2021 NFL season, but one NFL Insider is already hailing the San Francisco 49ers as the favorite to win the NFC West.

The NFL Network’s Michael Silver was part of a panel that discusses the division and didn’t hold back on why he thinks the Niners are the class of the NFC West (h/t 49ers Web Zone).

“I think the 49ers are the favorite, not only in the NFC West but in the NFC,” Silver said. “And in the NFC West, I don’t think it’s close.”

Silver explained why he thinks San Francisco is ahead of the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks in his rankings.

Silver points to the lack of playoff success for their newly acquired QB Matthew Stafford when discussing the Rams.

“I know people are excited about Stafford,” Silver said.“He better be great for what they gave up to get him. Les Snead, the general manager, talked the other day about superpowers. Let’s hope that Matthew Stafford has many, many superpowers that thus far have produced zero playoff victories in 12 seasons.”

Snead traded QB Jared Goff in the Stafford deal, and the team cut running back Todd Gurley after the 2019 season. The result of those two moves is that the Rams have $30.6 million in dead money on the books, per Over the Cap.

With Stafford, Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, Jalen Ramsey and Leonard Floyd on the roster, L..A. still has a strong nucleus, but Snead will be in tough to find some depth behind his stars.

Silver also touches on why he thinks the Seahawks are in trouble due to the drama surrounding All-Pro QB Russell Wilson.

“He basically threw offensive lineman under the bus, in a lot of people’s eyes,” Silver said. “I think there could be some awkward moments in that locker room, and obviously, he and Pete Carroll have some bridging of their relationship to do.”

Wilson reportedly approached Seattle’s front office about a potential trade and listed the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders as his preferred destinations.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter says the Bears made a push to try and put together a package for Wilson, but the Seahawks rebuffed those efforts.

Seattle’s offensive line has been a major issue for the team the past several seasons, but the defense has taken a hit this offseason as well. The Seahawks lost starting corner Shaquill Griffin, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency. General manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll tried to mitigate the loss by signing former San Francisco corner Ahkello Witherspoon. Seattle’s pass-rush also took a hit with the loss of veteran Carlos Dunlap.

Silver didn’t mention the Arizona Cardinals, who are led by quarterback Kyler Murray and standout receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The Cardinals added future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt to go alongside the returning Chandler Jones.

Still, Silver is rolling with the Niners as his favorite in 2021.

After winning the NFC in 2019, the 49ers were among the favorites in the conference going into last season. That changed by Week 3 with the likes of Nick Bosa, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Richard Sherman, Raheem Mostert and Jimmy Garoppolo all sidelined with injuries.

“The 49ers, to me, are very much like the team that came very, very close to winning the Super Bowl, and I do write off last year to the insane wave of injuries they experienced. I know they might lose some guys. You get Nick Bosa back healthy, if Jimmy Garoppolo ends up being the quarterback and can stay healthy, you see them trying to fortify what they have ... I think the 49ers are going to be a force to be reckoned with, and they start the NFC West Derby right now on the very top.”

The Niners have had a pretty good offseason. Lynch has solidified the offensive line by re-signing All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams and bringing in center Alex Mack. Lynch also agreed to terms with cornerbacks Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley.

Do you agree with Silver that San Francisco is the early favorite to win the NFC West?