Do you believe in miracles? Could we be on the verge of witnessing one in the NFC West?
We asked our listeners and readers in last week’s Talk of Fame Network poll who will win the NFC West in 2017, and their answer will surprise you. It certainly surprised us. The San Francisco 49ers, coming off a 2-14 season that got both their general manager, head coach and quarterback all fired, were the overwhelming choice with 60 percent of the vote.
The 49er Nation obviously has more confidence in new general manager John Lynch, new coach Kyle Shanahan and new quarterback Brian Hoyer than we at the Talk of Fame Network do. All three of the hosts – Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge – cast their votes for the defending champion Seattle Seahawks, who, by the way, finished second in the voting with 29 percent support.
“You have to give it to 49er fans for their loyalty,” Borges said, “but are they nuts? No way are they ready to unseat the Seahawks, even though Seattle is becoming filled with more feuds than the Hatfields and the McCoys.”
Judge saw one keen divider between the Seahawks and the rest of the division.
“The Seahawks have the only quarterback in the division I trust … even if some of his teammates don’t,” Judge said.
Now to the 49ers. Lynch and Shanahan inherited a team that finished 31st in the NFL in offense and 32nd in defense. A total rebuild was in order, and the new hierarchy took a giant step in that direction. The 49ers wheeled and dealed for 10 draft picks and also brought in 21 veterans through free agency and trades.
San Francisco used its first three draft picks on defense, selecting edge rusher Solomon Thomas and linebacker Reuben Foster in the first round and cornerback Akhello Witherspoon in the third. Lynch addressed the offense in free agency, signing quarterback Brian Hoyer, wide receiver Pierre Garcon and fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
Seattle, on the other hand, did some minor tweaking for a team that won 10 games and reached the NFC semifinals last season. This is a team that will continue to win on defense with a cast that includes seven Pro Bowl veterans: Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. Joining the cast this season will be tackle Malik McDowell, a high second-round pick out of Michigan State, and defensive backs Shaquill Griffin and Delano Hall, a couple of third rounders.
The key addition on offense was running back Eddie Lacy, a free agent signee from the Green Bay Packers. He is expected to bolster the NFL’s 25th-ranked rushing attack.
The Arizona Cardinals received 10 percent support in the voting and the Los Angeles Rams two percent.