SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Ted Ginn #19 of the San Francisco 49ers outruns Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks on his way to scoring a touchdown on a kickoff return during their season opener at Candlestick Park on September 11, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
The Cardinals, Rams and Seahawks are all trying to catch up the the 49ers in the NFC West, but it's an uphill battle, as the 49ers finished 13-3 in 2011. Follow along to see how they do in the 2012 NFL Draft.
The 2012 NFL Draft is just about here, and when it comes to the San Francisco 49ers, this draft will be less about who will come in and perform well and more about how the rest of the NFC West is going to improve around them. San Francisco finished 13-3 and made it to the NFC Championship game, while the rest of the NFC West lagged behind. The previous year, the division was won by a team with a losing record (the Seattle Seahawks at 7-9).
If the 49ers play as well as they did this past season, then the rest of the division does seem to have their work cut out for them. The rest of the division is picking high in the draft though, so the 49ers will have to be on notice. Last year, San Francisco walked away with Aldon Smith at the No. 7 overall pick, and he made a clear case for defensive rookie of the year, with Von Miller taking it seemingly due to popularity.
If the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals or St. Louis Rams can get a player with the impact that Aldon Smith had for the 49ers last season, then the 49ers definitely need to worry. This draft, from a 49ers fan's standpoint, is more worrying for that aspect than any.
St. Louis will be looking for offensive playmakers - mostly at the wide receiver position, and offensive line help. There's a lot of buzz that they could be interested in finding a replacement for Steven Jackson sooner rather than later, too. That's definitely something to keep an eye on.
Seattle will be on the lookout for pass rushers at the defensive end position, with most of the mocks being geared toward that position in the first round. They also could be on the lookout for a franchise quarterback, especially if someone like Ryan Tannehill falls.
Arizona sorely needs help on their offensive and defensive lines. They'll be on the lookout for tackles on both sides of the ball and they're in a good position to find someone at the position where they're at in the draft.