Originally posted on Optimum Scouting  |  Last updated 1/14/12

One of the biggest surprises of the 2011 NFL Season came from the NFC West. Many expected Jim Harbaugh to turn the San Francisco 49ers around, but not many expected the turn around to occur this quickly.

Heading into this past offseason, it seemed as though each team was pretty even. But in 2012, the offseason will be spent by the rest of the NFC West figuring out how to catch up with San Francisco. What moves are they going to have to make?

Arizona Cardinals
Offensive Tackle
The Cardinals haven’t drafted an offensive lineman higher than the fifth round in four years, and it shows. The most pressing need is at left tackle, where Levi Brown is both expensive and ineffective.

Wide Receiver
Kevin Kolb has been disappointing thus far, but it’s too soon to cut bait. Instead, Arizona needs to build up the offense around him, both on the offensive line and at wide receiver. Larry Fitzgerald is great, but even he can’t do it all on his own.

Adrian Wilson has been elite, but he will be 33 next season. Kerry Rhodes isn’t too far behind him in age, either. Arizona needs depth immediately and potential starters for the future.

St. Louis Rams
Wide Receiver
Honestly, the Rams have a ton of needs and it’s really difficult to rate one over another. The best strategy for St. Louis is likely going to be taking the best players available in the draft. It’d be hard to argue that wide receiver isn’t one of their main needs, however. Brandon Lloyd isn’t likely to return with the departure of Josh McDaniels, leaving the roster totally devoid of playmakers.

Not many teams had a tougher time with injuries in the secondary than St. Louis. It’s difficult to really get a feel for just what they have at cornerback, then. What was made clear was at the minimum they need better depth, and it’s a pretty good bet they’ll be looking to add a new starter there as well.

Interior Offensive Line
The Rams spent a good portion of the season playing musical chairs in the interior offensive line, and it was a huge detriment to the rest of the offense. There are plenty of areas to be worried about on the Rams’ roster, but they really need to get things solidified on the line.

San Francisco 49ers
Wide Receiver
For all the things the 49ers have done well this season, passing the ball hasn’t been one of them. They thought they had a good addition in Braylon Edwards, but he’s out of the picture now. Adding a playmaker to the offense would provide a valuable dynamic to the San Francisco offense. Center
Even if the 49ers add a playmaker to their offense, the focal point of the offense is always going to be the running game. To take an already solid ground game to the next level, they’ll need to improve their offensive line. The most obvious and pressing need is at center. Cornerback
Carlos Rodgers is a stud, but they could use some more depth. San Francisco’s front seven is one of the best in the league, but it’s secondary could still use some tweaking.

Seattle Seahawks
Tavaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst are ok back ups, but neither are truly worthy of being the starting quarterback of a competitive team in the NFL. If the Seahawks want to make a return to the playoffs, they’re going to have to start by getting a starting quarterback.

Wide Receiver
Doug Baldwin was a nice story and should be a long term slot receiver, but that’s about where the good stories end at that position. Sidney Rice was a huge disappointment, and no one else really stepped up. Seattle may give Golden Tate another shot, but they’d be wise to add another player to the competition.

It appears that there could be quite a bit a turnover at linebacker during the offseason. David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill were solid but could leave through free agency. There’s not much depth behind the two, and that will need to be addressees whether or not Hawthorne and Hill stay in Seattle.

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