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Bill Barnwell of ESPN has been going through each NFL division and handing out grades for all 32 teams. Today, he went through the NFC West, which he states arguably contain the two best teams in the NFL heading into the 2016 season. No, the San Francisco 49ers are not one of those two teams. They are the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks.
How did the 49ers fare? They earned a C grade for their offseason so far, which includes free agency, the NFL Draft, and more.
So what did the 49ers do right according to Barnwell? They held on to QB Colin Kaepernick for one. "As toxic as the relationship between Kaepernick and the San Francisco front office appears to have become, there wasn't a real reason for the 49ers to trade their former starter at quarterback. They have plenty of cap space and didn't use most of it this year," says Barnwell. "If the whole thing goes south, they can cut Kaepernick next year and not feel guilty -- nobody's expecting the 49ers to win this year, anyway."
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Barnwell also applauded the fact that the 49ers built up their offensive and defensive lines during the draft, including DE DeForest Buckner and OG Joshua Garnett. He also liked the hiring of head coach Chip Kelly. "Kelly isn't a safe bet, and his run as a personnel executive was disastrous, but he managed to get a lot out of Eagles teams with some pretty bad quarterbacks, and nobody doubts his X's and O's acumen," said Barnwell.
Among the negatives for the 49ers offseason, Barnwell pointed out the team's failure to upgrade the rest of the team via free agency despite having a significant amount of salary cap room to do so. "This feels like a team that isn't actively trying to get better, which seems bizarre," he says.
You can read the entire division analysis, including the 49ers, here.
Grades for other NFC West teams are as follows.
Arizona Cardinals: B+
Los Angeles Rams: C
Seattle Seahawks: B