NFC West Notes: 49ers, Cardinals, Rams

     

49ers

  • ESPN’s Dan Graziano says it’s a make-or-break year for 49ers DE Solomon Thomas, as he only has four sacks since being drafted No. 3 overall in 2017 and the 49ers made major additions to their defensive line. 
  • Graziano mentions the 24-year-old Thomas likely would have some trade value if he loses the numbers game on the 49ers front seven.
  • Thomas has $4.3 million guaranteed in 2020, making it unlikely San Francisco cuts him, though they could decline his fifth-year option for 2021.

Cardinals

In a receiving corps full of rookies and young players, Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald stands out. The soon-to-be 36-year-old Fitzgerald is set to play a key role for Arizona and No. 1 overall pick QB Kyler Murray.

“Yeah, I just think he’s a security blanket,” Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury said via Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic. “There’s a comfort level there. If you get it close, he’s going to make a play for you. A big body in traffic, across the middle, for a young QB? You know he’s going to make a big play and that goes a long way. I watch the plays out there and I just think there’s a trust level. I mean, the (catch) radius is enormous when you get it near him and then he has great hands and he wants the ball to come his way. That’s one thing about Larry; you can tell he wants the ball his way, so I think they’ll have great chemistry once we get this thing rolling.”

Former first-round WR Kevin White drew some comparisons to Fitzgerald when he was taken in the top-ten by the Bears back in 2015. Injuries have derailed his career so far, but he says he’s healthy and ready to prove himself in Arizona this year. 

“Oh, man. This could revive my career,” White said. “… The fans haven’t seen Kevin White yet. I think, God-willing, they’ll be able to see it this year under this offense and this coaching staff and this organization.”

The Cardinals signed Charles Clay and Maxx Williams in free agency and drafted Caleb Wilson with the last pick in the draft to bolster their tight end room. However, there will be times this year when none of them are on the field, as Kingsbury’s offense will feature four wide receivers on the field. 

“If you look at the receivers and stuff we have, you can’t really blame him if that’s what he does,” Clay said. “You probably don’t like it if you’re a tight end, but he has the personnel here to do it so I’m one of those guys where if we do that and we’re winning, that’s fine with me. … I’m all about winning.”

  • McManaman lists former third-round WR Chad Williams as on the hot seat for the Cardinals given their additions at the position this offseason. 

Rams

  • The Athletic’s Vincent Bonsignore says Rams WR Cooper Kupp is on track to play Week 1 against the Panthers, but the team will likely be cautious with him during training camp.
  • The Rams hope G Joe Noteboom and C Brian Allen to step up as new starters, but both aren’t guaranteed starting positions, per Bonsignore.
  • Bonsignore writes that fourth-round DT Greg Gaines and second-year DT Sebastian Joseph-Day will compete for the starting nose tackle position. 
  • Rams LB Micah Kiser is expected to replace the released Mark Barron in the Rams’ base defense before giving way to other players in packages that require more pass coverage. 

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