Previewing the 2020 NFC West: 49ers are the team to beat in a division with three playoff contenders

A look at the NFC West.

1. San Francisco 49ers

Coach: Kyle Shanahan (4th year — 23-25 regular season, 2-1 playoffs)

2019 record: 13-3 (1st in NFC West)

Offensive play-caller: Shanahan (4th year)

Quarterback situation: Jimmy Garoppolo led the 49ers to the Super Bowl last year and the former Tom Brady understudy returns in his second full year as San Francisco’s starter. The backups are Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard.

Young skill-position players: Garoppolo might have the most loaded young skill cast in the NFC. All-Pro and record-setting tight end George Kittle, 26, is the star, while speedy young wideouts Deebo Samuel, 24, and rookie Brandon Aiyuk, 22, give San Francisco plenty of complementary firepower to the run game.

Key statistic: 4.8. That is the average net yards gained per pass attempt the San Francisco defense held opponents to in 2019, which ranked first in the league.

2. Seattle Seahawks

Coach: Pete Carroll (11th year in Seattle — 133-90-1 regular season overall, 11-9 playoffs)

2019 record: 11-5 (2nd in NFC West)

Offensive play-caller: Brian Schottenheimer (3rd year)

Quarterback situation: Russell Wilson is still the man in Seattle, as he enters his ninth year as the franchise QB and has yet to miss a game. He threw 31 touchdowns to five interceptions in 2019. Geno Smith and rookie Anthony Gordon back Wilson up.

Young skill-position players: Wilson has an arsenal that includes D.K. Metcalf, 22, who posted 900 yards receiving as a rookie. Also of note is the young running back tandem of Chris Carson, 25, and Rashaad Penny, 24, while Tyler Lockett, 27, gives Wilson another option through the air alongside veteran tight end Greg Olsen.

Key statistic: 91. That’s the percentage of Seattle’s regular-season wins (10 of 11) that came by one score or less a season ago, including dramatic victories by one point over the Bengals and Rams. The football might not bounce the Seahawks’ way so much again in tight games in 2020.

3. Los Angeles Rams

Coach: Sean McVay (fourth year — 33-15 regular season, 2-2 in playoffs)

2019 record: 9-7 (3rd in NFC West)

Offensive play-caller: McVay (fourth year)

Quarterback situation: After going to the Super Bowl in 2018, quarterback Jared Goff and the Rams’ offense took a step back last year as the team missed the playoffs. John Wolford is the backup.

Young skill-position players: Rookie Cam Akers, 21, will be the team’s tailback after being selected in the second round out of Florida State in April. Other young playmakers include wideout Josh Reynolds, 25, while the Rams have a proven tight end in Tyler Higbee, 27.

Key statistic: Five. That’s how many double-digit losses the Rams incurred last year, including giving up a combined 100 points in blowout defeats to the Buccaneers and Ravens.

4. Arizona Cardinals

Coach: Kliff Kingsbury (2nd year — 5-10-1 regular season)

2019 record: 5-10-1 (4th in NFC West)

Offensive play-caller: Kingsbury (2nd year)

Quarterback situation: Kyler Murray, the first overall pick of the 2019 draft, engineered two game-winning drives last year and had a 87.4 rating, with 20 touchdowns and 12 picks. Arizona looks for him to take a big step forward in his second season.

Young skill-position players: Veteran wideouts DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald will be alongside Christian Kirk, 23, an Arizona native who has progressed in his first two seasons in the league. Tight end Maxx Williams, 26, and running back Kenyan Drake, 26, are also options for Murray.

Key statistic: 402. Total yards per game the Cardinals defense allowed in 2019, which ranked last in football. The unit also ranked fifth-worst in averaged points allowed at 27.6.