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Sunday, June 9, 2024

NFC West burning questions for 2024 season: Will 49ers commerce Brandon Aiyuk? Massive yr coming for Kyler Murray?

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Whereas there are a number of good divisions within the NFL, the NFC West could be the league’s most attention-grabbing division in 2024. The NFC West, in spite of everything, contains the final NFC squad to win the Tremendous Bowl, the reigning convention champions in addition to the very best talent place participant chosen on this yr’s draft. 

The division has a number of different juicy storylines to comply with as properly. One ongoing storyline includes the 49ers and whether or not or not they are going to commerce both receiver Brandon Aiyuk or fellow wideout Deebo Samuel. One other chapter was not too long ago added to this story after Aiyuk determined to skip the 49ers’ necessary minicamp. 

With coaching camp simply across the nook, he is a take a look at every NFC West group’s burning query, beginning with the potential way forward for San Francisco’s prime receivers. 

San Francisco 49ers

Will the group commerce Brandon Aiyuk earlier than the beginning of the 2024 season? 

My guess is that Aiyuk will stay in San Francisco, regardless of his current minicamp holdout together with the truth that the 49ers have not too long ago prolonged the contracts of fellow wideout Jauan Jennings and working again Christian McCaffrey. There’s nonetheless time for the 49ers to increase Aiyuk’s contract this offseason, however it might come on the expense of certainly one of his teammates. 

That teammate is Samuel, who not too long ago acknowledged that the group was engaged in talks about presumably buying and selling him earlier this offseason. Samuel has two years left on a three-year, $71.55 million extension that he signed again in 2022. The 49ers, although, have the choice to launch him after the 2024 season. 

San Francisco is hoping that they’ll preserve the band collectively for a minimum of one other yr, so do not be stunned if the 49ers preserve each wideouts in 2024 for one more Tremendous Bowl run. Issues ought to get attention-grabbing after this season, although. 

The 49ers should not going to have three wideouts below substantial contracts for the long term, which implies that somebody must be heading out the door. That somebody seems to be Samuel, provided that the 49ers entertained buying and selling him this offseason, prolonged Jennings’ contract and spent their 2024 first-round decide on former Florida receiver Ricky Pearsall

At this level, all indicators are pointing towards the 49ers having each Aiyuk and Samuel for one final hurrah. 

Can the Rams make one other Tremendous Bowl run? 

The Rams have a number of issues going for them. They play within the significantly simpler NFC convention. They’ve a possible future Corridor of Fame quarterback below heart in Matthew Stafford, who’s armed with one of many NFL’s finest receiving duos in Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua. They’re led by one of many NFL’s finest coaches in Sean McVay, who already has two journeys to the Tremendous Bowl below his belt. 

These are the primary explanation why I imagine that the Rams are able to making one other Tremendous Bowl run in 2024. However there are a couple of extra explanation why I like their possibilities. 

Los Angeles’ offense is led by its passing recreation, however the group obtained some much-needed steadiness final yr within the type of working again Kyren Williams. After getting restricted work as a rookie, Williams took over the beginning position and was named to the Professional Bowl after dashing for 12 touchdowns and main the NFL with a mean of 95.3 dashing yards per recreation. 

The Rams’ top-two draft picks ought to make a major affect this yr on a protection that misplaced Aaron Donald to retirement. Whereas there is not any one who can exchange Donald, rookie exterior linebacker Jared Verse and defensive finish Braden Fiske will add some chunk to a protection that was a pedestrian nineteenth within the NFL In factors allowed in 2024. 

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Will Kyler Murray regain his famous person standing? 

It has been bizarre watching Murray hover below the radar the final two years. A Professional Bowler in 2020 and 2021, Murray’s ACL harm late within the 2022 season (which sidelined him for greater than half of the 2023 season) and the Cardinals’ demise are the 2 largest explanation why he has fallen out of the nationwide highlight. 

The loopy half is that Murray — unbeknownst to most — performed at his typical excessive degree upon coming back from harm final yr. In eight begins, Murray led the Cardinals to a few of the group’s 4 wins that included upset wins in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. He almost led Arizona to an upset win over eventual AFC South champion Houston in his second recreation again from harm. 

Given how properly he performed final yr, I would be stunned if Murray does not reclaim his place as one of many NFL’s prime quarterbacks in 2024. Including to my confidence is the addition of Marvin Harrison Jr., the highest receiver prospect on this yr’s draft. 

Murray has excessive hopes relating to what the Cardinals can do in 2024. Together with Harrison, the Cardinals’ offseason additions embrace wideout Zay Jones, offensive sort out and former Bengals first-round decide Jonah Williams, rookie defensive finish Darius Robinson and cornerback and fellow rookie Max Melton.

“Win the Tremendous Bowl,” Murray not too long ago mentioned, through the Arizona Republic. “That is my objective. That is my expectation.”

Is Geno Smith’s job in jeopardy? 

Seattle shortly said that Smith is the nonetheless its beginning quarterback shortly after it traded for Sam Howell, who led the NFL in cross makes an attempt final yr because the Commanders‘ beginning quarterback. Smith continues to be the starter, however do not suppose for a second that his job is totally protected. 

Smith’s job standing is not in jeopardy now, although. The 33-year-old is coming off consecutive Professional Bowl campaigns and is 2 years faraway from main the NFL in completion proportion. The job is Smith’s to lose, however Howell’s arrival makes issues attention-grabbing. 

Howell’s presence places added emphasis on Smith and Seattle getting off to a quick begin. But when the Seahawks battle early, new head coach Mike Macdonald could resolve to show to Howell to assist proper the ship. 

Barring both a gradual begin or an harm to Smith, I do not see Howell taking up this season until the Seahawks are out of the playoff image come December or early January. The Seahawks have the expertise in place to corral one of many convention’s seven playoff spots, so the percentages of Seattle struggling sufficient to warrant a quarterback change is slim. 

Smith’s skill to handle the soccer provides him a significant benefit over his 23-year-old teammate. Howell’s 21 interceptions final season is another decide than Smith’s complete variety of interceptions thrown over the previous two seasons. Till Howell cleans up that side of his recreation, he will not be beginning forward of Smith or anybody else. 

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