NFC West Report: Free Agency Edition

A look at the 2015 regular season schedule for the San Francisco 49ers.

In this edition of the NFC West Report, we catch up with the San Francisco 49ers three divisional rivals as they reshape their rosters in the early stages of the new league year.


St. Louis Rams

Additions:QB Nick Foles (traded from Philadelphia), QB Case Keenum (traded from Houston), DT Nick Fairley (signed from Detroit), LB Akeem Ayers (signed from Tennessee)

Losses: QB Sam Bradford (traded to Philadelphia), QB Shaun Hill (signed with Minnesota), DT Kendall Langford (signed with Indianapolis), T Mike Person (signed with Atlanta)

Takeaways: In our Scouting Combine edition of the NFC West Report earlier this month, we quoted Rams general manager Les Snead telling reporters in Indianapolis that "deleting" franchise quarterback Sam Bradford was not the answer to the team's woes at the position. Well, just a few weeks later, the Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles pulled off a surprising trade that sent Bradford to the "City of Brotherly Love" in exchange for Nick Foles.

Bradford, the first overall pick in 2010, missed the vast majority of the past two seasons with consecutive ACL injuries. Foles, on the other hand, lost his starting job midway through the 2014 season to Mark Sanchez after suffering a shoulder injury in Week 9 against the Houston Texans. Foles is best known for his gaudy 2013 performance versus the Oakland Raiders, when he threw for 406 yards and seven touchdowns. The 26-year-old faced the 49ers last fall in Santa Clara, completing 21-of-43 passes for 195 yards. San Francisco won the game, 26-21, thanks in part to two interceptions Foles threw, including one by former 49ers cornerback Perrish Cox with 47 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

To address the loss of backup quarterback Shaun Hill, who served as a strong veteran presence in the locker room, the Rams aquired Case Keenum for a reported 2016 seventh-round draft pick.

The additions of Nick Fairley and Akeen Ayers boost the already-strong St. Louis front seven (see Robert Quinn and 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year Aaron Donald).


Arizona Cardinals

Additions:G Mike Iupati (signed from San Francisco), C A.Q. Shipley (

Losses: WR Ted Ginn Jr. (signed with Carolina), G Paul Fanaika (signed with Kansas City), CB Antonio Cromartie (signed with New York Jets), DT Darnell Dockett (signed with San Francisco), DT Dan Williams (signed with Oakland)

Takeaways: A torn Achilles sidelined Sean Weatherspoon for the entire 2014 season after foot and knee injuries limited him to just seven games in 2013. Still, the Cardinals are confident that the linebacker will be able to fill the void left by Daryl Washington when he was suspended last May for at least a year for violating the league's substance abuse policy. From 2011-12, Weatherspoon tallied a combined 210 tackles and seven sacks. 

Meanwhile, Corey Peters, who was teammates with Weatherspoon in Atlanta, joins the likes of Calais Campbell, Ed Stinson and Frostee Rucker on Arizona's defensive line. 

LaMarr Woodley is another player coming off of an injury-shortened season. The veteran tore his bicep versus the Cardinals last fall and missed the final 10 games for Oakland. Woodley has 57 career sacks to his name and will help add depth to the linebacker unit.

Fans of the 49ers will recognize the Cardinals' biggest splash signing in free agency: Mike Iupati. The Pro Bowl offensive guard spent his first five seasons in San Francisco and should greatly help the Arizona run game, which is reportedly in the market for a lead 'back via trade or the draft.

Antonio Cromartie and Darnell Dockett will be difficult to replace in the desert. Lining up opposite of Patrick Peterson, Cromartie picked off three passes last year and tallied 10 breakups. The Cardinals could look to Justin Bethel, Jerraud Powers or the draft to find a new right cornerback. As for Dockett, although he missed all of the 2014 season with an ACL injury, the pass-rusher had been a staple for Arizona for 11 seasons. He brings his 40.5 career sacks to division-rival San Francisco. The Cardinals ranked 24th in sacks last season with 35.

In 11 seasons, the veteran defensive tackle has amassed 40.5 career sacks and three Pro Bowl selections.


Seattle Seahawks

Additions:TE Jimmy Graham (traded from New Orleans), CB Cary Williams (signed from Philadelphia), CB Will Blackmon (signed from Jacksonville)

Losses: WR Bryan Walters (signed with Jacksonville), C Max Unger (traded to New Orleans), G James Carpenter (signed with New York Jets), TE Tony Moeaki (signed with Atlanta) SS Jeron Johnson (signed with Washington), CB Byron Maxwell (signed with Philadelphia), DE O'Brien Schofield (signed with Atlanta), LB Malcolm Smith (signed with Oakland)

Takeaways: Obviously, the headline here is the Seahawks landing All-Pro pass-catcher and matchup nightmare Jimmy Graham. The three-time Pro Bowler has had at least 85 receptions and 800 receiving yards in each of the past four seasons. In those four years, Graham accounted for 46 touchdowns, the most among all tight ends. The 28-year-old's best season came in 2013, when he finished with 1,215 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. Graham's addition gives quarterback Russell Wilson a marquee red-zone target, something the Seahawks probably could've used at the end of February's Super Bowl. 

If you're looking for a silver lining as a 49ers fan, the good news is twofold. In four career games against San Francisco, Graham has averaged just 37.5 receiving yards. He has been targeted 30 times but only 20 of those passes were completed, including just two for scores. Also, in order to obtain Graham, the Seahawks were forced to part ways with their 2015 first-round pick and two-time Pro Bowl lineman Max Unger, who served as an elite run-blocking center for tailback Marshawn Lynch. 

Byron Maxwell leaving via free agency was a big hit for Seattle, especially given Jeremy Lane's ACL tear in the Super Bowl. Maxwell, a key contributor to the Seahawks secondary, recorded six interceptions and 24 breakups over the last two seasons. To address the need, Seattle brought in Cary Williams and Will Blackmon to compete for the starting job opposite Richard Sherman.

The 49ers and Seahawks have a long history, going back to 1976. Here are photos from their 38 meetings.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.