When the all-division quarterback is coming off a bad season limited by injuries, you know the division lacks big-time passers.
That's the NFC West.
In picking the All-NFC West team, the quarterback choice was a tough one. Do I go with San Francisco's Alex Smith, who is coming off his best season, but really needs to show more? Or do I go with Sam Bradford of the Rams, a prototypical passer who had a sophomore slump last season?
I went with Bradford because I think he's ready to have a bounce-back season and he has the ability to be a 4,500-yard passer. Smith is a game manager. Bradford, who has taken a lot of heat this offseason, can be a lot more.
The front look for the defense was easy in this division. Three of the four teams use a 3-4 front and the three that do -- 49ers, Seahawks and Cardinals -- all have good units.
That made the picking up front a lot easier to do in the NFC West. Judging by the quarterbacks in this division, those defenses should carry those teams again in 2012.
|V. Davis||R. Okung||M. Iupati||S. Wells||H. Dahl||A. Davis|
|L. Fitzgerald||S. Bradford||M. Crabtree|
|F. Gore||B. Miller|
QB -- Sam Bradford, Rams: He was plagued by injuries and not having any help last year. But I think he bounces back.
RB -- Frank Gore, 49ers: I give him a slight edge over Steven Jackson for this spot. But he is on the down slope of his career.
FB -- Bruce Miller, 49ers: He is a bruising lead blocker for a team that loves to run the football.
WR -- Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals: Imagine if he had a real quarterback? He would be even better.
WR -- Michael Crabtree, 49ers: He gets the second nod in a weak spot in the division. He needs to do more to validate it.
TE -- Vernon Davis, 49ers: It's scary to think how good he can be if the 49ers throw the ball more. He can be special.
LT -- Russell Okung, Seahawks: If he can stay healthy, he could get Pro Bowl consideration.
LG -- Mike Iupati, 49ers: He is a great run blocker who has to improve in pass protection. Watch him pull.
C -- Scott Wells, Rams: The Rams signed this smart, heady center and he will help solidify a line that had big problems last season.
RG -- Harvey Dahl, Rams: He is a nasty run blocker who played some tackle last season. He moves back to guard, his more natural spot.
RT -- Anthony Davis, 49ers: He made big improvements last season and should be able to do even more this season.
|C. Campbell||I. Sopoaga||J. Smith|
|S. Acho||J. Laurinaitis||P. Willis||A. Smith|
|P. Peterson||E. Thomas||A. Wilson||R. Sherman|
LE -- Calais Campbell, Cardinals: He had his best season in 2011, becoming a force on the Cardinals defense.
DT/NT -- Isaac Sopoaga, 49ers: He is a major run stuffer in the middle of that 49ers defense.
RE -- Justin Smith, 49ers: He might have been one of the two or three best defensive linemen in the league.
OLB -- Sam Acho, Cardinals: He impressed as a rookie and should be ready for bigger things as an edge rusher.
ILB -- James Laurinaitis, Rams: I give him the nod over NaVorro Bowman of the 49ers, although slightly.
MLB/ILB -- Patrick Willis, 49ers: He's the best inside linebacker in the NFL. A tackling machine.
OLB -- Aldon Smith, 49ers: He is coming off an impressive rookie season as a situational player. But we do have to see it again.
CB -- Patrick Peterson, Cardinals: He was better known as a return man early last season, but his cornerback play improved in the second half.
CB -- Richard Sherman, Seahawks: He was a pleasant surprise for Seattle playing great man coverage.
Nickel -- Chris Culliver or Perrish Cox, 49ers: Whoever wins this job for the 49ers will be the best in the division.
SS -- Adrian Wilson, Cardinals: He played with a bad arm all season and still was a force. He had a nice bounce-back season from 2010.
FS -- Earl Thomas, Seahawks: This rangy safety is a ball hawk on the back end. He is prototypical for this era.
|T. Ginn||D. Akers||A. Lee|
K -- David Akers, 49ers: He set a record for field goals and was automatic for a team that needed them.
P -- Andy Lee, 49ers: Boom. There goes another Lee punt. He is special.
KR -- Ted Ginn, 49ers: His return play was a big part of the 49ers' success last year.