Which team positioned to challenge 49ers?

The NFL Power Rankings published late last week treated NFC West teams the way they finished last season.

The San Francisco 49ers were well ahead of the pack. The Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks were some distance back and tied, with Arizona holding a tiebreaking edge. The St. Louis Rams trailed their NFC West rivals by a considerable margin.

Nothing that has happened since the 2011 season ended should lead to wholesale reevaluation of where these teams stand. I do think Matt Flynn's addition makes the Seahawks different at quarterback, and quite possibly better. That is why Seattle ranked just ahead of Arizona when I cast my ballot for the power rankings (see chart).

I'm interested in your thoughts on which team is best positioned to overtake the 49ers in the division. I'll draw from the comments for a piece I'll put together for Wednesday.

Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc., who shared thoughts on NFC West quarterback situations Monday, took this view of the teams in general:

"I give San Francisco all the credit in the world for getting involved in Peyton Manning. They brought back the NFL's best defense. Worst-case scenario, you miss on Manning and bring back the same team.

"Seattle, the arrow is going up heavy on this team. The Seahawks could be a wild-card team or if San Francisco stumbles, they could overtake them.

"I don't feel the same about he Cardinals. I like how their defense came on last year, but this offseason wasn't friendly to them. Their offensive line is no better, the passing game has only one guy. I cannot get behind the offense and am not sure the defense will be as good.

"In St. Louis, Fisher has job security. I love how they're set up. Let's see where they are at in a year or two."

That should get us going. Who's going to lead off the discussion? And, yes, I realize the offseason remains ongoing, to be shaped further by the draft and free agency.

Note: The chart shows how colleagues John Clayton, Paul Kuharsky, James Walker, Ashley Fox and I voted for NFC West teams.

2012 NFL Power Rankings: March Outlook