The first in a series of items examining what Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. was thinking when he ranked the NFC West's 15 best players recently.
Even San Francisco 49ers fans should resist annual proclamations identifying their team as the most talented in the NFC West.
Those alleged talent advantages have failed to produce a winning record or even a division championship. The lesson is clear. Shaky coaching and quarterback play more than offset talent at other positions.
So, while Williamson ranked an NFC West-leading six 49ers among his top 15 players in the NFC West, a closer look at those players helps explain why the team hasn't broken through.
The 49ers had an inside linebacker (Patrick Willis), a 3-4 defensive end (Justin Smith) and a tight end (Vernon Davis) among the top four players in the division, according to Williamson. I wouldn't argue against any of those selections, but I would rather have great players at other positions -- quarterback, left tackle and featured pass-rusher come to mind.
The chart breaks down Williamson's list by team and position.