A look around the NFC West entering the 2023 season:

San Francisco 49ers

Last season: 13-4; lost to Philadelphia in NFC Championship Game

One looming question: Is Brock Purdy really, truly a bona fide NFL starting QB?

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith. 224771

Outlook: The 49ers would answer that question with an emphatic yes. As disastrous as the Trey Lance situation turned out for the Niners, they made up for it by finding Purdy with the final pick of the 2022 draft. After his breakthrough rookie season — a 13-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio in nine games — it remains to be seen how he’ll respond to offseason elbow surgery. The Niners have turned over the offense to Purdy, and he has the top-flight talent around him — Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle — to help the Niners deliver on their potential.

Breakout candidate: Brandon Aiyuk. The 2020 first-round pick led SF in receiving yards (1,015) and receptions (78) in 2022, and there’s hope he could be even better in his fourth season.

One bold(ish) prediction: The Niners will repeat as the No. 1 defense in the NFL. And this is bolstered now that star edge rusher Nick Bosa has settled his contract dispute.

Los Angeles Rams

Last season: 5-12

One looming question: Is Sean McVay nearing the end of his L.A. story?

Outlook: Injuries derailed the Rams’ Super Bowl championship defense last year, and their 2023 season is already off to a shaky start with star receiver Cooper Kupp, the Yakima native, having a setback with a hamstring injury. The Rams traded star cornerback Jalen Ramsey during an offseason that GM manager Les Snead called a period of “remodel.” McVay, meanwhile, continued to be the subject of retirement rumors, and the Rams’ aging roster certainly feels like it’s on its last gasp.

Breakout candidate: Puka Nacua. The Rams drafted the former UW receiver in the fifth round, and he’s shown enough in training camp to be an early contributor.

One bold(ish) prediction: Matthew Stafford won’t finish among the top 10 QBs in passing yards. He played in just nine games last season because of an elbow injury; and at 35, it’s fair to assume he’s on the downslope of his career.

Arizona Cardinals

Last season: 4-13

One looming question: What’s the plan here, folks?

Outlook: The Cardinals cleaned house, firing coach Kliff Kingsbury, moving on from embattled GM Steve Keim and releasing star receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Former UW star Budda Baker requested a trade in the offseason (he didn’t get his wish). Arizona settled on first-time coach Jonathan Gannon, the Eagles defensive coordinator, to lead the team, and first impressions of him are mixed, at best. It’s pretty obvious the Cardinals are in full rebuild mode, hoping to land the No. 1 pick for a shot at USC’s Caleb Williams in next year’s draft.

Breakout candidate: Rondale Moore (er, maybe). Slim pickings with Arizona’s offense, in particular. There has been some buzz about tight end Trey McBride, a second-round pick in 2022.

One bold(ish) prediction: Kyler Murray is going to be miserable. Working back from a torn ACL, Murray will miss at least the first month of the season. After that, his future in Arizona seems to be up in the air.