Warner Retirement a Heaven Send for 49ers

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Kurt Warner's retirement may be a gold rush for the 49ers.

    Arizona Cardinals' quarterback Kurt Warner hung it up for good Friday, after a 12-year career that took him from stocking groceries in Cedar Falls, Iowa to appearing in two Super Bowls and twice winning the NFL's MVP Award.

    Warner's career has been a fairy tale study in reversal of fortune. But the fortune is all the San Francisco 49ers' now.

    With Warner in mothballs, the reigning NFC West Champion Cardinals are unlikely to repeat. That makes the upstart San Francisco 49ers the new favorites in the 2010 NFC West.

    Think about it. The last two seasons in which the Cardinals started five-time Pro Bowler Kurt Warner, the Niners finished but two lousy games behind them for the NFC West crown. Take Warner and his 30 touchdowns out of the equation, and the 49ers would have won those divisional titles. Albeit with a terrible win-loss record.

    Matt Barrows put it best on his Sacramento Bee blog. "You'd have to consider the 49ers the favorites in the NFC West," Barrows writes. "Seattle, after all, is overhauling its coaching staff and front office. The Rams are where the 49ers were four years ago."

    And the Cardinals are handing their offense over to an out-of-practice beer-bong wizard in Matt Leinart.

    It almost makes you glad to have Alex Smith at starting quarterback. In fact, Smith now makes you the favorite to win the division.

    Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who will try to spend some time in the off-season with Matt Leinart to study his technique.