NFL power rankings: Where experts place the 49ers ahead of Week 1

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

Niner Noise takes a look around the league to see where the San Francisco 49ers stand in experts’ NFL power rankings ahead of Week 1 and a date with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

All the hubbub of the preseason and roster cuts is over, and the San Francisco 49ers are now gearing up for their Week 1 bout on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Needless to say, NFL power rankings across the league don’t have much to base an opinion on, considering there hasn’t been a regular-season snap yet, and the vast majority of speculation and analysis is based solely on what teams have done since the Super Bowl.

The Niners, of course, revamped their defensive line this offseason by adding edge rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa. Getting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo back and healthy is huge, too.

These were certainly major influences in experts’ takes and NFL power rankings ahead of Week 1.

So, let’s see what those experts had to say about San Francisco before the regular season kicks off.

Dan Hanzus, 24

"Jimmy Garoppolo made his return to game action against the Broncos on Monday night and … well … let’s just say there’s room for improvement. The quarterback, whose 2018 season was cut short by a torn ACL last September, had what ESPN analyst Rex Ryan termed a “deer in the headlights” look across three series. Garoppolo finished 1-for-6 with an interception and zero yards passing. Zero. His numbers would have been worse if not for a dropped would-be pick six. This performance comes after Jimmy G threw interceptions on five consecutive passes in practice last week. Time to panic? Nah, rust is expected for the former Tom Brady understudy. But it’s pretty wild how much expectations have shifted for Garoppolo since this time last year."

Scott Bair, NBC Sports Bay Area: 29

"The 49ers’ futility has gotten a pass recently, given all of their injuries. That won’t last much longer.Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch better start winning soon. Honeymoon’s almost over."

ESPN’s NFL Nation: 22

"Garoppolo has just 10 career starts and has never started more than five games in a season. The Niners want to see what he can do in a much larger sample, and Garoppolo has acknowledged the importance of proving himself with a more robust body of work. If Garoppolo gets hurt, struggles or both, the Niners could find themselves in another quarterback quandary in the offseason when they could, in theory, part with Garoppolo at the cost of just the $4.2 million in salary cap proration remaining on his deal."

Mark Maske, the Washington Post: 27

"Jimmy Garoppolo is back at quarterback. But will it matter? The 49ers must recapture the positive momentum they seemed to possess heading into last season before Garoppolo’s knee injury."

Kristopher Knox, Bleacher Report: 22

Randy Gurzi, NFL Spin Zone: 25

"There’s no doubt that their season hinges on the play of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Added to the team in 2017 at the trading deadline, Garoppolo was a player everyone was excited to see last season but his season ended abruptly as he tore his ACL against the Chiefs. … Even if he does play well, there’s still a lot to be desired on this roster. The 49ers may have some big names up front but their secondary is still a work in progress. They could be a surprise team, but they’re in a decent division and haven’t been good for quite some time."

It’s not a surprise many of the experts around the league cite Garoppolo as the player to watch for San Francisco this season.

It also points out just how much pressure he’s under.

As ESPN pointed out, though, the Niners can get out from under Garoppolo relatively easily in 2020, should he completely flame out in 2019. That’s clearly not the situation head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. want to see, however, as they’re instead looking for Jimmy G to replicate the same kind of magical performances he enjoyed during that five-game stretch to close out 2017 instead.

If it goes well, Garoppolo and the 49ers should rise up NFL power rankings fairly quickly, perhaps even competing for a playoff berth in December.

Next. NFL power rankings: Post-preseason breakdown for all 32 teams. dark

If not, though, Shanahan and the rest of San Francisco’s brass will be left scratching its collective head after yet another disappointing season.