The San Francisco 49ers saw a nice increase in experts’ NFL power rankings ahead of Week 2, following the team’s road win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday.
It might have been ugly. But the San Francisco 49ers managed to find a way to win on the road in Week 1, upending the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-17, thanks to a solid defensive effort and four takeaways, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
While the Niners offense struggled to find any sort of continuity, it’s important to note this was the kind of game head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. would have lost in either of the last two seasons.
Seeing San Francisco come away with a win instead was awfully refreshing. Especially considering the defense, the 49ers’ biggest weakness in 2018, stole the show.
So it’s no surprise experts from around the league gave the Niners a nice boost in their NFL power rankings heading into Week 2.
Let’s take a look to see what they’re all saying about San Francisco’s efforts.
Dan Hanzus, NFL.com: 19 (+5)
"The 49ers are back in the takeaway business on defense. They produced four on Sunday against the Buccaneers, using those big plays to secure a 31-17 win in Tampa. Last season, San Francisco set NFL records for fewest turnovers (seven) and interceptions (two) created. They picked off Jameis Winston three times in Week 1, running two of those picks back for touchdowns. If only the Niners could have the error-prone Winston on the schedule every week. Jimmy Garoppolo was OK in his first start since undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last October, bouncing back after an early pick-six. His lone touchdown pass came on a pretty 39-yard strike to wide receiver Richie James, but Jimmy G did most of his work short of the sticks. You’d like to see more variety in the offense moving forward, and you suspect that will happen as Garoppolo gets more comfortable after missing the bulk of last season."
ESPN’s NFL Nation: 20 (+2)
"[Nick] Bosa made his NFL debut after returning from an ankle sprain and made an impact. Although he whiffed on an early sack opportunity as Jameis Winston evaded him, he managed to finish with three tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and two quarterback hits in unofficial statistics. His pressure also helped contribute to cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon’s game-clinching pick-six in the fourth quarter. It was a promising start for the No. 2 overall pick and leaves one to wonder what could lie ahead when he is at full speed."
The MMQB: 18 (+1)
"Niners D creating turnovers? A good sign, even if it did come against a mighty generous Jameis Winston."
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: 20 (+2)
"As long as they play a quarterback who throws more pick sixes than Jimmy Garoppolo, they’ll be fine."
Nate Davis, USA Today Sports: 17 (-2)
"Defense that had two INTs all of 2018 comes out of chute with pair of pick-sixes in Week 1 victory. It does help facing Jameis Winston."
Bleacher Report Staff: 21 (-1)
"Penalties wiped out at least four touchdowns, and there were more defensive touchdowns than offensive ones.The 49ers won the game, but it felt more like the Buccaneers lost it.Jimmy Garoppolo’s shaky preseason carried over into the first game that counted. San Francisco’s three-headed rushing attack of Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert totaled only 100 yards on 30 carries, although Coleman was a spectator for much of the game after suffering a high-ankle sprain. San Fran gave the ball away twice and committed 11 penalties. … While it’s always good to get a win, this showing didn’t inspire a ton of confidence in the Niners factoring into the NFC West race in 2019."
It’s interesting to see both USA Today and Bleacher Report downgrading the Niners after a victory. It could be something of a market correction, and there are plenty of teams who win, yet wind up dropping spots, often due to other teams previously below them simply looking better.
And it’s hard to avoid B/R recognizing how ugly San Francisco’s performance was, at times, particularly in the penalty department. The 49ers have struggled with penalties early on in each of the three seasons Shanahan has been at the helm.
At least the Niners climbed a spot in Niner Noise’s latest NFL power rankings heading into Week 2. That’s important, right?
Perhaps this is something that gets corrected in coming weeks, however. Shanahan’s first-team offense hasn’t played together much, as a lot of it was piecemealed together during the preseason. Given the complex nature of his offense, it’s not hard to see many of those pre-snap penalties take place either.
San Francisco will have another chance to quiet any doubters with what looks to be another winnable contest on the road, this time against the 0-1 Cincinnati Bengals, who also sit towards the bottom of nearly every expert’s NFL power rankings heading into Week 2.