NFL power rankings: Where do 49ers stack up ahead of Week 1?

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (R) with general manager John Lynch (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (R) with general manager John Lynch (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

With training camp underway, Niner Noise peruses NFL power rankings to see where the 49ers are matching up against Super Bowl-caliber competition.

To no one’s surprise, the San Francisco 49ers are faring awfully well in the majority of analysts’ NFL power rankings amid all 32 teams’ training camp sessions.

This offseason has been a weird one, yes, having seen the preseason eliminated and teams relying more on remote, e-offseason meetings than minicamps or organized team meetings. On one hand, the lack of those have/will cut down on the multitude of injuries players often face, yet there’s always the chance the lack of such workouts means players can suffer injuries in different manners.

Fortunately for the Niners, retaining 18 of the 22 offensive and defensive starters from last season bodes well for head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. An odd offseason amid the pandemic could spell trouble for teams in transition, but that’s not the case for one of the league’s top Super Bowl contenders.

The 49ers also weren’t hit too hard by optional COVID-19 opt-outs either.

Needless to say, that’s how most analysts view San Francisco in their mid-training camp NFL power rankings leading up to Week 1 of the regular season.

Dan Hanzus, No. 2 (even)

"Their depth at wide receiver took another hit on Sunday, when Jalen Hurd suffered a torn ACL in practice. The hope was that Hurd would make a Year 2 impact after a back issue cost him his rookie season, but the page now turns to 2021 for the star-crossed former Baylor standout. The Niners are already without Deebo Samuel (foot), whose Week 1 availability is in doubt. These developments put more on the shoulders of first-round choice Brandon Aiyuk, but it’s fair to wonder if Aiyuk — or any rookie in this unorthodox season — should be counted on for instant production with the spring and summer limitations of a COVID-19 world. Hey, maybe this is the year you Tavon Austin Truthers are vindicated!"

Kristopher Knox, Bleacher Report: No. 3

"San Francisco should still be the team to beat in the NFC. They parted with wideout Emmanuel Sanders and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (trade), but they replaced them with rookie first-round picks Brandon Aiyuk and Javon Kinlaw, respectively.Both players should be able to make early impacts.The 49ers also locked up tight end George Kittle on a long-term extension. This ensures that the team’s top receiving target will be in the lineup and content with his contract situation moving forward."

Nate Davis, USA Today Sports: No. 4 (even)

"This offense might initially look a touch one-dimensional … at least as long as WR Deebo Samuel is recovering from his broken foot."

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: No. 2

"Coach Kyle Shanahan quickly has established himself as one of the best coaches in football. He passed on a chance to swap Jimmy Garoppolo for Tom Brady in 2020. How well Garoppolo repays that faith in him will go a long way toward determining whether the 49ers can finish the job. First, they have to survive in the toughest division in football."

Matt Williamson, Pro Football Network: No. 4

"The 49ers’ defense might take a tiny step back but expect Jimmy Garoppolo to take a step forward. And San Francisco’s offensive line looks to be even better this year than the one we saw in the Super Bowl."

A few things to digest from these NFL power rankings. For starters, any team in the top four should be considered a bona fide Super Bowl contender. Based solely off rankings, it means each of those are pegged to compete in the conference championship games. So one might not need to make too big a deal of the Niners being ranked fourth in some analysts’ takes.

But Davis’ analysis is kind of interesting. One can wonder if he saw San Francisco’s one-dimensional offense run rampant against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game last year. It worked then, and the 49ers also managed to go 8-0 without a clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver to start 2019 before Sanders arrived and got settled.

Perhaps Davis and Knox also need to take a look at the recent camp reports centering on Aiyuk, who is looking more like a polished pro than a first-year rookie.

At any rate, the challenge for Shanahan and the Niners will be to maintain the kind of play they enjoyed throughout 2019. It’s hard to improve much when a team is already towards the top, and it’s fair to list the Kansas City Chiefs as the No. 1 team in NFL power rankings entering Week 1 because, well… they’re the darlings of the league right now.

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Unlike last year, however, San Francisco won’t be striving to climb up NFL power rankings from the lower portions before the regular season.

The job is to stay towards the top.