The 49ers saw a massive climb in CBS Sports’ post-NFL Draft power rankings but not necessarily because the Niners added Trey Lance.
As long as they stay relatively healthy, the San Francisco 49ers should be leaps and bounds better than the 6-10 finish they had a year ago when injuries took their toll and then some.
Yet a silver lining from that record in 2020 was winding up with the No. 12 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, which made it possible (albeit expensive) to trade up to the No. 3 overall pick where general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan selected North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance.
The hope is for Lance to eventually emerge as one of the league’s top signal-callers for the next generation, giving Shanahan’s offense a dimension it hasn’t had since he took over head-coaching duties in 2017: dual-threat capability.
But Lance’s presence isn’t the reason why CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco gave the Niners a massive boost in his post-NFL Draft power rankings.
49ers see massive leap in CBS Sports’ NFL power rankings but not because of Trey Lance
Prisco bumped San Francisco all the way up 18 spots to No. 6 overall in his post-draft breakdown, the biggest movement and certainly the highest climb out of all 32 teams.
Yet his reasoning didn’t have anything to do with Lance:
Even if it’s Jimmy Garoppolo playing quarterback, the return of healthy players makes this a much better team than a year ago. Trey Lance might wait to play.
The understanding, at least currently, is Garoppolo will return as the starter in 2021 with the hopes of remaining healthy and acting as a mentor to the rawish Lance, who started just one game since 2019 and has just one full year as a starter at the collegiate level anyway.
The 49ers have proven they can win with a fully healthy Garoppolo, as their 2019 Super Bowl run revealed. Yet one of the main arguments that season was the Niners’ success largely stemmed from having an elite defense and powerful run game, leaving Garoppolo to be little more than an effective game manager.
If that formula worked, so be it.
San Francisco is anticipating the fully healthy returns of not only Garoppolo, but also Pro Bowl EDGE Nick Bosa, who suffered a torn ACL early last year, along with a reinforced offensive line and running back room, which includes rookies Trey Sermon and Elijah Mitchell. The 49ers are also hoping to get full seasons out of offensive weapons like wide receiver Deebo Samuel and All-Pro tight end George Kittle, who both missed significant time last year with their own injuries.
A deep and talented roster on both sides of the ball is one primary reason why many predict Lance will eventually find success unlike many other top-drafted quarterbacks selected early who often go to rebuilding teams.
For now, though, that’s not the reason why the Niners climb back into the top 10 of CBS Sports’ NFL power rankings.
Rather it’s the context of San Francisco’s other key playmakers. As long as they stay healthy.