The 49ers entered 2023 as a top-five team, but Week 1's victory over the Steelers should cement the Niners as the No. 1 team in NFL power rankings right now.
Just prior to the start of the 2023 season, most NFL power rankings easily saw the San Francisco 49ers as a top-five team and a legitimate Super Bowl contender, but few put head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad within the top three.
The Niners had a complete-game throttling of Pittsburgh on the road in a hostile environment, walloping the Steelers 30-7 in a game where the score made it seem closer than it actually was.
Efforts from wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, running back Christian McCaffrey, edge Drake Jackson and second-year quarterback Brock Purdy not only drew attention from current NFL stars like Dallas Cowboys edge Micah Parsons but also from former superstars like cornerback Richard Sherman and quarterback Tom Brady.
The consensus No. 1 team in NFL power rankings entering the regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs, just so happened to lose their regular-season opener on Thursday Night Football to the Detroit Lions.
So, that top spot is up for grabs, right?
Let's see how many Week 2 NFL power rankings elected to put San Francisco on top of everyone else.
Week 2 NFL power rankings: 49ers the top dog or just closer to to it?
The 49ers certainly deserve a climb, particularly if most power rankings had them at No. 5 overall to open up the regular season.
But how far will they jump? And are there any rankings where the Niners are No. 1?
Let's look at what the experts have to say from around the league.
Eric Edholm, NFL.com: No. 1 (+3)
"The 49ers dominated the first half against the Steelers and delivered the knockout blow to Pittsburgh two plays into the third quarter. Christian McCaffrey’s 65-yard run started with perfect execution up front. McCaffrey spun past the Steelers’ Levi Wallace and was aided by blocks from WRs Brandon Aiyuk and Ray-Ray McCloud III. It was just a devastating play from a 49ers offense that was in full command on the road in Week 1. I suspected San Francisco's defense would pick up where it left off, and it did just that. But the offensive explosion was the Week 1 headline, answering any questions anyone might have about the ability or health of QB Brock Purdy. Truly brilliant stuff."
ESPN Staff: No. 1 (+4)
"Apologies to rookie kicker Jake Moody, who had a flawless debut, but [Javon] Hargrave's presence on the interior sparked a dominant performance by the defensive line. The Niners had the best defense in the league last season without getting much pressure from the interior, but Hargrave and a healthy Arik Armstead look intent on changing that in a significant way. -- Nick Wagoner"
David Helman, Fox Sports: No. 1
"All that Brock Purdy speculation was fun while it lasted. If guiding the 49ers to a 30-7 win in Pittsburgh was his debut after returning from his elbow injury, it feels like a safe bet he’ll be just fine. This is a Pittsburgh team with playoff aspirations, and San Francisco imposed its will on both sides of the ball until it was time to run out the clock. It was an emphatic statement that the concerns about Purdy’s outlook were a bit exaggerated. And if that's the case, the Niners look like a team capable of making another run to the NFC Championship Game."
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: No. 1 (+4)
"They were the most-dominant team on opening day. The defense looked like it had 13 guys on the field against the Steelers. The offense showed up too. Brock Purdy is just fine."
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: No. 1 (+1)
"They’ve been knocking on the door for five years. They might be getting ready to kick it in."
Bleacher Report Staff: No. 1 (+4)
"If Sunday's win over the Steelers was any indication, Purdy's no fluke—and the Niners are one of the best teams in the NFL.
There was very little that didn't go well against the Steelers. Purdy threw a pair of touchdown passes and posted a passer rating of 111.3. Both running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk had huge games. And the San Francisco defense held the Steelers to 239 total yards and seven points."
Yes, there are probably some NFL power rankings out there that have the Niners at No. 2, perhaps lower.
But, as far as the heavy hitters are concerned, San Francisco is the pound-for-pound top contender at the moment, and it showed in all facets of Sunday's win.
The 49ers have a chance to defend the top spot in power rankings in Week 2 with a road contest against a team they've done well against in the regular season, the 1-0 Los Angeles Rams, this Sunday.