The folks over at Mile High Report have been doing a countdown of NFL power rankings, and they ranked our San Francisco 49ers at No. 3. This is not a particularly surprising decision. They will have the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos in the top two spots, but it remains to be seen who will hold the No. 1 ranking. They are currently running a poll as to whom should be No. 1, and it's pretty much neck-and-neck as of this publishing time.
Although the Seahawks have lost some important talent, I don't have a huge problem with them being No. 1 in any power rankings heading into training camp. I do think the 49ers have improved enough to overtake the Seahawks, but as Super Bowl champions, they get that top spot for the time being.
As for the Broncos, I'm a little more skeptical. They're a very talented team, but the Super Bowl proved what most people already knew: The AFC is not as good as the NFC. Or should I say, the AFC is not as good as the top of the NFC West. The 49ers and Seahawks were the two best teams in the NFL. The 49ers did not get to the Super Bowl, so I won't say the NFC title game was effectively the Super Bowl. But it was the matchup of the two best teams in the NFL. I suppose that's playing word games, but I can live with that!
The good news is the 49ers will get a crack at the AFC champs this season when they travel to Denver for Week 7 Sunday Night Football. The Broncos apparently were trying to get tougher for this season, which makes sense given how badly they were waxed by the Seahawks. The 49ers bring a similar physicality to the game, on both sides of the ball, and the Broncos will have to deal with that this coming season.
The most interesting aspect of the 49ers-Broncos matchup this year will be the Broncos stable of wide receivers against the 49ers new contingent of cornerbacks. The Broncos lost Eric Decker to the Jets, but signed Emmanuel Sanders. He joins Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, and rookie Cody Latimer. This is a wildly deep group of wide receivers, and they will present a stiff challenge for the 49ers cornerbacks. The 49ers lost Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers, but return Chris Culliver from IR, and add Jimmie Ward, to go along with Tramaine Brock. With Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea over the top, there is talent in this group.
The question will be how quickly it comes together. There is plenty of skepticism about them, and rightfully so given that it's a relatively new group. They'll be challenged plenty early on. They'll face a strong passing attack from the Cowboys in Week 1, the Bears dynamic duo in Week 2, the Larry Fitzgerald/Michael Floyd-led Cardinals in Week 3, and an intriguing Philadelphia Eagles squad in Week 4. The Broncos will be arguably the biggest challenge to this group, but we'll start ot have an idea before that game arrives.