The official NFL offseason is less than a week old, and yet there are power rankings for discussion. As absurd as it sounds to have power rankings, I do like the idea of having a base line as we move toward the new year. Most major media outlets will have power rankings after free agency and the draft, and then as training camp gets started. Posting power rankings now at least gives us a jumping off point.
I came across power rankings from NFL.com, Shutdown Corner, CBS Sports, and USA Today. Here is where they ranked the San Francisco 49ers, and what they had to say:
NFL.com - 22 - You have to feel for Jim Tomsula right now. He takes over for a man who led the 49ers to three straight NFC Championship Games, and is expected by management to lead this team back over the 8-8 hump. San Francisco might be lucky to go 8-8 this year. Aging wide receivers (if Michael Crabtree is gone), possibly no Frank Gore, possibly no Vernon Davis, no Justin Smith, and the hope that NaVorro Bowman can return to 2013 form. Oh, and then there's the unreliable Aldon Smith. Step into a slim win column, Jim.
Shutdown Corner - 15 - I just don't see how they're better off without Jim Harbaugh. There might be less drama in the office, and that's great if that's their goal. If the goal is winning, then I'm not so sure.
CBS Sports - 14 - Jim Harbaugh is gone and Jim Tomsula takes over. He has to get Colin Kaepernick playing better.
USA Today - 16 - Now it's officially their turn to see if they can become the first NFL team to host a Super Bowl in their own stadium.
I'm not really surprised by any of these. I think the middle of the pack rankings are a hedge because a lot of people don't really know what can happen in 2015. There is the belief things can only get worse, but there is enough talent in place that people don't seem to want to go all in on the collapse. NFL.com is the exception to that, although even 22 is not really a "collapse" necessarily.
If you want to compare the 49ers to teams ahead and behind, you're welcome to, but it's not a simple task. The 49ers are just a big mass of question marks at this point. Whether that be the coaching staff, injuries (NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis), potential retirements (Justin Smith), and free agency (Frank Gore, Mike Iupati, Michael Crabtree), there are just a lot of questions. You can be optimistic or pessimistic about how these questions will be answered, but none of us know the answers with any certainty. It's annoying at times, but it also means we won't get something entirely predictable.