Every year, ESPN’s Mike Sando puts together a tier ranking of NFL quarterbacks, surveying 42 “league insiders,” including GMs, head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators, position coaches, and other talent evaluators. QBs are ranked out in five tiers. No quarterback received enough votes to fall into the fifth tier. It is no surprise then that Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert are in tier four, right next to each other at 29 and 30.
This year, Sando added something new after creating the tiers. He ranked all 32 schedules based on the average quarterback they face in his tier ranking. For example, Tom Brady was ranked Tier 1 by all the voters, so his value is a 1.00. For the 49ers, who have not selected a quarterback yet, Sando averaged out the ratings of Colin Kaepernick (3.83) and Blaine Gabbert (3.93).
Based on the quarterbacks faced, the 49ers schedule ranks No. 9, with an average ranking of 2.51. They fall into the “Andy Dalton division,” which means they are essentially facing on average, Andy Dalton all 16 weeks. Sando had this to say about their schedule:
Good news: Keenum is on the schedule in Week 1.
Bad news: San Francisco faces the NFL's toughest QB lineup from Weeks 2 to 5, when Newton, Wilson, Romo and Carson Palmer are on the schedule. Overall, the 49ers play nine games against QBs in the top two tiers. Only five teams play more. The 49ers, still seeking a home-field edge at their new stadium, play the NFL's toughest QB home schedule after Week 5. Brees, Brady and Wilson visit Santa Clara over that span.
The toughest schedule goes to the Denver Broncos, thanks to playing a league low two games against quarterbacks outside the top 20. They also face three of the top four ranked quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck. The divisions of teams are broken down as follows. It is hardest to easiest, so obviously there is plenty to be debated about this range of quarterbacks.
1. Double Matt: Range of Matt Ryan to Matthew Stafford
2. Andy Dalton
3. Derek Carr
4. Jameis Winston
5. Alex Smith
6. Marcus Mariota
7. Blake Bortles
8. Teddy Bridgewater