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Way-too-early 2018 power rankings showing some love for the 49ers

It’s absurdly early, but why not get overly speculative.

The 2018 offseason has only barely just begun, but that certainly won’t prevent way too early NFL power rankings! And “way too early” is not just a random description. Some of the media outlets that dropped power rankings following the Super Bowl have gone with the very factually correct “way too early” descriptor.

These all were released the past few days, before the San Francisco 49ers inked Jimmy Garoppolo to a five-year contract extension. Garoppolo was not going anywhere, but I have a hunch we would have seen a slight bump in some of these. Consider it the Jimmy G bump. What the signing does do is clear the floor for free agency, and make it easier to convince players you’ve got your franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future.

There are surprisingly not a ton of post-Super Bowl power rankings, but I have rounded up five from national media. I found it interesting that three of the five had the 49ers ranked the same spot, No. 14. I also included the rankings for the other three NFC West teams. Four of the five had the Los Angeles Rams ranked in the single digits and the Arizona Cardinals ranked in the late 20s.

Where it gets interesting is with the Seattle Seahawks. Three of the five rank them ahead of the 49ers, although NFL.com has them only one spot ahead of the 49ers. Meanwhile, Athlon Sports has the 49ers at No. 11 and the Seahawks at No. 17. The Seahawks are entering a huge offseason coming off a year that saw them miss the playoffs for the first time since 2011. They still have plenty of talent, but that window is closing quick.

The Comeback was the last one I found, and it fascinates me. They have the 49ers as the top team in the NFC West, ranking them No. 8 overall. I’m certainly comfortable with that kind of confidence!

NFL.com: 14

Rams: 8
Seahawks: 13
Cardinals: 28

The 49ers ended the 2017 season on a roll, winning five straight games with Jimmy Garoppolo under center (and six of seven overall). The Niners carry several talented starters on defense and also are projected to have over $100 million in cap space. Read that last line again. No team has more money (reportedly) to spend, which means that Jimmy G will ... well, the man will have his own money. All that aside, San Francisco still needs major help at CB, with the pass rush and along the offensive line, with a couple free agents up in the air there. “Up in the Air.” Strange movie.

ESPN: 14

Rams: 9
Seahawks: 11
Cardinals: 26

Jimmy Garoppolo was 5-0 as a starter in San Francisco, and 7-0 in his career. So assuming the Niners come to an agreement with him this offseason, they could find themselves back in the playoff picture.

Sporting News: 14

Rams: 6
Seahawks: 10
Cardinals: 28

They didn’t lose a game once their stout run defense was complemented by the play of starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo down the stretch. They are about to hit the mother lode with Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch.

Athlon Sports: 11

Rams: 8
Seahawks: 17
Cardinals: 28

If you’re looking at which team could follow the Rams’ blueprint and go from middling to the top of the division, look no further than the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo went 5-0 in his short tenure as the starter and no matter what kind of contract he and the team work out to get him back, an offseason with Kyle Shanahan will do wonders. The defense has better pieces than you think, especially up front, and a new crop of rookies and free agents could make this a dangerous group.

The Comeback: 8

Rams: 11
Seahawks: 18
Cardinals: 31

They finished the 2017 season 5-0, they’ve found their franchise quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, they’ve got crazy talent on defense, they still pick in the top 10 and they have more salary cap space than anyone else in football. The 49ers will contend in 2018.