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49ers hanging around the middle of ESPN power rankings

The World Wide Leader also offered a player to watch the rest of training camp

The opening of the second week of preseason football is bringing with it new NFL power rankings. ESPN has over 80 contributors who rank out NFL teams, and they continue to hang around the middle of the pack. The team ranked 11th a month prior to the NFL Draft, and slipped to 15th a week after the draft. In rankings released earlier this week, they rank 16th.

You can slot the 49ers anywhere in that middle third of power rankings, and it wouldn’t really surprise me. You can drop in the top ten and bottom ten teams, and the remaining teams all could slot in anywhere in between. In this case, the 49ers rank one spot behind the Houston Texans and one spot ahead of the Seattle Seahawks. I would not be at all surprised to see an assortment of variations of that group on voter ballots.

In this latest round of power rankings, ESPN had each of their 32 NFL Nation writers come up with a player who could either be a surprising contributor or a veteran in danger of being left off the roster. For the 49ers, Nick Wagoner went with Joshua Garnett.

The former first-round pick worked hard to get in shape to fit better in coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense and was in position to battle for a starting job at right guard. But Garnett, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, hasn’t been on the field much because of another issue with the same knee. Because Garnett doesn’t play any other positions, his chance of winning a roster spot could be in danger if he doesn’t get back on the field and win a starting spot.

This week is huge for Garnett. He has returned to practice after an aggravation of his knee injury sidelined him much of the past two weeks. He and Jonathan Cooper are both back getting work behind Mike Person, who claimed the top right guard spot in their absence. Person seemed suited for a reserve interior role when he first signed, but the injuries have provided him with a big opportunity.

Person’s ability to play both guard and center already creates more value for him. If Cooper claims the starting right guard job, Garnett is likely out of a spot on the 49ers roster. If Person were to claim it, it becomes a little more interesting between Garnett and Cooper.