The 2018 NFL regular season gets going in two days, and with the start of the season comes the latest round of power rankings! While power rankings don’t hold any useful predictive value, they do give us a chance to see what the national media thinks of the San Francisco 49ers, and the rest of the NFL. I’ll be putting together my own power rankings starting next week, but we’ll also keep an eye out for what other national and regional media have to say.
The first round of rankings are about what you would expect. The 49ers are settled into that middle third of the league, with a high of 11 and a low of 22. That sort of fits in with how I view this team heading into the 2018 season. I think they have a shot at the playoffs, but they could just easily settle into that seven or eight win area.
The 49ers over/under is set at 8.5, and anywhere from 7-10 wins seems entirely reasonable to me. And that’s how you end up with rankings right in that middle range. A team that has a shot at being one of the 10-12 best teams in the league (also known as playoff teams), or a team just outside the top ten of the 2019 NFL Draft. That’s quite the window.
The 49ers are another team looking to go from being one of the NFL’s worst teams in 2017 (before the Jimmy Garoppolo trade) to being a contender in 2018. Losing Jerick McKinnon to a torn ACL was a big blow for the team, but they still have the weapons to field an impressive offense. (Alfred Morris could save the day!)
Kyle Shanahan has everyone’s respect. Niner fans are all riding the Jimmy G train. No amount of training camp rustiness and/or gossip-inducing date nights will change that. In related matters, HBO nixed its late-night adult programming. You’re welcome for that update. The fantasy studs (can’t call ‘em geeks anymore) were jumping out of their Magic the Gathering game nights to draft Jerick McKinnon in the second round. Then McKinnon went down with a torn ACL. Now afterthought-signee Alfred Morris will carry the load. The defense? Stinks. Especially with Reuben Foster suspended for two games.
I’m not fully buying into the 49ers hype just yet. I’d swear some people think they’re the best team in the NFL already. I do like Jimmy Garoppolo, even though I never not struggle to spell his last name, but let’s see a little more from this team in 2018 before we crown them.
The prospect of a full season with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has the 49ers’ faithful dreaming big after five straight wins to finish last year. Still, this was a 6-10 team a year ago, and there are holes and question marks at a number of roster spots, namely edge rusher, in the secondary and on the offensive line. The Niners are still ahead of the curve in what once looked like a massive rebuild, and they should be in the mix deep into December, but they’re probably a year away from truly being a threat to make the playoffs.
Injuries happen, but losing Jerick McKinnon to a torn ACL in practice just before the season starts is brutal. That puts a lot more pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo, but the good news is he looked fantastic in August.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has the majority of the winning hype, especially with a more dynamic group of skill players around him, and the rest has come from Richard Sherman, Reuben Foster and the defense. Coach Kyle Shanahan is the key to the breakthrough.
I think this team is a year away. Watch out in 2019 as I see a .500 record this season.
The absolute worst case for any team is for a big injury to strike just days before the regular season kicks off. It’s why none of the starters are on the field for the preseason finale.
Well, someone in San Francisco opened an umbrella inside. Broke a mirror. Something. Because the 49ers were dealt a crushing blow just before heading to Minnesota to take on the Vikings in Week 1.
Per ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner, on the final play of San Francisco’s practice session Saturday, starting tailback Jerick McKinnon suffered a torn right ACL in a non-contact injury. He just planted his foot, went to cut and whammo. Season over.
McKinnon was brought in over the offseason on a four-year, $30 million contract to serve as Kyle Shanahan’s West Coast version of Devonta Freeman. Now, the Niners will be forced to hand the keys to the ground game over to second-year all-purpose back Matt Breida and journeyman veteran Alfred Morris.
And the pressure on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo just ratcheted up exponentially.