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NFL Power rankings: San Francisco remains No. 1

The Packers are at No.6

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Winning is all the San Francisco 49ers need to do for the rest of the season. Whether it’s 49-0, or 3-2, a win is a win. In the latest NFL Power rankings, the Niners remained as the top seed after beating a tough divisional foe in the Cardinals:

Previous rank: No. 1

Call it a gut-check win for a banged-up 49ers team that refused to fold against the fast-improving Cardinals. The Niners faced a 16-0 deficit midway through the second quarter and a three-point deficit in the final minutes of the game. In both cases, the NFC West leaders answered. This game could have been remembered for a fourth-quarter Jimmy Garoppolo interception that put the Cardinals in great position for the upset, but instead, coordinator Robert Saleh’s defense forced a quick three-and-out, and Garoppolo redeemed himself with a scoring march capped by a blitz-beating touchdown pass to Jeff Wilson Jr. to take the lead for good. Garoppolo wasn’t perfect, but he tied a career-high with four TDs and again looked like a quarterback who won’t blink in the big moment. That trait should be especially useful come January. Next week’s Sunday night showdown with the Packers has Game of the Year potential.

Beating a team twice in three weeks is no easy task, and the Cardinals matchup well with San Francisco. So winning without your starting tackle, top two receiving threats while overcoming two red-zone turnovers is what you call a gut-check win. Lost in Garoppolo’s turnovers were some brilliant throws by Jimmy G. The defense started sloppily but cleaned up their act after some key adjustments. It helps when your playmakers make plays. Arik Armstead came up with a big sack that gave the Niners the ball back.

Leading up to Sunday, we talked a lot about whether the 49ers should have played for a tie on Monday night against the Seahawks. Shanahan’s aggressiveness all season has paid off, and it did once again on Sunday. The 49ers went for it on fourth down twice but didn’t convert. Before the game-winning touchdown to Wilson, Shanahan left the offense on the field for a would-be 4th & 1 conversion, but the previous play was reviewed, and San Francisco had the first down.

Process>results and Shanahan playing to win is why the 49ers are in the position they currently are.