The San Francisco 49ers will begin the 2020 NFL season on Sunday when they take on the Arizona Cardinals. The Niners are coming off a NFC championship season, and should be among the contending teams again this year.
Several media outlets released their final power rankings before the season officially kicks off on Thursday. Here is where the 49ers stand:
NFL.com has San Francisco at No. 2
“We’re all about giving Kyle Shanahan the benefit of the doubt, but the defending NFC champs will begin the season with serious issues at wide receiver. Let’s recap where they’re at: Deebo Samuel is working his way back from a broken foot. Richie James Jr. missed camp with a broken wrist. First-round pick Brandon Aiyuk is week-to-week with a hamstring injury. Jalen Hurd tore his ACL. Tavon Austin hit IR with his own knee issue. Emmanuel Sanders exited via free agency, and Travis Benjamin was a COVID-19 opt-out. Right about now, George Kittle is probably wondering what kind of damage he can do on Sundays while being quintuple-teamed.”
The Washington Post has San Francisco at No. 2
“The 49ers must regroup from their Super Bowl defeat to the Chiefs and attempt to hold off a handful of capable challengers in the NFC. They remain perhaps the conference’s most complete team, but the reliability of QB Jimmy Garoppolo will remain under scrutiny after his shaky fourth quarter in the Super Bowl.”
ESPN has San Francisco at No. 3
“Rare is the team that can lose a Super Bowl, return the next year and win the Lombardi trophy. In fact, it has happened only three times. But the Niners believe they can do it in large part because they return almost all of their starters and coaching staff in a season when continuity might be more valuable than ever.”
Sports Illustrated has San Francisco at No. 4
“Will there be a Super Bowl hangover in the Bay Area? Whether our voters see one coming or not, they mostly gave the defending NFC champions the respect they earned last year.”
CBS Sports has San Francisco at No. 4
“Getting back to the Super Bowl after losing it is a big challenge. Kyle Shanahan has the makeup to get it done, but it won’t be easy. Their season will be all about the growth of Jimmy Garoppolo.”
Yahoo Sports has San Francisco at No. 4
“If I could buy stock in an NFL player for this season, it might be George Kittle. The 49ers don’t have a lot of healthy receiving options, they’re likely to be in more negative game scripts and passing more, and it seems Kittle still hasn’t reached his peak. He’s going to be huge.”
USA Today has San Francisco at No. 4
“Really would have been fun to watch these (already legendary) Trent Williams-Nick Bosa training camp battles. The Niners should be better because of them.”
The crew at Good Morning Football is all over the place when it comes to San Francisco. Peter Schrager is bullish on the 49ers. He predicts them to win the NFC West once again this year.
Former NFL receiver Nate Burleson has the Niners missing the playoffs, with the Seattle Seahawks taking the division title this season.
“That Super Bowl-loss hangover is real. Before you jump down my throat or hit me with the Twitter fingers. A couple of years ago, the Rams went to the Super Bowl, and they lost. The year after, they were sitting back, watching the playoffs from the couch like we were.”
Kyle Brandt took the Los Angeles Rams to win the NFC West (seriously), and didn’t pick any of the other teams in the division to make the playoffs.
I don’t know what Burleson and Brandt are smoking. San Francisco is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, and is returning almost all of its starters from last season. The only way I can see the 49ers miss the playoffs is if they’re decimated by injuries. If the Niners lose a bunch of starters to long-term injuries, they could certainly be out of the playoff picture, but you can say that about pretty much any of the teams in the top half of the league.