Going into the 2020 NFL season, most NFL Insiders had the San Francisco 49ers as a Super Bowl contender. That changed within the first two weeks when the Niners lost the likes of Nick Bosa, George Kittle, Richard Sherman and Jimmy Garoppolo to long-term injuries.
The good news is that San Francisco has a ton of high-end talent signed for the 2021 campaign. We should see Bosa, Kittle, Fred Warner, Deebo Samuel and hopefully Trent Williams ready to go for Week 1.
Unless the 49ers make a surprising move, it looks like Garoppolo will be the starting QB next season. The team had proven it can with Jimmy G healthy for a full season like in 2019 when the Niners had the best record in the NFC at 13-3.
Now that the Tampa Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, the attention shifts to next season. Some of the major media outlets have released their way too early power rankings, and despite finishing dead-last in the NFC West with a 6-10 record, the 49ers are getting plenty of respect.
ESPN has the 49ers ranked No. 9
Offseason in three or fewer words: Extend the window
The 49ers took a big step back in 2020 after a run to the Super Bowl the previous year. But most of that drop-off can be attributed to an unprecedented rash of injuries. Now, the Niners will spend the offseason working on getting healthy and answering a variety of difficult roster questions. The pieces are still in place to surge right back into contention if the 49ers can have better injury luck and keep the roster deep enough to fill holes when the inevitable health issues strike again. - Nick Wagoner
NFL.com has the 49ers ranked No. 13
Matthew Stafford is off the table as an option, and the Texans appear steadfast in their refusal to trade Deshaun Watson (for now, anyway). That would seem to increase the chances Jimmy Garoppolo gets another season in San Francisco, but use pencil to fill the injury-prone QB into your starting-lineup sheet. Other intriguing veteran options remain on the trade market, and the Niners could target a quarterback in the draft. Kyle Shanahan has not shown his hand the way the Rams did with Jared Goff — which leaves us in a suspended state of blind speculation. Stay tuned. - Dan Hanzus
CBS Sports has the 49ers ranked No. 24
They will be much higher on this list when the next batch of rankings comes out after the draft. Injuries crippled the 49ers last season, but they will be back. - Pete Prisco
The Athletic has the 49ers ranked No. 6
As of this writing, it’s unclear whether they’ll stick with Jimmy Garoppolo or look elsewhere at quarterback. What they can’t do is lean on Garoppolo as the starter without a better backup plan. Garoppolo has started 25 of a possible 48 games in the last three seasons. San Francisco may have to pay big money to keep left tackle Trent Williams, and the 49ers are likely to experience significant turnover on defense, given that Richard Sherman, Jason Verrett, K’Wuan Williams and Jaquiski Tartt are all pending free agents. To make matters more challenging, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh left to coach the Jets. The defense might not be as good, but if they can get consistent quarterback play in Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, this team has a high ceiling. - Sheil Kapadia
The Ringer has the 49ers ranked No. 10
It’s easy to forget about San Francisco after watching that team finish 6-10 in 2020, but the 49ers’ struggles are easily explained by the team’s absurd series of debilitating injuries. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, star tight end George Kittle, and key pass rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford all missed significant time, as did receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, offensive linemen Weston Richburg and Ben Garland, running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, defensive back Richard Sherman, and safety Jaquiski Tartt, among many others. San Francisco must make some decisions in the secondary this offseason (Sherman, Tartt, K’Waun Williams, Jason Verrett, and Ahkello Witherspoon are all free agents), but if they just get healthy again in 2021, they should more closely resemble the team that went to the Super Bowl in 2019. - Danny Kelly
Yahoo Sports has the 49ers ranked No. 11
The 49ers will be happier than anyone to turn the page on this season. The big offseason question is whether Jimmy Garoppolo comes back at his $24.1 million base salary for 2021, or the 49ers find a better option. - Frank Schwab
Here is where the rest of the NFC West teams are ranked by the six outlets.
Seattle Seahawks: ESPN (No. 8), NFL.com (No. 7), CBS Sports (No. 5), The Athletic (No. 8), The Ringer (No. 7), Yahoo Sports (No. 7)
Los Angeles Rams: ESPN (No. 5), NFL.com (No. 8), CBS Sports (No. 12), The Athletic (No. 7), The Ringer (No. 5), Yahoo Sports (No. 6)
Arizona Cardinals: ESPN (No. 14), NFL.com (No. 16), CBS Sports (No. 16), The Athletic (No. 18), The Ringer (No. 16), Yahoo Sports (No. 17)
The NFC West will be a dog-fight again next season. The Rams acquired Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions, giving head coach Sean McVay a significant upgrade at the quarterback position.
Seattle will need to do a better job of protecting Russell Wilson so look for it to address the offensive line during the offseason. While the Cardinals will be entering year three with Kyler Murray under center.
Which outlet do you think has the 49ers in the right spot?