We are through six weeks of the regular season. That means we have enough data to finally get into everyone’s favorite, most accurate exercise: NFL Power rankings. Let’s hop around and see how the outside world feels about the 49ers in relation to the rest of the league.
Let’s start here. And while it’s not a power ranking, this blurb from The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman is excellent and sums up the 49er offense:
We used to just get in our car and drive around without Google Maps or anything. Sensible drivers would purchase road maps of the area where they were headed; humble ones would get out of the car and ask strangers for directions. Eventually, we were able to print out directions on MapQuest. But some were still too proud to ask for directions. In the fourth quarter of their upset loss to the Falcons on Sunday, the Niners looked like a pre-smartphone driver: no directions, no aim, just driving, driving, driving, stuck in their ways and stuck on the road. Where were they going without ever knowing the way?
The Niners were 3.5-point road favorites against the Falcons, but found themselves down 14 in the fourth quarter. After a beautiful Atlanta punt, San Francisco got the ball on their own 1-yard line with 10 minutes remaining. They needed points, and they needed them quickly. Instead, they took forever to not score, embarking on one of the longest, most pointless drives in NFL history. Over the course of 8 minutes and 8 seconds, the Niners ran 16 plays, not including three voided due to penalties. Even if they had scored, the drive would have been a disaster, draining 80 percent of the remaining clock and leaving them little time to make a comeback. But they didn’t score— and they barely got into the red zone. They turned the ball over on downs on the Falcons’ 19-yard line. According to Pro Football Reference, it’s the second-longest scoreless fourth-quarter drive by a team trailing by 14 points, only surpassed by a 2010 drive by a Jaguars team down 27.
A 16-play drive that included 11 plays with a running clock and eight throws short of the sticks.
13. San Francisco 49ers (3–3)
Last week: loss at Atlanta, 28–14
Next week: vs. Kansas City
A team that beats the 49ers regularly is one that forces Jimmy Garoppolo into 40-plus attempts. This was a collective storm for the 49ers, who failed to get a run game going due to the fact that they were down 14 points almost immediately.
It’s unfair to fault Garoppolo for Sunday’s loss. It’s true the 49ers cannot generate a consistent running game. They’re 25th in rushing EPA per play and 17th in rushing success rate, per RBDSM. But, we’re having a different conversation this morning if the Niners don’t shoot themselves in the foot or hand, the way they’ve been catching the ball.
The Athletic is a bit more bullish on the home team.
T-5. San Francisco 49ers (3-3)
(Last week: 5)
If ever there was an explainable loss, it was the Niners’ on Sunday. Playing their second consecutive game on the East Coast after spending the week in West Virginia, San Francisco was without Trent Williams, Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Jimmie Ward, among others. So it’s not the worst loss, but that doesn’t quite explain why Kyle Shanahan was so lackadaisical in calling the eight-minute drive in the fourth quarter that traveled 80 yards on 16 plays and ended with a turnover on downs. What a fourth-quarter drive that would have been for a team up by 14 points.
So maybe Shanahan, back in Atlanta for the first time since he was its offensive coordinator, just got confused about which team he was coaching.
Above is a measured take I agree with. Linebacker Fred Warner looked exhausted. But, still, you can’t make the mistakes the 49ers did, regardless if you’ve been out east for five weeks. This still feels like one of the upper-echelon teams in the league that had a bad day at the office with several starters out.
Yahoo! Sports agrees that Sunday was a tough spot for the Niners:
9. San Francisco 49ers (3-3, LW: 6)
Sunday was a tough spot for the 49ers, between back-to-back Eastern games and a lot of injuries. But you can’t keep excusing them for losing. They’re a .500 team and that’s probably not going to be good enough. They need to get healthier, and soon.
ESPN should do a 30-for-30 on the reoccurring injuries the 49ers have suffered under Kyle Shanahan. They are never-ending. Health will be imperative when you look at the following three opponents:
9. San Francisco 49ers (3-3)
Previous Rank: 5
The 49ers are dealing with a ton of injuries right now, and they’re coming off a bad loss to the Falcons. However, San Francisco has a complete roster with a proven coaching staff. The 49ers will look to get healthy before taking on the Chiefs, Rams, and Chargers in their next three contests.
These power rankings are from The Score. The general consensus has the 49ers as a top-10 team. It’ll be fascinating to see the weekly overreactions based on how the next three weeks go. A win over the Rams would go a long way in winning the division. Los Angeles is banged up, but they’ll be rested coming off a bye week.
The Ringer acknowledges every game will be a slugfest if San Francisco doesn’t get healthy:
11. San Francisco 49ers (3-3, last week: 10)
The 49ers are one of the most injury-plagued teams in the NFL. Multiple starters, including Trey Lance, George Kittle, Nick Bosa, Trent Williams, Arik Armstead, and Jimmie Ward have missed (and some will continue to miss) games this season. And starting cornerback Charvarius Ward (groin) and offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (calf) didn’t play in the second half of the team’s 28-14 loss against Atlanta in Week 6 due to injuries. The floor for San Francisco with head coach Kyle Shanahan and star defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans remains high. Hell, even Jimmy Garoppolo ranks top-10 in EPA per dropback (0.09) since replacing Lance in Week 2. But every game is going to be a slugfest if San Francisco can’t consistently field their stars.
Another season where injuries are holding back a loaded roster.