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The 49ers are among the NFL’s elite heading into the offseason

There are five teams that are in the elite tier, and the Niners are one

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

There is too much biased involved in power rankings, which is why we stay away from them during the regular season. We prefer point differential or average margin of victory to tell us who the best teams in the league are.

ESPN ranked the 32 teams in eight separate categories, with the best being “still major contenders” all the way down to “major rebuild in the works.” When John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan took over in 2017, they fell under the latter.

As of today, the 49ers find themselves among the NFL’s elite The organizations that are major contenders consist of the Bills, Bengals, Chiefs, Eagles, and the Niners:

Average age of roster: 27.2

Salary-cap space: $8,063,016

Total 2023 draft picks: 6

What’s next: The offseason starts and ends with the quarterback question for San Francisco. Will it be Brock Purdy, Trey Lance or an outside option? Some league execs say San Francisco should hold a camp battle between Purdy and Lance, knowing their trade values could go up for contingencies. But the sense as of now is the 49ers don’t want to give up on Lance just yet.

Meanwhile, the rest of the roster is fully stocked. The 49ers likely will need to replace free agent right tackle Mike McGlinchey. They could restructure the hefty contracts of Trent Williams ($27.2 million cap), Arik Armstead ($23.9 million) and others to create space to sign free agents, but this roster already is among the league’s elite.

San Francisco is projected to have 11 draft picks. It’s also worth noting that only the Bengals have over $17 million in cap space in this tier. But as we've seen throughout the years, teams have no issues pushing money into future years to sign a player they desire.

Back to the blurb, where of course it’ll be about the quarterback all offseason. That’s what the 49ers do. That’s who they are. When you take a step back, there hasn’t been any reason to give up on Lance. And now, he’s in a position where he’s all they have.

A quarterback battle to boost either player's stock makes sense, but Purdy needs to be healthy come training camp. Since Purdy and Lance are on rookie deals, you don’t trade them unless it’s a “can’t-say-no” type of proposal — especially with the 49ers recent injury history at quarterback.