Friday, September 8, 2023

San Francisco 49ers Week 1 NFL Power Rankings Roundup

Throughout the 2023 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Below you will find a Week 1 roundup for the San Francisco 49ers in our consensus 2023 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 4

On the hot seat: DT Javon Kinlaw

Kinlaw's career to this point has been marred by a persistent knee issue that has limited him to 24 games and 1.5 sacks in his first three seasons since being drafted at No. 14 in 2020. The Niners opted not to exercise Kinlaw's fifth-year option in May, which means he's in the final year of his rookie deal. Kinlaw has returned to camp in shape and has impressed coaches. The Niners don't need him to be a star, but if he can carve out a role and produce, it would bode well for his future in San Francisco or elsewhere. -- Nick Wagoner -- Rank: 4

In the preseason Power Rankings, I had the 49ers third -- way higher than the social-media cognoscenti felt was warranted. They have no quarterback, some said, which was incorrect ... but it brings up an interesting debate: Is Brock Purdy guaranteed to be the answer? His rookie effort was eye-openingly good, but that's an awfully small sample size of eight starts -- and Purdy is coming off a serious elbow injury. Thankfully, the Niners are pretty stacked at most positions, and as last season proved, they can win big with multiple quarterbacks starting. Purdy's surpassed all expectations and has returned from injury, which likely made it easier for the team to trade Trey Lance. But there's no doubt that questions remain about whether the former Mr. Irrelevant is the team's QB of the future heading into the 2023 season.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 5

If Brock Purdy plays like he did last year, they can win it all. He has so many playmakers, led by Christian McCaffrey, to make it work.

USA Today -- Rank: 4

Even if QB Brock Purdy's elbow is an early reason for trepidation, they should be fine ... assuming DE Nick Bosa's deal gets done and he doesn't miss much of a beat whenever he shows up.

The Athletic -- Rank: 10

Best-case scenario: Despite the departure of DeMeco Ryans, last year's No. 1 defense remains elite thanks in part to the addition of Hargrave as an interior pass-rushing force. Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey play every game of the season in the same year for the first time ever, and Brock Purdy proves he's no Cinderella. They walk through the conference playoffs, take advantage of a Super Bowl opponent battered by the AFC gauntlet, and the Shanahans cement their legacies as the first father-son duo to win titles as head coaches. Jourdan Rodrigue's podcast sequel drops in mid-summer.

Worst-case scenario: The magic wears off Purdy early in the season, as murmurs grow louder calling for the team to hand over the offense to Sam Darnold. Kyle Shanahan makes the switch ahead of their Monday night game in Week 7. It takes until the second quarter for the ESPN cameras to catch Shanahan's look of horror on the sideline as he realizes he's handed his season over to Darnold. San Francisco leads the league in drops as a result of its hands being so wet from the tears still being cried over last year's NFC Championship Game.

FOX -- Rank: 5

It's insane that a team without a settled quarterback situation is one of the league's best, but that's a testament to the roster they've built in Santa Clara. Even knowing what he did as a rookie, it's hard to rank Brock Purdy highly among contending quarterbacks. But that's not a problem if your offense is loaded with All-Pros and your front office added Javon Hargrave to a defense that was among the league's elite. All that's missing is Nick Bosa, who will hopefully get his contract extension soon. Purdy doesn't have to be great to get this team where it wants to go.

Yahoo! -- Rank: 5

The 49ers will escape a lot of criticism for the Trey Lance trade because they've built such a good roster despite one of the worst trade-ups in NFL history. They wasted three first-round draft picks and a third on a quarterback who didn't really fit Kyle Shanahan's offense and got only four starts. It was an organizational failure. Maybe wasting those picks will bite the Niners, but it doesn't look that way yet.

PFT -- Rank: 2

If they can keep Brock Purdy healthy all year, they have enough around him to win it all.

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