ESPN writers Mike Sando, Louis Riddick, and Field Yates projected which NFL franchises are in the best shape for the next three seasons. To do so, they rated each team's quarterback, the rest of the roster, draft, front office, and coaching. Then they created an overall score based on those results.

"The result is a comprehensive ranking based on how well each team is positioned for the future," writes ESPN.

While the San Francisco 49ers didn't do too badly coming in at No. 13 with a 78.6 score, the ranking was third in the NFC West – behind both the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks. Below is how each team within the division did within ESPN's exercise.

  1. Los Angeles Rams (No. 7 overall, 81.9 score)
  2. Seattle Seahawks (No. 10, 80.0)
  3. San Francisco 49ers (No. 13, 78.6)
  4. Arizona Cardinals (No. 26, 72.9)

Why is Seattle ranked above the 49ers following the dismantling of the Legion of Boom?

"Mistakes and poor judgment on things ruined what could have been a really special deal," former Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman recently told The MMQB.

Much of Seattle's ranking has to do with quarterback Russell Wilson, whom Yates calls a "perennial MVP candidate" within the feature and adds that there is a lot to believe in when it comes to general manager John Schneider.

You will find the 49ers three spots below the Seahawks. While the team has its franchise quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo and is finally stable at the head coach and general manager positions with Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, respectively, Yates feels that a larger sample size is needed.

The ESPN crew ranked the 49ers roughly among the NFL's bottom third when it comes to drafting and front office. Sando acknowledges that could be a bit harsh when evaluating a team that acquired Garoppolo from the New England Patriots for a second-round pick.

"The 49ers could take off if the still-unproven Lynch shows himself to be an excellent GM," writes Sando.

Riddick, who at one point was a candidate for the 49ers' general manager job before Lynch was hired, said the 49ers "knocked it out of the park" with the acquisition of Garoppolo. The defense, however, still has question marks – particularly when it comes to rushing the passer.

"Players such as Solomon Thomas and Cassius Marsh have to pan out," writes Riddick, "and cornerback Richard Sherman has to come back better than ever. I have confidence in Sherman. I'm not so sure about the rest."