Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Peter King credits improved QB depth for 49ers’ No. 5 placement in power ranking

May 28, 2021 at 12:16 PM--

After playing without Jimmy Garoppolo for 23 games over the past three seasons, the San Francisco 49ers sought to improve their quarterback depth this offseason. They were aggressive about it, too. The team initially sat at No. 12 overall in the draft order and knew that might not cut it if it wanted one of the top quarterback prospects.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan fell in love with Trey Lance in January. So rather than worrying about what might happen around it, the team engineered a trade up to No. 3 overall to make sure Lance ended up in Santa Clara.

The increased quarterback depth and upgrade over Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard as backups influenced San Francisco coming in at No. 5 in Peter King's recent power ranking for NBC Sports. The Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the only NFC team ranked higher.

King further explained the high ranking during a Pro Football Talk segment with Mike Florio.

"The reason I put them so high is because what has stood in the way of the 49ers in three of the last four years," King shared. "What's stood in the way is that they have not had an above-average quarterback. They haven't had a top 10 quarterback playing in three of those four years."

Garoppolo was completely healthy in 2019, coming off an ACL injury the previous season. The 49ers made it to the Super Bowl and were one or two throws away from a championship. Garoppolo missed 10 games last season due to an ankle injury, and the 49ers finished with just six wins. It wasn't the follow-up to the Super Bowl campaign that the team envisioned.

"Now, when you look at the 49ers, if Garoppolo gets hurt, you've got to figure that Trey Lance -- maybe Trey Lance takes the job. You don't know," King continued. "But you've got to figure that Trey Lance is going to give them a lot better play than either Beathard or Mullens. So, I just look at this as a quarterback depth call."

King has received many fan responses criticizing the high ranking of the 49ers, declaring that San Francisco is overrated after winning six-or-fewer games in five of the past six seasons.

"In two of the last three years, they have had to play the majority of the season with a scrub quarterback," King added. "And so, at this point, I think the quarterbacks will make all the difference. It will help to have Nick Bosa, obviously, healthy for the year. But they are going to have the kind of play, and I think depth on offense as well, that's going to put them very close and make it a Rams-49ers tussle at the top of that division."

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