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NFL Power Rankings: 49ers within striking distance, but future hinges on Weeks 9 and 10

Chris Wilson
Nov 7, 2021 at 7:36 PM--

"Just when we thought we were out, they pull us back in."

Like The Godfather, Part III, it never should have happened, but it did.

Once again, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo -- the most hated player on the San Francisco 49ers' roster, if not among all Bay Area sport teams -- took advantage of one of his final opportunities to silence his haters; whether it be the national media , a growing portion of the local sports media, or roughly half of the fan base the franchise intentionally nicknamed and then trademarked as "Faithful."

As for the "Anyone But Jimmy" army, I would be remiss not to mention Dieter Kurtenbach, a local writer armed with the infamous superfecta of 1,000 words to write, a rudimentary understanding of NFL football, the delusion that he's the smartest guy in the room, and a subscription to Pro Football Focus.

Columnists and "analysts" fitting this description are a dime a dozen. But Kurtenbach brings a level of anger and viciousness to his writing, particularly when he makes a premature conclusion or prediction which proves to be wrong, or when the topic he chooses to discuss is clearly outside his area of expertise.

His inability to distinguish facts from his own baseless opinions, or "news" from "editorial" content is problematic, but the underlying issue is the words he writes hold no value.

Which claims are true and which stated "facts" are fantasy? Where are the links and citations? Where is the quality assurance?

His work is often incoherent, contradictory, false, and nasty -- unintentional click bait thankfully hidden behind a paywall.

This is just bad journalism, and should be treated as such: ignored.

Now, off this soapbox and back to being productive.

49ers' Present and Future

Last Sunday, Garoppolo played like a quarterback with nothing to lose — because he doesn't.

The game Jimmy G plays each week is rigged, and has been since the 49ers' recent Super Bowl run. Once the current season ends, Garoppolo will be deemed the loser — despite all of his victories — and sent on his way.

Unless he continues to play like he did last week in Chicago.

Against the Bears, the 49ers turned their eight drives into seven scores and a makeable field goal attempt.. Jimmy was his usual self on third downs: moving the chains, putting the ball into the end zone, and turning third-and-forever into fourth-and-manageable, just in time for the field goal unit to take the field.

Can Garoppolo keep this offense humming? The return of tight end George Kittle should provide a boost, and extra efforts from current players on the roster will be gladly accepted. The road ahead for San Francisco begins with a treacherous start, as the 49ers face the two best teams in the NFL per the Power Rankings listed below, most of which was provided prior to the Aaron Rodgers COVID-19 fiasco. One win would keep the Niners in the hunt. Two wins would give this team a reasonable shot at a playoff berth.

Unfortunately, Jimmy G has some coaching issues to deal with as well. Despite head coach Kyle Shanahan's refreshing aggressiveness when backup QB Trey Lance took the field, the 49ers' resident "offensive genius" returned to his predictible and passive ways with Garoppolo under center, including kicking on every fourth down since the elite late-down quarterback's return to action.

Lance regularly received four attempts to move the sticks -- although he usually required more. If he's lucky, Garoppolo will average less than two tries to move the chains. Does the former franchise quarterback have what it takes to challenge the NFL's top two teams with one hand tied behind his back?

One thing we do know is by the end of Week 10, the 49ers will be focused on the future. Will that future be a 2021 playoff run or another offseason rebuild in 2022? The next two games will determine the outcome.

As for the 2019 NFL Week 9 Power Rankings, below is a overview of where San Francisco currently ranks within some of the more prominent NFL power rankings from around the web, as well as commentary and justification in support of each decision. You may notice the 49ers fell in a number of respective power rankings despite last week's victory; I have no explanation for this anomaly, other than more attention is spent at the top of the list -- where the Niners need to be:

49ers Power Rankings: NFL Week 9

Yahoo! Sports
49ers Power Ranking: 16 (+3)
"Deebo Samuel has emerged as one of the NFL's best receivers. He has 819 yards, passing Jerry Rice for the team record through seven games. Niners Wire said only six receivers in NFL history have had more yards through the first seven games of a season. It's an amazing start and has basically turned the rest of the 49ers' pass catchers into observers." — Frank Schwab

49ers Power Ranking: 17 (+3)
"Biggest Achilles' heel: The turnover battle
There are plenty of things we could discuss here, but let's keep it simple: The Niners are minus-6 in turnover differential, which is fourth worst in the NFL through the first eight weeks. This is actually the perfect choice because it points to deficiencies on both sides of the ball and it's the single stat that most correlates to winning. The offense has 11 giveaways, the defense has just five takeaways and the Niners have been on the positive side of this stat just once in seven games. Given that, it's no surprise that San Francisco sits at 3-4 right now." — Nick Wagoner

Pro Football Network
49ers Power Ranking: 17 (-1)
This isn't a great football team, but the 49ers have some incredible individual players that can make up for their other inadequacies. Deebo Samuel is a bonafide superstar, and when healthy, the safety duo of Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt make up for a lot of defensive flaws. I have no idea what is going to happen at QB going forward for this team. Their long-term answer is Trey Lance, but Jimmy Garoppolo probably gives them the best chance to win games in the present. With what could be a wide-open Wild Card situation in the NFC, we probably see Garoppolo until he either gives Kyle Shanahan a to sit him or the 49ers are eliminated from playoff contention." — Dalton Miller

Sporting News
49ers Power Ranking: 18 (+4)
"The 49ers faced a must-win situation for their fading playoff hopes in Chicago and area native Jimmy Garoppolo made sure he grinded enough to run and pass them to victory. The defense started to provide more critical support and Kyle Shanahan might hold off from making the QB change to rookie Trey Lance for a while" — Vinny Iver

CBS Sports
49ers Power Ranking: 20 (0)
"Jimmy Garoppolo played well against the Bears, showing that he should be the guy at quarterback. They looked like the 49ers we expected to see in that game as they ready for a big division game against the Cardinals." — Pete Prisco

USA Today
49ers Power Ranking: 20 (-2)
"Niners host NFC West rival Cardinals and Rams next two weeks, a stretch that could make or break San Francisco's season." — Nate Davis

Pro Football Talk
49ers Power Ranking: 21 (+1)
"Beating the Bears hardly solves this team's problems." — Mike Florio

Bleacher Report
49ers Power Ranking: 22 (-2)
"It may seem odd to call any game in the first half of a season 'must-win.' But the reality is that for the San Francisco 49ers to have any real hope of staying relevant in the NFC West, they had to down the Bears in Chicago.Thanks to 137 rushing yards and a touchdown from running back Elijah Mitchell and almost 30 yards a catch on six receptions from wide receiver Deebo Samuel, the Niners earned an 11-point victory and crawled back within a game of .500. It was a homecoming of sorts for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who played collegiately at Eastern Illinois. Garoppolo didn't throw a touchdown pass, but after topping 300 passing yards with a passer rating of 100.6, Jimmy G was praised by head coach Kyle Shanahan in his postgame presser. 'Coming back home, in front of his fans, his back was against the wall, just like everybody else in the building,'Shanahan said.'For him to step up and play the way he did today was huge." The win snapped a four-game losing streak and gave San Francisco its first positive momentum in a month. Keeping it going won't be easy, though; San Francisco's next two games are against the Cardinals and Rams, who have combined to go 14-2 so far this year." — NFL Staff
  • Chris Wilson
  • Written by:
    You may have seen Chris Wilson's work on NFL game theory, statistical analysis, and film breakdowns at Minute Media, FanSided, Niner Noise, Insidethe49, LockedonSports, ClutchPoints, and others. Follow Chris on Twitter @cgawilson.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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