Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Hanzus explains why 49ers sit at No. 2 in power rankings

Jan 25, 2022 at 1:35 PM--

Around the NFL writer Dan Hanzus released an updated power ranking on Tuesday. Understandably, the Kansas City Chiefs, winners of Sunday's thrilling Divisional Playoff matchup against the Buffalo Bills, earned the No. 1 spot. Behind them are the San Francisco 49ers, who will face the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game. It is worth noting that Hanzus previously had the Bay Area squad ranked No. 7.

Hanzus wrote the following about the 49ers within his power rankings:

These 49ers are a deeply resilient bunch. On Saturday night at Lambeau Field, San Francisco's special teams saved the day with two season-saving blocks -- one on a short field-goal attempt at the end of the first half, another on a fourth-quarter punt that produced the game-tying touchdown and sent the home fans at Lambeau Field into a zombie state. The Fred Warner-led Niners defense deserves credit for icing Aaron Rodgers in freezing temperatures, while Robbie Gould continues to prove himself as a playoff X-factor (20-for-20 all time in the postseason). The only thing standing in the way of a Super Bowl return is the Rams, whom the Niners have beaten six straight times. "Hopefully I can see them again," George Kittle said with a smile after San Francisco won at SoFi Stadium in Week 18 to punch a playoff ticket. "Because that was a fun body-bag game." The big tight end has his wish.

Hanzus joined NFL Network's NFL Now with Andrew Siciliano and explained why the 49ers moved up five spots and rank higher than the Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals.

"Andrew, I want to say the Rams should win [on Sunday] because I think they have a better roster, and they have a great coach, and they're at home," Hanzus said, "but history is instructive here. The team in San Francisco has so much confidence. You know they're going to travel well, no matter what the Rams try to do, so the home field, being on the road, isn't going to be an issue.

"And I think back to what George Kittle said when they had that comeback win in SoFi [Stadium] in Week 18 where he remembered—and he shared it with the media—that they were being taunted, with things being said in his ear about them sending the Niners home in a body bag. And then they come back and win that game. And Kittle says he can't wait, and he hopes to see the Rams again."

Oddsmakers have the NFC West champion Rams favored by 3.5 points. That doesn't matter to Hanzus.

"They believe that they are better than the Rams," Hanzus added, "that they'll always figure out a way, and that means something, even if people in the desert, for instance, in Vegas, think otherwise. I think the Niners are just a little bit better."

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