Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Where the 49ers landed in latest ESPN power ranking

May 16, 2022 at 8:54 AM--

With the draft behind us, ESPN released its latest power rankings. The list is based on the evaluations from a panel of more than 80 writers, editors, and TV personalities.

The Buffalo Bills came out on top, followed by the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Green Bay Packers. The Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers, and Dallas Cowboys round out the top eight.

The San Francisco 49ers come in at No. 9, one spot lower than their post-free agency ranking. The biggest storyline heading into the offseason was the transition from veteran Jimmy Garoppolo to second-year quarterback Trey Lance. That changed in April when wide receiver Deebo Samuel requested to be traded.

If the 49ers were to grant the receiver's wish, it likely would have been before or during the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. However, no team made an offer enticing enough for San Francisco to consider parting ways with its do-it-all wideout.

"The Niners spent two of their first three picks on a running back and a receiver, which should be beneficial to quarterback Trey Lance," wrote ESPN's Nick Wagoner. "But, for as odd as it might sound, this draft could be equally beneficial to Samuel. Samuel accounted for 28% of the Niners' yards from scrimmage in 2021, which was the fourth most by a player in the NFL.

"Of course, Samuel wants to keep getting the ball and playing a significant role, but if part of his dispute with the Niners is over his potential longevity, it stands to reason that adding help at the skill positions -- particularly running back -- could help lighten his load and settle his issues with the team."

We'll see if the 49ers can mend their relationship with Samuel and sign him to a contract extension this offseason. The team obviously wants to hold onto their star player. It's unclear if Samuel's view of the situation has changed. However, his re-following the team on social media can be seen as progress.

As for the rest of the NFC West, the Arizona Cardinals came in at No. 19, while the Seattle Seahawks are at No. 27.

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