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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

49ers third-best team in ESPN’s “way-too-early” NFL power rankings

Feb 13, 2023 at 10:56 AM

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The Kansas City Chiefs are the Super Bowl champions. They beat the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 on Sunday. So why not release an updated power ranking right after the game? That's what ESPN did, looking at the NFL landscaped, evaluating teams, and providing an admitted "way-too-early" ranking of the organizations.

ESPN acknowledges that a lot will happen between now and the start of the 2023 NFL season. There is free agency in March, the NFL Draft in April, and quarterback and coaching changes to consider. That didn't stop them from projecting the best and worst teams next season, though.

"Our power panel is a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities who evaluates how NFL teams stack up against each other, then ranks them from 1 to 32," explains ESPN.

So where did the San Francisco 49ers fall within this premature ranking? Head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad came in at No. 3, with only the Super Bowl-champion Chiefs and NFC-champion Eagles listed above them at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.

ESPN's NFL Nation writers were also asked to describe each team's offseason in three or fewer words. 49ers beat writer Nick Wagoner's choice was "Figure out quarterback."

"Brock Purdy and Trey Lance are the only two quarterbacks the Niners have under contract for next season and both are recovering from injuries," wrote Wagoner. "Lance (broken right ankle) expects to be a full go for OTAs and beyond, while Purdy (torn UCL in right elbow) won't be back until late July at the earliest. Which means San Francisco's quarterback dilemma must first be solved based on health, then on ability and upside. Would the 49ers run it back with just Purdy, Lance and a low-cost veteran? That's just one of the many quarterback questions the Niners must answer if they're going to contend for a Super Bowl again in 2023."

Jimmy Garoppolo and Josh Johnson are both scheduled to become free agents. The former will almost certainly be playing for a different team in 2023. During the 49ers' end-of-season press conference, Shanahan was asked if he could envision a scenario where Garoppolo returns to the 49ers this offseason.

"No, I don't see any scenario of that," Shanahan responded.
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