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Will 49ers’ position in one power ranking stir debate?

Mar 25, 2024 at 4:09 PM

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Power rankings in March don't mean much, given that the draft has yet to occur, but they offer an early glimpse into the media's perspective regarding each team's chances during the upcoming season.

Fresh off a Super Bowl appearance and coming agonizingly close to securing their sixth Lombardi Trophy, the San Francisco 49ers approach the 2024 season with optimism. Despite enduring a gut-wrenching loss, their offseason moves signal a determined effort to bolster their roster for another run at Super Bowl glory.

The 49ers' defensive front underwent significant renovations in free agency. The team parted ways with Arik Armstead but welcomed potential impact players like Leonard Floyd and Maliek Collins.

In the latest power rankings, Eric Edholm positioned the 49ers at the No. 2 spot, trailing only the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

"The front seven was put through the blender early in free agency," Edholm wrote. "Inside, the Niners are swapping out Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw and Sebastian Joseph-Day for Maliek Collins and Jordan Elliott. On the edge, they're counting on Leonard Floyd and Yetur Gross-Matos to replace Randy Gregory, Chase Young and Clelin Ferrell. Will those moves be an upgrade? Tough to tell."

The 49ers could take several different approaches in the 2024 NFL Draft. They own the No. 31 overall pick and could address either side of the football in the first round.

"Plus, the 49ers figure to add more to their defense," Edholm continued. "And maybe at quarterback. Brandon Allen returns to back up Brock Purdy, but a year ago, San Francisco aggressively added Sam Darnold, and they could look for a similar reclamation project. Kyle Shanahan always has wandering eyes at that spot."

Meanwhile, ESPN's rankings placed the 49ers at No. 3, just below the Chiefs and the team San Francisco beat in the NFC Championship Game, the Detroit Lions. Have the Lions done enough to earn a placement above the 49ers? It's certainly a topic that could stir some debate among fans.

Unlike the 49ers, the Lions kept both coordinators this offseason, with Ben Johnson managing the offense and Aaron Glenn leading the defense. San Francisco is on its third defensive coordinator in three years, firing Steve Wilks and replacing him with former defensive passing game specialist Nick Sorensen.

ESPN's Nick Wagoner lauded the acquisition of Maliek Collins as the team's most under-the-radar move in free agency. The defensive tackle steps in as a more economical alternative to Armstead.

"Releasing defensive end Arik Armstead was difficult for the Niners, but they found a way to pivot to a cheaper option who should have a chance to help make up for it," Wagoner wrote. "Collins ranked 12th among interior players in pass rush win rate (12.9%) in 2023 and is sixth at 14.4% over the past three seasons among those who have played at least 300 snaps. All that for the bargain price of a seventh-round pick."
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