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Are the 49ers overrated? One NFL writer thinks so

Marc Adams
Jun 25, 2024 at 12:29 PM

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The San Francisco 49ers have the best roster in the NFL. That's the opinion of most who cover the NFL. It doesn't mean they're the best team, only that they have the best roster.

But not everyone agrees. Mike Jones, of The Athletic, believes the 49ers are one of the most overrated teams in the league. In a piece for The Athletic on Tuesday, Jones lists the most underrated teams in the NFL, as well as the most overrated teams. He listed the Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, and Green Bay Packers as the most underrated teams.

And who are the overrated teams? Jones named the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Chargers, and the 49ers. Here's what he wrote about the 49ers:

"Kyle Shanahan always gives them a chance, and Brock Purdy again has a talented supporting cast, although Brandon Aiyuk faces an uncertain future. Questions loom over the defense, however, with first-year coordinator Nick Sorensen directing a unit that lost Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw to free agency and must deal with the extended absence of Dre Greenlaw, who is recovering from Achilles surgery. The 49ers hope to put another heartbreaking Super Bowl defeat in the past and make another run at a ring, but doing so could prove more challenging than many expect."

Jones noted that Shanahan is good enough to always give the 49ers a chance, but it's interesting to note that he named Purdy simply as having a talented supporting cast, rather than acknowledging Purdy as a weapon himself. He also seems to have some questions about Sorensen, which is reasonable, since he'll be a defensive coordinator for the first time this season.

And while Armstead and Greenlaw are big losses (although Greenlaw has a chance to return in 2024), losing Kinlaw isn't something that should factor into whether the 49ers are better or worse than they were a year ago. Especially when you consider that the 49ers overhauled their defensive line this offseason. Armstead is a sizeable loss, but he missed 13 games the past two seasons. Still, when he was healthy, Armstead was a difference-maker. He'll be missed. Kinlaw likely won't be.

Whether the 49ers are overrated or not will ultimately be determined by the health of the team. If they stay healthy, this is the best roster in football, and certainly not overrated. If key players are injured, the 49ers can fall back like any team struggling with health. We saw that with the team in 2020 when they still had a Super Bowl-caliber roster. But injuries to key players like Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Bosa, George Kittle, and more plagued San Francisco that season. If the team loses Purdy, Bosa, Fred Warner, or Christian McCaffrey, they may struggle again. But it's that way for any team.

It's not likely very many people would agree with Jones' naming the 49ers or Ravens as an overrated team. We will soon begin the journey to finding out where teams stand. And who knows, maybe those two "overrated" teams will meet in the Super Bowl. What will Jones have to say then?

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