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Preseason Power Rankings No. 2: San Francisco 49ers

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have arguably been the best team in the NFL over the last three seasons with a Super Bowl appearance and two NFC Championship game appearances on their resume. But any trip to the postseason that doesn’t end with that final victory leaves a team ultimately unfulfilled.

Despite some changes to the roster and some off-field incidents this offseason, the 49ers are once again primed to push for a sixth Super Bowl title this season.

San Francisco should be more dynamic offensively with a healthy Michael Crabtree and the addition of Steve Johnson to provide targets for Colin Kaepernick. However, the 49ers may have lost a little strength on the defensive side of the ball. NaVorro Bowman could miss a significant portion of the season while returning from injury and Aldon Smith could be suspended for transgressions off the field. In addition, all four members of the 49ers starting secondary in Super Bowl XLVII have now moved on with some question marks remaining.

Strengths.

The 49ers running game should continue to be among the most explosive in the league. Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick are a daunting threats to carry the ball. In addition, Kendall Hunter, Carlos Hyde and possibly even Marcus Lattimore provide capable depth for an aging  (but somehow still not diminishing) Frank Gore. San Francisco will need to hope Daniel Kilgore can be an adequate replacement at center for the departed Jonathan Goodwin.

When healthy and able to play, the 49ers linebackers remain as strong as any unit in football. Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith are dynamic threats at outside linebacker with NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis as two of the best inside linebackers in the game. However, Bowman could miss several games while recovering from a knee injury in the NFC Championship game and Smith’s off-field issues could likely lead to a suspension this fall.

Weaknesses.

San Francisco is noticeably weaker at cornerback than they were during their run to the NFC title in 2012. Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown are now gone, leaving Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver as the penciled starters with journeymen Perrish Cox and Chris Cook as depth options. Brock has proven to be a solid player. However, Culliver could ultimately be suspended as well for a felony charge of possession of brass knuckles stemming from a hit-and-run arrest this offeseason.

Colin Kaepernick’s play against the division rival Seattle Seahawks is also an area of concern. In four career starts against Seattle, Kaepernick has struggled mightily in the passing game. He’s completed just 52 percent of his passes for an average of 175 yards per game with three touchdowns and seven interceptions. Against all other opponents, Kaepernick has thrown 34 touchdowns to just nine interceptions. San Francisco is just 1-3 in those games and has been outscored by a margin of 111-52. Considering the road to the top of the division likely goes through Seattle, this an area that the 49ers have to hope Kaepernick can improve in.

Changes.

Daniel Kilgore is penciled in to replace Jonathan Goodwin as the starting center for the 49ers. It’s the first shake up to an offensive line that has been among the league’s elite units over the past few seasons.

Antoine Bethea was signed to replace the departed Donte Whitner at strong safety.

Meanwhile, the addition of Steve Johnson and the return of Brandon Lloyd to the 49ers could stabilize a receiving corps that was underwhelming last season.

Camp battles.

While Kilgore may have the jump-start, rookie Marcus Martin could also challenge for the starting center job once he comes off the non-football injury list.

The 49ers will need to find an interim replacement for NaVorro Bowman at inside linebacker. Michael Wilhoite, Nick Moody and rookies Chris Borland and Shayne Skov will likely be called upon to challenge for the job.

Prospects.

The San Francisco 49ers are one of the best teams in the NFL. The problem for San Francisco right now is that until they can prove otherwise, the Seahawks are better.

The injury to Bowman and potential suspension of Smith, along with the changes in the secondary could cause some initial struggles defensively for the 49ers as well. However, the 49ers are still plenty talented enough to compete for the divisional title in the NFC West.

Another year of experience from Colin Kaepernick and improved quality at the receiver position should make the passing game more efficient this season. With a rock solid rushing attack, the 49ers offense could be the best it has been with Kaepernick under center.

The Seahawks and 49ers don’t meet until Thanksgiving night in Santa Clara before playing twice in three weeks. Those two meetings will likely go a long way toward determining the champion of a loaded NFC West and a favorite in the NFC to reach the Super Bowl.

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116 Responses to “Preseason Power Rankings No. 2: San Francisco 49ers”
  1. filthymcnastyi says: Jul 22, 2014 9:08 AM

    9ers OWN the Packers!

  2. pencilmonkeymagic says: Jul 22, 2014 9:08 AM

    The defense should still be able to cover for Kaepernick’s weaknesses, despite the temporary loss of Bowman.

    The issue is – this far in to Kaepernick’s career – they really shouldn’t have to.

  3. ctiggs says: Jul 22, 2014 9:10 AM

    Should be Number 1, but we will be at the end of the year. WHOOOOOOOO”SSSS GOT IT BETTER THAN US?????? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOBODYYYY!!!!!!!

  4. wny49er says: Jul 22, 2014 9:12 AM

    I hope both us and the hawks are undefeated when we meet on Thanksgiving!

  5. ctiggs says: Jul 22, 2014 9:16 AM

    “The problem for San Francisco right now is that until they can prove otherwise, the Seahawks are better”.

    You for got to add “and the Refs”. Seahawks were clearly overwhelmed by us in the NFCCG , the refs brought them back. The NFL and Goodell wanted best defense vs best offense.

  6. allhailkingflacco says: Jul 22, 2014 9:17 AM

    I have no problem with this ranking as the 49ers will always have a special place in my heart.

    They helped in our efforts to win SB 47 and I couldn’t be more thankful.

  7. cb2gbequalssb says: Jul 22, 2014 9:18 AM

    This team will not be as good as some think, If Colleen cant figure out how to make more than one or two reads..

  8. lowdownmofo says: Jul 22, 2014 9:20 AM

    Law of averages dictates that this team will fall on it’s face sooner rather than later. The laws of physics dictate that smaller objects will gravitate around Harbaugh’s hips.

  9. adolfoliverbush says: Jul 22, 2014 9:22 AM

    I think they’re definetely a top 5 team, I don’t know if they are number 2 though. The biggest question mark in my eyes is Kaepernick. There were a few weeks where that offense looked pretty pedestrian last year, but having Crabtree back and the Johnson give them a chance to be improved offensively. They’re a good team, and Harbaugh is one of the best in the business.

  10. packers1337 says: Jul 22, 2014 9:24 AM

    Wow, 49ers are way to high.

  11. jimmyt says: Jul 22, 2014 9:24 AM

    Too high, as will be your ranking for No. 1.

  12. suns11111 says: Jul 22, 2014 9:26 AM

    and Chris Cook may get his NFL first interception……ever!

  13. rukkus1 says: Jul 22, 2014 9:27 AM

    NFC West. Best division in football by far. I bet the rams and cards would finish first in some divisions.

    Go Hawks

  14. trailbreaker77 says: Jul 22, 2014 9:31 AM

    Way to high they should be in the teens somewhere, the Bears belong at #2.

  15. Spymaster Belichick says: Jul 22, 2014 9:33 AM

    They missed their window for a championship. They’ll have to start rebuilding on defense, which carried them the last few years.

  16. hodous says: Jul 22, 2014 9:34 AM

    This is about right but overall, these ratings have been Some of the worst.

    -Sloth love Chunk

  17. southernyankee803 says: Jul 22, 2014 9:35 AM

    2015 World Champions

  18. bcajun says: Jul 22, 2014 9:35 AM

    So Seattle number one and New Orleans not in the top 3?…this list is garbage

  19. jonnguy2014 says: Jul 22, 2014 9:37 AM

    The 49ers are still one of the best teams in the NFL. I actually think they have gotten better. Look for another race for the top against the Hawks

  20. beerbudsnbevo says: Jul 22, 2014 9:38 AM

    Not trying to hate… But something tells me the 9ers are going to be a big disappointment this year.

    Kinda remind of the Chargers just a short time back. Good, but can’t get over the hump.

  21. mkelly534 says: Jul 22, 2014 9:39 AM

    The 49 ers and Seahawks will engage in a bloody warfare twice this year. The NFC Title game was as physical a game as I have seen two teams play since the old Steeler Raider teams of the 70s. It may end up being a war of attrition. Whomever stays healthier will win the NFC West. Of course the Cardinals and Rams may have something to say about that as well. What a powerhouse division!!

  22. bigredgoog says: Jul 22, 2014 9:39 AM

    Everyone says the running game is a strength but I don’t see it, except for the QB runs. NFC championship they strip Russell Wilson of the ball and recover on about the 5 yard line and only get a field goal.

    Their statistics on running is because they try it so often and that adds up. I don’t know if the line is overrated or the backs are lacking. Certainly there are not holes like Emmitt Smith had plowed for him back in the 90’s by the Cowboys.

    Agree with the ranking but disagree that the running game is a strength. This team is strong all around and can win it all.

  23. 5trophysbythebay says: Jul 22, 2014 9:39 AM

    Sounds about right. The secondary is my only concern but with that d line adding Dial and Tank to the rotation, they should be fine. Looking forward to another great year.

  24. rainponcho87 says: Jul 22, 2014 9:41 AM

    Secondary concerns me the most. Got to hope draft picks like Ward can make big contributions. Front 7 may be better tho with really good depth: lemonier, carridine for example.

  25. capn0bvious says: Jul 22, 2014 9:43 AM

    #1, YOUR Super Bowl CHAMPIONS, the Seattle Seahawks!

  26. sb44champs says: Jul 22, 2014 9:46 AM

    Saints > 9ers

  27. jjackwagon says: Jul 22, 2014 9:53 AM

    Only makes sense after the way the SB went down. Is there anyone that doesn’t think this team is better than Enver?

  28. isaidjoemontegna says: Jul 22, 2014 9:55 AM

    I think this is exactly right. And Im a niner fan. Seattle won it all. So they should be #1, for now. I have my theories as to HOW to they won it all but I digress. If it was possible for two NFC teams to go to the Superbowl, without a doubt is would’ve been Seattle and SF. We’re the two best teams in the NFL. Even that blowhard, Sherman, said so. Sorry AFC! You’re gonna be battling NFC West teams for several years to come.

  29. thood2010 says: Jul 22, 2014 9:59 AM

    This Niners fans isn’t relishing the process of breaking in rookies in so many positions in the secondary, but I will honestly say it will at least be easy to explain how a rookie gets beat in coverage versus how veterans get beat in coverage (Whitner and Rogers in the Super Bowl and last year’s NFCCG come to mind).

  30. coldwater32301 says: Jul 22, 2014 10:02 AM

    The 49ners at #2 for me is OK not perfect just OK… I still think that secondary needs some help…with the exception of Carolina game they lost games through the air… However, I look forward to watching them against the Seahawks… I love this rivalry…Its fun, its poetic, Its historic, its football…Indeed…

  31. castaljuan says: Jul 22, 2014 10:03 AM

    WARNING: SELF-DESTRUCT SEQUENCE HAS BEEN ACTIVATED. T-MINUS 47 DAYS UNTIL COMPLETE IMPLOSION

  32. nosleeptilsb says: Jul 22, 2014 10:05 AM

    Thanksgiving cant get here quick enough! Go Hawks!

  33. jwcarlson says: Jul 22, 2014 10:09 AM

    Twig Legs won’t last the season. You watch.

  34. jimthebuilder27 says: Jul 22, 2014 10:10 AM

    Kaepernick is very overrated. He’s a very average (at best) passer. If he couldn’t run with the ball, he wouldn’t even be playing football.

    Just wait until this team has to battle the salary cap (hopefully soon) and Kaepernick’s mettle will then be tested.

  35. abqhawk says: Jul 22, 2014 10:12 AM

    Seahawks fan here – looking forward to some excellent games between SF & Seattle. This is what football is all about, good rivalries! May the better team that particular day win.

  36. tlmoon2112 says: Jul 22, 2014 10:15 AM

    As a Niner fan, I have to agree with a lot of what was said here. Until we can prove we are better then the Hawks, it is what it is.

  37. whoopingchow says: Jul 22, 2014 10:17 AM

    In addition to probably the toughest divisional schedule, they’ve got to go to Denver and to New Orleans. Seahawks don’t get it much easier, having to go to Philly and Carolina (and three East Coast games vs SF’s one). The NFC West having to play the NFC East and the AFC West this season is insane–it’s going to be a blood bath.

  38. 16nyniner80 says: Jul 22, 2014 10:19 AM

    The secondary looks like a concern, but the DL is deep. Can’t wait to see what DLs Carradine and Dial can do. Go Niners!

  39. t8ertot says: Jul 22, 2014 10:19 AM

    2nd place is the first loser

  40. redngold1 says: Jul 22, 2014 10:22 AM

    They’ll always be No. 1 in my power rankings. Nice write-up.

  41. thereisfootballwestofjersey says: Jul 22, 2014 10:22 AM

    How are Niner fans supposed to see this report as an objective team preview? Its author, Curtis Crabtree is a Seattle based radio personality (KJR) and former Seahawks beat writer.

  42. 5to46hawkfan says: Jul 22, 2014 10:23 AM

    GO HAWKS! Good luck niners!

  43. gashmr says: Jul 22, 2014 10:27 AM

    Seahawks fan here- and the 49ers being #2 and Hawks being #1 is all speculative. These are two very good teams that have made good moves in recent years.

    I know that the fanbases in the respective cities tend to get a tad upset at each other from time to time but I think most adult fans respect the other side’s team.

    The Hawks are definitely the new kids on te block when it coms to NFL domination. The 49ers are the more storied franchise. But as a Hawks fan I think this may be Seattle’s decade to string together a series of great seasons with some real good shots at championships, even if the Hawks don’t repeat (which is hard).

    I have a lot of respect for the 49ers as a franchise. Yes their coach is excitable and sometimes unlikeable to opposing fans, and yes they have some issues. What team doesn’t ?

    But I truly believe that for the next 3-4 seasons one or the other, Hawks or 49ers, will be involved in the last games in their Conferences, and a couple of the last games of the season too.

    In my opinion:
    Hawks win the Conference if they get homefield advantage.
    49ers win if they get homefield advantage.
    And as a dark horse,
    New Orleans wins if they get homefield.
    Green Bay is 4th????

  44. udontknowjaq says: Jul 22, 2014 10:33 AM

    The 49er’s take a step backwards this season, they will be a top team but not top 4 IMO. So many off the field distractions, & a tougher schedule. The NFCW does not play the AFCS this year like last year so the competition of playing the AFCW will not be as easy as playing the weakest div. Other teams in the NFC like NO & GB improved more in the offseason jus like the Pats & Den did. I wont be surprised if they fall to about 6 by time the season is over..

  45. ctiggs says: Jul 22, 2014 10:36 AM

    “The problem for San Francisco right now is that until they can prove otherwise, the Seahawks are better”.

    You for got to add “and the Refs”. Seahawks were clearly overwhelmed by us in the NFCCG , the refs brought them back. The NFL and Goodell wanted best defense vs best offense….

  46. 8to80texansblog says: Jul 22, 2014 10:37 AM

    Niners v Hawks…. the new Ravens v Steelers.

    Best rivalry in football right now.

  47. claymus1 says: Jul 22, 2014 10:38 AM

    Arizona could very well surprise them both!

  48. norcalmafia says: Jul 22, 2014 10:39 AM

    Cant wait to smoke that overhyped defense nkw that they cant hold all day long!
    #@Seattle Seahawks sponsered by camping world……and trail mix
    #@Niner empire takes over Seattle every year

  49. thebirdofprey2 says: Jul 22, 2014 10:40 AM

    This team is pretty talented but they are the 2nd oldest roster in the NFL. Sure they have young guys with potential but they are aging on both sides of the ball.

    I think their offense will be a little tougher to defend but I have said it before the secondary is the weakest in the NFC West by far. If Al. Smith doesn’t get too long a suspension he can help protect those CBs.

  50. norcalmafia says: Jul 22, 2014 10:41 AM

    This far into Kaps career? Last year was his first full year as a starter..This is going to be the year he goes off…watch

    #@every seahawk season ticket comes with pocket protector…..and trail mix

  51. kamthechancellor says: Jul 22, 2014 10:41 AM

    That defense drops to the middle of the pack this year. But norcalsissy will talk about it like it’s the best ever. Laughable.

  52. dennisatunity says: Jul 22, 2014 10:43 AM

    As a Hawks fan, I want the 49ers to be outstanding. I want them to go 14-2 for the year. The better they are, the better the ‘Hawks are. The 49ers are extremely talented, but as the article above said:
    “The San Francisco 49ers are one of the best teams in the NFL. The problem for San Francisco right now is that until they can prove otherwise, the Seahawks are better.”

    And in the words of Severus Snape: “Why don’t you prove it?”

  53. lengai says: Jul 22, 2014 10:45 AM

    San Fran is this decade’s version of Philadelphia. they’re not winning any championships.

  54. lionswinsuperbowl says: Jul 22, 2014 10:45 AM

    Disagree

  55. therealstrategist says: Jul 22, 2014 10:45 AM

    With all they lost in the secondary, the defense will take a step back, but the offense will take two steps forward. The oline is still very good. Kaepernick has all of his targets back, and they have weapons all over the offense (Davis, Crabtree, Boldin, Hyde). Plus Kaep has another year in the system, he’ll have 4000 passing and 1000 rushing and be the MVP.

  56. boiler72 says: Jul 22, 2014 10:45 AM

    Did Kaepernick get his teardrop tattoos yet? Or some random chic’s name in script on the side of his neck?

  57. thefiesty1 says: Jul 22, 2014 10:50 AM

    Who would of guessed that Seattle would be your #1? Just because they won the SB last year doesn’t make them #1 this season. San Fran and Denver in the SB, count on it.

  58. realmenwearstripes says: Jul 22, 2014 10:52 AM

    As a Bengals fan, I have been saying for many years that the 49ers truly are #2.

  59. therealstrategist says: Jul 22, 2014 10:54 AM

    With all they lost in the secondary, the defense will take a step back, but the offense will take two steps forward. The oline is still very good. Kaepernick has all of his targets back, and they have weapons all over the offense (Davis, Crabtree, Boldin, Hyde). Plus Kaep has another year in the system, he’ll have 4000 passing and 1000 rushing and be the MVP.

  60. braceyourselffor12 says: Jul 22, 2014 10:56 AM

    For those ‘hoping’ the Niners regress this season you must have not been paying attention.

    The acquisitions made in this draft were only used to supplement the aces we’ve stashed from LAST YEAR’S draft. So go ahead and worry because the Niners are poised to be a top contender for years to come.

    Kaep has got his new weapons in the passing game, the run will be as solid as ever, our front seven will dominate and Harbaugh will lead another successful season hopefully ending with our 6th Lombardi.

    GO NINERS!!!!!

  61. desbattle82 says: Jul 22, 2014 10:57 AM

    The seahawks are the best team but the niners are number two and it’s close between those two,! Only team that can argue they belong in that class is the saints only with home field! Packers haven’t shown they can beat the niners but they are the fourth best to team! Real rankings
    1. Hawks
    2. Niners
    3. Saints
    4. Packers
    5. Broncos
    6. Patriots
    7. Bears
    8. Colts
    9. Cardinals
    10. Chargers

  62. bus035 says: Jul 22, 2014 11:02 AM

    I definitely believe this is a fair ranking for the 49ers. Hopefully the organization can get the Alex Boone situation resolved and Navarro Bowman can come back healthy sooner rather than later. I am excited to see what Carlos Hyde and Christine Michael can bring to our respected teams. These arbitrary rankings are just another small reason to love the best rivalry in sports today. Good luck 49er nation for a great season and I hope our teams are still ranked 1 and 2 when we come see you in Santa Clara on Thanksgiving. -Established Seahawk fan since 1983

  63. ayyyjayyy says: Jul 22, 2014 11:08 AM

    The Niners defense will probably need 5-8 games to gel together to play their brand of football. The offense doesn’t have a lot if speed unless Ellington plays a lot. But they’ll need more speed now that the LOB rule will be installed. Lattimore should start the year on the PUP list and both he and Bowman should play minimally toward the end of the season. They should then be unleashed in the playoffs. I’d give them a 40% chance to win the SB.

  64. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 22, 2014 11:09 AM

    I’d go SF, NO, then Seattle but this is reasonable….

  65. justafacts2014 says: Jul 22, 2014 11:09 AM

    Fair assessment.

  66. huskywolverine says: Jul 22, 2014 11:13 AM

    Regarding Kaep’s struggles against the Seahawks.

    Can’t you say that about nearly ALL QBs against the Seahawks?

  67. paythevig says: Jul 22, 2014 11:21 AM

    to be the best you have to beat the best, at home, away, on another planet. Seattle deserves the top spot, and honestly with the way the NFL has been there will be teams outside of the top 10 that will be in the top 5 next season. A lot of parody.

    Ideally this offense can compensate for the losses on defines – namely Bowman because he’s not replaceable by any means. I think teams will have some more success running the ball against us due to the absence of Bowman and Whitner; i wouldn’t really call this secondary a weakness, rather more of an unknown commodity; Terell Brown will be missed but outside of Rodgers’ first season with the niners, he’s been a liability. While Whitner’s knack for stuffing the run will be missed, he too was a liability in coverage, often going for the highlight real (often legal) hits rather than playing the ball. Right or wrong, way too many flags in critical moments of the game. Bethea can bring the veteran leadership to the back end, and Reid in his second year should continue to blossom into a star.

    Hoping that the red-shirt strategy works and that Tank can come in and spell the ageless wonder, the Cowboy. Can’t wait for the season to begin!

  68. goutch225 says: Jul 22, 2014 11:23 AM

    I hate to nit-pick, but “all four members of the 49ers starting secondary in Super Bowl XLVII have now moved on” is wrong.

    Eric Reid started at safety in the Super Bowl (despite the concussions, he never missed a start) and in fact was elected to the Pro Bowl.

    Please correct.

    I realize it may be tough to be objective since you come from Seattle, but who is PFT going to get to write the Seahawks preview…Michael Crabtree?

  69. number1hawkfan says: Jul 22, 2014 11:28 AM

    Maybe they’re the number 2 I take every morning. People only think the niners are good cuz of the Seahawks. They ride our coat tails. People just assume they’re good cuz of our division. They’re mediocre at best.

  70. mutantman87 says: Jul 22, 2014 11:33 AM

    Did anybody notice this stat? Kaepernick has 34 TD and only 9 INT against all teams not named the Seahawks in his career, a ratio of almost 4:1, but 3 TD and 7 INT against Seattle. He needs to exorcise that demon. I can’t wait to see 49ers-Seahawks two (likely three) times again next season. That is real, smashmouth football how it should be played. Physicality, hitting, and strong fundamentals on defense, balanced running games with deep play action passing. It’s a nice respite from the National Flag Football League.

  71. Marshawn Lunch says: Jul 22, 2014 11:35 AM

    49ers are either going back to the NFC championship game, at least, or else they are going 7-9. They have the most favorable bye week in the NFC west. The Seahawks, Rams, and Cardinals all have a bye week in week 4, whereas the 9ers have a week 8 bye. Traditionally the later bye helps a team stay healthier late into the season.

    But the Rams have what I see as the most favorable schedule in the NFC West. They get to spread out the divisional matches, with 2 coming in early in the season and then finishing up the season with divisional games. The rest of the NFC West plays 3 of 4 divisional games after week 12. That makes for a rough (and fun) late November and December.

  72. squackduckhawk says: Jul 22, 2014 11:45 AM

    I think the greatest strength this team has is the O-line. Solid unit in any situation. The secondary will only see real problems outside our division as nobody in the NFC West is truly pass-happy. Good luck this year Niners, looking forward to Thanksgiving.

  73. 12hawksfan1976 says: Jul 22, 2014 12:02 PM

    Niners: ” Seahawks were clearly overwhelmed by us in the NFCCG.”

    Fact: SF lost because Kap turned the ball over three times in the 4th Quarter.

    But that is some tasty Niner whine.

  74. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 22, 2014 12:05 PM

    key for SF and NO and…

    is to not have to play Seattle in Seattle when it counts

    NFL really needs to address the lack of sportsmanship and excessive noise level in Seattle

  75. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 22, 2014 12:05 PM

    other key is to somehow bait Seattle and Sherman in to having him cover a top WR w/o help

  76. raiderrob21 says: Jul 22, 2014 12:35 PM

    The window has started to close. They better get it done this year. They missed opportunities last couple years. The defense has carried the inept offense far too long. Contracts are due at the end of this year for key players this team will look a lot different after this year. Probably no Boldin, Gore, Crabtree, Iupati, Boone, V. Davis etc. Also Coach is flying the coop soon. Probably last chance for a while since Rams will be taking over this division real soon.

  77. kimbo71006 says: Jul 22, 2014 12:46 PM

    I hope both us and the hawks are undefeated when we meet on Thanksgiving!

    ————————————————-
    Not gonna happen (at least for the 49ers). You have to meet the Saints first (at home), and we’ve won 7 out of the last 8 contests with the 49ers in regular season including the last time you visited us at the Dome in 2013.

    For the Seahawks, I’m hoping they get taken down a peg, but I wouldn’t count on the 49ers getting past the Saints at home…the Saints are undefeated at home (except for the year Payton was suspended) since 2011.

    Good luck – the 49ers are going to need it!

  78. kimbo71006 says: Jul 22, 2014 12:47 PM

    key for SF and NO and…

    is to not have to play Seattle in Seattle when it counts

    NFL really needs to address the lack of sportsmanship and excessive noise level in Seattle

    ————————————————
    I think the “key” this year is the new Legion of Boom rule where the refs will be calling more for draping yourself on an opposing player like a cheap suit.

    More calls on that violation and the Seahawks get their wings clipped!

  79. kimbo71006 says: Jul 22, 2014 12:57 PM

    The seahawks are the best team but the niners are number two and it’s close between those two,! Only team that can argue they belong in that class is the saints only with home field! Packers haven’t shown they can beat the niners but they are the fourth best to team! Real rankings
    1. Hawks
    2. Niners
    3. Saints
    4. Packers
    5. Broncos
    6. Patriots
    7. Bears
    8. Colts
    9. Cardinals
    10. Chargers

    ———————————————–
    By using that analogy, the Seahawks are only truly GREAT at home. Saints are GREAT at home also. Saints have one SB trophy, SH have one SB trophy. Saints have a HOF quarterback who has shattered records, SH do not. Saints have the #1 TE in the NFL, SH do not.

    So if you weigh it out – Saints and SH are pretty much on an even keel. 49ers – not so much. Kap is highly overrated and it has been evident in the games he’s played. On that matter, Wilson is overrated as well. Its the defense on the SH that wins games, not the offense. Just look at the stats for offense for the SH last year.

    Going to be an interesting year. I see the Saints rising, the SH falling, the 49ers remaining in the status quo, the Packers coming back some, the Pats pretty much staying the same, as well as the Broncos. The rest of the teams – its an all out crap shoot this year.

    Looking forward to it!

  80. dacktle49 says: Jul 22, 2014 12:58 PM

    Your right Aints fan they do have have a really good shot at beating the 9ers again this year as long as that same officiating crew is working the game.
    Ahmad Brooks hit on little Drew was as clean as they come! Sack fumble game over!

  81. madddogg365 says: Jul 22, 2014 1:00 PM

    I’m a Saints’ fan but the 49ers do have a fire offense in a multi-talented QB, a nice WR corp, & RB’s plus they have probably have the best LB corp in the NFL, BUT…we beat the 49ers last year in ‘Frisco (that’s right…AN AWAY GAME!!!!!) so I see no reason why it can’t happen again in the Dome w/a better defense & offense than last season. COME ON NOVEMBER 9th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  82. leagueobservr says: Jul 22, 2014 1:01 PM

    Gee, I wonder who could be #1 on this list???

    The suspense is killing me! :-D

  83. fiverings37 says: Jul 22, 2014 1:09 PM

    They blew their chances the last two years, the division has gotten better behind them. Time for a step back this season.

  84. Cortez>Sapp says: Jul 22, 2014 1:10 PM

    I would love to know how the one guy figures the refs screwed them out of the NFC Championship. LOL

  85. 4d9erdynasty says: Jul 22, 2014 1:15 PM

    I agree with this assessment but the secondary has been the weakest link in this defense the last 3 years. i have watched Brown, Whitner and Rogers get burned when it counted in 3 straight playoff runs. They are good players and they do make good plays throughout the season and playoffs. But did give up big plays when we needed them. There is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to why niners could not close out a season with a SB the last 3 years but I think it is time to see what some younger guys have.

    This niner O has no excuses this year with how deep they are. And dont sleep on niners rookie WR Bruce Ellington, dude has some skills and will suprise some people. Lets keep in mind it took 3 straight turnovers to lose that NFC champ game, Niners make one play and the tables are turned. In my opinion, if that game was in SF or on a neutral field niners win.

    I think if bowman comes back completely healthy and if Aldon Smith comes back this season and niners make the playoffs they will be hard to beat.The niners had a good offseason and an even better draft. This team is loaded, i think they have a chance to be better then the last 3 years team.

    That being said Seattle earned it and until someone detrones the Seattle Seahawks there are still the defending champs. I Cant wait for some football.

    Go Niners!!!

  86. kimbo71006 says: Jul 22, 2014 1:17 PM

    Saints > 9ers

    ———————————

    Amen! 49ers have very short memories. Guess they forgot that the Saints have beat them 7 out of the last 8 games in regular season and they don’t win when they are in our house and where is that game – in the Dome!

    WHO DAT baby…taking ‘em down.

  87. slugbaitspace says: Jul 22, 2014 1:21 PM

    ctiggs says:
    Jul 22, 2014 10:36 AM
    “The problem for San Francisco right now is that until they can prove otherwise, the Seahawks are better”.

    You for got to add “and the Refs”. Seahawks were clearly overwhelmed by us in the NFCCG , the refs brought them back.
    ———————–
    Oh sure, the game was rigged. And all those INTs that Kaep threw, that was part of the refs scheme too, right?

  88. 1nationraidernation says: Jul 22, 2014 1:21 PM

    My gut says the broncos (already been busted twice, and the niners (also have been busted once) and now the seahawks are all cheating on the salary cap….I guess it pays to cheat….after all the niners, and broncos both won superbowls cheating, and all they had to do was buy a value meal at mickey d’s for the penalty.

  89. raiderrob21 says: Jul 22, 2014 1:24 PM

    ctiggs says: Jul 22, 2014 9:10 AM

    Should be Number 1, but we will be at the end of the year. WHOOOOOOOO”SSSS GOT IT BETTER THAN US?????? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOBODYYYY!!!!!!!

    well if your speaking of last year, The Seahawks do.
    If your talking Super Bowls the Steelers do.

    You SF fans grab on to any gimmick presented to you. Regardless if it makes any sense.

  90. isaidjoemontegna says: Jul 22, 2014 2:05 PM

    You know, I kinda like this. It’s one of the rare occasions where reasonable Seattle and SF fans can see eye to eye. Im secure enough to admit that Seattle was the better team last season. Being that it came down to a single play, the margin was narrow. We’ll see what happens this year. 44 more days!

  91. rl7911 says: Jul 22, 2014 2:20 PM

    No. 2 is a bit high for a team that will miss it’s best LBer and likely will miss it’s top pass rusher for multiple games.

    The 49ers are going to need to rely on Kapernick and I’m not sure he’s good enough to hold this team up on his own.

  92. largent80100 says: Jul 22, 2014 2:21 PM

    This is going to be a tough fight.

    I respect San Francisco as the great team they are, I hope we can beat them obviously, but they lost a conference championship by one play and managed to reach it after playing to away games against top teams.

    Let the games begin again, can’t wait for some football.

  93. mountainjunky says: Jul 22, 2014 2:35 PM

    The article should have said 3 NFC championship appearances, not 2.

    Last season – lost to Seattle
    Prior season – beat Atlanta
    Prior season – lost to NYG

  94. kamthechancellor says: Jul 22, 2014 2:37 PM

    Seattle will go undefeated this season and be regarded as the best ever. Hollywood will make movies about this season. The geriatrics from the 72 Dolphins will bow down and acknowledge the greatest team in NFL history. Russell Wilson is the greatest ever. You’re witnessing history in the making.

  95. osiris33 says: Jul 22, 2014 2:39 PM

    The 49ers will be good again, but they won’t get a sniff of the Super Bowl unless Russell Wilson gets hurt. The team with the best QB always wins, and Wilson is a lot better than Kaepernick.

  96. bengcolt says: Jul 22, 2014 2:39 PM

    I feel like the 49ers are good, but are given way too much credit. Way too much .

  97. 8to80texansblog says: Jul 22, 2014 2:58 PM

    huskywolverine says:
    Jul 22, 2014 11:13 AM

    Regarding Kaep’s struggles against the Seahawks.

    Can’t you say that about nearly ALL QBs against the Seahawks?
    _____________________________

    You know who statistically had the best game against Seattle last year…

    Matt Schaub – 31/49, 355yds, 2 TD, 2 INTs (That last INT kinda sucked though….)

  98. lamptonsbarbershop says: Jul 22, 2014 3:02 PM

    The hawks pass rush has diminished Bruce Irvin had 6 sacks in the first 6 games and none after that. No red Bryant in the middle will hurt no Clemons will hurt and the linebackers don’t make me laugh free safety leads the team in tackles means teams are getting to the second level but like the NFC championship game timely penalties helped bail them out hopefully that stops

  99. icallbs81 says: Jul 22, 2014 3:05 PM

    The comments on here make me laugh. It’s okay
    to say that you do not agree with the ranking instead of the crap I end up having to scroll through.

    I will say this, obviously the Seahawks should be #1 as they are the defending chaps. This will be Kap’s 2nd training camp going in as the starter. 2nd training camp of getting the majority of the snaps under center. Everyone makes such a big deal about how much better Wilson is, and I am not here to debate that. Fact is, Wilson had many years in college in a pro offense under center before going to the NFL.

    Everyone on here who says Kap should be better than what he is, must forget that Steve Young played in a college offense (and yes the BYU offense produced high stats but many QBs who didn’t attain much in the NFL) that didn’t translate into NFL success early on. Kap didn’t play in the BIG 10 or the ACC.

    Kap did improve his 3rd season at the man at Nevada compared to his 2nd year as the starter and I expect the same this coming season.

    Niners have slight issues as the #1 team does but Kap isn’t one of the issues and I look forward to the best 2 teams in the league meeting up in the last few months of the upcoming season.

  100. jayovalentine says: Jul 22, 2014 3:07 PM

    49ers have the better team and talent, Seahawks have better coaching. West is gonna be tough ! All 4 teams could have winning records. I’m seeing SF win the division.

  101. profootballdramapreachers says: Jul 22, 2014 3:16 PM

    49ers vs. Seahawks is not just the best rivalry in football, it is the best rivalry in all of professional sports right now.

  102. sisqsage says: Jul 22, 2014 3:49 PM

    Rogers and Brown won’t be missed.
    Jimmie Ward will be the slot corner and Culliver will be a more physical upgrade to the smallish Brown. The guy who got beat the most was Brown last year.
    The 49ers got Culli a good lawyer, so the felony will be reduced to a misdemeanor, and he will likely get a slap on the wrist from Goddell.
    Culli will play plenty of football this year, unless he screws up again while driving, which could always happen (he’s not a Mensa man, folks).

    Overall, the Niners have plenty of younger options in the secondary than last year, which will payoff years down the road. Brown, Rogers and especially Whitner got overpaid on their new deals, which is why they left. Their best football days were in SF.

  103. danflores93 says: Jul 22, 2014 4:00 PM

    At one point last year, the 49ers’ #2 WR was Kyle Williams. This year they have Boldin, Crabtree, Stevie Johnson and possibly Brandon Lloyd. All have had 1,000 yard seasons. There is no question the passing game will improve.

  104. hawkstradamus says: Jul 22, 2014 5:54 PM

    How fitting, that this turd of a franchise was ranked #2.

  105. uberniner says: Jul 22, 2014 7:11 PM

    I’m looking forward to this season more than any in recent memory. It’s a toss up, and anything can happen.

    Let’s hope the Sea Hawks show a little class to make up for throwing beer on an injured Bowman. Show some sportsmanship.

  106. uberniner says: Jul 22, 2014 7:12 PM

    I meant the Sea Hawks fans (not the players).

  107. joeymac49s says: Jul 22, 2014 7:12 PM

    As a die-hard 49er football fan but also a die-hard football fan. I’m 100% ok with 2nd. Honestly, figured we would have been 3rd since Denver got better as well. (Def. think the Niners are better but for pre-season rankings I would understand) HOWEVER, I will say this. As a Niner fan. I LOVE that everyone is down on us this year…. that’s EXACTLY what we want. You’re right, our secondary has changed, and our LB’s aren’t the same…. and on and on. The fact of the matter is THIS TEAM, THIS YEAR. Is the most DEEP team we’ve had in decades. Fantasy football lines up the starting lineups and says who’s going to win. That’s not how it works in the NFL world…. the last 2 years I’ll admit. I hated that people loved us and we were the favorite pick!! I’ll be the underdog anytime.

  108. winninaintsinnin says: Jul 22, 2014 8:01 PM

    PFT has been reading my posts.

    The problem that San Fran will have is their DBs.

    They had hurt receivers last year but so did Seattle. San Fran was able to stack the box and Seattle still did OK passing.

    This year SF has better receivers but that goes against Seattle’s strength; their DBs.

    Seattle’s receivers will also be much better but they are going against SF’s weakness. This will cause SF to play back and hurt them in the run and the pass.

  109. adderal says: Jul 22, 2014 8:27 PM

    Id agree with the number 2 ranking. This is a put up or shut up year for Kap though. More weapons then he’s had, everyone healthy to this point and year 4. He may never be a great progression passer but he’s got to improve this year. They will start loosing people next year so to me this is the year with this current roster

  110. jayfish6402 says: Jul 22, 2014 10:11 PM

    I wouldn’t rank them this high. The Niners are going to face Frank Gore breaking down this year and without Gore that offense doesn’t really click as well. But Kaeppy can obviously run himself, but running backs are much more valuable than everybody currently thinks. 2012 was the last year of first round running backs, so the Niners are going to rely on either Kendall Hunter or rookie Carlos Hyde, but i personally think that Kaepernick is not as good as the world thinks. But he is still an impact player that deserves to start.

  111. omeimontis says: Jul 23, 2014 6:01 AM

    Brock is better than either Rogers or Tarell Brown. To say that the cornerback spot is noticeably weaker is therefore not quite correct. Culliver was scheduled to replace Rogers last season, but the Niners had to keep Rogers for another season because of Culliver’s ACL tear in preseason. We don’t know if Antoine Bethea is better than Donte Whitner, but Whitner had been targeted by the league for unnecessary roughness penalties, some of them unjustified. With him gone, hopefully such penalties would be reduced. It is quite true that Kap has not performed well against Seattle, but he was 1-1 the last two times the two teams met, and he was within a half a foot of beating the Seahawks. Yes it is fair that the Super Bowl champs should be top ranked, until proven otherwise. But the number of free agents the Seahawks lost cannot be overlooked. Seattle is noticeably weaker on both offense and defense, so it may not be that hard to prove that they have leached too much talent to stay on top. Go Niners, winners of Super Bowl 49.

  112. omeimontis says: Jul 23, 2014 6:14 AM

    If the Niners win a SB in 2014, it has wonderful news, because the only free agents it will have are Kendall Hunter, Frank Gore, Crab and Mike Iupati, because they signed Kap and picked up Aldon Smith’s 5th year option for 2015. With much of the team returning, they would be in great position to repeat as champs in their home stadium, site of Super Bowl 50.

    Depending on how Carlos Hyde and Lattimore perform this year, Kendall Hunter and Frank Gore may both be expendable. Crabtree will be tough to re-sgin, and so is Iupati, but the Niners have loaded themselves up on both positions with draft picks and trades, so any potential dropoff in talent should be slight. In contrast, Seattle has K.J. Wright, Malcolm Smith, Cliff Avril, James Carpenter, Jermaine Kearse and Byron Maxwell scheduled to be free agents. they will likely lose at least a couple of these players, and possibly more. So, in 2015, the talent gap can widen even more between SF and Seattle, in SF’s favor. Go Niners.

  113. ronfai says: Jul 23, 2014 6:40 AM

    Kaep has 1 full season as a starter and is 1-2 in nfccg/sb. The way you guys talk about him like he’s Matt Ryan or another multi yeared vet thats never won a big game.

  114. jonnguy2014 says: Jul 23, 2014 9:56 AM

    The NFC West is now the equivalent of the NCAA’s SEC.

  115. coachglove says: Jul 25, 2014 11:48 PM

    You (PFT) need better sources. No way the niners are #2 and the seahawks #1 given Bowman’s injury (he is going to be out until at least week 8) and Lynch’s holdout (their offense goes thru him and they don’t have anyone that can even remotely replace him…if that holdout lasts til camp he will doom the 1st part of their season)

  116. coachglove says: Jul 25, 2014 11:51 PM

    How do you even call yourself a niner fan if you were spouting off on here without mentioning the DPOY (should’ve been) being hurt for the 1st part of the season? Kap is a mid-tier QB (especially in the crunch)…and you yap and yap and yap about him. Yet the biggest problems you have are on defense. A couple people mentioned the DBs (kudos to those that did)…but NO ONE mentioned Bowman.

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