2014 NFL Power Rankings Countdown
3. San Franciso 49ers (NFC West)
2013 Record: 12-4
Head coach: Jim Harbaugh – Harbaugh has taken the 49ers to three straight NFC Championship games, and also one Super Bowl, but he has yet to win one. The 49ers have been one of the top teams in the NFL since Harbaugh came from the college ranks at Stanford and he has created a winning identity of tough defense and a smash mouth offense. And the 49ers look poised to make another run at the Super Bowl in 2014.
Best offensive player: Colin Kaepernick, quarterback – Kaepernick has developed into one of the most versatile quarterbacks in the NFL. He has a strong arm and can make all the throws and he is also a great runner from the quarterback position. However, Kaepernick is capable of beating you with his arm as well as his legs. NFL Power Rankings
Best defensive player: Aldon Smith, outside linebacker – Aldon Smith is one of the best pass rushers in football. He can put tremendous pressure on the quarterback with a variety of different pass rushing moves. When Smith is in the lineup the 49ers defense becomes even better. But as good as Smith is on the field, he just that bad off it. As his many off the field issues have threatened to tarnish a potentially outstanding career. Smith missed five games last season while in treatment for substance abuse and he’s expected to be suspended from some games this season by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Rising Star: Eric Reid, free safety – Reid had an outstanding rookie season last year for the 49ers. He finished third on the team in tackles with 77 and was second on the team in interceptions with 4. Reid’s performance earned him a selection to the pro bowl. And with more experience Eric Reid will only get even better for the 49ers.
Best new addition: Jimmie Ward, cornerback – The 49ers lost some depth at cornerback in the offseason, including last years starter Carlos Rogers. So they drafted Jimmie Ward in the first round, and he will transition from playing safety in college to cornerback in the NFL. At some point Ward may end up starting for the 49ers early in the season. NFL Power Rankings
Biggest offseason loss: Donte Whitner, strong safety – Whitner provided the 49ers with a strong presence at safety for three seasons, and he made a nice tandem last season back there with Eric Reid. However, Whitner left the 49ers in free agency, and now they must find another safety to team up with Reid.
Biggest strength: The 49ers biggest strength is their linebackers. With Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks the 49ers have one of the top pass rushing tandems at outside linebacker in the league. On the inside the Niners have the tandem of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Bowen is recovering from a serious knee injury, however the linebacking unit is still very strong.. NFL Power Rankings
Biggest weakness: The 49ers biggest weakness is their passing offense. The 49ers play a smash mouth style on offense. They like to run the football, and use it to set up the pass. But as a result their running game is among the best in the league led by running back Frank Gore, but their passing game is ranked near the bottom of the NFL. However, a healthy Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis should help that.