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Monday, October 10, 2011
Where 49ers, Seahawks should rank

By Mike Sando

The San Francisco 49ers are one of seven NFL teams with at least four victories through Week 5.

They ranked only 16th in ESPN's NFL Power Ranking last week.

The new rankings come out Tuesday.

How high should the 49ers rank following their 48-3 victory over previously 3-1 Tampa Bay on Sunday? These are the tough questions leading power rankings scholars have been wrestling long before I posed the question.

"Keep them as low as possible," manga1925 wrote in the comments section of the above-linked item. "It's better to be underrated."

Green Bay, New Orleans, New England, Detroit, Houston, Baltimore, San Diego, the New York Giants, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Oakland, Washington, Tampa Bay, Chicago and Atlanta ranked ahead of the 49ers on my ballot last time.

Given the nature of the 49ers' victory relative to how other teams performed or were idle, I've got no problem moving San Francisco past the Texans, Giants, Titans, Raiders, Redskins, Bucs, Falcons and possibly the Bears this week. That would leave them No. 10 behind only the Packers, Saints, Patriots, Lions, Ravens, Chargers, Steelers, Bills and possibly the Bears, at worst. Chicago faces Detroit in the remaining game this week.

"I'd argue that it should be a three-way tie with San Diego and Buffalo for sixth behind Green Bay, Detroit, Baltimore, New England and New Orleans," mrwestbrook wrote. "This team is better than they get credit for, improving every week and a couple of mistakes from 5-0. The offense continues to improve and the defense is arguably becoming, if not already, the best in the league."

There is no counterpoint to 48-3. I'll be surprised if the 49ers fail to crack the top 10 once votes come in following the Monday night game.

"If you look at the record and nothing else, it's top 10, easy," linemanmax64 wrote. "But when you break it down, they haven't beaten a marquee team yet. I think their game next week (at Detroit) will provide a better gauge of where they're really at. No doubt they're the team to beat in the NFC West, but are they really on the same level as Green Bay, New England and Detroit? I think that's yet to be seen, so they'll probably stay on the outside of that group."

Especially with so many doubters out there -- and right here, according to rodneyd49erfan, who sent a stern message my way when asked how high the 49ers should rank.

"Much higher than you will put them, as you have a bug about the 49ers' success and don't quite seem to understand that these aren't the 49ers you are used to seeing these past seven years," rodneyd49erfan wrote. "This is a new team and look out, Sando, because wherever you put them in the power rankings will change next week."

Carlos Rogers, starting cornerback for the 49ers, also must have a bug about the 49ers' success. He reminded reporters in the locker room Monday that his former team, the Washington Redskins, opened the 2008 season with a 6-2 record, only to finish 8-8. He said the 49ers are pointed in the right direction, but assured of nothing at this point. They have outscored their opponents 69-6 over the last six quarters, however.

"I'm really surprised," dart1285 wrote. "Alex Smith has looked much better this year than he has in the past, and with the way San Francisco's defense is playing, I think they're legit."

The Seahawks also appear in line for an upward move in the rankings. They were 25th last week, but a 36-25 road victory over the New York Giants, who had been 3-1 and ranked 10th, should move them past several teams coming off unimpressive performances.

"Good to see the NFC West becoming competitive -- well, at least San Fran and my Hawks," dart1285 continued, "though at this point, I think the 49ers are the better team. I'm still not completely sold, but I'd put them around No. 9 or 10."

Sounds like a deal.