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Monday, October 31, 2011
NFL Power Rankings: 49ers worthy No. 2?

By Mike Sando

The San Francisco 49ers went into Week 8 ranked fourth in ESPN's NFL Power Rankings.

Merril Hoge and Antonio Pierce
This is how Merril Hoge reacted to Antonio Pierce suggesting the 49ers would get to 12-4 and be the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
They defeated the 24th-ranked Cleveland Browns. Top-ranked Green Bay did not play. Second-ranked New England lost at fifth-ranked Pittsburgh. Third-ranked New Orleans lost at 30th-ranked St. Louis.

The question: Should the 49ers move up to second? What about the Steelers?

ESPN's Merril Hoge rolled his eyes when Antonio Pierce suggested the 49ers would finish 12-4 and earn the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. Hoge said he thought the 49ers would come up short against elite teams, including the Saints. He pointed to the weak NFC West.

"I'm sorry, Merril," Pierce said. "I'm going to have to cut you off. They have only beaten one team in their division. The other five wins, outside their division. Tampa Bay, Detroit. They've played some good teams and put a smacking on them."

I'm inclined to rank the 49ers second behind Green Bay this week. Would they beat the Steelers the way Ben Roethlisberger is playing right now? Would they have beaten New England, as the Steelers did Sunday? I'm not sure, but they're 6-1 overall, 3-0 on the road and own multiple victories over winning teams, including Detroit, Tampa Bay and Cincinnati.