Power Rankings: No. 4 San Francisco 49ers

A weekly examination of the 49ers’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Rank: 4

Comment: You could make the argument that the 49ers deserved to be ranked as high as second for our preseason power rankings, voted on by “a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities.” After all, they are a sexy pick to claim the Lombardi Trophy this season and, based on last season’s Final Four of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks (No. 1), AFC champion Denver Broncos (No. 2) and the New England Patriots (No. 3) comprising the rest of our top 4, you could say the Niners were better than all but the champs last year. Alas, it’s a new year and, if you take much stock in the preseason, the 49ers have some work to do. Their first-string offense managed just two field goals in seven exhibition possessions and the starting defense was shredded by the San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers in the third exhibition game. Now, the defense, already weakened by the absence of inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman and nose tackle Glenn Dorsey -- both of whom are expected to miss at least half of the season -- has lost the services of outside linebacker Aldon Smith, slapped with a nine-game suspension for numerous transgressions. And defensive lineman Ray McDonald's status is in the air after his weekend arrest for domestic violence. Come to think about it, No. 4 might be a tad high for the Niners going forward.