2021 Power Rankings: Where Do the 49ers Stand Heading into Week 15?

The San Francisco 49ers bounced back following a Week 13 heartbreaker in Seattle to garner a tough win on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. While improving their season record to 7-6 and moving to the sixth seed in the current postseason standings, how have national media outlets viewed the 49ers 14 weeks into the season? Here's a look at where pundits have ranked San Francisco entering into Week 15:

Ranking: 8

Previous Rank: n/a

Volunteer to play this team down the stretch at your own peril. While the boneheaded loss to the Seahawks will stick in their paw, this 49ers team is hopping from town to town and running the ball down peoples' throats. The return of George Kittle means one of the league's hardest-to-defend offenses has a tailwind coming down the final stretch.

Ranking: 11

Previous Rank: 14

The numbers bear out pretty much exactly what the 49ers have been this season: a middling team capable of beating or losing to, well, anybody. The Niners have been at their best when the offense is able to control the ball, and the clock, and the defense comes up with timely takeaways or red zone stops. But special teams also have played a significant role in at least two losses, and though that unit was much improved against the Bengals in Week 14, continued improvement will be needed to elevate the Niners beyond what looks like a limited ceiling at the moment.

Ranking: 11

Previous Rank: 14

George Kittle is a historically great tight end. To wit: Kittle piled up 13 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's wild overtime win over the Bengals, becoming the first tight end in NFL history to post 150-plus receiving yards and a touchdown in back-to-back games. Jimmy Garoppolo and Brandon Aiyuk connected on the dramatic touchdown pass that clinched the win and put San Francisco in playoff position with four games to play, but Kittle remains Kyle Shanahan's most vital asset. When Kittle's in the lineup, the Niners can beat anyone. Remove him from the mix, and they are ordinary.

Ranking: 13

Previous Rank: 14

George Kittle became the first tight end ever with 150 yards and a touchdown in back-to-back games. He's a special player.

Ranking: 13

Previous Rank: 16

The 49ers proved the loss to the Seahawks in Week 13 was more of a division rivalry-related speed bump than trend away from their second-half turnaround toward the playoffs. Their offense is rolling with George Kittle and Deebo Samuel setting up all the fun and the defense is overachieving to make plays at opportune times.

Ranking: 14

Previous Rank: 16

Pulling out a big overtime victory at Cincinnati has them in the playoffs right now. Jimmy Garoppolo has played well this season.

Ranking: 16

Previous Rank: 17

After losing to the Indianapolis Colts on October 24, the San Francisco 49ers were an injury-besieged 2-4 team that looked to be headed nowhere fast.

Fast-forward seven weeks, and it's a much different story.

After roaring back to knock off the Cincinnati Bengals in overtime, the 49ers are 5-2 over their last seven games and have moved into postseason position in the NFC.

Sunday's hero was tight end George Kittle, who hauled in 13 of a jaw-dropping 15 targets for 151 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk also shined, scoring the game-winner in overtime.

The Niners' remaining slate is a tale of opposites. They have relatively easy home dates against the Falcons and Texans and challenging road trips to face the Rams and Titans.

But as head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters after Sunday's game, the 49ers are now the captains of their own destiny.

"If we just keep winning," he said, "we don't have to look at anybody else."