Where Do the 49ers Sit in First Power Rankings of the 2020 Season?

Football is (finally) back. Following an unusual offseason for all parties involved, the anticipated 2020 NFL season is set to kick off this Thursday night, as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans on "Thursday Night Football."

It wouldn't be the start of the regular season without the pecking order analysis from national pundits on the teams best equipped in the chase to the Lombardi. Several outlets have already begun assembling the strength of all 32 clubs ahead of Week 1, considering offseason additions and departures, the season's schedule, coaching staff, talent and a number of other attributes that can play to a team's favor.

Here is where the reigning NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers stand heading into Sunday's season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.

NFL.com – No. 2

We're all about giving Kyle Shanahan the benefit of the doubt, but the defending NFC champs will begin the season with serious issues at wide receiver. Let's recap where they're at: Deebo Samuel is working his way back from a broken foot. Richie James missed camp with a broken wrist. First-round pick Brandon Aiyuk is week-to-week with a hamstring injury. Jalen Hurd tore his ACL. Tavon Austin hit IR with his own knee issue. Emmanuel Sanders exited via free agency, and Travis Benjamin was a COVID-19 opt-out. Right about now, George Kittle is probably wondering what kind of damage he can do on Sundays while being quintuple-teamed.

(No. 1 – Kansas City Chiefs)

NBC Sports – No. 2

There are plenty of reasons why most teams who lose the Super Bowl one year have a very hard time winning it the next year. The 49ers have the players and the coaching to become the fourth team to ever pull it off.

(No. 1 – Kansas City Chiefs)

ESPN – No. 3

Rare is the team that can lose a Super Bowl, return the next year and win the Lombardi trophy. In fact, it has happened only three times. But the Niners believe they can do it in large part because they return almost all of their starters and coaching staff in a season when continuity might be more valuable than ever.

(No. 2 – Baltimore Ravens; No. 1 – Kansas City Chiefs)

The Athletic – No. 3

Like the Chiefs, the 49ers weren't a particularly lucky team en route to the Super Bowl last season. They were hit hard by injuries but overcame them to come out of the NFC. San Francisco's season could swing depending on what it gets from two first-round picks. Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw will be tasked with replacing a chunk of DeForest Buckner's production. And wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is positioned to step in for Emmanuel Sanders. If the rookies are up to the task, the 49ers are set up to make another Super Bowl run.

Season prediction: 10-6, divisional round

(No. 2 – Baltimore Ravens; No. 1 – Kansas City Chiefs)

CBS Sports – No. 4

Getting back to the Super Bowl after losing it is a big challenge. Kyle Shanahan has the makeup to get it done, but it won't be easy. Their season will be all about the growth of Jimmy Garoppolo.

(No. 3 – New Orleans Saints; No. 2 – Green Bay Packers; No. 1 – Kansas City Chiefs)

Sports Illustrated – No. 4

Will there be a Super Bowl hangover in the Bay Area? Whether our voters see one coming or not, they mostly gave the defending NFC champions the respect they earned last year.

(No. 3 – New Orleans Saints; No. 2 – Baltimore Ravens; No. 1 – Kansas City Chiefs)

USA Today – No. 4

Really would have been fun to watch these (already legendary) Trent Williams - Nick Bosa training camp battles. The Niners should be better because of them.

(No. 3 – New Orleans Saints; No. 2 – Baltimore Ravens; No. 1 – Kansas City Chiefs)

Bleacher Report – No. 4

Getting to the Super Bowl is hard. Getting back to the Super Bowl after losing it has been next to impossible in recent years.

That's the task facing the San Francisco 49ers this year after they blew a late lead in Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs. It's a tall order, in large part because of the roster attrition that can often leave a sizable hole in a contender's roster.

The Niners' biggest hole is on the inside of the defensive line after they traded DeForest Buckner to the Colts. Per ESPN's Nick Wagoner, head coach Kyle Shanahan admitted replacing the Pro Bowler won't be easy.

"You can't underestimate losing a player like DeForest," Shanahan said. "He's as good of a teammate and one of the best players in the league at his position. We feel we have got some guys there and stuff, but that's not easy to just come in and replace someone like that."

The Niners appear to have a ready-made replacement in first-round rookie Javon Kinlaw. But as talented as he may be, he's never played in an NFL game.

In a loaded NFC West, the 49ers can't afford for Kinlaw to be anything other than a quick study.

(No. 3 – New Orleans Saints; No. 2 – Baltimore Ravens; No. 1 – Kansas City Chiefs)

Yahoo Sports – No. 4

If I could buy stock in an NFL player for this season, it might be George Kittle. The 49ers don't have a lot of healthy receiving options, they're likely to be in more negative game scripts and passing more, and it seems Kittle still hasn't reached his peak. He's going to be huge.

(No. 3 – New Orleans Saints; No. 2 – Kansas City Chiefs; No. 1 – Baltimore Ravens)

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