The San Francisco 49ers made a strong statement in Week 14 with a 48-46 victory over the NFC South champion, New Orleans Saints.
As the team returns home to take on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15, here's where members of the media have placed the 49ers in this week's power rankings:
Dan Hanzus, NFL.com: 2 (Last Week 3)
"If the 49ers end up hoisting the Lombardi in February, Sunday will be remembered as the day they proved their championship mettle. The Niners outlasted the Saints in an epic 48-46 shootout at the Superdome. It was -- yeah, I'll say it -- The Game Of The Year. Heroes were plentiful, but let's start with Jimmy Garoppolo, who never blinked in a treacherous road setting. He finished with four touchdown passes and coolly marched his team down the field in the final minute to set up Robbie Gould's 30-yard game-winner. The big play of that final drive was the 39-yard reception by George Kittle, who ransacked his way down the sideline as helpless New Orleans defenders attempted to drag him to the turf. Kittle is a star, and he's been ideally complemented by Emmanuel Sanders, who went off for seven catches for 157 yards and one touchdown plus a perfect 35-yard touchdown pass. John Lynch made the NFC's Trade Of The Year when he acquired Sanders in October."
NFL Staff, Bleacher Report: 2 (Last Week: 2)
"In winning on the road against the Saints, the San Francisco 49ers reclaimed the 'best in the NFC' title.
For most of this season, the San Francisco 49ers have been keyed by a stout defense—entering Sunday's huge matchup in New Orleans, no team in the NFC allowed fewer points or yards per game than San Francisco.
Against the Saints, that defense was torched for 465 yards and 46 points—and the Niners still won.
It was the offense that carried the day Sunday. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 349 yards and four scores. Wideout Emmanuel Sanders hauled in seven passes for 157 yards and a touchdown and threw a scoring pass to tailback Raheem Mostert.
It was an explosion that should scare the bejesus out of the rest of the NFC. We already knew that the Niners could pound away on the ground and play the kind of stout defense that helps win nail-biters. Now the 49ers showed that they can go into the Superdome and win a shootout.
The 49ers aren't just about the defense or the running game. In their last seven games, Jimmy Garoppolo has a 113.6 passer rating and the 49ers are averaging 34.4 points per game. I think they have the highest ceiling in the league, simply because they can beat you in such a wide variety of ways."
MMQB Staff, SI.com: 2 (Last Week: 2)
"Another strong showing from the Niners and another game-winning drive for Jimmy Garoppolo, this time covering 49 yards in seven plays with under a minute to go. Robbie Gould, a perfect 6/6 on XPs and 2/2 on FGs, had the pleasure of icing it and Emmanuel Sanders had a huge game (seven catches, 157 yards, TD) punctuated by this 35-yard gem of a touchdown pass thrown on the run."
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: 2 (Last Week 2)
"The 49ers decision to practice in Florida before going to New Orleans paid off, as they outlasted the Saints on a tough road trip. They proved again they have the explosive offense to compensate when their defense runs into a polished, balanced scoring machine. They reestablished themselves as NFC favorites."
Frank Schwab, Yahoo Sports: 2 (Last Week: 3)
"We all know what that win means for the 49ers, but for a moment, let's just marvel at the game itself. That was one of the five best regular-season games this decade right? Amazing action between two really good teams. And do yourself a favor and read Terez Paylor’s recap of George Kittle’s phenomenal play that was the biggest in an epic contest. "
NFL Nation Staff, ESPN: 2 (Last Week: 2)
"With Kyle Shanahan in charge, a strong offense was always expected, but the Niners' defense might be the biggest surprise of any unit in the league -- the rough outing against the Saints notwithstanding. Many expected the 49ers defense to take a step forward in 2019 after adding the likes of Kwon Alexander, Dee Ford and Nick Bosa but there were still questions about the secondary. The Niners have answered those questions, and this group has been the backbone of the team, winning games even when the offense has sputtered."
Lindsay Jones, The Athletic: 2 (Last Week: 3)
"It's amazing what one week can do, as the 49ers climbed from the No. 5 seed in the NFC to No. 1. After watching the 49ers lose two heartbreakers on walk-off field goals, we were sort of bracing ourselves for more devastation in New Orleans. Instead, Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle delivered what could be the defining moment for the 49ers season if San Francisco can now hold on to the No. 1 seed. (We're also going to make sure you all know we were excited about Kittle becoming the NFL’s breakout tight end / New Gronk back in August.)"
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: 2 (Last Week: 4)
"Winning that shootout against the Saints is a good thing. They needed to see that from Jimmy Garoppolo."
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: 2 (Last Week 4)
"Giving up 46 points is cause for concern, but when able to score 48 it doesn't ultimately matter."
Nate Davis, USA Today Sports: 2 (Last Week 4)
"Emmanuel Sanders, first Niner to throw a TD pass and catch one in the same NFL game, has been a big factor in this offense finding new level."