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NFL Power Rankings: 49ers Land in the Top Five Heading into Week 1 

The San Francisco 49ers have been positioned as a top five team throughout the entirety of the offseason, and the team remains in that elite group headed into Week 1 of the 2023 regular season. The last set of NFL power rankings was released prior to the start of most clubs' preseason slate, and a lot has happened since the start of August.

For starters, second-year quarterback Brock Purdy and the projected starting offense saw action in two preseason contests, albeit in a limited capacity, but the big takeaway here is that the unit had no issues moving efficiently down the field and putting points on the board. Subsequently, the team also enjoyed the rise of rookie wideout Ronnie Bell who closed out the exhibition slate as San Francisco's reception yards leader and their top option at return specialist given a wrist injury to Ray-Ray McCloud III.

On special teams, rookie kicker Jake Moody is likely out for Week 1 due to right quad strain, however, his progress as of late last week was encouraging for the team's decision-makers. Defensively, San Francisco is seeing early returns from their highest draft pick, safety Ji'Ayir Brown, who situationally was running with the first-team unit by the end of training camp. Defensive lineman Drake Jackson, who spent his offseason in Santa Clara training, is also shaping up to be a big contributor on the 49ers D-line.

Let's take a look at where national outlets ranked the 49ers to start the 2023 regular season.

Lead Draft Writer Eric Edholm

"In the preseason power rankings, I had the 49ers third -- way higher than the social-media cognoscenti felt was warranted. They have no quarterback, some said, which was incorrect ... but it brings up an interesting debate: Is Brock Purdy guaranteed to be the answer? His rookie effort was eye-openingly good, but that's an awfully small sample size of eight starts -- and Purdy is coming off a serious elbow injury. Thankfully, the Niners are pretty stacked at most positions, and as last season proved, they can win big with multiple quarterbacks starting. Purdy's surpassed all expectations and has returned from injury, which likely made it easier for the team to trade Trey Lance. But there's no doubt that questions remain about whether the former Mr. Irrelevant is the team's QB of the future heading into the 2023 season."

NFL Writer Nick Wagoner

"No disrespect to the Niners' deep supply of offensive talent, but this is a defensive unit that returns eight starters and added elite defensive tackle Javon Hargrave in the offseason. New coordinator Steve Wilks won't change much schematically, but his background working with defensive backs should help improve that group, which some observers consider the potential weakness of this defense. The Niners had a top defense last season, and they'll view anything less than that as a letdown in 2023."

NFL Writer Mike Florio

"If they can keep Brock Purdy healthy all year, they have enough around him to win it all."

NFL Writer Pete Prisco

"If Brock Purdy plays like he did last year, they can win it all. He has so many playmakers, led by Christian McCaffrey, to make it work."

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