The San Francisco 49ers clinched the No. 2 seed in the NFC with their 38-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 18, and in just four days time, they'll host the seventh seeded Seattle Seahawks for a Super Wild Card Weekend matchup. Despite finishing second in the conference seeding race, San Francisco enters the postseason as the team to beat according to the latest NFL power rankings.
The 49ers finish to the 2022 season wasn't just impressive, it was down right historic. Over the course of the last five months, San Francisco battled through the loss of two starting quarterbacks, two season-ending injuries to veteran cornerbacks and a bumpy 3-4 start to the year to get to its current position. After it was all said it done, the 49ers were able to stack a franchise-best ten wins to end the season, and they'll ride the league's active win streak into the playoffs.
Offensively, the 49ers have hit their stride with first-year quarterback Brock Purdy under center, who has officially hit historic levels of production. He's the first rookie quarterback since 1950 to win his first five starts and throw two-or-more touchdowns in each of those starts. Purdy remains undefeated in his six total appearances and has led the offense to score 30-or-more points in five of their last six games. Defensively, San Francisco walks away from the regular season slate as the No. 1 overall defense, the top-ranked scoring defense and the league's interceptions leader of 2022. The unit also happens to be anchored by one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the NFL, Nick Bosa. He closed out the regular season with a league-leading 18.5 sacks on the year, just one sack shy of the franchise singe season record (19 sacks) held by Aldon Smith.
Here's a look at the latest NFL power rankings from several national outlets:
Around the NFL Writer Dan Hanzus
"The Niners fell short in their goal of snagging the No. 1 seed in the NFC, but everything else has lined up beautifully for Kyle Shanahan's team, which will take a 10-game winning streak into its Super Wild Card Weekend matchup with the Seahawks. Brock Purdy has elevated the quarterback game since replacing Jimmy Garoppolo (one of the wildest developments of the 2022 season), while Sunday's win over the Cardinals saw the return of two more electric playmakers: wide receiver Deebo Samuel and running back Elijah Mitchell. The Eagles have the bye and home-field advantage, but it's the Niners who profile as the team most likely to come out of the NFC."
NFL Writer Dalton Miller
"It's hard to put into words how impressive the San Francisco 49ers have been during their 10-game winning streak. They have completely dominated opponents in most games, and somehow got even better offensively when they were forced onto QB3. Mr. Irrelevant has proven to be the exact opposite. He's taken the 49ers passing attack to new heights. Meanwhile, their defense has been the league standard as well. The 49ers 49.9% DVOA since Week 10 is 20% higher than the Chiefs, who are second. It's natural to keep waiting for the Purdy ball to drop, and to see the last pick in the draft come crashing down to earth. But it doesn't seem like that's even in the realm of possibility, given the way he's played."