The NFL’s annual offseason reorganization passed a major landmark with last week’s draft, which resulted in the 49ers selecting Trey Lance at No. 3 overall following weeks of rampant speculation.
Until the players start competing this fall, we’ll have to be content with power rankings and guessing how teams will look based on their rosters. On paper, the 49ers look like they addressed some immediate needs while obviously setting themselves up for the future with Lance, who is expected to be the franchise quarterback for years to come.
Whether Lance starts in Week 1 or is holding a clipboard for Jimmy Garoppolo remains to be seen, but NFL experts have largely applauded general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan for the job they’ve done this offseason.
Check out where the 49ers stand in the latest power rankings following the 2021 NFL Draft:
Why: "A fully healthy 49ers team should be right back in the thick of the Super Bowl race in 2021. The 49ers finally found their QB of the future in Trey Lance, but don’t expect him to factor into the real Revenge Tour. It’s still the Jimmy G Show, for now."
Colin Cowherd, FOX Sports: No. 6
Why: "[The San Francisco 49ers] fortified what they're already really good at. O-line, run the football. To me, that's about empowering Trey Lance. If he eventually plays this year, they went and doubled down on their O-line, which was already good. They doubled down on their running backs, which were already strong."
Why: "No team improved its stock in our rankings more than the 49ers. Whether that’s due to an expected bounce back with better injury luck, or a raised ceiling if Trey Lance takes over for Jimmy Garoppolo in the second half of the season, there are reasons to be confident."
Dan Hanzus, NFL.com: No. 9
Why: "We’re still not entirely sure who was the target of the smokescreen, but the Niners were ultimately successful in masking their intentions before selecting Trey Lance with the third overall pick. Lance is a bit of a mystery prospect due to his sparsity of college reps, but the upside -- which factors in his physical and mental tools and the QB-friendly system he enters into -- is enormous. What this means for Jimmy Garoppolo is unknown: He still makes sense as a trade candidate, but he also cuts the profile of a fine insurance policy for a Niners team that can rightfully say it has Super Bowl aspirations despite last season’s 6-10 clunker."
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: No. 9
Why: "Even if it's Jimmy Garoppolo playing quarterback, the return of healthy players makes this a much better team than a year ago. Trey Lance might wait to play."
Brad Gagnon, Bleacher Report: No. 11
Why: "Please don't forget that the 49ers were a Super Bowl team before losing Garoppolo, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Dee Ford, Richard Sherman, K'Waun Williams and Jaquiski Tartt to injuries of varying severity for long stretches in 2020," he wrote. "It was one of the worst injury situations I've seen in my 14 years covering the NFL. Add most of those guys back, factor in the possibility that Lance catches fire in a great system as a rookie, and the 49ers are a Super Bowl contender again."