San Francisco 49ers start the season in the top 10
The 49ers will enter the 2021 regular season in the top 10 of the USA TODAY Sports rankings. San Francisco reached 7th in the offseason, but they will enter Week 1 in Detroit as the No.9 team in the league. There is a good chance of getting up early, however.
A pair of East Coast games to start the year seems daunting, but there’s a chance the Lions and Eagles feature two of the “easiest” games on the 49ers’ 17-game roster. Via Nate Davis from USA TODAY:
If you’re a West Coast team that starts off with a pair of 1pm kickoffs in the Eastern time zone, you want them – this year, anyway – in Detroit and Philadelphia.
There is a precedent for the 49ers who jump into a few games on the East Coast to start their year and play well. In 2019, when they went to the Super Bowl, the 49ers opened in Tampa Bay before heading to Cincinnati in Week 2. They won both of those games en route to an 8-0 start and a possible Super Bowl appearance.
A pair of wins to start the year won’t be their real opportunity to move up the power rankings. After all, Detroit and Philadelphia rank 31st and 30th, respectively, in the USA TODAY power rankings. A loss in either game could drop the 49ers out of the top 10.
Assuming they take care of business in those two games, the real test will be in Week 3 when the 49ers face the No.4 Packers at Levi’s Stadium. If San Francisco emerges victorious from this one, they should be well in the top five where they could stay for a long time.