NFL power rankings: 49ers defense helps climb back toward top 10

The 49ers’ identity under head coach Kyle Shanahan has been unmistakable. They’re a defense-first team that is very hard to beat when the offense is even just average. That was the case Monday night in San Francisco’s 24-9 win over the Rams, and a stellar defensive effort helped them climb back to No. 11 in the USA TODAY power rankings.

It’s clear after Week 4 that the 49ers’ formula for winning hasn’t changed over the last year. They rode a strong defensive effort through the playoffs to the NFC championship game. This year they’ve ridden strong defensive efforts to a 2-2 start and the lead via tiebreaker in the NFC West.

The question is not whether this team can contend for a playoff spot and a Super Bowl. They can. We’ve seen this formula work with this core of players as recently as *checks watch* January. The question is whether they can find a good enough version of their offense to compete with the rest of the NFL’s best in the later rounds of the playoffs.

For now their defense carried them back up to the outskirts of the top 10, and they may be good enough to keep them in that range throughout the season. Getting higher than that is going to require some offense though, and if this team starts scoring points at the rate they did in 2019 when they were second in the NFL in scoring, there may not be a better team in the league.

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Thoughts and observations from 49ers blowout win over Rams

Story originally appeared on Niners Wire