Future bright for 49ers heading into 2021 season

A little short-term uncertainty under center doesn’t dim what looks to be a bright future for the 49ers. An ESPN power ranking of teams based on their projected trajectory over the next three years placed San Francisco at No. 6 – which isn’t a bad spot to be for a club with no first-round picks in any of the next two drafts.

The 49ers’ ranking makes a ton of sense given where general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have gotten their roster after absorbing a disaster in 2017.

Their two franchise cornerstones on defense are Fred Warner, 24, and Nick Bosa, 23. On offense it’s George Kittle, 27 and Trey Lance, 21. Not to mention they have an elite left tackle in Trent Williams who’s signed to a six-year contract.

While they appear set up to win now with Jimmy Garoppolo presumably slated to start in 2021, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote that an offensive evolution could be coming that sets the 49ers apart with Lance at the helm. From Fowler:

San Francisco has flexibility to evolve on offense. Shanahan’s scheme will remain the same, but draft moves suggest new wrinkles are on the way. They targeted more size and power with second-round guard Aaron Banks, and more dual-threat ability with Lance. And new running back Trey Sermon is more of an all-around playmaker than usual 49ers speedsters. It’s all about matchups, and Shanahan has more options at his disposal.

What’ll be fascinating to watch is how Lance’s development buoys the 49ers’ future ranking. The ESPN power rankings factored in overall roster, quarterback, coaching, draft and front office. San Francisco ranked 14th in quarterback score. The Browns at No. 5 overall were 12th in quarterback score. The top four teams – the Chiefs, Buccaneers, Ravens and Bills – all ranked in the top 7 in quarterback score. Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Buffalo’s QB scores made up the top three.

If Lance gets into action and plays at a high level, he could quickly boost the 49ers’ quarterback score and elevate them into the top three in the NFL. For now though that uncertainty is going to bog down any expectations of a meteoric rise for San Francisco both this season and over the next three years.

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