Are the 49ers overrated? ESPN’s FPI ranks the Niners at 24 and gives the Niners a 39% chance of making the playoffs

ESPN released its pre-season Football Strength Index ratings Tuesday, a predictive model that includes ratings and predictions for every NFL team to determine everything from how good they are at defending to each team’s chances of making the playoffs.

With the approaching last season, the 49ers ranked ninth. Many expected the 49ers to be in a playoff, but they weren’t sure how deep the race they would go. This time around? FPI has the 49ers ranked 24Under the giants and lions:

There is a section in the article titled, “Have the 49ers Been Overrated?” Dropping in with templates, and no sample size large enough to highlight how the most important site in the field would be, that’s how you get a low ranking. Here’s ESPN’s explanation:

And if that’s Lance, the model doesn’t see how the 49ers can justify winning a total of 10 and being considered one of the best teams in the NFC.

Our quarterback rating limits QBs who don’t play, under the reasonable assumption that not playing somehow is a bad sign (injury or not being good enough). Our model acknowledges that Lance came in as a solid prospect, but after only 71 pass attempts during a rookie year, it looks at Lance in the same range as players like Matt CoralAnd Joe FlaccoJustin Fields Zach WilsonAnd Andy Dalton And Nick Foles. There’s a plus side there, of course, and he’s probably starring in his first season as a rookie. But average expectations for Lance can’t be high yet.

The last sentence is fair. You can’t expect Lance to walk and throw four touchdowns in Week 1. On the other hand, you can also justify his arrangement with the rookie quarterback, given Lance’s lack of actors.

ESPN said the Niners would rank 13th if it featured Jimmy Garoppolo as a rookie. Is the gap between both midfielders big? They said it’s driven by Garoppolo posting “decent QBRs throughout his career – much better than what the model assumes the 49ers will receive from the Lance in 2022 on average.”

Anything indicating QBR should be taken with a grain of salt. First, it uses EPA (Expected Points Added) on an individual scale. The disadvantages of QBR are opaque. You might understand why QB gets a certain rating if you watch the game, but if not, good luck with knowing where it went wrong. Third, it doesn’t properly assess what’s going on.

All bags are not offensive line fault. If you make a good throw and fall, or make a bad decision to drop a defense, etc., all of those things won’t count in your QBR. There are many issues with quoting from QBR.

I can go on and on about the flaws in nearly every QB stat. Also, more contrast with a Lance down the center shouldn’t be considered a bad thing. Of course, crime under Shanahan is way ahead of the chains. Therefore, in theory, the Lance movement and the threat of the big play should be viewed as positive.

The number that I think is more accurate than most people want to realize is the prediction for the final. The article talks about a 49er player’s 49% chance of making the playoffs in the same Niners division.

Last year, the Saints were aged 9-3 when neither Trevor Simian nor Ian Bock were under center. I don’t buy Cardinals, but Vikings can’t be counted in a weaker division. And that’s before we consider any other potential sleep difference.

San Francisco doesn’t have to be perfect for the playoffs, but there is a plausible scenario where the team is out and about looking next January.

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