Could the Niners beat the Packers or the Patriots?

Last week I ranked all 32 teams from best to worst. I ranked the 49ers fifth overall, but even that was too low.

This week, I’m ranking only the top three teams because I say the Niners are the third best team in the NFL. ESPN says they’re the fourth best team, one spot behind the Ravens, but I say nuts to that. Why? Because the Niners have more talent on offense. I’ll take Alex Smith over Joe Flacco, and I’ll take the duo of Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter over Ray Rice and Ricky Williams.

1. Green Bay Packers: They score 32.8 points per game, the best average in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers’ QB rating is an unheard of 122.5. The defense and the run game is mediocre. Still, they can beat anyone with just their passing attack.

2. New England Patriots: Very similar to the Packers, but they have less talent on offense and their quarterback is less mobile. The Niners would have a better chance to slow down Brady than Rodgers because Brady is a sackable statue. The Pats main weakness is pass defense. Could Alex Smith exploit this?

3. San Francisco 49ers: The most balanced team in the NFL. I said before the season the Niners would win nine games and the division. Now I believe they’ll win 13 and face the Packers at Lambeau Field in the NFC championship game.

This is the big question: Could the Niners beat the Packers or the Patriots? The Niners thrive on stopping the run and making offenses one dimensional, but the Packers and Patriots thrive on being one-dimensional. All they really want to do is pass, and that’s been a winning strategy for both teams for some time.

The Niners would have a punchers’ chance against New England. They sacked the young, mobile Matt Stafford five times on Sunday. Surely they could get to Brady as well.

But could the Niners beat the Packers? It’s not likely. Aaron Rodgers seems literally unstoppable. But the Niners have a much better defense. And they have the better coaching staff. In fact, they have the best coaching staff in the league. Do you think that’s an overstatement? Well, let me ask you this: Could Mike McCarthy or Bill Belichick have turned Alex Smith and the 49ers into the third best team in the NFL six weeks into this 2011 season? The answer is no way. The only person on planet Earth who could do that is Jim Harbaugh.

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