My Week 2 Power Rankings, in tiers.
Tier 1: The 49ers.
Tier 2: Empty.
Tier 3: Empty.
Tier 4: The Texans and a few other teams.
Tier 5: It doesn’t matter.
No team ranks anywhere near the 49ers right now. They’re in another universe.
They’re so good, it’s more interesting to rank the 49ers players against the other 49ers players.
So let’s forget the Power Rankings for now. Let’s create the 49ers’ Team MVP standings.
There are at least five Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year candidates on the 49ers right now, so it’s tough to rank these players. They’ve all played terrifically.
Here’s my best attempt at the MVP standings. Remember, this list will change as the season goes on.
- Justin Smith: He was the team MVP last year, and he’s still the best player on the 49ers. He might be the best player in the NFL right now. He’s one of the only players who is double-teamed almost every snap. If he wasn’t double-teamed, he’d lead the NFL in sacks. He’s also top-notch against the run, and at times it seems he shuts it down single-handedly.
- Aldon Smith: 3 sacks through 2 games – tied for 2nd-best in the NFL. You can’t beat the 49ers if your left tackle can’t block Aldon Smith. The Niners have the best defense because they can stop the run and pressure the quarterback. Without Aldon Smith, the Niners could not pressure the quarterback nearly as well.
- Frank Gore: The best 2-game start of his professional career. He’s averaging 6.1 yards per carry – 3rd best in the NFL. He’s gained 218 yards from scrimmage – 13th in the NFL. He’s gained 10 first downs – tied for 10th in the NFL. And he’s scored 2 touchdowns. If he keeps this up, he’ll have his first All-Pro season.
- Vernon Davis: The Niners’ offense has scored 6 touchdowns. Davis has scored half of them. He is tied for the NFL-lead with 18 points scored (not including kickers). The Niners would struggle to score touchdowns without Davis. He’s their No.1 mismatch and No.1 red zone target. Like Gore, Davis is on pace to have an All-Pro season. He’s caught 6 first down passes, and he’s averaging 14.5 yards per catch. That ranks 3rd among all tight ends.
- Alex Smith: Another early All-Pro candidate, Smith’s had a phenomenal start to the season. His QB rating is 115.9 – 2nd only to Matt Ryan. Smith’s completing 70.1 percent of his passes – 5th best in the NFL. He’s thrown 4 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He’s converted 4 out of 6 3rd-and-longs. It’s hard to imagine him playing any better, but he could definitely climb this list in the upcoming weeks. He’s been playing with leads, so he hasn’t had to put the team on his back and make a lot of difficult passes in obvious passing situations. What he has done is audible to the right plays at the line of scrimmage and distribute the football almost perfectly. His growth as a quarterback under Jim Harbaugh has been outstanding.
- NaVorro Bowman: He’s slightly outplayed Patrick Willis so far. Bowman has 15 tackles, 2 passes defensed and 1 game-saving interception against the Packers.
- Patrick Willis: 12 tackles, 1 pass defensed, and one TD allowed. Willis set the tone against Detroit when he crushed Calvin Johnson after a four-yard completion over the middle.
- Carlos Rogers: He continues to shut down slot receivers without any help from a safety. He took Greg Jennings out of the game in Week 1, and he took Nate Burleson out of the game in Week 2.
- Michael Crabtree: He’s caught 9 first down receptions. Three of those came on third and long, 2nd best in the NFL behind the Steelers’ Emmanuel Sanders, who’s caught 4 first downs on third-and-long. He’s gained 77 yards after the catch – 15th best in the NFL. He has become Alex Smith’s favorite third-down target. He has an extra-large catching-radius, he fights for extra yards and he’s improved his speed.
- Dashon Goldson: 10 tackles already. That’s tied for third best behind Bowman and Willis. Goldson plays 15-20 yards behind the line of scrimmage to take away the big plays from the offense, but he’s been able to make up the ground and tackle ball carries in the hole on running plays.
Anyway, that’s my list for now. It’s fluid. Consider this the 49ers’ honor roll.
And please don’t be upset that I’ve ranked Alex Smith 5th. He can always move up, and look at the players who are ahead of him and behind him. They’re all great.