Power Rankings: No. 3 San Francisco 49ers

A weekly examination of the 49ers' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 3 | Last Week: 5 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The San Francisco 49ers are on the move.

They are No. 3 in the NFL Power Rankings after several top teams tumbled in Week 15. The 49ers were rewarded for being one of the NFL’s most consistent teams heading down the stretch, winning four straight games and nine of their last 11.

It is the highest the 49ers have been ranked since Week 3.

It is clear the voters trust the 49ers more than some other teams. The biggest surprise was that San Francisco is ranked higher than Carolina. The Panthers are No. 4. Both the 49ers and the Panthers are 10-4 and the Panthers beat the 49ers 10-9 at Candlestick Park last month. Still, I can’t disagree. I think the 49ers are the better team.

It’s all about peaking at the right time, and San Francisco appears to be doing exactly that.