PFF ranks 49ers second best lineup in NFL

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The folks at Pro Football Focus are doing some work for ESPN, and recently that included a ranking of all 32 teams by lineup. The article is Insider-protected, but the 49ers and Seahawks show up before the protection! The article is based on PFF's grading system, so take it with your own personal grain of salt, but it's still an interesting option for comparing how teams lineup.

The San Francisco 49ers rank No. 2 behind the Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers have nobody who grades out as below average, but they do provide question marks at center (Daniel Kilgore) and nickel back (Jimmie Ward). Whether you agree with PFF grading or not, it's not a shot in the dark to say those two positions remain question marks. At center, the 49ers will either be starting Kilgore or rookie Marcus Martin, so we're guaranteed a first time starter. At nickel, the team has to be hoping Ward emerges as the starter. If he does not, Perrish Cox, Darryl Morris, or even Eric Wright could end up handling those duties. My guess is Cox would be the favorite if Ward is slow in his foot surgery recovery.

The Seahawks No. 1 ranking is bolstered by a defense that includes "good" or better starters at every position, and two "blue chip" players in Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. Their offense features one "blue chip" player in Marshawn Lynch, six other players "good" or "high quality", three "average", and two "below average". The Seahawks two below average players are left guard James Carpenter and right guard J.R. Sweezy.

The 49ers are No. 2 with all but Kilgore and Ward listed as average or better. The team has four "average" players, ten "good" players, seven "high quality" players, and one "blue chip" player in Patrick Willis. The "average" players are Glenn Dorsey, Chris Culliver, Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid. It is of course important to note that all of these grades are based on 2013 performance. Reid may have graded out average for PFF last year, but we also know he is a work in progress who showed some great things. Bethea comes from a meh Colts defense and should benefit with this move to a high quality defense.

The rest of the NFC West sees the Arizona Cardinals rank No. 9, and the St. Louis Rams rank No. 31. The Cardinals lineup features some high quality players, but four question marks in rookies and second year players who barely played as rookies. Deone Bucannon and Troy Niklas will each make their NFL debuts this year, but the player I'm most intrigued to watch is left guard Jonathan Cooper. He spent last season on injured reserve, and could be a huge addition to that offensive line. Carson Palmer is not a great quarterback, but if he can stay on his feet and get some time in the pocket, he is still dangerous.

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