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San Francisco 49ers top 5 players under 25

The 49ers have a lot of talent, but not a ton of proven talent under the age of 25. We take a look at the top five from that group.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The folks at FOX Sports recently put together a list of the top 25 players in the NFL under the age of 25. There is a good mix of players, but it is not all that shocking the San Francisco 49ers were not represented. Had Chris Borland not retired, I imagine his high profile rookie campaign would probably have landed him on the list.

Our friends at Big Blue View put together their look at the top five New York Giants under 25, non-OBJ edition. OBJ finished third on the FOX Sports list, behind Andrew Luck (No. 1) and Le'Veon Bell (No. 2). In light of BBV's listing, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the 49ers own under-25 players. I went with the ages listed on the 49ers roster page. I double-checked the 24-year olds to see who would turn 25 before the start of the upcoming regular season. The 24-year olds turning 25 include Quinton Dial

This does not include the 2015 draft class. The 49ers have used a lot of their recent draft classes to be build for a little further down the road than that particular draft, so this list is open to serious interpretation. I am looking at these players in terms of a combination of what they have shown thus far, and what I think we could see in 2015. I am leaning more toward the former.

Of interesting note is that Anthony Davis has finally surpassed the 25-year mark. He already has five years under his belt, having been the youngest player in the league his rookie year. Players who turned 25 in the last year include Davis, Quinton Dial, Tank Carradine, Aldon Smith and Ian Williams.

No. 5 -- Dontae Johnson

Age: 23

He arrived looking to compete for some potential dime work, but it did not take long for him to earn a significant role. Tramaine Brock's multiple injuries opened the door an opportunity in training camp and then over half the defensive snaps in Week 1. He did not get many opportunities in the ensuing weeks, but after solid work in Week 6 and 7, he became a defensive regular Week 11 through 17. He had some inconsistencies, as most rookies will, but he got an opportunity that could prove critical to his growth.

Johnson enters 2015 competing with an extensive number of cornerbacks. Tramaine Brock and Shareece Wright are viewed by many as the likely starting duo, but it is too early to say for certain. Brock is dealing with an injury, while Wright struggled in the past. Johnson is getting first string snaps while Brock is out, and if he can handle the work, I could see him continuing in such a role into training camp. I still think there is a decent chance he ends up starting over Shareece Wright, but even if not, he will find work in the sub packages.

No. 4 -- Marcus Martin

Age: 21

He was thrown into the fire following Daniel Kilgore's Week 7 leg injury. He started at center most of the rest of the season. He struggled quite a bit at times, but like Johnson, it was a great learning experience for him. Arguably even more so given the importance of the center position. With Kilgore still rehabbing, Martin is handling first team center work. If Kilgore is not back by the start of training camp, Martin's odds increase quite a bit of heading into Week 1 as the starting center.

Going into the 2014 NFL draft, Martin was viewed by some as the best center available. He will get plenty of opportunities, and if he can hold onto the starting center job, he will be in the thick of this list for the next three years.

No. 3 -- Carlos Hyde

Age: 24

Hyde turns 25 on September 20, so this is his only chance to be part of this list. If he was a year younger, there would have a good chance he climbs to the top of the list for next season. He is the favorite to be the starting running back in 2015, with Reggie Bush, Kendall Hunter and Mike Davis potentially competing for complementary work. He is dealing with what is being reported as a minor leg injury, but if he is good to go for training camp, he is in line for a ton of work in 2015.

Hyde had a bit of an up and down year in 2014, rushing 83 times for 333 yards and four touchdowns. He was great when it came to breaking tackles, and that is one reason I am particularly optimistic about what we can expect in 2015. He won't be on this list next year, but if we expanded to top players under 26, my guess is he would probably climb to No. 2 or No. 1.

No. 2 -- Aaron Lynch

Age: 22

There were plenty of question marks surrounding Lynch following the draft, with his former strength coach going off on the 49ers for selecting him. However, Aldon Smith's suspension, and Ahmad Brooks's later insubordinate behavior opened the door for Lynch in a big way. He split time with Dan Skuta and quickly emerged as a fearsome pass rush presence, finishing the season with six sacks, 27 hurries and four pass deflections.

Heading into 2015, Lynch will be competing with Ahmad Brooks, Aldon Smith and Eli Harold for pass rushing snaps. Brooks has reportedly looked good and motivated in camp. Harold brings a lot of raw talent, and Smith is the leader of this pass rushing group. I think Aldon Smith gets the bulk of starting snaps, with the remaining three providing some kind of extensive rotation around him. Brooks likely handles base work, but after that, I'm not entirely sure how this group rotates. I think this bodes well for the group as whole, and could mean big things for the 49ers pass rush in 2015.

No. 1 -- Eric Reid

Age: 23

The 49ers do not have a ton of talent still under 25 that has proven themselves sufficiently for inclusion on this list. Thus, it is no surprise that Reid tops this list. There is a decent chance this changes next year given some of the young talent that will get significant opportunities in 2015, but for now, he's the best player on this team under the age of 25. His health remains a concern, but if he can avoid the concussions in 2015 and beyond, he could develop into one of the more solid safeties in the NFL.

Would you break this list down any other way? I don't think I'm missing anybody, but I'm open to suggestions.