Pro Football Focus recently produced their PFF 101, which is sort of comparable to NFL Network's Top 100 list. The PFF 101 list looked back at performances in 2015 for determining the list. Now, they’re back with another list. They came up with their 101 best players as of right now. It looks at what the player did the previous year, but takes a deeper dive to figure out who the best players are right now heading into the next season. NFL Network’s Top 100 doesn’t really offer up any guidance, so having a split of the “PFF 101” and “101 best right now” provides a little more context for best players. We'll disagree with some of the players PFF includes (or forgets to include), but it's an interesting discussion.
In this first set of the best right now rankings, the 49ers had one player present, offensive tackle Joe Staley. Here’s what PFF had to say about Staley:
2012 was a good year for the 49ers and for Joe Staley. That season, the San Francisco had arguably the league’s best roster, and Staley was arguably the best tackle in football. The 49ers have since crumbled around him, and while Staley hasn’t quite hit those 2012 highs since, he is still one of the better tackles around. This past season, he graded well in all areas PFF measures and had good run- and pass-blocking grades for the fourth consecutive season. Staley may never be the best tackle in football again given his advancing age, but he remains a very good OT despite the bad team around him.
I don't think anybody would be surprised Staley is on the list. He remains a rock on the left side of the line. He certainly is not a perfect left tackle, but the 49ers know what they’re getting with him at left tackle. He’s starting to get up their in age, but he should still have some good years ahead of him.
I’m a little surprised, although not stunned that NaVorro Bowman did not make the list. He was a bit rusty out of the gates last year, but by season’s end he was starting to look much improved. With a full season played now since returning from his knee injury, I don't see why he can’t improve further this year. He turned 28 this offseason, so he’s still in the prime of his career. My guess is he shoots back up the list next season, because of his improved knee condition, and the potential for an improved defensive line in front of him.
Who do you see potentially showing up on this list a year from now? Carlos Hyde seems like an option, and at least one receiver or tight end could be on the list if the offense takes a significant step forward. On the defensive side, I could see Aaron Lynch, Jimmie Ward, and Arik Armstead as potential candidates.