Pro Football Focus is slowly coming to the close of their ranking of position groups across the NFL, and on Wednesday they looked at pass catchers. They combined wide receivers and tight ends together, and it is no surprise that once again the San Francisco 49ers finished near the bottom. PFF ranked the 49ers No. 31, with only the Los Angeles Rams ranked lower.
Here is what PFF had to say about the 49ers:
Projected starters: WR Torrey Smith, WR Bruce Ellington, WR Quinton Patton, TE Vance McDonald
Key depth: WR Aaron Burbridge, WR Eric Rogers, TE Garrett Celek
Key stat: 49ers QBs recorded an NFL passer rating of 116.9 on throws to Torrey Smith in 2015.
Like much of the 49ers’ offensive roster, San Francisco isn’t in a great position here. Torrey Smith is the best of the bunch, and it will be interesting to see how new head coach Chip Kelly utilizes him coming off the lowest-graded season and worst receiving-yardage total of Smith’s five-year career. Dropping 16 of the past 103 catchable passes thrown his way isn’t a great sign, but his 6.8 yards after the catch average from a year ago is something that should fit in the new offense. At tight end, Vance McDonald and Garrett Celek combined for 512 yards in 2015, but look for that to change if the usage of Brent Celek and Zach Ertz in Kelly’s final season in Philadelphia is anything to go by.
They don’t factor in Bruce Miller, and really most national media seem to be ignoring Miller when it comes to the 49ers tight ends. I know some folks here think Miller won’t last with the 49ers as a tight end, but he strikes me as too talented to just be cut. I suppose a trade is possible, but consider me in the camp that is optimistic about what he can do as a tight end.
Beyond that, I get the low ranking. The departure of Anquan Boldin leaves the 49ers with a big hole in the receiver corps next to Torrey Smith. They have several interesting options, but right now it’s mostly just potential. Maybe it works out, maybe it doesn’t. And given the questions at quarterback and along the offensive line, it is no surprise the rankings are down on the potential breaking through this year.