The San Francisco 49ers quarterback competition takes center stage on Sunday, and for much of the preseason. The quarterback is usually viewed as one of the team’s leaders, and MVP discussion frequently centers around him. However, every team has value elsewhere, and for the 49ers, the most valuable player this season could end up being at another position.
Old friend Danny Kelly (formerly of Field Gulls, now working at The Ringer) took a look at each team’s roster and decided on a non-quarterback MVP. For the 49ers, he decided on offensive tackle Joe Staley. Here’s what he had to say:
Staley is a complete player: He’s devastatingly physical and tough in the run game, he’s technically proficient in pass protection, and well, he’s just plain mean. You probably couldn’t draw up a better left tackle for Chip Kelly’s offense. His rare athleticism and movement skills make him a great fit in Kelly’s wide zone–oriented offense, which asks its tackles to block in space and on the move.
Staley is a fairly easy pick for this one. If this offense is going to go anywhere, the line will be critical. He anchors that group and could be an excellent fit for Chip Kelly’s offense. Carlos Hyde would be an alternative if he can stay healthy. Of course, he could also benefit from a rejuvenated line, so it could fall back on the anchor.
The 49ers defense could be what carries this team in 2016, and of course, that means NaVorro Bowman would be in the preseason mix. And the veteran safeties Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid could be anchors on that defense. Of course, given all the raving about Arik Armstead in training camp, maybe the second year defensive tackle is in the discussion for most valuable player when the season ends.
Beyond the players I mentioned above, does anybody else jump out at you as someone who could make that kind of MVP impact in 2016?