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49ers lead NFL in rookie snap count, and it’s quality work

The 49ers draft and UDFA class have gotten a lot of work through ten weeks. And it hasn’t been wasted work either.

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The San Francisco 49ers’s rebuilding process has been a dirty job at times, but it is already starting to bear some fruit. Young players are getting extensive opportunities, whether it be due to injuries or simply supplanting veterans. It should be no surprise then that the 49ers currently rank No. 1 in rookie snap count.

Pro Football Focus compiled a list of all 32 teams and snap totals for their rookies. They have the 49ers with 2,874 snaps. The New Orleans are second with 2,213 snaps. The Kansas City Chiefs are at the bottom with 410 snaps.

PFF has tight end George Kittle leading the rookies with 420 snaps, but according to Football Outsiders, defensive lineman Solomon Thomas leads the rookies with 449 snaps. Per FO, Adrian Colbert shows up No. 3 with 355 snaps, followed by Trent Taylor and Ahkello Witherspoon, with 346 snaps apiece.

Here’s what PFF had to say about the 49ers rookies:

We were big fans of the 49ers’ draft back in April and it’s showed in the early returns. First-round defensive lineman Solomon Thomas has been as-advertised against the run, but still has room to improve upon his 16 pressures on 228 rushes. LB Reuben Foster has been excellent when healthy and his 205 snaps have showed his three-down ability on his way to an 89.0 overall grade that ranks fifth in the NFL. Third-round pick Ahkello Witherspoon has been excellent since taking over as a starter in Week 8 while fifth-round tight end George Kittle ranks second among rookie tight ends with 27 receptions and 277 yards.

They don’t mention Adrian Colbert’s emergence at safety. He will miss some time with a broken thumb, but the value given his draft position has a chance to surpass the rest of their draft class. The 49ers could find themselves with considerable safety depth in 2018, even if Eric Reid leaves in free agency.

Furthermore, this does not even go into the value the 49ers might be finding amongst their UDFA class. Running back Matt Breida is the biggest standout, but we have seen wide receivers Victor Bolden and Kendrick Bourne contribute, and offensive lineman Erik Magnuson showed something in a spot start at tackle. Add in getting Joe Williams back on the field in the spring, and it’s mostly thumbs up for this rookie class.