The San Francisco 49ers are facing problems on both sides of the ball after one quarter of the season, but they have had some big breakthroughs out of the gate as well. They might not be making the playoffs in 2018, but if Jimmy Garoppolo bounces back from his torn ACL next season, the offense is finding some weapons that will put it in a position to take a big step forward.
PFF put together their first quarter All Pro team, and the 49ers have a couple names on the list. Running back Matt Breida was listed as an honorable mention behind New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara, and George Kittle earned the All Pro nod at tight end.
Breida remains a solid dual threat, and has improved considerably from his rookie season. He is third in the NFL in rushing, but is first in yards per carry (7.6). More importantly, we are seeing improvement as a pass catcher. Last season, Football Outsiders ranked him 37th in DYAR as a pass catcher. This season, he currently ranks 17th. Breida was going to have a significant role this season, but Jerick McKinnon’s injury opened a door he has bounded through.
Meanwhile, Kittle is on pace for a monster season. A year ago, he had 43 receptions, 515 yards, and two touchdowns. Through four games, he has 18 receptions, 316 yards, and a touchdown. I don’t expect him to remain on a pace for 72 receptions and 1,264 yards, but he appears to be making an early leap.
Honorable mention behind Kittle was O.J. Howard who is now out two-to-four weeks with an MCL sprain. Howard leads all tight ends with 2.88 yards per route, while Kittle is second at 2.87.
This weekend, the 49ers host an Arizona Cardinals defense that has been fairly solid for the most part. However, they are below average when it comes to defending both tight ends and running backs. Football Outsiders ranks them 23rd against tight ends and 19th against running backs. Kittle and Breida have been the two most effective weapons on the 49ers offense. I suspect Kyle Shanahan will look to continue making them a focus in Week 5.