The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their 2018 season on Sunday with a 48-32 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. It was a fitting end to a disappointing season for Kyle Shanahan and Co., finishing 4-12 and falling in last place in the NFC West. In spite of the circumstances, the 49ers still saw the emergence of many impact players with a clear future on the team. On the other hand, many disappointed and may have put their status for 2019 in question.
Here’s our stock report after the 49ers’ 2018 season:
TE George Kittle
In 2018, we saw the emergence of the NFL’s next elite tight end and a premier playmaker for the 49ers. Kittle’s 88-catch, 1,337-yard season set the NFL record for receiving yards in a season by a tight end and two franchise records for both yards and receptions in a season by a tight end. In a 2017 draft class drawing scrutiny for general manager John Lynch, finding Kittle in the fifth-round stands in a class of its own.
DL DeForest Buckner
Buckner’s 12 sacks on the season are more than his first two years combined. In addition to taking down the quarterback, the 49ers’ first-round pick in 2016 racked up 67 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 20 quarterback hits and three pass breakups this season. Buckner’s become a cornerstone of the 49ers’ defense and is eligible for a contract extension this offseason.
RB Matt Breida
Shanahan’s offense took a major hit when the 49ers lost running back Jerick McKinnon to a torn ACL before the season, but Breida filled in admirably. In 13 games, the 2017 undrafted free agent carried the ball 153 times for 814 yards, three touchdowns and averaged a solid 5.3 yards per carry. He also caught 27 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns. Breida and McKinnon should form a solid duo in the backfield for 2019.
CB Richard Sherman
Sherman’s first season with the 49ers was also his first without an interception. That isn’t indicative of the veteran cornerback’s performance though, who was his typical lock-down self on the left side of the 49ers’ defense. Sherman’s play on the field and presence in the locker room has been worth every penny of his three-year, $39-million contract so far. Sherman offers the 49ers stability on an otherwise rotating secondary of young, inexperienced players.
LB Fred Warner
Warner stepped in as a rookie and led the 49ers’ defense with confidence. The former BYU linebacker, calling the plays for coordinator Robert Saleh, immediately made his presence felt in both the run and pass game. Warner led the defense with 124 tackles, adding three tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, six pass breakups and one forced fumble. Warner has been a bright spot for the 49ers’ defense in the wake of Reuben Foster’s release.
WR Dante Pettis
QB Nick Mullens
LB Elijah Lee
RT Mike McGlinchey
WR Kendrick Bourne
QB C.J. Beathard
After struggling in 2017 as a rookie, Beathard stepped in for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 5 and wasn’t able to capitalize on another opportunity. The 49ers’ third-round pick in 2017 completed 60% of his passes for 1,252 yards, eight touchdowns, seven interceptions and an 81.1 quarterback rating. After injuring his hand in Week 8, Beathard was replaced by Mullens and remained the backup for the rest of the season. He’ll go into 2019 as the underdog in the competition for the backup spot.
CB Ahkello Witherspoon
Witherspoon’s strong finish in 2017 seemed to be an anomaly. The second-year starter opposite Sherman struggled with the added attention this season, giving up six touchdowns in his first six games. His 44.9 grade from Pro Football Focus ranked Witherspoon 116th among all NFL cornerbacks. After a couple games on the bench, Witherspoon returned to action but suffered a season-ending knee sprain against the Seahawks in Week 15. He’ll go into the 49ers’ offseason program in competition for a starting role.
Garçon was never able to capitalize on his strong start in 2017 when he was on pace for 80 receptions and 1,000 yards. The veteran receiver suffered a season-ending neck fracture in Week 8 of 2017 and never seemed to return to full strength. He battled a myriad of injuries this season and was only active for eight games, totaling just 24 catches for 286 yards and one touchdown. Garçon was placed on injured reserve in December with a knee injury. His future with the team is in jeopardy.
C Weston Richburg
The 49ers signed Richburg, formerly of the New York Giants, to a five-year, $47.5 million contract in March during the offseason. He hasn’t paid off for the 49ers and has been a weak point of the offensive line. Richburg’s 54.1 grade from PFF makes him their 30th-ranked center in the NFL, despite being the third highest-paid. His only missed game of the season was Week 8 against the Arizona Cardinals, despite battling a knee injury throughout the season. The 49ers are going to need more from Richburg in 2019 to justify his impact to the team’s salary cap.
LB Malcolm Smith
Smith missed all of 2017 with a torn pectoral muscle suffered late in training camp before the season. He returned for 2018, and despite the absense of Foster, Smith was unable to hold on the starting role. He was active for 11 games but only started five and was eventually replaced by second-year linebacker Elijah Lee. The 49ers signed Smith to before the 2017 season to a five-year, $26.5 million contract that included $12 million guaranteed and a $7 million signing bonus. His spot on the team is now questionable just two seasons later.
WR Marquise Goodwin
DL Earl Mitchell
G Josh Garnett
DL Solomon Thomas
S Adrian Colbert