It’s been a rough year for the San Francisco 49ers, and most notably, but the team has had rookies emerging, and there is a chance that list could grow these final four weeks. Mike McGlinchey and Fred Warner have had solid rookie campaigns, and both are receiving some recognition.
On Wednesday, NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah posted his top 25 rookies through Week 13. McGlinchey ranked 12th and Warner ranked 22nd. McGlinchey was the second ranked lineman, behind Quenton Nelson, while Warner was the fifth ranked linebacker. Here’s what Jeremiah had to say about the two of them.
McGlinchey: “McGlinchey has started each week for the 49ers and he’s been very dependable in all facets of the game.”
Warner: “Warner has been a tackling machine for San Francisco. He is also more than adequate in coverage.”
The 49ers 2017 class seemed to be looking good out of the gate last year, but 2018 has been a down year, aside from George Kittle. Meanwhile, the 2018 class was slow out of the gate, but has gained momentum as we come into the final stretch of the season. McGlinchey and Warner have been the two best rookies for the 49ers, but Dante Pettis is starting to come on strong. Since entering the starting lineup two weeks ago, he has been the team’s leading receiver with 206 yards and three touchdowns. This weekend marks the return of Marquise Goodwin, who is the receiver Pettis has replaced the past two weeks. Kendrick Bourne has played in place of Pierre Garçon, so we’ll see what may or may not change this weekend against Denver.
The 49ers could have two more rookies in the starting lineup this weekend. Marcell Harris is likely to make his second straight start at strong safety, while D.J. Reed could be starting at free safety. Four more games could be enough to get one or both of them into rookie rankings, but we’ll need to see some improved play. Harris is a thumper, but he needs to improve his tackling and angles, among other things. Robert Saleh thinks he has a chance to make a big move from his first week to his second week as a starter. Meawhile, Reed has been in and out of the lineup, and it would be nice to see him getting some consistency to close out the season.
Jullian Taylor and Richie James will get some work as well. Neither is likely to get enough playing time to move into rookie rankings, but both could give the 49ers same late boost from seventh round picks. Taylor is working into the rotation at REO, while James is getting regular work in the slot and as a returner.
The 2017 class shows that we shouldn’t get too excited too early, but for the time being, the 2018 class is into “off to a good start” direction. We’ll see what 2019 brings, but I’m looking forward to these final four weeks.