The folks at Pro Football Focus are ranking things, because that’s kind of the entire point of their existence. They like stats, sure, but they also like grades and rankings. Can’t get enough of them, really. Their latest is their annual ranking of the top 101 players from the previous season.
They post the list in waves, so we only know the top 51 players at this time. And two San Francisco 49ers appeared on the list: left tackle Joe Staley and rookie linebacker Reuben Foster.
Staley is the lower-ranked of the two, coming in at No. 61 overall, sandwiched between cornerback Darius Slay and safety Glover Quin of the Detroit Lions. Staley is making his fifth appearance on the list.
Foster, who played just 553 snaps, came in ranked No. 59 overall, ahead of Quin and one spot behind quarterback Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons. It is, obviously, his first time appearing on the list.
They say that Staley “looked like age might be catching up to him” him 2016, but that he was able to get back to “some of his best play.” His PFF grade was 87.4 for the season, the best grade they have given him since 2014. He allowed 24 total pressures and had a pass-blocking efficiency of 96.7, 10th among tackles in 2017.
Foster got a fancy graphic comparing him to fellow rookies TreDavious White of the Buffalo Bills (91.6 grade) and Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints (90.6 grade). Foster himself was between the two, with a grade of 90.7. His run-stop percentage of 11.2 was tied for fifth among inside linebackers in 2017, according to PFF.
Most importantly, they suggest that Foster, a rookie who dealt with injuries, could have “featured significantly higher on the list” with more playing time.