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49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s supporting cast ranked seventh in NFL

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What a difference a year makes

Chicago Bears v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

If I would have told you the Monday after Week 17 that the San Francisco 49ers would have one of the best-supporting casts heading into the 2019 season you would have likely reacted in one of three ways. The homer in you would have agreed. The pessimists would have gotten a good laugh. The realist would have pointed to health.

Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon ranked every NFL quarterback supporting cast heading into the 2019 season. The 49ers were No. 7 on the list.

They’re still trying to sort out who’ll lead the way at wide receiver and running back, but there might not be a deeper skill-position group in the NFL than the one that belongs to the Jimmy Garoppolo-quarterbacked San Francisco 49ers.

No other team boasts a running back trio like Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida. It’s unclear who will emerge there, but it’s extremely unlikely all three fail. The accomplished Coleman averaged 4.8 yards per rush last year in Atlanta, McKinnon was one of the league’s best pass-catching backs in Minnesota and Breida’s 2018 yards-per-attempt average of 5.3 ranked fourth among qualified backs.

No established elite receiver resides on the roster, but 2018 second-round pick Dante Pettis came on strong late in his rookie season, Kendrick Bourne flashed as a sophomore and speedster Marquise Goodwin was a deep threat when healthy. They also now have enticing Day 2 rookies Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, as well as veteran Jordan Matthews.

But the real focus is at tight end. George Kittle emerged in his sophomore season as one of the game’s top offensive weapons. His 1,377 receiving yards were the most by a tight end in NFL history, and he should only get better with Garoppolo back from a knee injury in 2019.

The Indianapolis Colts were one spot ahead of the 49ers on the list. Gagnon’s reasoning was the TY Hilton-Eric Ebron-Marlon Mack combo gives the Colts the edge over a 49ers trio of Dante Pettis-George Kittle-Tevin Coleman. Hmmm.

The 49ers find themselves high on the list due to a plethora of options at the skill position. Kyle Shanahan mentioned last week he felt like this was the first roster he had that could overcome injuries. Kittle is a star, and Pettis is on his way to becoming a household name in the league.

The most significant difference for me this year will be the 49ers ability to make plays once the ball is in their hands. I imagine we will see a lot of gains that would have been seven yards last year turn into 15+ yard gains. The added athleticism at the skill positions on offense will make it tough for defenses to get the 49ers off the field.