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Two 49ers listed in ESPN’s top 100 players for 2019

Dee and George make the projected best players for 2019

San Francisco 49ers Training Camp Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

We are right around the corner from the 2019 NFL season. As we approach the start of the season, we’re in the final hour for all predictions. ESPN recently released its top 100 players across the NFL this season. This is like the NFL Top 100, but ESPN is predicting, where the NFL looked back. The panel included 40 ESPN “NFL experts” to rate players based on how good they will be.

The San Francisco 49ers had two players on the list, and neither one was their best player. Dee Ford came in at No. 90, which he should be included. Here was ESPN’s blurb on Ford:

The 49ers haven’t had an edge rusher reach double-digit sacks since 2012, but they added Ford believing he could break that streak. With DT DeForest Buckner serving as a complement similar to what Ford had with Chris Jones in Kansas City, Ford has a chance to build on his breakthrough 2018 season. -- Nick Wagoner

Signature stat: Last season, Ford and J.J. Watt were the first players in the past five seasons to post at least 13.0 sacks and seven forced fumbles in a single year.

2019 projection: 48 tackles, 10.0 sacks

I don’t care where Ford is projected; if he finishes with ten sacks in 2019, the defense will be good. I don’t agree with Wagoner saying that Buckner is the second-fiddle, to say. I’m surprised that the defensive tackle who had 13 sacks and endless pressures isn’t on this list, but only seven defensive tackles made the list. At least there aren’t plodding nose tackles on the list.

Kittle came in at No. 42, which was the third tight end in the rankings. Zach Ertz was No. 23, and Travis Kelce was No. 18. I wonder how much predicting the team’s success weighs into this.

2018 rank: NR

Despite working with three starting quarterbacks in 2018, Kittle set a record for single-season receiving yards by a tight end in only his second year. It will be difficult to improve on that production in 2019, but with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo back to health and improved weapons around him, Kittle’s star should continue to rise. -- Nick Wagoner

Signature stat: Kittle led the NFL with 855 yards after the catch last season. In fact, it was the most yards after the catch by any player in a single season since YAC was first tracked in 2006.

2019 projection: 82 catches, 1,159 yards, 6 TDs

I understand ranking Kelce ahead of Kittle. I can’t name one thing Ertz does better than Kittle on the field. If Kittle puts up 1,000-yard season in this offense, I’d guess things are going quite well for the 49ers