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Three 49ers listed in PFF’s top 40 free agents

If you could keep one, who would it be?

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Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

We are officially under a month away from free agency. PFF put out their top 100 free agents, and three San Francisco 49ers were in the top 40.


Returning from a significant injury, Sanders has been a better player late in his career than he was at the start of it. He has transformed the 49ers’ passing attack since arriving and is one of the savviest route runners in the league. In addition to all of that route-running skill, Sanders had just one drop this past season and has some of the best hands in the game. Age will scare teams off, and he’s certainly not a long-term option, but the veteran wideout has recently proven that he can completely change an offense in need of receiving help.

Tough to disagree with what was said about Sanders. The passing offense went to another level once Sanders was on the team. Age may work in teams favor as far as doing a deal with Sanders. As much as I want Sanders back, I can see a team paying Sanders more than the Niners are willing to. I hope I’m wrong.

The next spot was a 49er as well:


Former first-round pick Arik Armstead has been a solid enough player for the 49ers since being drafted, but this season he took a step towards being something else entirely. Armstead has played the most snaps of his career this season and has been dramatically more productive as a pass-rusher, almost doubling his previous career-high in total pressures. Armstead has elite physical tools and impressive versatility, but a big leap forward in production in a contract year will always set alarm bells ringing. Armstead’s potential is significant, and he showed this season that high-level production is there to be drawn out of him if a team thinks they can be the one to do it.

Many believe the 49ers place the franchise tag on Armstead. It sounds like a lot to pay a player that likely won’t be your best player on defense $17 million, but Armstead makes life easier for everyone and is above average at two positions. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone that can replace Armstead.

The last Niner on the list was Jimmie Ward:


Ward has worn many hats in the 49ers’ secondary, but 2019 has been his best season by a longshot, as he ranked eighth among safeties with an 84.2 overall grade during the regular season. After playing slot corner, outside corner and every safety variation, Ward’s career year came after spending 71% of his snaps at free safety, where he’s broken up eight passes and missed just three tackles on the year. Ward has been flying around the field this season, and he’s become a playmaker on the back end of one of the best defenses in the league.

I’ve made myself clear as to where I stand on Ward. Bring him back.

As with all such PFF articles, these rankings are based primarily on the site’s proprietary grades. So unless you buy into their process, the list may mean little to you — and even if you do, you’d probably find a basis for disagreement about specific players.

My question to you: If you could only bring back one player, who would it be?


Which player would you re-sign if you only had one option?

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