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“Health and execution will be what keeps the 49ers offense from being a top-five unit”

NFL Network ranked the top-10 offenses in the league, and the Niners came in at No. 6

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

The San Francisco 49ers jumped from 27th in offensive DVOA in 2018 to seventh in 2019. At the season wore on, the offense began to hit its stride, and by the final month, the Niners were hitting on all cylinders. Jimmy Garoppolo’s health was a big reason why the 49ers were so efficient last year. Jimmy G made a difference on third down, where San Francisco was fifth in the NFL. The goal in 2020 will be to start turning more trips in the red zone into touchdowns instead of settling for field goals. The 49ers were 20th in red zone touchdown percentage last year. Their execution must improve, and that will be what puts the offense over the top this upcoming season.

NFL Network’s Chris Wessling ranked every offense in the NFL by tiers. There were five teams in the first tier, but neither of them was the Niners, who found themselves ranked No. 6 in the second tier. There was no explanation given, but Wessling did grade each position:

6) San Francisco 49ers

Quarterback: B | Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, C.J. Beathard

Backfield: A- | Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Kyle Juszczyk, Jerick McKinnon, Jeff Wilson Jr.

Receiving corps: B+ | George Kittle (TE), Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne, Jalen Hurd, Travis Benjamin, Richie James Jr., Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis, Jauan Jennings

Offensive line: A- | Trent Williams, Laken Tomlinson, Weston Richburg, Daniel Brunskill, Mike McGlinchey, Justin Skule, Ben Garland, Tom Compton, Colton McKivitz

For reference, Tampa Bay also received a “B” for quarterback. They received worse grades across the board than the 49ers but still were ranked in the first tier. Tom Brady really has brainwashed the media. Anyway, that’s a fair grade for the quarterbacks.

As for the running backs, the Ravens, Browns, Colts, and Packers were the teams that received higher grades than San Francisco. I’ll hammer this home every opportunity I get, but their grade would be an “A” at worst if Kyle would rely on Mostert more, especially in specific situations. I don’t know about you, but I’ve fallen for McKinnon’s offseason workout videos and believe he’ll be a difference-maker.

The wideouts were a popular pick to improve the most in 2020. I’d give them a “B” but wouldn’t argue the “B+” because if Dante Pettis is your fifth or sixth option, you’re doing pretty well for yourself. Talent isn’t the issue in this group. They lack experience and opportunity. Health has been an obstacle as well for some.

Using Football Outsiders “adjusted line yards” metric, which attempts to quantify how many yards the offensive line created for a running back, the 49ers were eighth last year. They were also seventh in “second-level yards,” which the running back earns between 5-10 yards past the line of scrimmage divided by carries. It’s another way to calculate offensive line, and the 49ers were in the top-10. That’s with numerous injuries. For the first half of the year, the 49ers played musical chairs upfront. I’m with Wessling here and believe an “A-” is fair.

Will San Francisco be a top-five offense? That should be the goal. The Chiefs, Saints, Cowboys, and Ravens all figure to be near the top of the NFL. Give me the 49ers over the Bucs. Execution and health will be what keeps the 49ers out of the top-five.