Pro Football Focus continued their series of rankings, and this time they ranked each team’s wide receiver group. Pff used their play-by-play grading and signature stats to come up with these rankings. The San Francisco 49ers ranked 16th on the list:
It can be difficult to figure out exactly how talented the receivers are in Kyle Shanahan’s offense since he puts them in such good positions to do what they do best. There is no doubt that George Kittle is talented, however, as only Christian McCaffrey has more yards after the catch than Kittle over the last two seasons. Deebo Samuel made an immediate impact as a rookie, instantly becoming one of the top after-the-catch threats in the NFL. Those are the kind of players San Francisco has targeted, and guys like Brandon Aiyuk, Jalen Hurd, and even Jauan Jennings have a chance to carve out similar success. The reason the 49ers sit closer to the middle of the pack here is that they don’t have a clear-cut primary wide receiver. It’s too early at this point to call Samuel that, given his usage as a rookie.
This ranking feels similar to Jimmy Garoppolo’s ranking heading into last season. In July, Jimmy was ranked No. 24 overall. After Week 3, Garoppolo was in the top-10. PFF is taking into account the unknown factor.
The question isn’t whether the 49ers receivers are talented. PFF didn’t list wild cards like Trent Taylor or Dante Pettis, but both have an opportunity to win the No. 3 receiver position from the previous “starter” who wasn’t mentioned, Kendrick Bourne. It’s not fair to call the 49ers wideout position “stacked” because only Deebo and Kittle have accomplished something in the NFL. I agree with the thought process if it’s “I’m not going to give credit when you haven’t earned it” so long as if Week 4 rolls around and Aiyuk, Taylor, and whoever else are killing it, we see these rankings are updated as they were with Jimmy G.
The 49ers don’t even know who their top options are. It’s May. That’s what training camp is for. Talent rises to the top. I can’t wait to get back to talking about actual football instead of hypotheticals. I’m curious to see if there’s a “shift” in Kyle Shanahan’s philosophy. Does he go away from the smaller, quicker receivers like Bourne in favor of the bigger, stronger wideout such as Jennings? It could vary by the opponent unless one receiver excels so much that Kyle has no choice to leave the said receiver on the field. Those questions and battles are more interesting than a ranking where San Francisco doesn’t know where they stand. It will be fun to look back on once the season is over to see where the 49ers receivers stand, though.
Did you expect to see the Niners ranked higher, lower, or is No. 16 fair?