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Which 49er surprised you the most in 2019?

When you make a Super Bowl run you’re going to get unexpected contributions from all over

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

The San Francisco 49ers depth was tested in a way they never imagined in 2019. Two players the team signed from the AAF appeared in games. The team’s sixth-round pick started four games at one of the most important positions in football. You can go down the line, and you won’t skip many positions if you’re looking for unexpected contributions.

Which 49errs player surprised you the most in 2019? It doesn’t have to be one of the unsung heroes like Emmanuel Moseley. Look at his running mate, Richard Sherman, who was a year removed from an Achilles injury that slowed him in 2018. Sherm was always going to improve the following year. That improvement turned into an All-Pro season.

If Jimmy Garoppolo exceeded your expectations last year, name him. Garoppolo finished seventh in EPA per play, sixth in success rate, and 11th in completion percentage above expectation. Advanced stats love him.

Don’t worry; your answer doesn’t have to be positive. Perhaps you had high hopes for a certain receiver from the 2018 draft class, or a pair of draft picks from the 2017 draft and you were let down. From what I saw, a good portion of fans wanted Robert Saleh gone. The 49ers defensive coordinator looked a lot better when he wasn’t calling plays with backups and an inexperienced secondary. Weird how that works.

My answer is Arik Armstead. Watching him the year before, Armstead was a “solid to good” player. It wasn’t that Armstead did anything wrong; he just wasn’t making plays at a consistent level. That changed in 2019 in a hurry. Armstead was dominant during the first half of the season, and I’d argue he was the best player on the defensive line. Playing a heavy dose of snaps took a toll on Arik, and you could see that as the season wore on. The jump in production from year to year was a pleasant surprise.