We are at the best players on the San Francisco 49ers. Thanks again to the guys that helped put this project out. Be sure to check the previous rankings. Here are the players ranked from 90-81, from 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41, 31-40, 21-30, and 11-20.
9: Edge Dee Ford; High: 5, Low: 19, KP: 9
Ford deserves to be this high on the list as we’ve seen first-hand how important he is to the defense. Ford uses his speed to get around the edge, which gives the rest of the line giant rushing lanes to take advantage of. We don’t really talk about Ford against the run, but he’s above average at maintaining his gap and setting the edge. However, the 49ers paid Ford to sack the quarterback. He has to do that in 2020.
8: WR Deebo Samuel; High: 5, Low: 8, KP: 5
What a rookie season for Samuel. Deebo finished the season with 802 receiving yards but only had eight targets over 20 yards. The majority of Samuel’s production came underneath and after the catch. Sixty percent of Samuel’s yards came after the catch, and 40 of his 67 receptions resulted in first downs. I’m fascinated to see how Samuel evolves during his second season.
7: LB Fred Warner; High: 3, Low: 9, KP: 7
If you take out positional value, it’d be hard to keep Warner out of the top five. He’s ridiculously good, and there’s no way to quantify Warner’s full value without showing you the plays he impacts without targets. Warner is among the savviest defenders in the NFL, and he’ll step into the national spotlight in 2020.
6: DL Arik Armstead; High: 4, Low: 11, KP: 6
Armstead was incredible in 2019, and I will die on the hill that he was the best player on the defense through the first half of the season. Armstead did just about everything for the 49ers and impacted numerous plays. Too many snaps took a toll on Armstead as the season wore on. Keeping Armstead fresh come playoff time will be critical for San Francisco. Is it possible for Armstead to play any better than he did in 2019?
5: CB Richard Sherman; High: 3, Low: 11, KP: 4
Sherman played at an All-Pro level in 2019, and he picked up where he left off during training camp. I’ll be curious to see if teams challenge Sherman down the field more this season. Arizona had some success last season doing that. The future Hall of Famer seems poised for another big year, putting John Lynch in a difficult spot this offseason. Do you give a 33-year-old to be cornerback a big contract?
4: QB Jimmy Garoppolo; High: 3, Low: 14, KP: 8
The most polarizing player on the planet, it seems. It’s 2020. We shouldn’t be talking about TD/INT ratio or completion percentage when discussing whether or not a quarterback is good. Those are the arguments fans use when talking about Garoppolo. I promise, there are several ways to prop him up without those two stats, which are generally tied to the system you play in.
Based on limited practice viewing, Jimmy G appears to have taken a step in the right direction in the pocket. That will allow him to make more plays as Garoppolo was always patient in the pocket. This season will be determined by Garoppolo’s decision making and how he processes what he sees. The spectrum is all over. Some are ready to move on from the 49ers signal-caller while others feel like he’s a shoo-in for the MVP.
3: LT Trent Williams; High: 2, Low: 8, KP: 3
Full disclosure: these rankings were done before training camp started. Had we voted after camp, Williams would have been my top vote, and I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. Williams is a dominant force who will take the offense to another level. He looks amazing. The only concern is if Williams plays a full season since it’s been so long. If healthy, Williams is one of the few offensive linemen in the league that will have weekly highlights.
2: Edge Nick Bosa; High: 1, Low: 3, KP: 1
The average vote for Williams was 4.75. The average vote Bosa was 1.6. The average vote for the next player was 1.5.
Bosa had nine sacks and 16 QB hits without having a preseason to play himself into game shape, and for much of the second half of the season, Bosa faced extra attention, if not double teams. Bosa was so dominant that missing Ford wasn’t a big deal last season. When you adjust for the how many snaps he played compared to the other league leaders in the top pass-rushing stats, Bosa was the best. I’ve said it all offseason, but we’ve seen the worst of Bosa in the NFL until the twilight years of his career, and that is terrifying...for other teams. Bosa can get so much better as a player, too.
1: TE George Kittle; High, 1, Low: 3, KP: 2
When you see a player on offense continuously mow over people as he blocks them, that sticks with you as a defender. When he’s trash-talking, stiff-arming, and running over you to make sure you feel his wrath, it takes a toll on you. Without getting into what Kittle does on the field, his demeanor and aggression make a difference without ever touching the ball.
Drafting a wideout in the first-round was important as Brandon Aiyuk will eventually take advantage of being 1-on-1 on the perimeter. Defenses loaded up the middle of the field to take away the 49ers run game and Kittle, forcing Garoppolo to beat them outside of the numbers. That’s the Kittle effect, who is equally as important to the Niners running game. Kittle is the highest-paid tight end in NFL history because of what he does through the air. Again, you know his stats by now. I still can’t get over how he led the league among all non-running backs in broken tackle rate. Kittle is a star that the NFL should embrace.