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Three 49ers named to PFF’s top 101 players from the 2020 season

Two of them are unrestricted free agents

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Three San Francisco 49ers players were named to PFF’s top 101 players from the 2020 season. Fred Warner, Jason Verrett, and Trent Williams all made PFF’s list. That’s no surprise, as each player played at a high level this past season. Let’s see where each was ranked.

11. T TRENT WILLIAMS, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Replacing one of the greatest players in a franchise’s history is never easy. Trent Williams not only did that but actually provided an upgrade to the level Joe Staley was playing at when he retired — high-level play in its own right. Williams allowed 19 total pressures all season, but it was his run blocking that was a tapestry of peerless artwork that belongs in a museum. Williams regularly buried defenders who tried to get past his block, opening up major running lanes for the 49ers’ ground game. His highlight reel this season is absolutely absurd.

PFF 101 Rank, 2019: Unranked

A small fraction of 49ers fans is willing to let Williams walk in free agency thanks to his previous injury history. Letting Williams leave the Bay Area because you can’t afford his services is understandable. If that’s your plan, you have to come to grips with the fact that you’re not going to upgrade at left tackle this offseason.

Sure, you save money, but if somebody is worth his price tag this offseason, it’s Williams. I’d guess Williams is back with the 49ers. We saw how much he means to this roster when he wasn’t on the field this past season. Watching the playoffs, I’m not sure how the front office could let a talent like Williams out of the building this offseason.

DeForest Buckner was ranked No. 28.

30. LB FRED WARNER, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

This was the year that linebackers were torched the league over, so for Fred Warner to do what he did this season is all the more remarkable. The explosion of passing this season led to linebackers being victimized more than any other position. Still, Warner earned a PFF coverage grade of 91.1, the best among linebackers. He allowed a passer rating of just 81.9 on throws into his coverage, more than 20 points lower than the average target into a linebacker’s coverage. Warner is a supreme athlete who has always been a good coverage player, but he elevated to a new plane this season.

PFF 101 Rank, 2019: Unranked

PFF had Warner ranked as the 44th best linebacker in 2019. Honestly, he was as good in 2019 as he was in 2020.

Warner cleaned up some of his missed tackles, but he was a dominant run defender and a superb pass rusher a season ago. Warner allowed 4.7 yards per target in 2019. That number was 4.6 in 2020. His average depth of tackle was 3.8 in both of the previous seasons. I’m not saying that Warner has peaked as a player, but we know who he is: the best linebacker in the league.

The most impressive part about Warner’s game is that he’s seemingly in the correct position every play. He also knows what’s coming. His preparation shows. It doesn’t hurt to have the athleticism of a defensive back to help you react on the fly. Some of Warner’s best plays are the routes he takes away and forces the quarterback to look in a different direction.

98. CB JASON VERRETT, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Jason Verrett wasn’t just one of the best comeback stories of recent seasons — he had a legitimately impressive season as well. He allowed less than 9.0 yards per reception and a passer rating of just 76.3, surrendering only one touchdown in coverage all year. Verrett played 803 snaps on the season, which was more than his previous four years of play combined.

PFF 101 Rank, 2019: Unranked

Good for Verrett to be recognized. We just compared him to the Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson. On the field, it’ll be difficult to find an upgrade over Verrett. When that’s the case, you probably want to re-sign that player.

With that said, there’s Verrett’s injury history. That’ll make his contract tricky. I’d imagine the team who offers the most guarantees will land Verrett. After the 49ers gave him a chance to prove himself, you have to think San Francisco has the best shot to re-sign Verrett, but, again, it’s impossible to know what the team is offering.