The San Francisco 49ers are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball going into the 2021 season. The team has offensive and defensive players that should be in the running for some of the NFL’s individual awards and will help the 49ers make another run at a Super Bowl title.
Pro Football Focus continues its offseason countdown and is wrapping up with its top 50 players in the NFL list.
PFF has released Nos. 11-50, and three 49ers made the cut. Coming in at No. 27 is pass-rusher Nick Bosa.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve only seen the rookie version of Nick Bosa, and he was still dominant enough to rank this high on a list of the best players in the NFL. The former Ohio State Buckeye was one of the best pass-rushing prospects of the PFF College era, and he was good enough to break the PFF record for most pressures generated by a rookie with 80 — and he looked better and better as the playoffs wore on. Bosa came away with 12 total pressures in Super Bowl LIV.
Bosa’s impending return has everyone with the 49ers as well as the fans giddy. The 23-year-old is expected to be ready for training camp in late July, a little more than 10 months after he tore his ACL in Week 2 of the last season.
The entire defense will benefit from Bosa’s presence on the field. He finished the 2019 season with 47 total tackles, 9 sacks and 25 QB hits en route to winning the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.
The next 49er on the list is left tackle Trent Williams, who PFF has listed at No. 24.
No offensive lineman could match the blocking highlight reel that Williams crafted in 2020. The veteran tackle was one of the most dominant run-blockers we have ever seen, earning a 91.8 PFF grade in that facet of play; he routinely buried his assigned defender to spring big runs for the 49ers’ backs and only allowed 19 total pressures in his first year back after missing the 2019 season.
When general manager traded for Williams shortly after Joe Staley announced his retirement, it stabilized the Niners at one of the most critical positions in football. Williams was as good as advertised in his first year with the 49ers and was named to his eighth Pro Bowl.
Williams signed the richest deal for an offensive lineman in NFL history this offseason, inking a six-year contract worth $138 million. Alongside left guard Laken Tomlinson, Williams gives the 49ers plenty of protection on the QB’s blindside.
After being named the best player under the age of 25 in the NFL by PFF, linebacker Fred Warner at No. 20.
Fred Warner was the No. 1-graded linebacker in the NFL last season and topped the PFF list of the top 25 players under 25 thanks to his elite playmaking ability in coverage. Warner played the college “overhang” linebacker role at BYU, a kind of hybrid linebacker/slot corner, and has been a huge success in translating that experience into conventional NFL defenses, becoming one of the most complete linebackers around and anchoring that 49ers defense.
Warner proved himself to be one of the best defensive players in the game last year, despite missing a ton of talent around him due to the all of the injuries. He finished with 125 tackles (five for a loss), seven QB hits, two interceptions, and a sack. In addition, Warner’s coverage skills are on another level. Pro Football Focus gave him a 91.1 grade in coverage, tops of any linebacker in the league.
He only gave up 4.4 yards per target, and opposing QBs had a 69.7 rating when throwing in Warner’s direction. That’s a stark improvement from the 91.8 rating QBs had when going after Warner in the passing game during his rookie year.
PFF will release its top 10 on Friday, and it’s expected that we will see tight end George Kittle among the players listed.