During today’s episode of The Shanaplan, we took a stab at how many primetime games the 49ers will get in 2022 and which opponents they’ll be. We know the Niners play the AFC West, so pairing them against the Kansas City Chiefs in a Super Bowl rematch and Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos were two of my guesses.
We also discussed Richard Sherman’s comments about Jimmy Garoppolo being a potential safety valve for the 49ers at quarterback during training camp. We have different definitions of the word safety valve, Sherm.
The meat and potatoes of the episode were spent breaking down where the 49ers rank positionally on offense compared to the rest of the NFC West. We ranked the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, and offensive line:
Akash had Trey Lance second and was higher on Brandon Aiyuk than Allen Robinson. Those were the only two areas where we disagreed.
Despite the 49ers offensive line having question marks, they’ll still field the best line in the division. That has to be comforting for Lance. If you look at the rest of the NFC West, their offensive lines leave a lot to be desired.
There’s no need to waste any time on the tight end position. It’s George Kittle and everyone else.
At quarterback, it comes down to what you think about Kyler Murray and how impactful he’ll be without DeAndre Hopkins. I went with Murray based on experience. I’d rather have the Niners' weapons and play-caller. Still, we have endless examples of rookie quarterbacks going through growing pains and making knucklehead decisions that come with playing the position for the first time at the highest level.
This discussion stemmed from Aiyuk posting on his Instagram that he feels like Deebo Samuel and himself are the best receiving duo in the NFC West. Here’s how we ranked the top eight wideouts:
8) Marqise Brown
7) Brandon Aiyuk
6) Allen Robinson
5) Tyler Lockett
4) D.K. Metcalf
3) Deebo Samuel
2) Cooper Kupp
1) DeAndre Hopkins
Here’s Akash’s explanation:
While Cooper Kupp might be slightly better than Deebo Samuel, they were basically neck and neck halfway through the season in terms of receiving yards and some of the advanced numbers when they were both playing exclusively receiver.
So maybe Deebo wouldn’t have reached 2,400 yards or whatever Kupp would have gotten to, but he would have been right there if he was a full-time receiver.
Seattle’s duo no longer will feature a quarterback launching them moon balls, so they suffer in the rankings.
My thought on Aiyuk is that I need to see it before making any more projections. I thought he looked like a true WR1 during training camp last year, but he never put it together during the season.
Robinson has never lived up to his hype, either. But he’s walking into a situation where defenses will go out of their way to stop Kupp, which means more 1-on-1. I’d bet on Robinson having a bigger year with Matthew Stafford in Year 2 of a Sean McVay offense than Aiyuk in Year 1 with Lance is a better way to frame my argument. Obviously, I hope I’m wrong.
To hear our full thoughts on each position as we go team-by-team, you can listen to the episode in its entirety below: