With the season finale of the 2022-23 NFL season upon us, it’s time to give out some awards. Some award winners are clear-cut, and others are up for debate. Voice your opinion in the comments as I hand out season awards for the 49ers.
Offensive Player of the year: Christian McCaffrey
Now, I know what you’re asking. How can someone who joined the team during the season win this award?
Considering the shape of the offense before the McCaffrey trade, this feels like a no-brainer. Before his full implementation, the 49ers averaged 22 PPG, 355 total yards per game, 120.7 rushing yards per game, and 234.2 passing yards per game.
Beginning with the second meeting with the Rams, the 49ers are averaging 29 PPG, 380 total yards, 149.5 rushing yards, and 230.4 passing yards per game.
The 49ers have four games over 15 expected points total on offense during this span, including three over 20 points against the Rams, Cardinals, and Raiders.
McCaffrey’s stat line is the final argument for this award. Just over 700 rushing yards, 49 receptions, 430 receiving yards, 5.7 yards per touch, and nine touchdowns.
Regardless of the starting QB, McCaffrey’s impact is clear.
The 49ers are undefeated since his full involvement. That is very impressive for a mid-season acquisition.
Defensive Player of the year: Nick Bosa
Bosa is the clear-cut winner. The front-runner for the NFL defensive player of the year is stuffing the stat sheet. Bosa sits two sacks from the franchise record held by Aldon Smith with 17.5. Add 47 QB hits, two forced fumbles, 18 TFLs, and 88 total pressures.
Even when Bosa isn’t sacking the quarterback, he disrupts passing plays. Bosa is the only player with 10+ pressures in two games this season. Last week’s performance is evidence of his impact on the game. Bosa didn’t register a sack on Sunday, but his play in overtime was a game-winner.
Each year that Bosa has been healthy, he has shown growth. Scary to think there may be more to add to his game in the coming years.
Rookie of the year: Brock Purdy
Seems obvious, right? Credit to Spencer Burford for his contributions in 2022. Purdy is the winner based on the stability and confidence provided to a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
Purdy is undefeated in his four starts. At times, Purdy’s poise and confidence are hard to believe for a rookie. The game never looks too fast for Purdy. It’s remarkable to watch this season unfold with Purdy under center.
Through his five-game (four starts) stint, Purdy has amassed a 66 percent completion percentage, ten touchdowns to four interceptions, 12.1 yards per completion, 101.4 passer rating, and 67.8 QBR.
Most improved player: Brandon Aiyuk
This award is up for debate much more than any award. Talanoa Hufanga, Dre Greenlaw, and Mike McGlinchey (yes, I said it) all deserve consideration.
Aiyuk consistently was the best player in training camp, day in and day out. His dedication to improving his craft was clear, but the moment he arrived was during the infamous camp brawl with Fred Warner.
Fighting is never a good thing. What Aiyuk was doing was taking a leadership role. Aiyuk was defending his teammate, staking his claim as a leader on this team, and strengthening the culture and closeness of the locker room.
Aiyuk currently sits 44 yards from his first 1,000-yard season. Career highs across the board in every statistical category. Aiyuk shouldered the offensive load with injuries to Deebo Samuel and George Kittle. His consistent contributions and presence have led to his ascent to WR1.
The main focus for Aiyuk will be to clean up the drops, but his play in 2022-23 has been remarkable. The story truly is from the doghouse to the penthouse for Aiyuk.
Most underrated player: Charles Omenihu
Omenihu is another example of the front office swinging on physical traits and having confidence in Kris Kocurek and DeMeco Ryans to get the most out of those traits.
Point blank, Omenihu has played himself into a contract. Omenihu is second on the team in pressures (51), sacks (4), QB hits (10), and hurries (37).
With the defense missing Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw for long stretches, Omenihu made the most of all his opportunities. As the defense returns to full strength, Omenihu will have more efficient snaps in the postseason.
What a find for the front office.
MVP: Nick Bosa
For me, this came down to consistency all season. McCaffrey deserves consideration for what he’s done for the offense, but Bosa has the longevity.
Bosa has been a constant force all season. The heartbeat of the defense. His one-game absence was noticeable for this defense. As Bosa goes, so does this defense.
It’s been a pleasure to watch Bosa grow and dominate this season.
Bosa is my team MVP in 2022-23.