clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

5 Niners were named in ESPN’s Top 10 players on defense

Rounding up ESPN’s top-10 rankings

San Francisco 49ers Offseason Workout Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The 49ers’ defense was one of the best in the league in 2022. That performance was well-recognized by league executives, coaches, and scouts. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN polled more than 80 voters around the league to rank the top-10 players at each position, starting with the defensive side of the ball.

Javon Hargrave, Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, and Talanoa Hufanga were the five players selected, the most represented defense of all five polls.

Warner and Bosa were the two 49ers to be ranked No. 1 at their positions. Bosa deserved his top spot, coming off a season with a career-high 18.5 sacks and winning his first AP Defensive Player of the Year award. “He turns the edge so well and has a knack to get the ball back. [He] seems to make a game-changing play every week,” one NFC executive said. Being named the top edge in the league by league executives

Warner received a first-place vote on 70 percent of 80 ballots submitted from around the league, with one scout saying, “He’s the perfect new-age linebacker, great against the pass but can handle himself against the run, a big athlete with plus leadership and communication.” Warner is coming off his second season with at least 130 tackles while finishing fifth out of all linebackers with five pass breakups, his highest total since 2019.

Hargrave, Hufanga, and Greenlaw were the other 49ers selected, finishing fifth, ninth, and 10th at their respective positions. Hargrave is entering his first season with the 49ers but finished 2022 with a career-high 11 sacks and 66 pressures. Hufanga was named to his first-career All-Pro team with his four interceptions last season. Greenlaw set a new career-high with his 127 tackles in 15 starts.

While no 49ers were selected as an honorable mention, Arik Armstead and Charvarius Ward received votes, but more was needed to crack the top-10. Armstead missed eight games last season but finished with a sub-10 percent missed tackle percentage for the second consecutive year, having a percentage above 12 percent the first six seasons of his career. Ward impressed in his first season with the 49ers, finishing with 11 pass breakups and having one of the better seasons from a 49ers cornerback in recent years.

With the defensive rankings finished, ESPN is starting their offensive rankings on Thursday, where the 49ers will likely be well represented.