Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Where George Kittle, Deebo Samuel fall in PFF’s position rankings; No 49ers player in top 32 RBs

Jul 14, 2021 at 6:46 AM--

Pro Football Focus continues its positional ranking leading to the 2021 season and published the lists for the top 32 tight ends, wide receivers, and running backs. The San Francisco 49ers are represented in two of the rankings. The glaring absence is within the ranking of the top 32 running backs. No 49ers ball-carrier is considered a top-32 talent.

It is worth noting that all three of these rankings were initially released in May (here and here) but appear to have been updated today and featured again on Pro Football Focus' site to go along with its other positional rankings. Therefore, it may be worth looking at the 49ers' representation on the lists once again.

Raheem Mostert figures to be the featured back heading into the 2021 season. Or ... as close to a featured back as you can have within Kyle Shanahan's offense. He and running backs coach Bobby Turner utilize a player rotation and tend to go with the hot hand.

Last year, Mostert came in at No. 22 on Pro Football Focus' list of the top 25 running backs.

Jeff Wilson led the team last season with 600 rushing yards through 12 games. However, he will start the 2021 season on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list due to a torn meniscus suffered in May. Mostert rushed for 521 yards, averaging five yards per carry, last season but missed eight games.

RELATED PFF lists 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo at No. 22 in recent QB ranking

Mostert led the team with 772 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 137 attempts and two receiving scores in 2019. He came on strong in the playoffs that season, carrying the 49ers to a win in the NFC Championship Game with 220 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries.

Shanahan hasn't had a 1,000-yard ball-carrier since he was the offensive coordinator in Atlanta. Although, the 49ers ranked No. 2 in rushing yards in 2019, relying on the trio of Mostert, Matt Breida, and Tevin Coleman.

Obviously, the 49ers were well-represented in Pro Football Focus's list of the top 32 tight ends. George Kittle came in at No. 2 with only Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs listed higher. Although, analyst Ben Linsey admits that it is more of a 1A/1B scenario with Kelce and Kittle.

The Niners' All-Pro tight end may have been able to state his case for the top spot had he not missed eight games due to injuries last season.

"Kittle still imposed his will as both a receiver and blocker when on the field in 2020," wrote Linsey. "The issue was that he was only on the field for eight games, missing significant time with a broken bone in his foot.

"Since 2018, Kittle is the highest-graded tight end in the NFL (93.4) on the back of the highest receiving grade at the position (93.7) and third-highest run-blocking grade (78.0). Unlike Kelce, the majority of his damage comes inline, where Kyle Shanahan does as good of a job as any coach in the NFL at creating mismatches in coverage. Kittle's 1,811 receiving yards when lined up inline since 2018 are over 500 more than any other tight end."

Deebo Samual barely made the list of the top 32 wide receivers, coming in at No. 31.

"Injuries got in the way of a big sophomore breakout from Samuel, but when healthy, he was exactly what we expected: an after-the-catch phenom," wrote Anthony Treash. "Samuel has produced 9.8 yards after the catch per reception in his two NFL seasons. Not only does that lead all wide receivers, but it leads the group by a substantial margin of 2.5 yards. He has also broken 28 total tackles in regular-season play over that span, tying for the fifth-most at the position. He played only six games in 2020, so that's pretty damn impressive."

Neither Kittle's nor Samuel's placement within their respective positional ranking has changed since the lists were initially published in May.

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