Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports


Comparing Offensive Rosters: 2019 49ers vs. 2021 49ers

Brian Renick
Jan 11, 2022 at 9:00 AM--



The San Francisco 49ers are heading back to the playoffs for the first time since their 2019 Super Bowl run after a thrilling Week 18 overtime victory against the NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams.

The 49ers were a 13-3 powerhouse in 2019, earning the #1 seed and a first-round bye, but this 2021 version, a 10-game winner and the 6th seed, may actually be better positioned to win it all than the 2019 squad.

Let's compare the offensive position groups from each season to see who has the edge.

Quarterback


2019
Jimmy Garoppolo
16 games, 329/476 69.1%, 3978 yds, 27 TDs and 13 INTs, 2.7 INT%

Nick Mullens

2021
Jimmy Garoppolo
15 games, 302/441 68.3%, 3810 yds, 20 TDs and 12 INTs, 2.7 INT%

Trey Lance (R)

Arguably, Jimmy Garoppolo is the same quarterback he was in 2019, right down to the same exact interception percentage. The 49ers had a winning formula in 2021 that was a carbon copy of the winning formula they had in 2019: run the ball, play excellent defense, and protect the football. In fact, the 49ers did not win a single game this season in which they lost the turnover battle against their opponent (0-5), and the team only won two games in which Jimmy Garoppolo threw an interception—Week 12 against the Vikings, and Week 18 against the Rams.

The biggest difference between 2019 and 2021 is the player manning the QB2 position. Trey Lance is a significant upgrade over Nick Mullens, and with Garoppolo's thumb still not 100%, the backup position could be a factor in these playoffs.

Edge: 2021 49ers

Running Back


2019
Raheem Mostert
772 yds, 8 TDs, 5.6 yds/att
14 receptions, 180 yds, 2 TDs

Tevin Coleman
544 yds, 6 TDs, 4.0 yds/att
21 receptions, 180 yds, 2 TDs

Matt Breida
623 yds, 1 TD, 5.1 yds/att
19 receptions, 120 yds, 1 TD

Jeff Wilson
105 yds, 4 TDs, 3.9 yds/att
3 receptions, 34 yds, 1 TD

Kyle Juszczyk
7 yds, 0 TDs
20 receptions, 239 yds, 1 TD

2021
Elijah Mitchell (R)
963 yds, 5 TDs, 4.7 yds/att
19 receptions, 137 yds, 1 TD

Jeff Wilson
294 yds, 2 TDs, 3.7 yds/att
7 receptions, 31 yds, 0 TDs

JaMycal Hasty
68 yds, 1 TD, 4.3 yds/att
23 receptions, 157 yds, 0 TDs

Trey Sermon (R)
167 yds, 1 TD, 4.1 yds/att
3 receptions, 26 yards, 0 TDs

Kyle Juszczyk
22 yds, 1 TD
30 receptions, 296 yds, 1 TD

The 49ers only had to win two playoff games to make it to the Super Bowl in 2019, and both of those games relied heavily on the ground game. In the divisional round against the Minnesota Vikings, the 49ers ran the ball 43 times for 186 yards, and 2 TDs, for an almost 2:1 advantage in time of possession. The next week, Raheem Mostert ran roughshod over the Green Bay Packers to the tune of 220 yards, on 29 attempts, for an eye-popping 7.6 yds/att and four touchdowns.

The 2021 49ers do not have the game-breaking speed of Raheem Mostert available, nor do they have the gritty, tough-nosed running of Tevin Coleman, but they do have rookie superstar Elijah Mitchell, who has been a nice combination of both runners for the team this season. However, the depth at the running back position is nowhere near the same as it was in 2019, and if Mitchell goes down to injury, the run game could take a huge hit in its efficiency.

The X-Factor for the 49ers running game in 2021 has been Deebo Samuel, who ended the season second on the team in rushing yards with 365, and first on the team in rushing touchdowns with eight. If Mitchell goes down to injury, Samuel likely would become a bigger factor in the run game, but that could end up hurting the offense overall.

Edge: 2019 49ers

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


2019
George Kittle
85 receptions, 1053 yds, 5 TDs

Deebo Samuel (R)
57 receptions, 802 yds, 3 TDs; 159 yds rushing, 3 TDs

Emmanuel Sanders
36 receptions, 502 yds, 3 TDs

Kendrick Bourne
30 receptions, 358 yds, 5 TDs

Dante Pettis
11 receptions, 109 yds, 2 TDs

Richie James
6 receptions, 165 yds, 1 TD

2021
Deebo Samuel
77 receptions, 1405 yds, 6 TDs; 365 yds rushing, 8 TDs

George Kittle
71 receptions, 910 yds, 6 TDs

Brandon Aiyuk
56 receptions, 826 yds, 5 TDs

Jauan Jennings
24 receptions, 282 yds, 5 TDs

Mohammed Sanu
15 receptions, 177 yds, 0 TDs

Trent Sherfield
9 receptions, 87 yds, 1 TD

The 2019 49ers had to swing a mid-season trade to bring a 32-year old Emmanuel Sanders in from the Denver Broncos to bolster the wide receivers room and provide some much needed veteran leadership to a relatively young group. The fact he ended up third on the team in receptions after being on the roster for only half the season tells you all you need to know about that group in 2019. George Kittle was easily the most dangerous pass catcher on the team, with rookie Deebo Samuel having an impact—though nothing like his impact in 2021.

Kittle and Samuel are still the focal point of the passing offense for the 49ers in 2021, but Deebo has blossomed into a bonafide superstar and earned his first Pro Bowl selection. Not only did Deebo lead the team in receiving yards, he was also second on the team in rushing yards and first in rushing touchdowns.

Second year wideout Brandon Aiyuk is the player that makes this season's group far more dangerous and electric than the 2019 team. Aiyuk's emergence after a lackluster beginning of the season coincided with the 49ers 7-2 run to vault into the playoffs after a disappointing 3-5 start. Add that to the late-season blossoming of second-year player Jauan Jennings, and this pass-catching group is as dynamic as any in the postseason.

Edge: 2021 49ers

Offensive Line


2019
Joe Staley
Laken Tomlinson
Ben Garland
Mike Person
Mike McGlinchey

2021
Trent Williams
Laken Tomlinson
Alex Mack
Daniel Brunskill
Tom Compton

Joe Staley & Co. were a dominant unit in 2019, especially when Weston Richburg was manning the center position. Richburg sustained a gruesome knee injury during the win against the New Orleans Saints—one that would lead to his eventual retirement without stepping foot on a football field again—which pushed Ben Garland into the starting role. Garland filled in admirably, but the overall play of the line began to dip without Richburg in the middle, especially in pass protection.

The 2021 offensive line has benefited from an all world season from Trent Williams at the left tackle spot, and veteran Alex Mack has come in at the center position to provide steady leadership while solidifying the pass protection. In fact, the 2021 squad gave up three less sacks than the 2019 squad, even with the 17th game added to the schedule. Having an upgraded center, and Trent Williams, going into the postseason gives the edge to the 2021 49ers.

Edge: 2021 49ers

Conclusion


The 2021 offense is more dynamic, and more efficient, than the 2019 version and is better suited to win a game if the defense falters. The 49ers finished the season 5th in Offensive DVOA—the first Top-5 finish for Kyle Shanahan during his San Francisco tenure. The run game is not quite as dominant as it was in 2019, but the pass game is much more capable, with better pass catchers and a better pass-blocking o-line.

Ultimately, this team will go as far as the right arm—and thumb—of Jimmy Garoppolo can carry them.

Bring on the Cowboys!
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