Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Which 49ers players landed in PFF’s position-by-position rankings?

Jun 13, 2022 at 9:10 AM--

Pro Football Focus has been spending the offseason ranking NFL positions. In addition to being a traditional player ranking, the analytics site grouped the players by tiers. Let's look at where the San Francisco 49ers fell within each positional ranking.

7 tiers
Ranked: Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance

The first 49ers quarterback listed is Jimmy Garoppolo, the No. 16 quarterback in the ranking. He falls into Pro Football Focus' Tier D. The tier is actually divided into two, the first labeled "Play-Action Merchants - Propped up by Scheme." That is the category in which Garoppolo sits, along with Ryan Tannehill (14), Kirk Cousins (15), and Jared Goff (17).

Trey Lance, who had two starts during his rookie campaign, finds himself in the final tier, labeled "Sophomoric Hijinks." He is the No. 30 quarterback listed within the ranking, right below other quarterbacks from his draft class—Trevor Lawrence (27), Mac Jones (28), and Justin Fields (29). Lance is ahead of only Zach Wilson (31) and Davis Mills (32).

Running Backs
6 tiers
Ranked: None

No 49ers were listed among the top 20.

Wide Receivers
5 tiers
Ranked: Deebo Samuel

Interestingly, 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel is not listed among Pro Football Focus' top tier, labeled "Elite." Samuel had a breakout season in 2021, recording 1,770 all-purpose yards and 14 total touchdowns. He will soon become one of the highest-paid receivers of all time.

Instead, Samuel falls into the second tier, labeled "Young Talent on the Cusp of Tier 1." He is the No. 9 overall receiver on the list.

"Since the end of the 2021 season, Samuel's status as a 49er has been in flux," explained Anthony Treash. "But while San Francisco may not be the team that will pay him the most money, it is the one that can best utilize his dynamism.

"Previously self-dubbed a 'wide-back,' Samuel can make plays both as a receiver and runner, and he was one of four wide receivers to earn an elite PFF grade above 90.0. He averaged an NFL-leading 10.8 yards after the catch per reception while shedding 27 tackles. On the ground, Samuel picked up 14 explosive runs of 10-plus yards and broke 28 tackles on 86 carries."

Samuel is the only 49ers player listed in the top 32.

Tight Ends
3 tiers
Ranked: George Kittle

George Kittle comes in at No. 2 overall, behind only Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs.

"If Kittle keeps up his current pace, he'll be right there with Kelce as one of the best tight ends PFF has ever seen," wrote Treash. "The 49ers star possesses an all-around game between his playmaking ability in space and run-blocking prowess. His after-the-catch ability is unmatched, and he leads all tight ends since 2018 in receiving yards after contact (1,171), broken tackles after the catch (58), and yards after the catch per reception (7.7). Over that same timespan, Kittle ranks third at the position in run-blocking grade."

4 tiers
Ranked: Alex Mack

At the time of the ranking, veteran center Alex Mack had not yet officially retired. He came in at No. 15 on the list.

Offensive Guards
6 tiers
Ranked: None

No 49ers were listed among the top 32.

Offensive Tackle
9 tiers
Ranked: Trent Williams, Mike McGlinchey

It's no surprise that offensive tackle Trent Williams finds himself listed in the "Elite" tier. In fact, he is ranked No. 1 among all NFL offensive tackles.

"Two offseasons ago, there were some questions about how Williams would bounce back from multiple injury-plagued campaigns," wrote Ben Linsey, "and a full year missed during the 2019 season due to a dispute with Washington. Williams has put those questions to bed with his play in San Francisco over the last two seasons.

"The 33-year-old Williams' 96.9 PFF grade since 2020 ranks first among tackles by nearly five points, and you can make the case that he was the best player in the NFL regardless of position in 2021 — an award typically reserved for Aaron Donald."

There is another 49ers player on the list—barely. Pro Football Focus ranks Mike McGlinchey at No. 31 of 32 players.

"McGlinchey drops a bit in this year's rankings after a 2021 season cut short by injury in which McGlinchey was — for the first time in his career — a below-average run blocker at the position," wrote Linsey. "A 90.2 run-blocking grade across his first three years in the NFL (second among qualifying right tackles) was what held him up as an above-average starter despite limitations in pass protection. Without that type of performance in the run game, McGlinchey falls back closer to the middle of the pack among starting tackles."

Edge Rushers
6 tiers
Ranked: Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead

Pro Football Focus lists the 49ers' fourth-year pass rusher, Nick Bosa, at No. 7, behind T.J. Watt, Myles Garrett, Khalil Mack, Micah Parsons, Joey Bosa, and Maxx Crosby. San Francisco's pass rusher rounds out the group of Tier 1 players, labeled "DPOY Candidates."

"The Bosa brothers have become dominant NFL forces just the way they were in college, with never much to separate the two," wrote Sam Monson. "Both boast elite PFF grades and elite pressure totals over their NFL careers and are candidates for dominant seasons at any given time."

Arik Armstead is listed as the No. 17 edge rusher, falling within the "Underrated Veterans" fourth tier.

Interior Defensive Line
5 tiers
Ranked: None

No 49ers were listed among the top 25.

9 tiers
Ranked: Fred Warner, Azeez Al-Shaair

Fred Warner is the top-ranked linebacker, sitting above Darius Leonard, Demario Davis, and Eric Kendricks.

"The best linebackers in today's league are elite coverage players, but they can also affect the game in other ways," wrote Monson. "Warner had a transformative effect on the 49ers' defense when he became the starter. And even though he hasn't quite been able to maintain an elite level of play every season, his impact on the field is obvious."

Azeez Al-Shaair, the only other 49ers linebacker ranked, is listed at No. 20.

4 tiers
Ranked: Jimmie Ward

Jimmie Ward is the lone 49ers safety within the Pro Football Focus ranking. He comes in at No. 3 on the list, behind only Derwin James and Tyrann Mathieu.

Slot Cornerbacks
Ranked: None

No 49ers were listed among the top 10.

Outside Cornerbacks
5 tiers
Ranked: None

No 49ers were listed among the top 32.

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