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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Bosa leads five 49ers among ESPN’s top 100 projection

Aug 29, 2022 at 9:15 AM--

On Sunday, NFL Network concluded their NFL Top 100 Players of 2022 list. It included seven San Francisco 49ers players, with the highest-ranked being Trent Williams at No. 14. The others on the list were Deebo Samuel at No. 19, George Kittle at No. 22, Nick Bosa at No. 25, Fred Warner at No. 47, Jimmie Ward at No. 96, and Kyle Juszczyk at No. 100.

Just missing the top 100 was quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who came in at No. 106.

ESPN released its own annual version of a top 100 players list, curated by a panel of more than 50 NFL experts, who try to rate the players based on how good they might be in the 2022 season. Five players represented the 49ers.

DE Nick Bosa

The highest-rated player on ESPN's list is Bosa, who came in at No. 15, the same ranking he held a year ago. The sports site projects 12 sacks, 58 tackles, four forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries for the 24-year-old pass rusher.

"After a 2020 season lost to injury, Bosa's 2021 bounce back was the best campaign of his young career," wrote Nick Wagoner, "but there's a belief around the Niners that there are bigger and better things to come than the 15.5 sacks and 47 tackles he had last year. Bosa was able to spend the offseason working out and not having to worry about recovering from an injury, which left him in better shape than anyone at camp, with left tackle Trent Williams noting that Bosa looks like 'a sculpture.'"

OT Trent Williams

Williams, the highest-rated 49ers player on NFL Network's list, came in one spot lower than Bosa at No. 16, and three spots lower than his 2021 ESPN ranking.

"Williams landed his first All-Pro nod in 2021, when he was so dominant the Niners spent time dreaming up ways to use him, including putting him in motion to give him a head start on certain blocks," wrote Wagoner. "For his efforts, Williams was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded offensive player and became a member of the Madden 99 Club. What can he do for an encore? It's only limited by the imagination of the 49ers' offensive coaching staff."

Williams is the highest-ranked offensive lineman on the list.

LB Fred Warner

Warner comes in significantly higher than he did in the NFL Network listing. His No. 25 spot is five higher than his 2021 ranking placement. ESPN predicts 142 tackles, a sack, an interception, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery for the talented linebacker in 2022.

"By his own admission, Warner didn't have his best season in 2021," wrote Wagoner, "though he still had 137 tackles and four pass breakups. What Warner lacked from his previous All-Pro seasons was splash plays. He had a half of a sack and no interceptions. Still, Warner remains the focal point of San Francisco's defense, and the expectation is that another season with defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans should take his game back to previous heights or beyond."

WR Deebo Samuel

The superstar wide receiver is the next 49ers player on the list, coming in at No. 28. Samuel's breakout 2021 season, which included 1,770 all-purpose yards and 14 total touchdowns, will be tough to duplicate, and ESPN doesn't see something similar happening in 2022. The site projects 68 receptions, 985 yards, five receiving touchdowns, 372 rushing yards, and four rushing touchdowns for the 26-year-old.

This is Samuel's first time on the ESPN top 100 list.

"Samuel plays a position unto himself -- wide back -- and despite speculation he wanted that role to change during his contract negotiations, Samuel said it's not true," wrote Wagoner. "In 2021, he became the first player since 1999 and third in NFL history to have at least 1,000 receiving yards, five receiving touchdowns and five rushing scores in the same season. That means the Niners and Samuel can continue to dream up ways to get him the ball and see how he can continue to blur the lines between receiver and runner."

Samuel is the seventh-highest-ranked wide receiver on the list.

TE George Kittle

The last Niner on the list is tight end George Kittle, who falls 10 spots from last year to No. 38. ESPN sees a slight drop-off in production for Kittle compared to last season's 910 receiving yards and career-high six touchdowns. The site predicts 66 receptions for 820 yards and five touchdowns for the All-Pro.

"For Kittle, production in both the pass and run game has never been an issue," wrote Wagoner. "When healthy, he is one of the best, most versatile tight ends in the league. But Kittle hasn't played a full season since 2018, with various injuries slowing him down. If he can find a way to stay on the field -- and the Niners intend to help him in that cause -- he will again be a prominent piece of San Francisco's offense."

Kittle is the third-highest-ranked tight end on the list, behind Travis Kelce (17) and Mark Andrews (33).


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