Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Midseason Awards: Most Valuable, Improved, and Disappointing Players on Offense

Rohan Chakravarthi
Nov 10, 2022 at 3:15 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers are set to return from their bye week to face the Los Angeles Chargers at Levi's Stadium in Week 10, marking the beginning of a favorable second-half travel schedule as they have four home games in five weeks.

Standing at 4-4 at the bye week, the 49ers have certainly gone through their ups and downs this season, so let's evaluate the first half in the form I know best: grades.

Here are the midseason awards, both good and bad, for the 49ers thus far on offense.

Most Valuable Player: Brandon Aiyuk

Aiyuk has solidified himself as a top receiver this year, ranking first in yards, touchdowns, receptions, and targets for the 49ers this season.

The third-year receiver currently has gone three straight games with 80+ yards, while posting a fantastic 3.6% drop rate thus far, which is unlike several other 49ers this year.

Aiyuk has continued to improve his route-running capabilities, leading to separation, and is finally being rewarded with a high target share on a consistent basis.

Aiyuk has also been a big factor in San Francisco's quick-game passing attack, which plays to his strength of gaining yards after the catch, helping Jimmy Garoppolo maintain a strong level of efficiency.

Most Improved Player: Aaron Banks

After seeing his fair share of criticism for his lack of playing time in Year 1, guard Aaron Banks has stepped in admirably for veteran Laken Tomlinson, who departed in free agency, forming a strong one-two punch alongside Trent Williams on the left side of the offensive line.

Banks, taken in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, initially was placed in the right guard competition last offseason alongside Daniel Brunskill, but injuries and conditioning ultimately lost him the job.

With a significant change to his body to improve his movement in San Francisco's zone-run scheme, Banks has arguably been San Francisco's second-best offensive lineman this season, while having the most consistency with his health.

In 490 offensive snaps this season, Banks has let to allow a sack, displaying that consistency and providing Jimmy Garoppolo with strong blindside protection that has allowed him to gain more comfortability down the stretch.

Cohesion was the main question surrounding the offensive line heading into the season, but that doesn't appear to be a problem with Banks in the fold, as the second-year guard has shown a level of intelligence in picking up blitzes, which have eased the responsibilities of his fellow offensive linemen.

Most Disappointing Player: Deebo Samuel

As surprising as it may sound, Deebo Samuel has been the most disappointing player for the 49ers offensively, relative to expectations.

After an All-Pro season in 2021, it was expected that Samuel would see some form of regression, but the expectations were still fairly high, given his capabilities both in the running game and the passing game.

Samuel's rushing ability has been mitigated this season, as the star wideout is averaging just 3.78 yards per carry when discluding a 51-yard rush in Week 1, which is well below his average of 6.2 yards per carry in 2021.

Additionally, Samuel has dropped 13% of his passes this season, which is well above his 8.3% mark in 2021 when he hovered around the league leaders in drops, which is why him and Jimmy Garoppolo have connected on just 59% of their passes this season.

Samuel's route-running has appeared to take a step back, which has caused an increase in screen plays and shorter passes for Samuel for him to be effective, as his average depth of target is four yards, in comparison to a strong nine yards per target mark in 2021.

While Samuel continues to be amongst the league's best in yards after the catch, the 49ers' wideout has disappointed in other forms of his game this season, which has placed him in a backseat role to Brandon Aiyuk recently.

Now, Samuel is poised for improvement in the second half of the season after the 49ers acquired star running back Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers, which will allow Kyle Shanahan to become even more creative with his personnel to create favorable matchups.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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1 Comment

  • BigAl
    Yes. Before I clicked on the article I wondered if you would hold Deebo accountable similiar to as I do. He absolutely has been disappointing and to me his best play has been completely overblown as it was really just multiple defensive breakdowns by the Rams that enabled him on that long catch and run TD. I always knew AJ Brown was that bull but some of these huge WR contracts are going to really hurt their prospective teams, especially considering all the good WRs that seem to come out every year. Its a two-fold issue, Deebo not looking as explosive and I guess what Im more worried about, the 49ers evaluation of talent. I dont know if you held Warner to a standard as well but I do and he has not played up to his contract either. If we win a SB its all good but I cant shake this feeling of disaster coming. When Justin Fields runs for almost 180 yards and looks like Russell Wilson escaping pressure....And it had become clear that KS wanted a running QB to fuel his obsession with his own run game...Well it becomes obvious that they drafted the wrong QB. Lance doesnt run half as well as Fields. My point is if they missed on this, it brings everything into question.
    Nov 11, 2022 at 10:04 AM


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