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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Where 49ers players landed in PFF’s RB, TE, WR, CB, and DT rankings

Jun 5, 2023 at 9:31 AM--

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Pro Football Focus has been going through its annual position rankings. Trent Williams came in as the NFL's best tackle, which is probably a shock to no one. The San Francisco 49ers' second-year quarterback, Brock Purdy, came in at No. 23 within his position group. A late-season stretch of promising play got Spencer Burford into the ranking of offensive guards. He came in at No. 32.

Several other 49ers have appeared throughout the rankings. The team is represented in the running back, tight end, wide receiver, cornerback, and defensive tackle lists.

Two 49ers players came in at No. 3 within their respective position rankings. The first was running back Christian McCaffrey, who had only Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns and Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans listed above him. However, Pro Football Focus acknowledges that a case could be made for McCaffrey being the top-ranked running back.

"If you heavily weigh receiving ability into where a back should be ranked in an exercise like this, McCaffrey would probably be No. 1," wrote Trevor Sikkema. "His 92.6 receiving grade was the best at the position last season, and it marked his fourth season with an elite grade in that category.

"His rushing grades haven't been as strong, but he's averaged more than 4.5 yards per carry in each of the past two seasons. Even if his rushing numbers are inflated a bit due to the friendly Shanahan system, McCaffrey is still one of the biggest difference makers at the position."

The other player listed at No. 3 within his position ranking is tight end George Kittle, who has only Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs and Mark Andrews of the Baltimore Ravens listed above him. Although, Kittle being third on the list has much to do with how he is utilized.

"If Kittle was fed as heavily as the top tight ends in the NFL, his numbers would rival Kelce's," wrote John Kosko. "Alas, he's played like a traditional inline tight end and has to compete with several top-tier weapons for targets in the 49ers' offense. Kittle's 87.8 receiving grade ranks second over the last two years, and he is an absolute monster with the ball in his hands with 30 missed tackles over that same time."

The talent-rich 49ers are represented within the other rankings, but nowhere as close to the top of their respective lists as Williams, McCaffrey, and Kittle.

A pair of 49ers appear within the wide receiver ranking. Deebo Samuel comes in at No. 10.

"Arguably the most unique receiver on this list, Samuel is so effective running the ball that it tends to overshadow how good he is in conventional ways as a receiver," Sam Monson wrote of Samuel. "For his career, Samuel averages 2.29 yards per route run and has caught 43.4% of contested targets. He has broken 128 tackles on 223 catches, and that's before you get to the threat he poses as a rusher. He is one of the most dynamic threats in the game."

Brandon Aiyuk can be found 10 slots lower than his teammate, at No. 20.

"The 49ers have such an array of offensive talent that Aiyuk tends to fly under the radar," wrote Monson. "But he is a dynamic and devastating weapon in his own right. He topped 1,000 receiving yards for the first time last season, and now passes thrown his way for his career are generating a 109.1 rating despite the real lack of stability the 49ers have had at the quarterback position."

The next highest-ranked player within his position group is Charvarius Ward, who comes in at No. 11 among NFL cornerbacks.

"Coming off a career year in Kansas City, Ward backed it up with an even better one in San Francisco in his first year with the team," wrote Monson. "Ward matched the 11 pass breakups he had the year before and was a dramatically better run defender in DeMeco Ryans' defense. He has the size and length to be a physical problem for smaller receivers, and he uses that to great effect."

That's it for 49ers cornerbacks. Although, at least one more defensive back is sure to represent the 49ers when the ranking of safeties is released.

Two 49ers appeared within the listing of defensive tackles. The first is a recent addition to the roster, Javon Hargrave, who comes in at No. 13.

"Hargrave secured a massive contract this offseason from the 49ers after producing impressive PFF pass-rush grades with the Eagles," wrote Gordon McGuinness. "He hasn't been great against the run over the past three seasons, but his pass-rushing dominance makes that easier to digest. He has generated 129 total pressures on 995 pass-rushing snaps over the past two seasons."

Lastly is Arik Armstead, who came in two spots later at No. 15.

"Armstead's 63.4 PFF grade last season was the second lowest of his career," wrote McGuinness. "His versatility has seen him play both as an interior and edge defender, though, so he brings added value in that regard. Armstead perenially achieves PFF pass-rush grades of 65.0 or better and recorded 30 pressures on 306 pass-rushing snaps last season."

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