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Grading the 49ers: PFF’s top performers and underachievers of the 2023 season

Jan 12, 2024 at 11:56 AM--

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The 2023 NFL regular season has concluded, and Pro Football Focus (PFF) has provided its grades for the San Francisco 49ers players based on their performances during the first 18 weeks. Let's examine the top five highest- and lowest-graded players on offense and defense.

Starting with the offense, let's take a look at the five highest-graded players and their respective grades.

Tackle Matt Pryor's 88.5 grade would have come in fourth on the list, but the offensive lineman played only 42 snaps this season, fewer than the 50-snap minimum I have arbitrarily set for this list.

Aiyuk was nearly the team's highest-graded player overall. However, his score was just short of one defensive playmaker. Aiyuk finished the season with a career-high 1,342 receiving yards to go with his seven touchdowns.

McCaffrey achieved the best overall grade of his career, supported by an impressive season with 2,023 scrimmage yards and 21 total touchdowns.

Purdy elevated his play from a remarkable 2022 rookie campaign, throwing for 4,280 passing yards and 31 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions. He earned an NFL-leading 113.0 passer rating, averaged a league-high 9.6 yards per attempt, a league-high 13.9 yards per completion, and set a new franchise record for passing yards in a single season.

The following were the three lowest-graded 49ers players on offense this season.

Rookie tight end Brayden Willis would have ranked third if he had played more than 50 snaps, earning a 53.0 overall grade.

Turning to the defensive side, here are the five highest-graded players and their respective grades.

Bosa emerged as the 49ers' highest-graded player, edging out Aiyuk. His 92.7 overall grade and 92.6 pass-rushing grade marked career highs. Bosa was credited with 95 pressures, bested only by Micah Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys and Aidan Hutchinson of the Detroit Lions.

Warner maintained his high-level performance, securing an overall grade of 85.7 or higher for the third time in four seasons. The linebacker has recorded 118 or more tackles in each of his six NFL seasons.

Ward achieved career-highs with an 82.6 overall grade and an 83.3 coverage grade, leading the NFL with 23 passes defensed and setting a career-high with five interceptions.

The following were the three lowest-graded 49ers defenders this season, again, with a 50-snap minimum requirement.

It's important to note that Hawkins played in only one game, while McGill appeared in just two.

Obviously, Purdy was the 49ers' highest-graded quarterback, and Aiyuk was the highest-graded wide receiver. Let's look at the highest-graded players from position groups not mentioned in the two top-five lists above.

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk earned a 56.7 overall grade, his lowest since his rookie 2013 season. Juszczyk's season grades have steadily declined since his best mark with the 49ers—a 74.9 grade in 2019.

After Williams, the highest-graded offensive linemen were guard Jon Feliciano (81.2) and tackle Jaylon Moore (72.9).

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