Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports


San Francisco 49ers: 5 players who could make the Pro Bowl in 2020

Jan 27, 2019 at 3:19 PM


The San Francisco 49ers sent three representatives to the 2019 Pro Bowl, which is commendable when considering the team's 4-12 record in 2018. So, which players have the best chance to get the nod when 2020 rolls around?


Tight end George Kittle, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner ended up representing the San Francisco 49ers in the 2019 Pro Bowl. Each player had notable seasons, particularly Buckner and Kittle. Buckner recorded a career-high 12 sacks in 2018, while Kittle set an NFL single-season record for tight ends with 1,377 receiving yards.

Each of these three would have an excellent shot to make the Pro Bowl once the 2019 regular season wraps up. Yet if San Francisco winds up being much better this upcoming year, one would expect head coach Kyle Shanahan to send a few more players to represent his squad for the NFC.

Including the aforementioned players, let's break down why these five 49ers wind up getting Pro Bowl honors a little less than a year from now.

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk


This one is fairly easy, given the relative lack of impact fullbacks in today's NFL.

Juszczyk has made the NFL all-star game three years in a row, and there's no reason just yet to assume he misses the cut in 2020. One could argue only the Kansas City Chiefs' Anthony Sherman, who represented the AFC, is the other realistic shoo-in at fullback after making his first in 2019. He ended up with three receptions for 92 yards in the 2019 Pro Bowl, while Juszczyk had just one touch -- a first-quarter rush for zero yards.

The lack of competition at the fullback spot is a pretty good pointer towards Juszczyk getting the nod again in 2020.

Defensive Tackle DeForest Buckner


Pro Football Focus might have argued Buckner had a better 2017 campaign than 2018. But the mass of Pro Bowl voters would have looked at the traditional stats instead. And after registering just three sacks in 2017, it shouldn't have been much of a shock to see Buckner get snubbed a year ago.

That changed in 2018, however, with Buckner shattering his 2017 sack totals with 12 last season.

This career high from Buckner could continue this upcoming year, especially if the Niners wind up adding a prolific outside pass-rusher in free agency or the NFL Draft. Doing so would help set the edge, freeing up Buckner to have better access to opposing quarterbacks who can't escape to the outside of the pocket.

Tight End George Kittle


OK, we probably won't see Kittle break his own single-season receiving record for a tight end in 2019. He's going to be the focus of opposing defenses now. And if the 49ers wind up adding another receiving weapon or two this offseason, Kittle's overall numbers might take a small bit of a hit.

But don't let that discourage you from thinking he'll miss out on a second consecutive Pro Bowl, though.

Remember, the Pro Bowl is about star power. And out of everyone on the 49ers 2018 roster, few have as much right now as Kittle. He's become something of a national icon, certainly aided by his record-setting performance in 2018.

And when you get publicity on NFL Network, people will remember:


Offensive Tackle Mike McGlinchey


San Francisco's first draft choice from 2018, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, might have been overshadowed a bit by his former teammate at Notre Dame, now-Indianapolis Colts offensive guard Quenton Nelson, who made the 2019 Pro Bowl as a rookie. But that doesn't mean McGlinchey has zero chance to make the NFL all-star game in 2020.

And if you're having doubts, remember McGlinchey was ranked higher than Nelson among 2018 rookie offensive lineman by the end of November, according to Pro Football Focus:


Nelson eventually ended up being graded higher than McGlinchey (76.7 to 73.2) by season's end. Yet it shouldn't change the notion McGlinchey is emerging as one of the cornerstone up-and-coming offensive tackles in the league right now.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo


2020 might be the year fans across the NFL want to see the 49ers' franchise quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, grace the Pro Bowl. Many, both in San Francisco and in New England, probably wish he could have in 2019. Yet Garoppolo's torn ACL in Week 3 of the regular season put an end to any hopes there.

Garoppolo's recovery will be crucial in making this happen. Yet if he's able to replicate those efforts seen over the final five games of 2017, it wouldn't be a shock to see Jimmy G get the nod.

Let's factor in some additional elements, too. First, Garoppolo will have had over a year's worth of study time in Shanahan's playbook. Plus, one might expect the 49ers to make some serious upgrades on offense. Kittle returning from a record-breaking season helps, and so will the hopeful maturation of 2018 rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis. Running back Jerick McKinnon, who also suffered a torn ACL, was envisioned as being a potent offensive weapon on the ground and through the air. And if San Francisco adds a top-tier wide receiver or complementary tight end this offseason, Garoppolo's on-field efforts should be reflected in the results.

Plus, like Kittle, Garoppolo has the star power. Some may argue it's premature, but one can't ignore the attention given to the quarterback since being traded to San Francisco.

And that attention gets votes.
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.
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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