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Top 10 49ers Entering the 2019 Season: Pre-Free-Agency Edition No. 1-5

Bobby Horne
Feb 5, 2019 at 3:19 PM


Continuing the countdown of the top 10 49ers heading into the 2019 season, we will take a look at the top five players and some reasons why they are key building blocks to putting together a successful campaign. These five players embody everything that the 49ers organization wants to represent its team.

You can view the players ranking from No. 6-10 here.

During the 2019 season, these players will be relied on to make big plays when it's needed the most. So to finalize this series here are the top five 49ers players for 2019:

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports


5) Robbie Gould:
There is not a whole lot to say when it comes to the 49ers kicker. He has been one of the most consistent kickers in the NFL since entering the league in 2005. Gould has a career field goal percentage of 87.5 and set the 49ers franchise record for most consecutive field goals made with 28.


The 49ers have their share of problems to fix in order to be successful in 2019, Gould is not one of them. He is set to become a free agent at the start of the new league year, but all signs are pointing to the 49ers resigning him or utilizing the franchise tag.

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

4) Joe Staley:

The longest tenured player on the roster is still one of the best. Staley has given the 49ers over a decade of solid play and in 2018 showed no signs of slowing down.

According to Pro Football Focus, Staley came in at No. 96 on its list of top 101 players of the 2018 season. He topped that by posting a top 10 overall rating among tackles with a grade of 82.2. 49ersWebZone's own David Bonilla has more information on his grades here.

Staley is a leader in the locker room and with the offense. His play speaks for itself and the 49ers would be desolate without him. Staley's consistency for 12 years has put him in the conversation of being a player worthy of the Hall of Fame.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

3) Jimmy Garoppolo:

Although Garoppolo has only started eight games for the 49ers, he has shown that when he is on the field he is easily one of the best players on this roster. His play has been nothing short of amazing but, unfortunately, he had his 2018 season cut short with a torn ACL.

2019 will be a very important season for Garoppolo as his team is coming off of a terrible year and it will fall on him to pick up the pieces. On the bright side, it's been reported that he has already started running and throwing. All signs are pointing to him being able to participate in all off-season activities. This is great news for 49ers fans. When he is on the field the rest of the team is elevated.

Garoppolo is a true leader both on and off the field and will be the face of this franchise for years to come.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

2) George Kittle:

This was not an easy decision, especially after the record-breaking year Kittle had in 2018. So look at this ranking as more of a "1b" than second. In 2018, George Kittle became a household name. Whether it's his off the field obsession of professional wrestling and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin or his game-breaking ability on it. People know the Kittle name.

Kittle broke the single-season record for yards by a TE, New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski's old record in 2011 of 1,327. Kittle finished with 1,377 and showed throughout the year that he is an elite athlete with a multitude of big plays. Kittle scored two touchdowns of over 80 yards, an impressive feat for any player let alone a TE. He was always a threat downfield and has arguably already become the best receiving TE the 49ers have ever had.

Kittle demanded double coverage near the end of the season, opening up the playbook for head coach Kyle Shanahan. Kittle's presence in 2019 is going to really bring life into this offense, with players like running back Jerick McKinnon and QB Jimmy Garoppolo returning from injury, things can turn around quickly.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

1) DeForest Buckner:

As hard as it was to choose between Kittle and Buckner, I kept coming back to Buckner and how dominating he has been. In a defense that was exposed for most of the year, Buckner shined. In 2017, he lead the NFL in QB hits with 19 and in 2018 he turned those hits into sacks, finishing the year with 12.0. That was good enough for 14th in the NFL.

14th in the league is middle of the pack, so what makes that dominating? The 4th ranked player in sacks was separated by a difference of 2.5 sacks, and out of the top 15, only two players rushed from the interior. DeForest Buckner and Aaron Donald, with the latter becoming the NFL's defensive player of the year. Buckner was double teamed consistently and still made 67 tackles. While these were the opposing teams' game plans for a player like Buckner, his presence is still felt on the field.

Buckner is a big part of the 49ers' future and has shown that he has All-Pro ability, he is one of the top interior lineman in the NFL and he has more to show. I fully expect Buckner to have a breakout year in 2019.
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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