Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports


Fred Warner among five players 49ers fans can be thankful for this season

Nov 25, 2020 at 12:00 PM0


The 2020 NFL season has not gone how the San Francisco 49ers, or their fans, expected it to go. The defending NFC champions are currently 4-6 with a tough road ahead of them as they make a final push to keep their playoff hopes alive. Decimated by injuries, and COVID-19, the 49ers' hopes of reaching another Super Bowl has fallen into the depths of despair.

However, with the holiday season upon us, it is important to look for positives and to be thankful for what we have. Despite a season that seems to be a constant series of mishaps, there have been players who have risen above the adversity and represented the organization proudly.

As we approach the final stretch of the season, let's take a moment to reflect on 5 players who 49ers fans can certainly be thankful for.

Fred Warner - Linebacker


In his third season, linebacker Fred Warner has elevated his game to another level as he establishes himself as one of the best linebackers in the league. Warner is featured on Pro Football Focus Midseason All-Pro team, with 79 tackles and 2 interceptions in 10 games. However, what Warner brings to the table is more than the numbers represented on a stat sheet. He is a true sideline-to-sideline linebacker that possesses a natural instinct to read and diagnose plays, ensuring he is in the best position to make an impact.

Warner has excelled in coverage this season and is the attribute that separates him from other linebackers. There are not many linebackers you can trust to drop back in coverage to defend the weak spots in a Cover 2 zone, but Warner thrives in these situations. He is able to run with tight ends as they sprint down the seams of a defense, while also lining up man-to-man on a slot receiver with no issues.


Trent Williams - Left Tackle


The 49ers' offensive line has faced its share of hardships this season, but Trent Williams has been solid. Williams was brought in to replace Joe Staley, and it is safe to say he has exceeded expectations. His power and explosiveness off the ball is unmatched, as he has been excellent in pass blocking, as well as run blocking. 49er's Quarterbacks and running backs should absolutely be thankful for Williams, who is the 49er's highest-graded player according to PFF with a 90.2 overall rating.


Jason Verrett - Cornerback


Jason Verrett makes a strong case for Comeback Player of the Year, as he has not only played well for the 49ers, but he has transformed the dynamic of the secondary with his elite level of play. With Richard Sherman injured, Verrett has taken over as the 49er's premier cornerback. Verrett has excelled in man-to-man coverage, only allowing 141 yards in 228 snaps, including 4 games where he has allowed less than 10 yards. His coverage skill has allowed the 49ers Defense to play more man-to-man coverage than in the past. Like Warner, Verrett was also featured by PFF in their 2020 NFL Midseason All-Pro Team. One cannot help but wonder what it would have been like to have Verrett in the secondary last February.


Brandon Aiyuk - Wide Receiver


When the 49ers drafted Aiyuk with their 25th overall pick, there were critics who thought the pick was a reach, and perplexed as to why the 49ers passed over the bigger wide receiver names in the draft. But 10 games into the season, it is apparent GM Jon Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan made the right choice, as he has easily been one of the best WRs in this draft class. Aiyuk has hauled in 35 receptions for 446 yards and 5 total touchdowns.

With injuries to Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, Aiyuk has become the focal point of the 49er's offense, and he is flourishing in that role. Aiyuk has displayed excellent route running abilities and a knack for making defenders miss tackles. Aiyuk has seen double-digit targets the last two games, which should remain consistent moving forward.


Javon Kinlaw - Interior Defenseman


The 49ers' other first-round draft pick has also turned out to be a strong addition. Kinlaw has 15 QB pressures so far this season which ranks third among rookies, behind only Chase Young (18) and Derrick Brown (17), per PFF. He also recorded his first sacks of his career against the Saints in Week 10, which has been his strongest single-game performance of the year. Kinlaw is proving to be a well-rounded defensive lineman, stout against the run, and shows his athleticism as he chases plays away from the line of scrimmage.


Heading into the season, the 49ers boasted one of the league's most fearsome defensive lines, but with injuries to Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Solomon Thomas, Kinlaw has been asked to produce without much help on the edge. As a rookie, he has held his own and is showing strong potential to become a great lineman. What Kinlaw brings to the table, won't always show up on stat sheets, but this experience will benefit the defensive line tremendously heading into the future as he continues to develop. The learning curve for a rookie DL is always steep, but it appears Kinlaw is beginning to put the pieces together.


From first-round draft picks contributing in big roles to defensive players elevating their game into elite status, there have been encouraging signs 49er fans can appreciate, even in a tough season. There have also been several players who have gained valuable experience as a result of the unprecedented amount of injuries at skill positions, which will only add to the depth of the team moving forward.

As of now, the 49ers are still eyeing a playoff spot, and it appears there may be relief in the form of starters returning from injury, but regardless of how the rest of this season plays out, let's remember to be thankful for the small things, especially in a year as difficult as this.
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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