An In-Depth Look at the 2020 San Francisco 49ers – Power Ranking 5by Mason Thompson July 8, 2020
The 49ers were expected to make the playoffs during the 2018 season, but with Jimmy Garoppolo going down early in the season, that was derailed early. With Nick Bosa added with the second overall pick, the defense became an absolute powerhouse. San Francisco shocked the country by making it to the Super Bowl. Only to be defeated by Kansas City after holding a lead for the majority of the game. With most of the defense still intact and more weapons on offense, the 49ers are expected to once again make a deep playoff run.
Make sure to check out all of our in-depth power rankings here.
- Overall – 84.59 (5th)
- Offense – 84.175 (7th)
- Defense – 86.28 (1st)
- Coach and Culture – 88.5, (4th)
- Home Field Advantage – 84.5, T-9th (4% Defense, 2% Overall)
Quarterbacks – 81, 12th (36% Offense, 27% Overall)
Since acquiring Garoppolo in 2017, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have built quite the team around him. After his torn ACL in 2018, many expected the 49ers to go back to the cellar of the division, but the offense was stellar because of Garoppolo. He threw for almost 4,000 yards while tossing 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The numbers aren’t terrific, but he knows how to run Shanahan’s offense. There was a ton of talk about the 49ers potentially signing Tom Brady due to Garoppolo’s struggles in the postseason. He threw two touchdowns against three interceptions. That includes the NFC Championship against Green Bay where he only threw eight passes. He once again needs to prove himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
San Francisco has two young options as intriguing backups. Nick Mullens had a ton of success during the 2018 season when Garoppolo was down due to injury. Mullens is a great backup option who could come in and win some games as a spot starter. C.J. Beathard was once a third-round pick who has struggled to adjust to the pros. One of the two will likely be traded at some point during the preseason. Going to a quarterback-needy team or to start due to an injury.
Running Backs – 82.5, T-15th (4% Offense, 3% Overall)
Raheem Mostert burst onto the scene including making Green Bay’s defense look like swiss cheese in the NFC Championship where he rushed 29 times for 220 yards and four touchdowns. San Francisco likes to use multiple backs during games and Mostert showed he is worthy of more carries and perhaps a larger load this upcoming year. Tevin Coleman was a welcome addition last year and had over 700 total yards in a committee approach with a trio of other backs. Jeff Wilson had 139 yards and five touchdowns last year as the fourth piece in the backfield.
With Matt Breida being traded to Miami during the draft, the 49ers are hoping that Jerick McKinnon will be able to stay healthy during the preseason and be of help during meaningful games. McKinnon signed a four-year deal before the 2018 season but has yet to play a regular-season down for San Francisco. If he can stay healthy, McKinnon provides a dimension in the 49ers offense they currently don’t have. He can line up all over the field. Creating mismatches in coverage and has the elite speed to burst through the offensive line.
Pass Catchers – 82.5, 12th (17% Offense, 8% Overall)
Coming into his sophomore campaign, Deebo Samuel looked to have a breakout year following a rookie season where he had 961 yards and six total touchdowns on the year. Unfortunately, Samuel suffered a broken foot training for the season and might sit out a few games during September. With his injury issues in the past, this is very alarming for Samuel’s future. Brandon Aiyuk was one of two players the 49ers selected in the first round of the draft and will be used as a gadget player in Shanahan’s offense. Aiyuk was mostly used in bubble screens and quick passes during his time at Arizona State and fits in well with the offense. Kendrick Bourne is seemingly the forgotten man in the San Francisco offense and he was a huge asset last year where he caught 30 passes for 358 yards and five touchdowns.
Travis Benjamin was brought in on a one-year contract in hopes he would provide a spark similar to what Marquise Goodwin had before being traded to Philadelphia. Benjamin spent time with Shanahan on the Browns in 2014 so Shanahan is with another player he has coached before. Jalen Hurd was a third-round selection last year and has a unique skill set to say the least. During his first few years at Tennesee, he played running back before switching to receiver. If Hurd stays healthy, he has a chance to be the third receiver on the depth chart and the ultimate gadget player in the offense.
The slot receiver role could go to Benjamin, but that’s only if Trent Taylor doesn’t come back from his injury. Taylor had great success with Garoppolo when he was acquired in 2017 and caught 17 catches for 181 yards and a touchdown in his five games with him. Richie James has a spot locked up as the return man but also caught six passes for 165 yards and a touchdown last year. The team spent a seventh-round selection on Jauan Jennings as well and has Dante Pettis in the shadows waiting to emerge as the player many fantasy analysts thought he would become last year.
George Kittle is one of, if not the best tight end in the league. Kittle has emerged as a superstar in the league and continued that trend last year where he caught 85 of his 107 targets for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns. He is the number one option in the passing game and that won’t change this year. Ross Dwelley caught 15 balls as the second tight end and had two of them go for touchdowns. Kyle Juszczyk is one of the best fullbacks in the league and caught 20 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown in 12 games last year. The 49ers have a ton of potential in their receiving core but a couple of players need to show they can be healthy for it to reach its high potential.
Offensive Line – 85, T-6th (24% Offense, 12% Overall)
With Joe Staley retiring during the offseason, left tackle was a huge priority coming into the draft. Many NFC fans groaned as the 49ers traded for Trent Williams to man the left tackle spot. Mike McGlinchey needs to take another step forward in his third year as he has struggled in pass protection. Laken Tomlinson and Weston Richburg are solid on the interior, while the right guard spot has a bit of competition between Ben Garland, Tom Compton, and Daniel Brunskill. Brunskill is the favorite to win the job after filling in nicely due to injuries last year.
Justin Skule also provided a spark on the offensive line last year filling in and will once again be back as a top depth piece. Kofi Amichia is solid depth as well and Shon Coleman has veteran experience as a backup tackle as well.
Run Defense – 86, T-4th (6% Defense, 2% Overall)
San Francisco finished 12th against the run last year and replaced DeForest Buckner with Javon Kinlaw in the first round. D.J. Jones was great against the run last year and came in on run downs to supplant Solomon Thomas. Thomas and Kinlaw on the interior are a great tandem and there is still depth behind them. Kentavius Street and Julian Taylor are also depth on the interior. Joey Bosa and Arik Armstead are great against the run on the edge as well.
Pass Rush – 88.5, 1st (21% Defense, 10% Overall)
San Francisco finished with 48 sacks last year and will be around that same number again. Nick Bosa had nine sacks in his rookie year and will be an absolute force on the edge again this year. Arik Armstead had ten sacks last year opposite of Bosa and makes life terrible for opposing linemen. Dee Ford had 6.5 sacks in a rotational role in 11 games and will be the third option for the 49ers, where he could be the number one option for a multitude of other teams in the league. Kinlaw had ten sacks during his time at South Carolina and will team up with Thomas who had two sacks last year.
Ronald Blair is a solid fourth option and had three sacks last year in a limited role. Warner is one of the most underrated players in the league and had three sacks from the linebacker spot as well.
Linebackers – 86.5, T-3rd (15% Defense, 4% Overall)
The trio of Alexander, Greenlaw, and Warner is one of the most overlooked in the league. Greenlaw is the run stuffer of the bunch and had 92 tackles last year. Alexander and Warner are great in coverage and against the run. Warner is one of many young superstars on the defense and was an absolute steal in the third round of the 2018 draft.
Azeez Al-Shaair is a young depth piece and has some help with Joe Walker and Mark Nzeocha being depth as well Al-Shaair was undrafted last year and played the fourth-most snaps at the linebacker spot behind the three starters and is great on special teams. Nzeocha is a special teams ace and has his roster spot locked. Walker was added from Arizona last year and will compete for the first spot off the bench with Al-Shaair.
Secondary – 85, 4th (26% Defense, 17% Overall)
San Francisco’s secondary is devoid of name-value besides Richard Sherman, but the way that Robert Saleh schemes his defense is absolutely mind-blowing. He is similar to Bill Belichick. He looks to use his player’s strengths and blend them together in his scheme and it works great. Sherman got exposed in the Super Bowl due to his lack of speed, but besides that had a great year. Ahkello Witherspoon was super inconsistent last year and had a league-high five touchdowns be counted against him.
Witherspoon was benched multiple times in favor of Emmanuel Moseley, who was an undrafted free agent in 2018 and will need to prove himself once again this year. Jason Verrett was added as veteran insurance but went down early with an injury and didn’t play at all. K’Wuan Williams returns again following a season where he had two interceptions. Tim Harris will be in the fold as well after being placed on injured reserve last year. Jamar Taylor was added earlier this week and will compete for a roster spot.
Jimmie Ward has been plagued by injuries in his career and now 49ers fans love him after hating him for multiple years. Ward didn’t give up many big plays last year and was signed to a three-year extension. When he’s on the field, he’s one of the best in the league, but his injuries keep mounting. Jacquiski Tartt is more of a box safety and the defense struggled when he went down last year with an injury.
Coming into the last year of his contract, there have been some trade talks surrounding him though. Tarvarius Moore could be the player the 49ers replace Tartt with. Moore had a pass deflection and an interception in the Super Bowl. He will fight for more playing time this year. Marcell Harris has been inconsistent and could very well be cut if he doesn’t show that he can consistently be a viable backup option. D.J. Reed can play a variety of roles including slot cornerback as well as returning kicks and will most likely have some sort of role for the 49ers this year.
The names aren’t that recognizable but the scheme makes the secondary one of the best in the league. Unfortunately, Sherman, Tartt, Williams, Verrett, Witherspoon, Harris, and Moseley are all free agents after this year. The 49ers won’t have the cap space to keep the bulk of them.
Coach and Culture – 88.5, 4th (19% Offense, 28% Defense, 15% Overall)
San Francisco has one of the most explosive offenses in the league. The weapons around Garoppolo are great and features a two, or three, or even four-headed backfield. Shanahan spends so much time diagnosing film that he knows how to disassemble opposing defenses that make him look like one of the best coaches in the league. The 49ers rank fourth in offensive coach and culture.
How Saleh doesn’t have a head-coaching gig by now is beyond me. He has turned around a lowly 49ers defense into one of the best in the league. The defense has a mix of old and young players. The front four is the best in the league and is deep beyond those four. The linebacking core is underrated and the secondary, despite not having much star power, turned in a great performance last year. San Francisco ranks third in defensive coach and culture.
The 49ers are poised for another run at the Super Bowl with most of their core remaining intact. Beyond this year though, the 49ers could run into some trouble with their secondary. They will need to make another early selection at tackle with Williams aging. The duo of Shanahan and Garoppolo is here to stay. They will grow together and could potentially win the Super Bowl this year after coming up short this past year.
Questions and comments?
Hit us up on the Socials:
Check out our Facebook Group where you can read and post articles at The Scorecrow
Reddit Group where everyone can post without fear of being banned at The Scorecrow
Follow Mason Thompson on Twitter @Thompson22Mason
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images