The San Francisco 49ers may not have had the season they envisioned coming off of their NFC Championship run, but the performance of several players should offer some encouragement as the team heads into the offseason. Jeff Deeney of Pro Football Focus provided notes on several members of the 49ers who graded near the top of their respective positions in 2020. Here’s a few notes on seven of San Francisco’s top performers.
San Francisco saw no drop off in production on the left side of their offensive line following the retirement of long-time tackle Joe Staley. The 49ers acquired Williams in a draft day trade that sent a third-round pick to the Washington Football Team in exchange for the All-Pro tackle.
Despite missing the entire 2019 campaign in Washington, Williams returned to the field playing at the top of his game, earning a 91.9 overall grade on the season and finishing as PFF’s highest-graded tackle.
Williams did not allow a sack in nine-straight games and his 91.8 run block grade is the best PFF run-blocking grade of any tackle in the league this season. He, along with Mike McGlinchey (91.3) finished No. 1 and No. 2 among tackles in the NFL in run blocking grades.
Williams, who earned his eighth Pro Bowl nod this season, is set to become a free agent this offseason. The left tackle said San Francisco is a “lead candidate” as his preferred destination.
The 49ers saw strength on the left side of their offensive line. In addition to Williams, his linemate, Tomlinson, is coming off of a standout season of his own. The 49ers left guard played all but two snaps for San Francisco this season and finished the year with a 78.8 overall grade.
Tomlinson’s overall grade finishes eighth among all qualifying NFL guards.
San Francisco’s star tight end missed eight total games this season with various injuries, however, finished third on the team in yards (634), targets (63) and receptions (48). Despite limited playing time, Kittle finished fourth in the league among tight ends with an overall grade of 84.8.
He also led all NFL tight ends by averaging 2.84 receiving yards per pass route run this season. His 299 yards after the catch this season was fifth-best in the NFL among tight ends.
Warner is coming off of one of the best seasons of his young NFL career. Warner appeared in all 16 games in San Francisco and led the 49ers in tackles (125), ranked 10th in the NFL, while adding two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, a sack and seven quarterback hits.
The third-year linebacker’s performance earned him his first-career Pro Bowl honor. According to the analytics site, Warner allowed a passer rating of just 81.4 when targeted, some 25 points lower than the average linebacker target. Warner earned an 88.6 overall grade on the season, PFF’s best-graded linebacker in the league, with a significant gap between himself and the next closest player (Seattle Seahawks Bobby Wagner – 82.9).
Samuel only appeared in seven games this season and managed just under 400 yards receiving on 33 receptions (11.8 yards per attempt) and a touchdown. The second year wideout shined with what he was able to do with the ball after the catch. Among pass catchers with 30-or-more catches in 2020, Samuel led all wide receivers by averaging 12.2 receiving yards after the catch.
Samuel dealt with a number of injuries dating back to last offseason. He suffered a stress fracture in his foot back in June, which hindered the wideout in finding his “groove” and, according to Samuel, forced him to overcompensate in other areas of his body, leading to additional injuries.
The 49ers former fourth-round pick finished with PFF’s fifth-best punting grade with a 76.3. Wishnowsky recorded 66 punts for 3,093 yards (46.9 gross average) on the season.