For NFL teams, the bye week is meant for players to rest up and get healthy, while coaches create game plans for the following week. For the San Francisco 49ers, they have the potential of getting players such as Deebo Samuel, Raheem Mostert and Richard Sherman back for their pivotal Week 12 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.
On the other hand, while members of the organization look to the future, fans of NFL franchises take the bye week to reflect on what has already happened and look at the bright spots of the season. 49ers fans have experienced many ups and downs this season with the team’s 4-6 record (perhaps more downs than ups), but nevertheless, silver linings have come out of the team’s performances, giving the fanbase hope and optimism for what is to come in the future.
Here are the top five players of the 2020 San Francisco 49ers so far this year:
Honorable mentions: Tarvarius Moore, George Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk
In two games started this season, Moore has shown the depth he provides to the 49ers this season. It almost seems as if every time he’s on the field, he makes a big play that changes the momentum of the game. With strong safety Jaquaski Tartt a free agent next season, Moore would be a solid replacement for the secondary if the team decides to move on from Tartt next season, and if Tartt does come back, Moore has shown he deserves more playing time.
Kittle, on the other hand, would have made the list if he had only played more. Even in six games this season, Kittle showed why he’s the best tight end in football, averaging 12.8 yards per reception on 37 receptions. Riddled by a knee and foot injury, Kittle simply did not have the sample size big enough to get into the top five.
Juszczyk is the best skill position blocker on the team and is part of the identity of the running game. With him becoming a free agent, the former Baltimore Ravens fullback has shown this year why he needs to be one of the few players the 49ers MUST sign this offseason.
Number 5: Raheem Mostert and Deebo Samuel
It would be unfair to include only Mostert or Samuel in this list, as the impact they have on the field is similar. The potent running game of Kyle Shanahan is simply not the same with Mostert and Samuel out of the lineup, as Mostert’s ability to attack the running lane hard and the deceptiveness of Samuel in jet sweeps is unmatched from anyone else on the 49ers roster. They would have been higher on the list if they were not injured, and even though they have missed more games than Kittle, the 49ers have shown to have similar tendencies as a team when Kittle isn’t on the field. With Mostert and Samuel not on the field, the identity of the run first 49ers offense is lost.
4. Kerry Hyder Jr.
Replacing star defensive linemen Nick Bosa is no easy task and perhaps impossible, but if anyone on the 49ers defensive line could get close to that, it would be Hyder Jr. Hyder Jr. leads the team this season with 5.5 sacks, adding on 18 solo tackles and 13 quarterback hits. To add on, Hyder has only missed five tackles all season, proving to be the most consistent defensive linemen this season.
Hyder’s effort and the intangibles he brings to the 49ers defensive line warrants a potential re-signing this offseason. But with the hell that is the 49ers free agency period with over 40 players set to be free agents next season, 25 of those being unrestricted, that may not happen. If it doesn’t, he will get a handsome paycheck wherever he plays next season.
3. Jason Verrett
Verrett has returned to Pro Bowl form in his resurgent year with the 49ers. Verrett has given up only 204 yards on completions all season (124 of those through the air) and given up just one touchdown. Verrett is targeted around four times a game and has given up 9.4 yards per completion (5.8 yards per target) in eight starts this season. Ranking consistently in the top five ranking of Pro Football Focus (PFF), regardless of whether you agree with PFF or not, Verrett has been a saving grace for the secondary, and like many other players on the current roster, the 49ers will have to make a tough decision of whether to keep Verrett or not.
Verrett can prove that in the coming weeks if he can have strong performances against wideouts such as Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, followed by Stephon Diggs, Terry McLaurin, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and/or Ceedee Lamb, Deandre Hopkins and D.K. Metcalf and/or Tyler Lockett.
2. Brandon Aiyuk
In only eight games this season, Shanahan and general manager John Lynch are being proven why they may have gotten the steal of the first round in last year’s draft. Aiyuk is by far the best pure wide receiver on the roster, and his versatility and ability to run any route in the route tree is why Shanahan said he wanted to take him with the No. 14 overall pick.
Aiyuk has tallied 446 receiving yards on 35 catches and three touchdowns. When targeted on second down this season, Aiyuk has a 68.2 catch percentage and averages almost 14 yards per reception and is also targeted most in the fourth quarter and has his highest levels of production in the fourth quarter. Yes, that may be due to the 49ers trailing more times than not heading into the fourth quarter this season, but the experience Aiyuk is getting in those situations now will serve him in the long run. Simply put, the 49ers have one of their most promising WR1s since Terrell Owens.
1. Fred Warner
If I had anybody else other than Fred Warner at number one, I should never be allowed to write on this site ever again.
Warner is the heart and soul of the defense, giving 100% on every snap and making every play on the field. As the captain of the defense this season, Warner will be getting a much deserved raise this season and is on his way to being put in the coveted all-time 49ers linebacker group with the likes of Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman.
Warner has only missed four tackles on 79 attempts this season. Adding two interceptions and allowing only seven yards per completion and 4.7 yards per target, the NFL will never be able to forgive itself if Warner is not a first team All Pro linebacker this season.
Like Willis and Bowman, Warner is a true 49er. If the 49ers are to bounce back from what many consider a season thus far of not meeting previous expectations, 49ers fans can best believe Warner will be leading the pack for what could be a year of promise for the Red and Gold.