49ers' George Kittle and Joe Staley recognized on PFF's top 101 list


49ers' George Kittle and Joe Staley recognized on PFF's top 101 list

The leader in NFL analytics has produced its annual list of the best 101 players in the league.

Tight end George Kittle and left tackle Joe Staley earned their spots on the rankings of the NFL’s best players in the rankings from Pro Football Focus.

Surprisingly, the 49ers' defensive teammate, DeForest Buckner, did not make the list.

Buckner was added to the NFC Pro Bowl team after a breakout season during which he led the 49ers with a career-high 12 sacks. Buckner, a three-year veteran, is eligible for the first time this offseason to sign an extension with the 49ers.

Kittle made his debut on the list at No. 13 overall. He led the 49ers with 88 receptions for 1,377 yards to set the NFL record for most receiving yards in a single season from a tight end.

”No player in the PFF era has ever racked up more yards after the catch in a single season than Kittle did in 2018. Not just tight ends -- everyone,” PFF wrote, in reference to his 873 yards after the catch.

PFF also noted that most of Kittle production came in the 13 games after Jimmy Garoppolo’s season-ending knee injury with reserve quarterbacks C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens distributing the football.

[RELATED: How Kittle wants to get even better in 2019]

PFF bases its list solely on the 2018 season, and performance in the postseason is also taken into account.

Staley made the list for the sixth time in his career, checking in at No. 96. PFF said Staley finishing in the top-10 in overall grade among offensive tackles. He allowed just 25 total pressures and four sacks in 609 pass-block snaps this season.

Here is PFF’s top 20:
1, DT Aaron Donald, L.A. Rams
2, WR DeAndre Hopkins, Houston
3, QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City
4, QB Drew Brees, New Orleans
5, DT Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia
6, WR Michael Thomas, New Orleans
7, QB Tom Brady, New England
8, LB Bobby Wagner, Seattle
9, CB Stephon Gilmore, New England
10, DE Khalil Mack, Chicago
11, DT Akiem Hicks, Chicago
12, QB Andrew Luck, Indiananpolis
13, TE George Kittle, 49ers
14, S Eddie Jackson, Chicago
15, DT Chris Jones, Kansas City
16, DE Cameron Jordan, New Orleans
17, DT Grady Jarrett, Atlanta
18, LB Luke Kuechly, Carolina
19, DE J.J. Watt, Houston
20, S Jamal Adams, N.Y. Jets

Antonio Brown meets with Steelers owner, says 'it is time to move on'


Antonio Brown meets with Steelers owner, says 'it is time to move on'

After months of airing out his feelings towards the Steelers, Antonio Brown has finally met with team owner Art Rooney II. 

Rooney wasn't the only member of Steelers management at the meeting in Florida. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and exec Omar Kahn were also in attendance, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter, and it's clear a trade is on the horizon. 

The meeting comes the morning after Brown went on Instagram and said the following: "If your team got guaranteed money, they want to get to know me and work with me, tell 'em call me. ... Call me Mr. Big Chest! Big Chest for now on. Big Chest Brown for now on! Don't even call me AB. Just call me Big Chest. Yeah, I'm Mr. Big Chest!" 

Brown also recently sent out a series of tweets, one in which he calls out Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for his "owners mentality." Even though his talent is there, Brown's social media presence has turned some teams away, reports Peter King.

Ever since his request to be dealt, Brown has found himself at the center of trade rumors this offseason. He finished the 2018 season with 104 receptions for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns.

[RELATED: Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown? 49ers have need, and decision to make]

Last week, Brown was found guilty of reckless driving in a Pennsylvania court and did not attend his hearing. The 31-year-old is also being sued in Florida for throwing furniture off of a 14th-floor balcony, and nearly hitting a toddler and his grandfather. 

The future seems inevitable. Brown's time in Pittsburgh has virtually come to an end, but his new home is still a mystery.

Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown? 49ers have need, and decision to make


Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown? 49ers have need, and decision to make

The 49ers have an obvious need at wide receiver, and that was before they decided to move on from Pierre Garcon last week.

There's been an abundance of reports regarding current Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown's displeasure with the Steelers, as well as his potential fit with the 49ers, and their publicly professed appreciation for his talents.

Still, Brown can't seem to stay out of the news these days, and usually for the wrong reasons. It's unclear if that would make him less attractive to San Francisco, or more, in that his trade price could theoretically drop further.

If the 49ers are intent on acquiring a star receiver this offseason, they aren't necessarily limited to Brown. In fact, a pairing with the Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. -- who, at 26 years old, is considerably younger than Brown -- could make more sense for San Francisco, and be less messy.

According to a report from Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, the 49ers remain interested in acquiring the Giants' dynamic receiver. And, New York may be more willing to listen to offers now than they have been in the past.

"The 49ers have had real interest in Beckham for nearly a year," Florio writes. "The only question is whether the Giants are willing to pull the trigger. As reflected by last week’s bold offseason prediction from Jay Glazer, the Giants may indeed be ready to do so."

So, what would it cost San Francisco in a trade for Beckham Jr.? The 49ers hold the second and 36th overall picks in the upcoming NFL draft, but Florio insists some additional compensation would likely be headed back to San Francisco if they gave up their top overall selection.

[RELATED: Who Mel Kiper Jr. has 49ers, Raiders picking in first round]

"The No. 2 overall selection would seemingly be a high price to pay, possibly requiring the Giants to send maybe a third- or fourth-round pick back to the 49ers to balance it all out."

If the 49ers choose not to throw their chips in on either Brown or Beckham Jr., they face the possibility of a direct competitor acquiring one of the best pass-catchers in the league. In a way, San Francisco adding either of them could also be seen as 'playing defense' in roster construction.

For instance, Florio mentions that the Los Angeles Rams had interest in trading for Beckham Jr. last year, but instead opted to acquire Brandin Cooks.

"But if the Rams want to make a big splash in 2019," he continues, "they could (in theory) dangle someone like receiver Robert Woods to the Giants as part of the package."

The Rams, of course, lost to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. The talent gap between Los Angeles and San Francisco isn't as wide as it seems, but it would surely get wider if the Rams added the kind of dynamic receiver the 49ers so desperately need.

Ultimately, the 49ers have to decide what makes sense for them. They clearly need to upgrade the receiver position, and with both Brown and Beckham Jr. seemingly available for trade, the opportunity is there, should they choose to pursue it.

It can't hurt San Francisco to have multiple options. But you could make the argument that the only option the 49ers don't have in this situation is to miss out on this opportunity entirely.