49ers

George Kittle leads six 49ers ranked in PFF's top 101 players of 2019

George Kittle leads six 49ers ranked in PFF's top 101 players of 2019

George Kittle was voted as the winner of the 49ers’ most-prestigious team award.

He also took home the top league-wide honor from Pro Football Focus as the best overall player from the 2019 season.

Kittle, as PFF describes it, graded out as the best player, regardless of position, in the NFL last season on a snap-by-snap basis. He was among six 49ers whom PFF graded among the top 101 players in the league.

Kittle, who was voted by his 49ers teammates as winner of the Len Eshmont Award, had 1,053 receiving yards and five touchdowns in the regular season.

He averaged 7.3 yards after the catch, most in the league among players with 50 or more receptions, according to PFF. He led all tight ends with 20 broken tackles.

Kittle, who also is an outstanding blocker, had the highest grade PFF has ever given to a tight end. His grade was the best in the entire NFL in 2019. He appears to be in line to become the league's highest-paid tight end this offseason.

Here are the other top 10 players, according to PFF’s grading system:
2. DT Aaron Donald, L.A. Rams
3. QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
4.
QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
5.
G Brandon Brooks, Philadelphia
6. DE T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
7.
QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore
8. WR Michael Thomas, New Orleans
9. T Ryan Ramczyk, New Orleans
10. DT Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh

Five other 49ers were ranked among the top 101, according to PFF:

13. CB Richard Sherman
Sherman was not challenged much during the regular season. When teams went his way, they often paid the price. Quarterbacks who tested him had a 45.3 passer rating for the entire season, despite his struggles in the Super Bowl, according to PFF. He gave up just 227 passing yards in the regular season on his way to his fifth Pro Bowl recognition.

28. DE Nick Bosa
Bosa, who placed one spot ahead of his brother, Joey, registered the most pressures PFF ever has recorded by a rookie. PFF has been around since 2006. Bosa only got better in the postseason with 22 pressures in three games, including 12 in the Super Bowl. Bosa, the No. 2 overall pick, won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

30. DE Arik Armstead
Armstead had his breakout season with a team-high 10 sacks during the regular season. He recorded a total of nine sacks in his first four seasons. He had 73 quarterback pressures for the entire year, which is one shy of doubling his previous career high, according to PFF. He also produced a career-best 42 defensive snaps, as he proved to be a force both as a run and pass defender. Armstead is scheduled for unrestricted free agency, but general manager John Lynch said the 49ers’ goal is to keep him around for “a long time.”

54. S Jimmie Ward
Ward never spoke out during his first five NFL seasons. Despite constant position changes, Ward did not complain. He just did his job. This season, the 49ers kept Ward at safety, and he remained healthy. The results showed. Ward did not register an interception, but he broke up eight passes and was a big reason no team surrendered fewer pass plays of 20 yards or more. Ward likely is one of the 49ers’ top priorities to re-sign this offseason as a scheduled unrestricted free agent.

[RELATED: How DeForest Buckner, George Kittle impact 49ers' free agency decisions]

82. DT DeForest Buckner
Buckner is described by PFF as “a player with no real weaknesses.” After the 49ers’ three postseason games, Buckner ended the season with a career-high in quarterback pressures. He registered 7.5 sacks in the regular season and 2.5 more in the postseason. There’s no question what the 49ers coaching staff thinks of Buckner. He was named the winner of the Bill Walsh Award, which is given to the 49er who has best represented the standard of professional excellence established by the Hall of Fame coach.

49ers' Kendrick Bourne implores Matt Breida to re-sign for 2020 season

49ers' Kendrick Bourne implores Matt Breida to re-sign for 2020 season

Kendrick Bourne wants Matt Breida to follow in his footsteps.

The 49ers wide receiver signed his one-year tender Monday, ensuring he would return for the 2020 season. San Francisco placed second-round tenders on Bourne and Breida last month, and Bourne encouraged Breida to sign his, too.

Bourne and Breida joined the 49ers as undrafted free agents in 2017. The 24-year-old receiver scored a career-high five touchdowns in the 2019 regular season and caught 30 passes for 358 yards.

[RELATED: Why Jeudy could be just what 49ers want in 2020 NFL Draft]

Breida, meanwhile, largely lost his role in the 49ers offense by the end of the 2019 season. He ran a career-high 153 times for 814 yards in 2018, but Breida ran for nearly 200 fewer yards in 2019 as the running back ended the season behind Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman on the 49ers’ depth chart. Jerick McKinnon’s return could further crowd Breida out.

Bourne has been with Breida every step of their NFL careers, however, and he wants the running back to once again be his teammate this season.

2020 NFL Draft profile: Why Alabama's Jerry Jeudy is what 49ers need

2020 NFL Draft profile: Why Alabama's Jerry Jeudy is what 49ers need

Editor's Note: NBC Sports Bay Area will preview the NFL Draft with a look at the 49ers’ top needs, profiles of prospects that might be good fits, along with some hidden gems in the later rounds. In this installment, we profile Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

Top NFL draft prospect Jerry Jeudy could be exactly what 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has been looking for. 

Shanahan has remained steadfast in his belief that you don’t have to be the biggest or fastest wide receiver to be the most effective and productive. There are several other qualities that remain higher on Shanahan’s list, and it appears that Jeudy checks most, if not all, of those boxes. 

Michael Locksley, Jeudy’s coach and offensive coordinator during the receiver's first two seasons with the Alabama Crimson Tide, spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area about the receiver’s unique talents.

[RELATED: Latest Mock: 49ers don't get Jeudy]

“Can’t say enough about his ability as a route-runner,” Locksley said. “I think with Jerry, it’s his ability and suddenness he has to get in and out of a break, whether it’s working back toward the ball which is the toughest breaks that receivers make, when they’re working back toward the quarterback.

“He has the ability to be full speed and drop his weight – or, as we say, sink his hips -- to stop on a dime, and he always gives the illusion of speed always at the top of the route but is able, without taking the little small steps you see people normally have to take to put his foot in the ground and change direction.”

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Leigh Steinberg of Steinberg Sports and Entertainment, who represents Jeudy, was equally impressed by his client’s route running. 

“He might be the best route runner that I’ve ever seen in college in my 40 years,” Steinberg told NBC Sport Bay Area. “He runs the most precise routes. He’s also very smart.” 

With precise route running and the ability to change direction on a dime, Jeudy is able to get separation, which Shanahan has repeatedly said is one of the most important aspects to being a receiver. 

Another trait that Shanahan looks for was exemplified by All-Pro tight end George Kittle and receiver Deebo Samuel throughout 2019: Gaining yards after the catch. 

“Tremendous run-after catch ability,” Locksley said of the Alabama receiver. “He is such a loose-limbed, loose-body guy. You watch him and his ability to make people miss is as good as I’ve ever seen.”

Steinberg noted that Jeudy has impressed him off the field as well, most notably when the Alabama star met Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice while in Miami for Super Bowl LIV. 

“The most impressive thing I’ve seen from him was how he interacted with Hall of Fame receivers while in Miami for the Super Bowl,” Steinberg said. “He asked Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin and Cris Carter what their secrets to longevity were. He’s bright enough to use his time with the best, to enhance his own performance.”

[RELATED: Simms: Jeudy not loved by all teams]

Jeudy was extremely productive in his three seasons at Alabama, catching 159 passes for 2,742 yards, 26 touchdowns and an average of 17.2 yards per catch. It is inevitable that he is a player that will have an impact on a team's offense. What the 49ers will do with the No. 13 overall selection in the draft, however, is much less certain.

NFL draft profile: Jerry Jeudy

Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 193 pounds
College: Alabama
Career stats: 159 catches for 2,742 yards and 26 touchdowns

Combine measurables
40-yard dash: 4.45 seconds (11th among wide receiver class)
Vertical jump: 35.0 inches
Broad jump: 120.0 inches
20-yard shuttle: 4.53 seconds

What experts are saying
Mel Kiper, ESPN: “Jerry Jeudy is a precise kid, running routes, first out of his break. Reminds me a lot of Marvin Harrison.”
Todd McShay, ESPN: “I think he’s one of the best five players in the entire draft.”
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Media: "Bama WR Jerry Jeudy = smooth operator. He’s such an easy mover. Reminds me a little of Robert Woods coming out of USC. Same frame, same understanding/instincts."
Josh Norris, NBC Sports: "I know it’s easy to compare players from the same school, but it’s easy to see Calvin Ridley in Jerry Jeudy’s game."

Projected round: First (top 15 overall)