49ers

Madden 21 ratings: George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo among winners, losers

Madden 21 ratings: George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo among winners, losers

The summer without sports has drawn on, but the (virtual) games are close to returning.

With the release of Madden NFL 21 coming next month, the player ratings for the newest installment of the popular game slowly are trickling out. We know the top-10 quarterbacks, running backs and the four members of the "Madden 99 Club," of which 49ers tight end George Kittle was not a part of.

As with everything in life, there has to be winners and losers (yes, even in video game rankings). So let's take a quick look at who came out on top, and who was left searching or wanting more when it comes to the Madden 21 ratings.

Winner: The Madden 99 Club

It's an elite group every year. The select few players are given a 99 rating in Madden, meaning they are the best of the best, according to those exalted video game gods doing the rankings. This year's class included no shockers, with Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Donald, Christian McCaffrey and Stephon Gilmore making the club.

There could be an argument made for Kittle, DeAndre Hopkins or Michael Thomas, all of whom were given a 98 rating, but it's hard to argue with the 2021 99 Club.

The celebratory dinner is on Mahomes.

Loser: Jimmy Garoppolo

The 49ers quarterback has spent all season getting poked and prodded by every Tom, Dick and Harry with a keyboard, podcast or television show. There was the Tom Brady scenario. The Aaron Rodgers questions. All the talk about the Super Bowl overthrow and not enough about a defense that fell flat in the fourth quarter.

And now, Garoppolo finds himself with an 83 rating and not in the top 10 of quarterbacks in Madden 21? Ouch. That burns. To be fair, I ranked Garoppolo as the 12th best quarterback in the NFL, which likely is where he will fall in the Madden rankings.

The quarterbacks above him include, Mahomes, Brady, Drew Brees, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz. It's hard to argue that Garoppolo is better than any of those (I did rank him one spot higher than Prescott).

After another year in Shanahan's system, there's a chance for Garoppolo to have a big year, win a Super Bowl and boost his Madden rating. You know, the truly important stuff.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Winner: George Kittle

No, he didn't make the "Madden 99 Club," but 98 isn't so bad, right?

Kittle has become one of the NFL's top stars during his three seasons in the NFL, and already has eclipsed Travis Kelce as the top tight end in football. Kittle is due a big contract extension, one that many believe should see him paid the same as Hopkins and Thomas, who he has the same ranking as.

One more season of stiff-arming helpless defenders into the turn and Kittle will get that "99 Club" package. Can't wait.

Loser: Running back rankings

The running back rankings were released Tuesday, and we've got a few issues.

OK, so McCaffrey at 99 is easy. I know Derrick Henry is a mutant alien who is impossible to tackle but is he really the second-best running back in the NFL? Is he better than Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley or Dalvin Cook? The committee of one i.e. me, says no.

Then, there's some massive disrespect to both Alvin Kamara and Josh Jacobs, who both are top seven running backs in my opinion.

Here are my totally off-the-cuff rankings:
McCaffrey (99)
Elliott (94)
Barkley (93)
Cook (93)
Henry (92)
Kamara (91)
Jacobs (91)
Chubb (91)

Please, don't at me.

Winner: Henry Ruggs

The 2020 NFL Draft was LOADED at wide receiver. It was viewed as one of the best receiver classes in history.

When all the smoke settled, Raiders rookie Henry Ruggs was given the top rating off the class at 76. Ruggs edged out Dallas Cowboys rookie CeeDee Lamb and Denver Broncos wideout Jerry Jeudy for top rookie receiver, thanks to the 98-speed rating he was given.

Honestly, that might not be fast enough.

[RELATED: 49ers could have Achilles heel at WR if Aiyuk, Hurd don't step up]

Loser: People who care about Madden rankings

I get it, video games are fun. But if you're sitting over here fuming mad because some guy you've never met gave a player you've probably also never met a lower ranking than you believe they deserved, please calm down.

First, let's acknowledge that you, the person who cares deeply about the Madden rankings, isn't looking at this through an unbiased lens. Second, if it really bothers you, I suggest doing what I would do at age 8. Go into the roster, edit your favorite players to make them super dope and then just have fun destroying everyone.

I've still never told my best friend I tinkered with Dennis Dixon... sorry, I mean QB #10's ranking in NCAA Football 2007. Mum's the word.

How 49ers fans acted toward NFL analyst Adam Rank since 3-13 prediction

How 49ers fans acted toward NFL analyst Adam Rank since 3-13 prediction

It was an idiotic pick, according to himself.

Before the 2019 season began, NFL Network analyst Adam Rank predicted the 49ers would have a 3-13 record. That didn’t happen, of course, as they went 13-3 and found their way to Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

The 49ers fans who got wind of this let Rank have it on social media.

But how have 49ers fans been since then? Maybe not as bad as we thought.

“They’ve been great,” Rank said on the NBC Sports Bay Area’s Balk Talk podcast. “Right off the bat, they’ve been super cool.”

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

So why did Rank choose that ghastly record? Jimmy Garoppolo was coming off of an ACL injury, for starters, and the 49ers secondary was coming off a season where they couldn't force takeaways.

“The defensive secondary had no interceptions -- or, I think maybe it was two interceptions, but the cornerbacks had no interceptions for an entire season,” Rank said. “Richard Sherman, you know, had not been playing well, arriving from Seattle … “

Rank also wasn’t sure how 49ers newly-drafted defensive end Nick Bosa would do. He can’t predict the future. He couldn’t anticipate a Defensive Rookie of the Year honor or an 89.8 grade on Pro Football Focus after a nine sack, 47 tackle, 25 QB-hit season.

How was he to know that?

[RELATED: Rank admits he's an 'idiot' for 49ers prediction]

Don’t worry friends, Rank had his reasons. And he has more than made up for it, predicting the 49ers to finish with a 12-4 record in the 2020 season.

He talks about that, and more on the latest episode of Balk Talk. And wait until you hear about the time Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout asked him for fantasy football advice.

What 49ers' interest in Ziggy Ansah, Dion Jordan means for pass rush

What 49ers' interest in Ziggy Ansah, Dion Jordan means for pass rush

The 49ers’ defensive line might be the strength of the team. But they are looking for even more from their outside pass rush.

The 49ers reportedly have visits planned for veteran edge rushers Ezekiel Ansah and Dion Jordan. Both players entered the NFL as first-round draft picks in 2013 and are being considered to add depth along the 49ers' D-line.

General manager John Lynch wants to provide some insurance to the outside pass rush.

Nick Bosa and Dee Ford are the 49ers’ top edge rushers. While Arik Armstead plays defensive end in base situations, he is more effective working inside as a nickel pass-rusher.

Ronald Blair, who could be the team’s No. 3 defensive end in passing situations, is working back from a torn ACL. Blair currently is on the active/physically-unable-to-perform list. The 49ers likely were able to re-sign him because the knee injury greatly influenced his market as a free agent.

After Bosa, Ford and Blair, the 49ers do not have a lot of answers.

Kerry Hyder, whom the 49ers signed as a free agent in the offseason, is the only other veteran outside pass rusher on the team. Hyder had 8.0 sacks with the Detroit Lions in 2016 while working with current 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek. But in Hyder’s other 26 NFL games, he has just 2.0 sacks.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Kocurek also has a history with Ansah, 31, whom the Lions selected at No. 5 overall in 2013. Ansah had a career-best 14.5 sacks in 2015 and 12.0 sacks in 2017, but injuries have impacted his career. He registered 2.5 sacks with the Seattle Seahawks in 11 games last season.

Jordan was the No. 3 overall pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2013, but his career was derailed by off-field issues.

He did not play in 2015 and 2016 after a third violation of the NFL's performance-enhancing substance policy. The Dolphins released him in 2017, and he signed with the Seahawks. He was suspended for 10 weeks last season for using Adderall.

In 50 career games, Jordan has 10.5 sacks. He played seven games with the Raiders last season and posted 2.0 sacks.

The 49ers visited with Damontre Moore last week, who was among the team’s final cuts last year. San Francisco re-signed Moore after Blair’s injury, but Moore sustained a fractured forearm in his second game with the club.

[RELATED49ers GM Lynch explains statement of not being NFL 'lifer']

The 49ers owned the top pass defense in the league last season, and a lot of the team's success can be traced to their pass rush. They tied for fifth in the NFL with 48 sacks during the regular season.

The pass rush took a hit in the offseason with the decision to trade defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round draft pick. Buckners registered 19.5 sacks over the past two seasons. The 49ers used their first-round draft pick to select Buckner's replacement, South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.

While Kinlaw is expected to step in and be an immediate force against the run, it might take a while to develop his pass-rush skills. He registered a total of 10.0 sacks during his final two seasons of college.