49ers

NFL Top 100: 49ers' George Kittle ranked No. 29; DeForest Buckner left off?

NFL Top 100: 49ers' George Kittle ranked No. 29; DeForest Buckner left off?

George Kittle wears No. 87 for the 49ers, but now he's No. 29 in the NFL.

San Francisco's tight end was ranked as the 29th-best player in the league as part of the NFL Network's 2019 Top 100 rollout, which is voted on by the players themselves.

Kittle's lofty ranking was the product of an incredibly productive season, in which he broke the NFL single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end (1,377).

210 of those yards came in a Week 13 win over Broncos. "It was just impossible to stop him," said Denver sack artist Von Miller.

Another 82 yards came on a single catch against the Chargers in a Week 4, which Kittle described as "really fun."

"He shocked me with his speed. I didn't know he was that fast," said Chargers Pro Bowl safety Derwin James. "85 yards tells you how fast a guy really is."

As for his favorite catch of Kittle's from last season, 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was all about the style points.

"Probably his one-handed grab [against the Raiders] on Thursday Night Football," said Buckner. "'Dude, that catch was insane!' And he was like, 'Bro, my eyes were closed.'"

Speaking of insane, you couldn't come up with a better term to describe the sheer ridiculousness that Buckner seems all but certain to be left off the NFL's Top 100 list entirely. This after registering 12 sacks and 53 quarterback pressures last season.

The Top 20 has still yet to be revealed. Players that have yet to be listed include: Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ezekiel Elliot, Todd Gurley, Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown, Michael Thomas, Tyreke Hill, Aaron Donald, J.J. Watt, Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Bobby Wagner.

That's 20.

[RELATED: Lynch believes improved 49ers should let Jimmy G flourish]

It's incredibly difficult to envision a scenario in which any of those 20 players are not regarded among the top 100 in the league by their peers. Of course, you could say the same thing about Buckner. But, given his lower profile relative to the others mentioned, it seems likely he's going to be left out.

100 players better than Buckner? Yeah right. You can't name 40, because they don't exist.

How 49ers can add more picks in 2020 NFL Draft, according to Peter King

How 49ers can add more picks in 2020 NFL Draft, according to Peter King

The 49ers own the No. 31 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but after that, they are extremely shorthanded on selections this year. 

San Francisco has just one pick in the top 150. After the first round, the 49ers won't be on the clock again until the fifth round. They own two fifth-round picks, one in the sixth and two in the seventh. 

Between the second and fifth round, it's completely barren for general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. But NBC Sports' Peter King looked at how San Francisco could accrue more selections this April. 

Here's what King wrote in his latest Football Morning in America column. 

To project the Niners’ path, I looked north for a clue. The arch-rival Seahawks, with ever-restless GM John Schneider, provided an excellent example in 2019 of how to turn one first-round pick into a bevy of picks, replenishing what would have been a thin crop.

The trades:

Seattle traded its first-round pick, 21st overall, to Green Bay for the 30th, 114th and 118th picks.
Seattle traded the 30th pick to the Giants for the 37th, 132nd and 142nd picks.
Seattle traded the 37th pick to Carolina for the 47th and 77th picks. At 47, Seattle picked S Marquise Blair.
Seattle traded the 77th and 118th picks to New England for the 64th pick. At 64, Seattle selected WR DK Metcalf.
Seattle traded the 114th pick to Minnesota for the 120th and 204th picks.
Seattle picked WR Gary Jennings Jr. at 120, S Ugo Amadi at 132, LB Ben Burr-Kiven at 142, and RB Travis Homer at 204.

So Seattle turned pick 21 into picks 47, 64, 120, 132, 142 and 204 ... two second-round picks, two fourth-round picks, one fifth-round pick and one sixth-round pick.

The 49ers lost their second-round pick when they acquired defensive end Dee Ford in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs last offseason. They then lost their third- and fourth-round picks when they acquired wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in a midseason trade with the Denver Broncos.

But they added a fifth-round pick in the Sanders trade and a seventh-round pick from the Detroit Lions in a 2018 trade where they shipped away linebacker Eli Harold.

[RELATED: 49ers in good shape at QB entering the 2020 offseason]

The 49ers don't have too many holes on their roster after losing to the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, however, depth is always a must as they learned this season. With Jimmie Ward being an unrestricted free agent, the 49ers could target a safety early in the draft. They also likely will have their eyes on a loaded receiver class and depth on the interior offensive line. 

To add picks, though, they might have to take a lesson from their biggest rivals.

49ers roster analysis: Quarterbacks in good shape entering 2020 season

49ers roster analysis: Quarterbacks in good shape entering 2020 season

This is the first installment of a 10-part series that examines the 49ers’ roster coming out of the 2019 season, looks ahead to 2020, and outlines the offseason challenges facing general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan on a position-by-position basis.

Monday, a look at the 49ers’ quarterback position.

Under contract (signed through)

-Jimmy Garoppolo (2022)
-C.J. Beathard (2020)

Expiring contract

-Nick Mullens

As an exclusive-rights free agent, Mullens has no outside negotiating power. The 49ers retain his rights with a qualifying offer, but they could also look to sign him this offseason to a multi-year contract.

What needs to happen

The 49ers kept three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster last season because they believed the third quarterback held more value than a backup player at another position. That strategy did not cost the 49ers.

Despite keeping an extra quarterback, the 49ers were still able to bring back the top players they cut at the end of training camp when they needed them. Those players included running back Jeff Wilson, safety Marcell Harris, linebacker Elijah Lee and defensive lineman Damontre Moore.

This offseason, the 49ers will again be open-minded about the possibility of trading a quarterback. Beathard is scheduled for unrestricted free agency after this season, so it is unlikely the 49ers will be able to keep all three quarterbacks beyond this year.

The 49ers can also be expected to sign a fourth quarterback for the offseason program and training camp. They are likely to pick up an undrafted rookie who could have a shot at the practice squad if the 49ers deal away one of their QBs.

Expectations

Garoppolo threw for the fourth-most yards in franchise history in 2019. He was particularly impressive over the final 10 games of the regular season, when he achieved passer ratings of 110-or-better seven times.

Garoppolo started 19 games, including the postseason. In the Super Bowl, he completed 18 of his first 21 pass attempts. But in the final 10 minutes, he went 2 of 10 for 24 yards with an interception and a sack. The 49ers let a 10-point fourth-quarter lead get away in a 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. Afterward, Shanahan backed Garoppolo.

Garoppolo had never before started more than five games in a season before 2019. He should be even better in 2020 with a great knowledge of coach Kyle Shanahan’s system and the valuable experience he gained.

Overall, Garoppolo threw 29 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. A reasonable expectation is that he cuts his interception total in half for the 2020 season.

[RELATED: Juice sick of Jimmy G, Shanahan criticism after Super Bowl]

Mullens won the backup job last year over Beathard. Despite not attempting a pass, Mullens believes he made improvements behind the scenes that will be apparent the next time he gets a chance.

The 49ers should feel good about their quarterback situation entering the season, and there is no reason for the 49ers to make any significant move at this position.