The 49ers' defense is the strength of the team and one of the best units in the entire NFL. The offense, though, is nothing to scoff at.
Only three teams averaged more yards per game than San Francisco last season, and one could argue the 49ers' offensive production would have been even greater had they been in more situations where they had to be aggressive and put points on the board. When you're running out the clock more often than not in the fourth quarter, that's going to have a negative effect on your offensive output.
So, it stands to reason that the 49ers' offense actually is better than the statistics show. They're not the most dynamic offensive attack in the league -- that would be the team that beat them in Super Bowl LIV -- but they're surely among the toughest offenses to stop. Which is why ranking Jimmy Garoppolo as having only the 11th-best supporting cast among all NFL starting quarterbacks is absurd.
To be clear, arguing that the 49ers have the 11th-best offensive weapons at their QB's disposal isn't the insult. After all, that ranking still has them on the cusp of the upper third in the NFL. Rather, it's some of the supporting casts Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox ranked as being superior to San Francisco's that is downright laughable.
Knox's rankings are supposed to be based on past production, accolades, health and upside. If that's the case, why did the 49ers drop in the rankings, from No. 7 last year now to No. 11? If anything, one would imagine their ranking would improve after George Kittle cemented himself as the best tight end in football, Deebo Samuel had a breakthrough rookie campaign and San Francisco's rushing attack ranked second-best in the entire NFL.
Yes, you could argue their drop in the rankings is due to no fault of their own, but rather the superior relative progression of other supporting casts. But while that would be a valid argument for teams such as the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos -- who Knox ranked No. 7 and No. 10, respectively -- it falls flat on its face when considering the Buffalo Bills (No. 8), Atlanta Falcons (No. 9) and, to a lesser extent, the Los Angeles Chargers (No. 6).
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Chargers receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are better talents than what the 49ers have at the position, but outside of that, there isn't much you can point to as being superior for Los Angeles. Melvin Gordon now plays for the Broncos, and while Austin Ekeler is a fantastic receiving threat out of the backfield, it will be difficult for him to match the combined production of Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson. And while Hunter Henry is a very good tight end when healthy, his impact doesn't compare to Kittle's. So, while arguments can be made as to which team has a better supporting cast, they should be much closer in the rankings than they are.
The argument for the Falcons as having a superior supporting cast to San Francisco's is basically the same as the Chargers'. Julio Jones might be the best wide receiver in the entire league, and Calvin Ridley is one of the better No. 2s. Samuel has a long way to go to catch up to Jones, but one could argue he's already better than Ridley. As for the other areas of Atlanta's offense, good luck finding something better than what the 49ers have.
San Francisco had a better tight end when the Falcons had Austin Hooper, who has since left for the Cleveland Browns. Hayden Hurst is a fine pickup, but he can't sniff Kittle's talent. At running back, they replaced Devonta Freeman with Todd Gurley, an aging back with bad knees who failed to eclipse 100 rushing yards in any game last season. Jones is phenomenal, but his presence alone does not make Matt Ryan's supporting cast better than Garoppolo's.
Then there are the Bills, who at No. 8 might have the most outrageous placement throughout all of Knox's rankings. Eight?! Based on what?
Buffalo traded for Stefon Diggs. Big whoop. He joins a receiving corps led by Cole Beasley and John Brown. At running back, they have Devin Singletary -- who rushed for 775 yards as a rookie -- and third-round draft pick Zack Moss. At tight end, there simply is no comparison to be made between Kittle and Dawson Knox. The gap is that wide. Frankly, the Bills' supporting cast doesn't belong anywhere near the top-10, whereas the 49ers' most certainly does.
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It's also worth noting that nowhere in Knox's rankings does he consider the impact of coaching or the offensive line. How can they not be considered part of a QB's supporting cast? If those areas were included, surely the 49ers would rocket up the rankings. There is no better play-caller in all of football than Kyle Shanahan, and not only was San Francisco's offensive line superior to those of the Chargers, Falcons and Saints last season, but should be again in 2020.
The 49ers' offense might not be the strength of the team, but it doesn't really have any weaknesses. The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts, which is precisely what a supporting cast strives to achieve.