SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
49ers Midseason Report Card: Who Gets an ‘A’ on Offense?
Eight weeks have gone by in a flash as we have officially hit the halfway point of the 2022 regular season. Going into the Bye Week with a win is exactly what the San Francisco 49ers needed, able to recharge and attack the NFC West at 4-4 coming out of the break.
It hasn’t been an easy road for the Red & Gold so far, losing numerous starters on both the offense and defense along the way. The biggest of them all was Trey Lance, suffering a right ankle fracture in Week 2 that effectively ended his sophomore campaign. Luckily the 49ers had a contingency plan in place with Jimmy Garoppolo retaking the helm to lead the team to a .500 record going into the back half of the season.
Before we get ahead go ourselves and look at the team’s next matchup (the Los Angeles Chargers), now is the time to reflect on the state of the team. Who’s flashing potential? Who’s taken a step back this year? How many running backs are too many?
The answer: Five, made apparent by the Jeff Wilson Jr. trade Tuesday.
All jokes aside, it’s time to grab your notebooks people, because we’re going back to school. Take a look at the midseason report card for the 2022 49ers offense.
Jimmy Garoppolo: B
Jimmy G has arguably been the MVP for the 49ers’ offense in 2022, merely because of circumstance. Once without a playbook and exiled away from the team, Garoppolo has picked up the organization after Lance broke his ankle in Week 2 this season. Through eight games, the veteran gunslinger has 1,691 passing yards, 11 TDs, and four INTs.
Albeit a few rocky games have come in the team’s four losses this season, Garoppolo has saved this team from a disastrous season. That alone gives him a good mark.
Trey Lance: N/A
Week 1 in Chicago was a monsoon, and in Week 2 against Seattle, he broke his ankle early in the game. Hard to judge the second-year QB’s progress off of that, so for now we push it downstream to next season when he’ll be fully healthy.
Brock Purdy: C
Mr. Irrelevant himself, Purdy got his first regular-season action in the dying minutes of Week 7’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He went 4 for 9, with 66 passing yards and one INT in half of the fourth quarter.
Obviously, not enough game action to really warrant a hearty discussion, so let’s give him a middling grade.
Work in Progress: Trey Lance
Christian McCaffrey: A
The biggest trade of this year was made by the 49ers, acquiring All-Pro RB Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers. Costing San Francisco a treasure trove of capital in the next two drafts, CMC has been the spark that could ignite the offense for a deep postseason run.
His coming out party happened in Week 8, going for a triple crown of touchdowns to beat the LA Rams on the road. The most versatile player on the field, his ability not only as a decoy but also as a primary target is something that will unlock Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
It’s still early, but if McCaffrey can stay healthy there’s no reason he won’t be in the conversation for his first Pro Bowl appearance since 2019
Kyle Juszczyk: B+
The man who does it all for the Red & Gold, Juice has been a model 49er since coming to the team in 2017.
Intangible stats, Juszczyk has caught 11 passes for 153 yards, adding a TD on the ground as well. Intangibles are more important when evaluating this guy, setting up the run game with key blocks throughout his career.
There’s a reason this guy has made the Pro Bowl six years in a row, there aren’t many guys like him out there. Another appearance is sure to follow the 2022 season for Juice.
Tyrion Davis-Price: C-
Suffering from injuries and a crowded backfield, rookie Ty Davis-Price has only seen limited action with the 49ers this season.
Most of his touches came in Week 2’s contest against the Seahawks, running 14 times for a mere 33 yards. That’s a 2.36 yards-per-attempt average, well below the NFL standard at 5 YPA. Then he got hurt after said game, missing four weeks before getting another two carries for four yards in Week 7.
Now firmly behind CMC and Elijah Mitchell, TDP is looking like another Trey Sermon early on.
Elijah Mitchell: N/A
Mitchell got off to a hot start in Week 1 against the Bears, rushing six times for 41 yards. Unfortunately, he suffered an MCL sprain after the last carry, putting him on the shelf since then.
With a looming return coming after the team’s bye week, Mitchell and McCaffrey will be a fun 1-2 combo for the 49ers this season.
Honorable Mention: Jeff Wilson Jr. (A for effort)
Traded to the Miami Dolphins at Tuesday’s trade deadline, JWJ finds himself here simply because he was a class act for San Francisco. His biggest game for the team came in Week 5, rushing for 120 yards in Carolina.
General manager John Lynch expressed how valuable he was to the team after the trade this week, instead doing right by him by finding a good landing spot for the veteran tailback.
Hats off to the Texas native.
Deebo Samuel: A-
His numbers might be down from his All-Pro 2021 season, but Samuel is still one of the team’s premier game-breakers on offense.
Through the first eight games of the season, Deebo has 525 yards from scrimmage, getting three combined TDs with both his hands and legs. Missing Week 8 with a hamstring injury, Samuel projects to be back on the field after the bye week for the 49ers.
With McCaffrey in the backfield and Deebo out wide, this offense is one of the most explosive in the league, setting up an incredible second half for the former South Carolina Gamecock.
Brandon Aiyuk: A
The most improved player on offense is Rocklin native Brandon Aiyuk.
Asked to do a little bit of everything this season, BA has impressed with his leadership and accountability in the locker room. Those traits have translated to the field, leading the group in both receiving yards (483) and touchdowns (4) through the first half of the year.
Aiyuk was my pick for best wideout at the start of the season and has quickly become a club captain for the 49ers in his third season in the NFL.
George Kittle: B+
Kittle has done everything San Francisco has asked of him, and then some.
The only grip you could have is his lack of targets in the passing game, registering 11 catches in his first three games of 2022. That has changed in the past few weeks though, with 17 catches and two TDs in his last three games.
Add that to all the blocking and pancakes he produces, Kittle is the people’s tight end for a reason.
Jauan Jennings: B
Another big part of the run game, Jennings’s ability to hold a block has been pivotal for SF’s outside zone scheme. His pass-catching has also been clutch, coming up with key third-down conversions throughout the season.
He has 180 receiving yards on 14 catches this season.
Ray-Ray McCloud III: C-
McCloud has two jobs on this team: Catching deep passes and returning kicks. He hasn’t excelled at either.
Some of that is on Garoppolo sure, but his big drop in Week 6 against the Atlanta Falcons cost the 49ers a huge momentum swing, able to tie the game on that possession.
He has 226 all-purpose yards so far this season.
Room for Improvement: Danny Gray
There’s always one player in Shanahan’s doghouse and that’s rookie WR Danny Grey this season.
Yet to make his first catch of his NFL career, the former TCU standout has been relegated to special teams in light of blocking woes on offense.
His electric speed and verticality will help the 49ers when he’s ready, if that day ever comes. For now, he’ll only be featured on kickoff/punting situations.
Trent Williams: B+
Trent Williams has been Trent Williams: The best left tackle in all of football.
The only issue for the 33-year-old so far has been his return from injury, still working into game shape after being out a month with a high-ankle sprain. Week 7 against the Chiefs was the most worrisome, getting beat numerous times by their pass rushers.
Regardless, he’s still allowed no sacks in 2022, that’s enough to give him a good grade at the midway point.
Aaron Banks: A+
The best offensive lineman for the 49ers this season, second-year left guard Aaron Banks has been a force in the trenches.
Playing in limited action during his rookie years, Banks has yet to give up a sack through 490 offensive snaps this season. A second-round pick out of Notre Dame, Banks has been the guy that’s held this unit together amidst the injuries.
Jake Brendel: B
San Francisco’s center has also been rock solid, not allowing a sack in 507 snaps through the first eight weeks of the year.
Same as Banks, Brendel left fans wondering if he could be the guy after Alex Mack retired, so far he has been excellent in the run game and protecting Garoppolo.
Spencer Burford: B+
The last of the 49ers’ law firm (Banks, Brendel, Burford), rookie Spencer Burford has made some mistakes, but overall he’s been solid for this unit.
A fourth-round pick, Burford and Dan Brunskill have split snaps to keep the line fresh this season. Both have performed admirably, with the former giving up no sacks in 404 snaps this season.
Mike McGlinchey: C
Right tackle Mike McGlinchey has surprisingly been the weakest link for the 49ers’ offensive line this season.
Giving up five sacks and countless pressures on Jimmy G, some fans have called for the veteran tackle to be replaced in the trenches. Unfortunately, San Francisco doesn’t have a lot of starting-caliber tackles waiting in the wings (i.e. Jaylon Moore)
He is also dealing with a few lingering injuries, including a bad calf contusion suffered in Week 6 in Atlanta, but that’s no excuse for getting beast by a defensive tackle (Chris Jones) off the edge in Week 7.
McGlinchey has to improve if he wants to stay a starter next season.
Room for Improvement: Mike McGlinchey