ESPN Rankings: Three 49ers make the Top 10 at their position on offense

Jul 18, 2023, 8:30 AM | Updated: Jul 21, 2023, 1:42 pm

Trent Williams #71 of the San Francisco 49ers takes the field prior to an NFL football game between...

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The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most well-rounded teams in the NFL, featuring numerous Pro Bowl players on the roster. So it should be no surprise that many of those standouts have made the Top 10 in positional rankings leading into next season.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler released positional rankings after polling NFL executives, coaches and scouts from across America over the last few weeks. All positions have now been released, and the 49ers have a few standouts to their name on the offensive side of the ball, including the offensive line and running back groups.

With that being said, here are where some 49ers rank in this year’s standings.

Offensive Tackles

Kicking off the offensive side of the football is the most important player in the trenches: Left Tackle Trent Williams

Williams has retained the crown of best OT in the NFL heading into 2023, beating out Houston’s Laremy Tunsil and Tristian Wirfs. Despite turning 34 years old, Williams has only improved his play since joining the 49ers in 2020. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, only six OTs have earned multiple first-team All-Pros after age 30: Walter Jones, Anthony Munoz, Andrew Whitworth, Joe Thomas, Willie Roaf, and now Williams.

“He’s an incredibly gifted player,” an NFC executive said. “He has lapses and relies on that talent too much at times. There is some wavering physicality with him. But when he turns it on, nearly impossible to stop.”

The Texas native has four years remaining on his deal with the 49ers, which will likely be the final contract of his illustrious career.

Running Backs

Coming off his first complete season in four years, Christian McCaffrey lands as the No. 2 RB heading into the 2023 season.

CMC returned to his All-Pro form last season, finishing with almost 1,900 total scrimmage yards, while averaging nearly a touchdown per game after being traded to San Francisco in October. The Stanford alum now has three seasons with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 700 receiving yards, trailing only Marshall Faulk (four) in NFL history.

Unfortunately, injuries have been the culprit of his demise in his playing career, one of the few reasons Nick Chubb surpassed him for the top rank this time around.

“He’s one of the most versatile offensive players in the league,” an AFC executive said about McCaffrey. “He can be used on perimeter runs, interior runs, out of the backfield, split out. He’s in tremendous shape and has size, strength and speed. Injuries have taken him off the field, but when he’s healthy, he is still a game-changer and a guy that needs to be accounted for at all times.”

An elite offensive weapon, McCaffrey has three years left on his deal with the Red & Gold. Despite his necessity in the 49ers’ offense, other RBs around the league have been undervalued this offseason, causing the 27-year-old to speak out on the matter.

Tight Ends

Receiving flowers for his work as a tight end, George Kittle slots in at No.2 at his position.

Playing with three different quarterbacks last season, the Iowa alum still managed to end the year with 11 touchdowns, tied for third amongst TEs. Only Kansas City Chief, Travis Kelce, is ranked higher than him, due to inconsistency and durability issues over the last few years.

“So much inconsistency with the quarterback and durability issues have held him back a bit, but he’s still top-notch,” said an NFL personnel member, noting Kittle’s 13 missed games since 2020. “He’s the most explosive athlete at the position, probably the best at creating separation and yards after the catch.”

Approaching age 30, Kittle has amassed more than 5,000 receiving yards and 30 touchdowns in six seasons in the NFL. He has three years left on his deal, making more than $12 million this upcoming season.

Wide Receivers

Sadly, no San Francisco 49ers wideout made the Top 10 list of ESPN rankings this season. But, Deebo Samuel was named an honorable mention.

“He’s the guy you game-plan against when you play San Fran. It’s not George Kittle, it’s Deebo,” an AFC executive said. “He can take over the game with his big-play ability, his RAC and physicality.”

Samuel has three years remaining on his deal. The 27-year-old agreed to a three-year, $71 million deal to remain with the 49ers before the start of Training Camp last season. His 2022 season was plagued with injuries, playing 13 games for 864 scrimmage yards and five total TDs.

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ESPN Rankings: Three 49ers make the Top 10 at their position on offense