Thursday, September 22, 2022

The 49ers are the NFL’s best in a surprising PFF category

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In the first two weeks of the 2022 NFL season, San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo were the beneficiaries of the best pass blocking in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.

Surprised? Maybe a little depending on who you ask, but the numbers don’t lie. Although Jake Brendel, ranked as the sixth-worst center in the NFL, has a serious red flag center down the offensive line, every other member of the Niners offensive line has a pass-blocking rating of at least 71.2, with Spencer Burford having fourth among guards with an 83.7 pass blocking rating, with Aaron Banks close behind with 82.2.

While the Niners’ run defense wasn’t quite as effective with a 17th-place finish with a team grade of 61.4, keeping a clean bag has become even more important starting in Week 3, as Garoppolo won’t dodge sacks with his legs and hold them the game alive behind the line of scrimmage.

After being sidelined for Week 2 with an ongoing hamstring injury, Brunskill did not train for the 49ers on Wednesday, September 21, joining Arik Armstead, Tyrion Davis-Price, Tyler Kroft and Trent Williams as DNPs. according to Tracy Sandler of Fangirl Sports. Although Williams’ absence was due to recreation and is unlikely to miss the Niners’ Week 3 game against the Broncos, Armstead, Davis-Price, Kroft and Brunskill appear to be wearing far fewer uniforms in Denver if they all make the trip.

Luckily, George Kittle was on the field for training on Wednesday but had limited participation in on-field activities. While this doesn’t necessarily guarantee the All-Pro tight end will be back on the field in Week 3, coming back will increase the Niners’ offense significantly if he can actually leave.

When asked how Garoppolo will integrate back into the 49ers offense and quickly forge chemistry with new wide receivers like Ray-Ray McCloud and Danny Gray, Kyle Shanahan shrugged off the question.

“I do think the stuff is a little overrated,” Shanahan said on the team’s official website. “If they are open, he will usually hit them. When people come, people have to get used to things because people don’t always run distances like all of our boys do. Sometimes it takes time, but you train the guys mainly on offense and then they become very similar. Jimmy is used to all the other wideouts and these guys just fit in well.”

Whether or not Kittle is ultimately able to return to the field in Week 3, Garoppolo’s top targets will be Jauan Jennings, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel at wide receivers, Kyle Juszczyk at full-back, Charlie Woerner at tight end and Jeff Wilson, the all were integral parts of the 49ers offense in 2021. That continuity paid off in Week 2 and will certainly continue to do so in Week 3 and beyond.

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