With a number of free agents departing elsewhere, the San Francisco 49ers have encountered some significant roster turnover ahead of the 2022 NFL season.
However, turnover isn’t necessarily detrimental to a roster, as it provides opportunities for players to potentially breakout, especially younger players heading into their third and fourth seasons.
With a tantalizing roster on both offense and defense, who are those breakout players for the 49ers in 2022?
Offense: WR Brandon Aiyuk
Aiyuk, 23, is heading into his third NFL season, earmarking him within the criteria specified above for breakout players.
The Arizona State product has also shown consistent improvement at the NFL level after overcoming certain obstacles.
In his rookie campaign, Aiyuk flashed during an injury-ravaged season for the 49ers, catching 60 passes for 748 yards and five touchdowns, although he played in just 12 games due to various injuries and COVID-19.
In his sophomore season, Aiyuk had a slow start to the season, catching for just 96 yards within his first six games before exploding over the second half of the season, finishing with 730 yards from Week 8-18.
In fact, had Aiyuk maintained his production over both seasons through an entire season, the third-year receiver would’ve had multiple 1000-yard seasons.
If we take Aiyuk’s rookie season production over an entire season, he would’ve caught 85 receptions for 1,060 yards and seven touchdowns.
Similarly, if we take Aiyuk’s sophomore season production from Week 8-18 over an entire season, he would’ve caught 73 passes for 1,128 yards and seven touchdowns.
What’s changed for the shifty receiver?
Quarterback Trey Lance now replaces former incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter, and in his small sample size, the 22-year old signal-caller has showcased an ability to make throws to all facets of the field, as well as all depths of the field , which should complement Aiyuk’s skillset.
Aiyuk has already begun developing a rapport with Lance, having worked out with him in Southern California earlier this offseason prior to the duo reporting for organized team activities(OTAs) last week.
2. DT Javon Kinlaw
Who else could it be?
Former first-round pick Javon Kinlaw is entering his third NFL season, where he faces heavy expectations following the early success of his peers who were drafted behind him, such as Tampa Bay’s Tristan Wirfs and Dallas’s Ceedee Lamb.
However, Kinlaw hasn’t had the opportunity to truly showcase his full arsenal, as his first season was marred by a unique offseason due to COVID, and his second season was cut short due to injury.
Additionally, Kinlaw played without several key defensive players in 2020, as both defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas tore their ACLs in Week 2, forcing Arik Armstead to primarily stay on the edge.
With Armstead likely relegated to an interior defensive lineman role, Kinlaw will be surrounded by the best talent of his career, as San Francisco arguably has their strongest defensive line of the Shanahan-Lynch era.
Kinlaw’s athletic traits and size made him an intriguing draft prospect in 2020, and if he can continue being an effective run defender while playing a significant amount, he would be a step in the right direction.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
NFL Media analyst Adam Rank has been good-natured about the jokes and ridiculous stemming from his San Francisco 49ers three-win prediction in 2019. It’s probably time to move past that, no matter how much fun The Faithful has had with it. For some, that may be a challenge. Rank is well aware of that. Rank hasn’t made his record prediction for the 49ers’ upcoming season just yet. However, he did take a detailed look at the team, as he does annually for every NFL team. There is much to unpack from his “State of the 2022 San Francisco 49ers” feature
Pro Football Focus named the top three players on all 32 NFL teams as the league enters the 2022 season. Many could argue that do-it-all wide receiver Deebo Samuel had the most impact on the San Francisco 49ers’ success last season. However, he was not among the team’s top three. The analytics site did consider him and star linebacker Fred Warner, though. “The fact that Warner or Samuel don’t crack the list speaks to the quality of talent on San Francisco’s roster,” wrote analyst Ben Linsey. Linsey’s three best 49ers players: tackle Trent Williams, defensive end Nick Bosa, and tight end George Kittle. Williams’ 97.8 overall Pro
Most expect Trey Lance to be the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback in 2022. The former No. 3 overall pick started just two games last season but is slated to succeed the team’s starter of the past four-and-a-half seasons, Jimmy Garoppolo. What can fans expect from the 22-year-old quarterback after he made just 71 pass attempts in year one? The Draft Network shared its projection for Lance. The respected draft site envisions the young 49ers quarterback throwing for 3,998 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions while adding 706 rushing yards and three rushing
The San Francisco 49ers announced they have signed each of the team’s nine draft picks to four-year deals. DRAFT PICK SIGNINGS Name Position Ht. wt. School Spencer Burford OL 6-4 300 Texas-San