Various San Francisco 49ers players have appeared at the top of Pro Football Focus individual rankings throughout the offseason, and now, entire position groups are headlining the charts. The latest 49ers corps to clinch a No. 1 overall ranking from PFF is the running back crew that includes Pro Bowler Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, Tyrion Davis-Price, Ronald Awatt and Khalan Laborn.
The most significant addition to San Francisco's ground game came in Week 7 of the 2022 regular season via a trade with the Carolina Panthers. San Francisco brought McCaffrey to The Bay in exchange for a slew of draft picks in the 2023 and 2024 drafts. The veteran running back gave head coach Kyle Shanahan another versatile offensive weapon to work with, and in just nine days with the team, he put up a historic stat line against the Los Angeles Rams that included a throwing, rushing and passing touchdown.
McCaffrey went on to finish the 2022 regular season with 244 carries for 1,139 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground and another 85 catches for 741 yards and five scores through the air. His body of work earned him Pro Bowl honors and made him a candidate for the AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.
In addition to their do-it-all back, the 49ers have Mitchell, their leading rusher from the 2021 season to turn to in the upcoming season. A couple of MCL injuries kept him off the field for a majority of last season, but he's proven he can produce on the ground, nearly eclipsing the 1,000 rushing yard benchmark in his rookie season.
Mason, now entering his second year in the pros, saw increased playing time at the tail end of the 49ers extended 2022 campaign, getting carries in eight of the final 11 contests of the season (including playoffs).
Here's what PFF writer Gordon McGuinness had to say about San Francisco's running back corps:
"Christian McCaffrey was everything the 49ers could have hoped for, averaging 4.9 yards per carry and forcing 30 missed tackles on 199 rushing attempts in the regular season and playoffs after his midseason trade from the Carolina Panthers. His 91.9 PFF receiving grade in that span was the best in the entire NFL, too. Then you have Elijah Mitchell as depth, who has produced 75.0-plus PFF rushing grades in each of the past two seasons when healthy."