There's plenty of anticipation surrounding the start of the 2021 season. Though there's ample time before players take their first snap of the season (14 weeks to be exact), that doesn't stop fans and national pundits alike from already ranking their top players heading into the year. Pete Prisco of CBS Sports compiled his list of the Top 100 players heading into the 2021 season, with a top-heavy list of 49ers making the cut.
Four members of the 49ers were featured overall, including two in the Top 20 and all four in the top third of his list. Here's a look at where several members of the 49ers landed:
No. 16 – Trent Williams
Coming in as the highest-ranked member of the 49ers on Prisco's list, Williams started all 14 games in which he appeared for San Francisco last season. He did not allow a single sack in nine-straight contests to close out the 2020 season. According to analytics site Pro Football Focus, Williams earned a 91.9 overall grade on the season, their highest-graded tackle on the year. His performance last season earned him his eighth-career Pro Bowl nod and a new contract to remain in San Francisco for the foreseeable future.
"After coming over in a trade from Washington, Williams was dominant as the starting left tackle for the 49ers. He remains one of the league's best and was rewarded with a new contract that makes him the highest-paid tackle in the NFL." – Prisco
No. 17 – Nick Bosa
Despite missing 14 games in 2020 due to an ACL injury suffered in Week 2, Bosa continues to be recognized as one of the bright, young cornerstones of the 49ers defense. Since, he has been making noticeable progress from injury and is expected to make a return to the field in time for training camp, per head coach Kyle Shanahan.
The former Defensive Rookie of the Year came off of a first season in the NFL where he racked up 9.0 sacks, 47 total tackles, two fumble recoveries, two passes defended and an interception in 2019. Pundits expect the edge rusher to return to form with a clean bill of health in 2021.
"He missed 14 games last season after tearing his ACL in Week 2 against the Jets. He should be full-go this season, which means he will be back to wreaking havoc on quarterbacks." – Prisco
No. 22 – George Kittle
The 49ers tight end wasn't exempt from the 2020 injury bug. Kittle appeared in just eight games due to various injuries, but still managed 634 yards receiving and two scores. His abbreviated appearance would have had the tight end inline for 96 catches for 1,268 yards and two more scores last season. Regarded as one of the top tight ends in the game, Kittle is expected to bounce back from the 49ers lackluster campaign in 2021.
"Injuries limited him to eight games last season, but he still caught 48 passes with two touchdowns. When he's healthy, he's one of the two best tight ends in the game." – Prisco
No. 31 – Fred Warner
Warner rounds out the 49ers appearances as the highest listed linebacker (not including edge rushers). Earning his first-career All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2020, Warner closed out the season appearing in all 16 games for the 49ers while leading the defense with 125 total tackles (ranked 10th in the NFL). He also registered two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, a sack and seven quarterback hits while coming off of his best season as a pro.
"He is one of the best off-the-ball linebackers in the game. He is smart, can run, and knows how to get to the football. He is finally starting to get his due." – Prisco