As the postseason moves forward, Pro Football Focus is looking back at the 2020 regular season by highlighting the best players at every position. Additionally, the analytics site featured top rookies and surprise standouts from the year. Despite the disappointing finish for San Francisco, several players were at the top of their game this season. Here are three 49ers who stood out:
Best Overall Tackle: Trent Williams
After missing the entire 2019 campaign following a dispute with the Washington Football Team, Williams returned back to elite form with his new club. Williams appeared in 14 games in San Francisco and notably, did not allow a sack in nine-straight contests to close out the year. Williams was selected to his eighth-career Pro Bowl, was named to the Professional Football Writers of America (PWFA) All-NFC Team and earned PFF's Bruce Matthews Award, given to the best offensive lineman in football.
PFF: "Williams has been one of the best tackles in football for nearly his entire career, so it shouldn't come as a surprise to see him top this list. There were some concerns about how he would bounce back after missed time in 2018 and an entire missed 2019 season due to injury, but it didn't look like Williams missed a beat. He was the highest-graded run-blocker in the NFL this season at the tackle position (91.8) and allowed just 19 pressures on 535 pass-blocking snaps. Bringing him in for only a fifth- and third-round pick was good work by the 49ers' front office."
Best Overall Linebacker: Fred Warner
Warner has had quite the third season in the NFL. The 49ers linebacker garnered his first-career All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors and was named to the PFWA All-NFL and All-NFC Team. Additionally, he also earned the 49ers coveted team awards, the Len Eshmont Award, voted on by the players given to the 49er who best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont, and the Bill Walsh Award, voted on by the coaching staff given to the 49er who has best represented the standard of professional excellence established by Walsh.
Warner is coming off of the best season of his young NFL career. Appearing in all 16 games, he led San Francisco's defense with 125 total tackles (ranked 10th in the NFL), while adding two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, a sack and seven quarterback hits.
PFF: "Warner's instincts and feel in zone coverage paired with his athleticism make him a strong candidate for best coverage linebacker in the NFL. That's exactly what he was this season, per PFF grade, as his 91.1 coverage grade led all linebackers. Not only did he grade higher than any other player at the position this season, but it's also clear that he's among the leaders in the 49ers' locker room after being named the winner of the Len Eshmont Award and the Bill Walsh Award for the 2020 season in San Francisco — awards voted on by the players and coaches, respectively."
Biggest Surprise Cornerback: Jason Verrett
Verrett's second season in San Francisco cannot be overstated considering his snake-bitten career. Verrett appeared in 13 games for the first time since his 2015 Pro Bowl season with the then-San Diego Chargers. Prior to the 2020 season, he had played in just 26-of-96 games with five of his six NFL seasons ending on Injured Reserve. He went on to finish the season registering 60 total tackles (50 solo), two tackles for loss, seven passes defended and two interceptions. Verrett was recognized as PFF's eighth-highest graded cornerback in 2020.
PFF: "Alex Smith's dramatic return from injury in Washington makes him the favorite to take home the Comeback Player of the Year award, but Verrett is a very deserving candidate after dealing with a number of significant injuries year after year. After earning an 88.4 overall grade in 2015, Verrett played just 327 defensive snaps in the four subsequent seasons. The fact he could come back this season and play like an upper-tier cornerback again with a 77.6 PFF grade and a 76.3 passer rating allowed is one of the most impressive stories of the season."