Pro Football Focus has put together multiple rankings of the top positional duos in the NFL. Mike McGlinchey and Trent Williams just missed the Top 5 rankings of the best offensive tackle tandems, given Williams' one-year hiatus from football and his potential to return to his Pro Bowl form.
The 49ers cracked the top spot in other position groups however, with the highest ranked cornerback duo and edge defender trifecta.
San Francisco invested heavily in the talent along the defensive line, which saw a significant return in 2019. The 49ers dominant defensive line sat near the top of the league in several categories, including yards allowed (first), sacks (t-fifth) and pressure rate (third). PFF's Ben Linsey tweaked his own rules to give the 49ers trio of edge talent worthy recognition: Arik Armstead, Dee Ford and Nick Bosa.
Armstead is coming off of a career season in San Francisco amassing a team-leading 10 sacks and earned an 89.6 overall grade, which tied for fifth among 102 qualifying edge defenders. The 49ers rewarded Armstead this offseason with a five-year contract extension to keep him in San Francisco for the foreseeable future.
Ford missed five games in 2019 while dealing with injuries, however was effective when on the field. The veteran pass rusher amassed an 81.7 pass-rushing grade during the regular season with 25 pressures on just 163 pass-rushing snaps. Ford underwent surgery this offseason that subsumed an "extensive clean up" to repair his knee, with hopes of returning to his 2018 form where the pass rusher amassed a career-high 13 sacks and 78 total pressures en route to his first Pro Bowl honor.
In his first NFL season, Bosa registered 80 regular-season pressures, the most of any rookie since the PFF era began in 2006 and sixth among all defenders last season, tied with Los Angeles Rams Aaron Donald. According to the site, Bosa's 17.2% pressure rate was fourth among all players with 250 or more pass-rushing snaps on the season, as well.
The 49ers defense surrendered the fewest passing yards in 2019 (169.2). While much credit goes to the aforementioned defensive line, San Francisco's secondary turned heads despite resounding personnel questions heading into the season. Richard Sherman and K'Waun Williams were recognized as PFF's highest-graded cornerback duo in coverage in 2019.
In his ninth season, Sherman owned the third-lowest passer rating allowed when targeted (46.8) behind New England Patriots J.C. Jackson (37.0) and Buffalo Bills Tre'Davious White (46.3). Sherman finished the season with 61 tackles, 11 passes defended and three interceptions, including one for a touchdown, while receiving Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors.
Williams led the 49ers with four forced fumbles and tied for second with two interceptions last season. In coverage, the corner allowed just one touchdown on 70 targets, including the playoffs.
"(Williams) is just so dynamic in every phase," Sherman said last December. "If you just look at him and his pass-rushing ability on its own, it's outstanding. If you look at him in terms of just coverage ability, it's outstanding. If you look at him in terms of run, it's outstanding.
"(He's) a huge playmaker for us, and that's what allows us to play the type of defense we do."