The third team in PFF’s team rankings is … the team that finished third place in the NFC West standings.
24. San Francisco 49ers
Biggest strength: The San Francisco defensive line is as stacked as any in the league. Dee Ford led the league with 84 QB pressures with Kansas City in 2018, and Nick Bosa’s college pass-rush grade almost mirrors that of his brother, Joey. But their pass-rush will need to get home early and often with a suspect coverage unit behind them.
Biggest weakness: The league’s lowest-graded coverage unit last year didn’t improve much this offseason. Richard Sherman allowed a career-high 100.7 passer rating on throws into his coverage, and K’Waun Williams allowed a catch on 73.3% of his targets. Collectively, the 49ers’ secondary forced an incompletion on just 9.7% of their targeted passes in 2018, the fifth-lowest rate among NFL secondaries.
X factor for 2019: George Kittle not only led the league in yards after the catch, his 873 such yards were also 213 more than the next closest pass-catcher (JuJu Smith-Schuster, 660). Kittle averaged a ridiculous 9.9 yards after the catch per reception, which also led the NFL.
Overall, I can’t disagree with any of the information provided here. The one thing I would add is that overall health on the roster the past two seasons has been nothing short of brutal. The 49ers did hire a new training staff this off-season to address this. Another issue is interior O line depth. The 49ers don’t really have any proven talent at either guard spot, while FA Weston Richburg last year wasn’t spectacular either. FA additions Kwon Alexander and Jason Verrett are being relied upon to provide starting caliber play, but neither has been able to stay healthy in recent history. The new training staff will be tested early and often.