Wednesday, February 28 2024

2. WR Deebo Samuel

Yes, he has missed time with a shoulder injury and has only 750 scrimmage yards with seven touchdowns. But when Samuel is healthy and playing with swagger, San Francisco’s offense is different.

Just look at Samuel’s three touchdowns and 138 scrimmage yards in the big win over the Eagles. He talked trash leading up to the game and backed it up on the field, giving San Francisco an added edge. And Samuel’s ability to score from anywhere on the field makes the 49ers one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL.

If Samuel can get back to playing like he did during his All-Pro season of 2021, when he finished with 1,770 scrimmage yards and 14 touchdowns, San Francisco could be Super Bowl-bound. His explosive playmaking ability makes the 49ers hard to beat.

But Shanahan must keep the oft-injured “wide-back” out of the training room for the rest of the regular season and healthy when the playoffs start. And that likely means limiting his touches over the next five games. 

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1. QB Brock Purdy

Some NFL observers understandably attribute Purdy’s success to Shanahan’s quarterback-friendly offense, but it’s hard to deny the second-year QB’s production and ability to make plays in critical and meaningful moments this season. 

In fact, Purdy deserves to be part of the league MVP conversation. He leads the league in passer rating (116.1), completion percentage (70.2%) and yards per pass attempt (9.6). He’s No. 4 in the NFL in touchdown passes (23).

49ers make a statement in 42-19 win over Eagles

Purdy has put to rest the idea that he’s just a system quarterback, and he has proven that his rookie year wasn’t a fluke. Even more impressive, he has accomplished this production coming off major elbow surgery. 

“Brock is just so consistent every day,” Kittle said earlier this season. “He’s the same guy on Wednesday as he is on Sunday. He’s super detailed. He’s super confident. It’s everything you want in a quarterback, and he’s just playing at such a high level right now.”

Honorable mention: Brandon Aiyuk, Fred Warner, George Kittle, Dre Greenlaw, Javon Hargrave

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.

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