Which 49ers players could make the Pro Bowl next season?
By: Tayyib Abu
The San Francisco 49ers endured a torrid, injury-ridden season as they slumped to the bottom of the NFC West. After making a Super Bowl trip in 2019, 2020 was a disappointing year for the ‘Niners. 2021 offers a fresh start for the club, as several vital starters will return from injury.
The 49ers are determined to win the division and make a return trip to the Super Bowl. The 49ers will need a solid season with contributions from Pro Bowl players. It is time to assess which 49er players could become Pro Bowlers in 2021.
The 49ers traded up to draft quarterback Trey Lance from North Dakota State. In one move, the San Francisco hierarchy put an expiration date on Jimmy Garoppolo’s stint on the Gold Coast. Lance is the future in Santa Clara; Garoppolo isn’t. However, it is doubtful that Lance will start on Week 1; the raw quarterback requires time to learn the intricacies of the NFL and the 49ers offensive playbook.
Therefore, Garoppolo is still the leading man in California. And while he is an injury-prone player, Garoppolo’s record when healthy is impressive. In his seven-year career, Garoppolo’s played an entire season of 16 games, once.
That season was the best of Garoppolo’s fledgeling career. Garoppolo knows the 49er offence, and he owns healthy relationships with his skill position players. Garoppolo is a Shanahan-style quarterback.
He makes intelligent decisions, releases the ball accurately on short and intermediate routes. Garoppolo and Shanahan are a match made in heaven, and the added motivation of silencing the critics should see Garoppolo improve.
The Shanahan offence is quarterback-friendly, and Garoppolo understands it perfectly. The experienced quarterback will bounce back with a big year for his career and the 49ers in 2021.
If Garoppolo is to enjoy success, six-time Pro Bowler Alex Mack will be critical. The center knows the Shanahan offence inside out; he played for Atlanta when the Falcons made the Super Bowl.
Mack is a veteran locker room leader familiar with the blocking concepts that Shanahan will employ in the run game and passing game. The heavy dosage of outside-zone running means Mack must anchor and pin down the defensive lineman.
The reliance on play-action will force Mack to use his high motor and endurance to maintain blocks. Therefore, it surprised no one that San Francisco offered a three-year contract to Mack in free agency. His familiarity and experience may send him back to the Pro Bowl in 2021.
Defence anchored the 49ers’ Super Bowl run in 2019. That defence underwent some changes over the last 18 months. DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, Akhello Witherspoon and Solomon Thomas have all left the franchise. Other players must step up.
Jaquiski Tartt is a player who could do that. Tartt is a heavy-hitting, Safety with strong eye discipline and solid awareness in pass coverage. Tartt is an experienced player with knowledge of the 49er defence.
Providing him with a more senior role, Tartt should grow in the defensive backfield. His physical tools are there, and he should get help from the linebacker corps and the defensive line that features a returning Nick Bosa. Tartt could flourish in 2021.