The 49ers had a slew of outstanding performances in their Week 1 victory over the Steelers, which means there’s a cluster of strong candidates for the team’s Most Valuable Player.
We’ll be creating and updating the MVP power rankings throughout the season. This is what the ladder looks like following the season opener:
Aiyuk was simply the 49ers’ best player in the season opener. He caught all eight of his targets, racked up a career-high 129 yards and made an unbelievable grab at the front pylon for his second touchdown.
There’s probably some added weight to McCaffrey’s case because of the schematic advantages he gives the 49ers and head coach Kyle Shanahan. His rushing performance Sunday – 22 carries for 152 yards – was extremely impressive and he didn’t even make a huge impact as a receiver where he caught only three balls for 17 yards.
The tape shows Jackson benefitted from his teammates, but he posted 3.0 sacks. However, Jackson will continue having those opportunities and his athleticism gives him an advantage in chasing QBs that have escaped the pocket. If he keeps racking up sacks he’ll stay up near the top.
QB Brock Purdy
Purdy was more than just an avatar for his head coach Sunday. He dealt with a ton of pressure, didn’t have many wide open wide receivers, made plays out of structure, and dotted a couple of really nice throws into tight windows. It’s hard to not give Purdy a ton of the credit for the club averaging more than 30 points per game since he took over in Week 13 of the regular season last year.
LB Fred Warner
Pro Football Focus did not love Fred Warner’s game vs. Pittsburgh, but he was all over the field for San Francisco and looked more like a Defensive Player of the Year candidate than their worst performer. He had eight tackles, including a tackle for loss where he lit up Steelers RB Najee Harris to set a tone for the rest of the game. He also had a near interception and another pass breakup that led to Talanoa Hufanga’s interception.
Hargrave was a force Sunday on the interior. His ability to collapse the pocket from the inside played a huge role in San Francisco’s dominance on the defensive line where they posted 5.0 sacks and held Pittsburgh to 41 rushing yards on 10 carries.
SS Talanoa Hufanga
The 2022 First-Team All-Pro safety had an excellent game for the 49ers. He racked up five tackles, a tackle-for-loss and an interception in a San Francisco secondary that held Steelers QB Kenny Pickett to a paltry 5.0 yards per attempt.
DE Nick Bosa
Bosa is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year so he gets a little bit of a boost. He wasn’t in peak form in Pittsburgh, but he did notch a trio of pressures and drew a holding penalty. As he rounds into football shape he should climb the ladder.
In the hunt
This group was good in Week 1 and should find their way into the mix with another great game or two.