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PFF ranks two 49ers position groups among NFL's ‘strongest'

PFF ranks two 49ers position groups among NFL's ‘strongest' originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The star-studded 49ers continue to receive hype months before the 2024 NFL season.

In addition to being the betting favorite to win Super Bowl LIX, according to Fanatics, San Francisco received high praise from Pro Football Focus.

On Monday, PFF’s John Kosko listed the strongest and weakest position groups throughout the NFL, and the 49ers were deemed the strongest at two of them: tight end and linebacker.

“The New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens have arguments for the strongest linebacker group, but Fred Warner‘s star power and Dre Greenlaw‘s consistency push the 49ers ahead,” Kosko wrote. “Warner has emerged as the best linebacker in the NFL over the past few years, as his 90.2 overall grade in 2023 attests to. Greenlaw complements Warner with a strong run defense and coverage skills.

“The 49ers' linebacker unit boasts an 89.7 overall grade over the past two years, showing the consistency of the two players roaming the middle of the field…Weakest: Houston Texans

Warner is one of the best defenders in the NFL, and Greenlaw -- though dealing with a torn left Achilles -- is right behind him.

The two have combined for 1,232 total tackles over their 11 combined seasons. Together, Warner and Greenlaw led a San Francisco defense that finished the 2023 regular season third in points allowed (17.5) and rushing yards per game (89.7).

Still short of that much-desired Vince Lombardi Trophy, the 49ers' defense likely will remain one of the best for years to come as long as Warner and Greenlaw are in uniform.

Tight end-wise, George Kittle carries the load, according to PFF.

“Tight end rooms are generally dominated by one player,” added Kosko. “We saw the Buffalo Bills draft Dalton Kincaid in 2023, adding him to a group that already had a productive tight end in Dawson Knox. What ensued was a significant decrease in targets for Knox as Kincaid took over the top spot.

“The 49ers earn the ‘strongest’ title because George Kittle is arguably the best tight end in the NFL right now. Travis Kelce is almost 35 years old and still productive, but we saw a decline in his play in 2023. Kittle’s 87.7 grade last year was tops in the NFL as he excelled as a receiver and a run blocker. While Kittle will turn 31 in 2024, he’s still playing at an extremely high level…Weakest: Denver Broncos

Kittle is coming off another phenomenal campaign in which he finished with 65 receptions for 1,020 yards and six touchdowns, proving to be one of quarterback Brock Purdy’s favorite targets.

Throughout his seven-year NFL career, Kittle has totaled 460 catches for 6,274 yards and 37 touchdowns and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.

Kittle helped lead San Francisco to a second-place finish in yards per game (398.4) for the 2023 season while taking home his fifth AP All-Pro honor and second NFL Pro-Bowl selection.

The 49ers sport one of -- if not the most -- decorated rosters in football. Granting high honors on both sides of the ball, PFF certainly recognizes San Franciso’s talent.

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