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Where PFF ranks 49ers' loaded roster ahead of 2024 NFL season

Where PFF ranks 49ers' loaded roster ahead of 2024 NFL season originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

As the calendar moves closer to the official start of the 2024 NFL season, many outlets rank the 49ers as the league's best team.

In Pro Football Focus' latest rankings, San Francisco stands atop the list, which isn't unsurprising given that that the team returns the bulk of its superstar playmakers from a year ago. (h/t Fan Nation)

Considering that Brock Purdy, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel all remain under contract, San Francisco will feature one of the NFL's most potent offenses.

The biggest X-factor for the team will be the return of safety Talanoa Hufanga from the torn ACL he suffered last season. Prior to his injury, San Francisco had the league’s highest-rated defense, but after losing Hufanga, the 49ers defense dropped to 14th.

Those defensive issues were on full display in Super Bowl LVIII against the Kansas City Chiefs as quarterback Patrick Mahomes torched the 49ers' defense in leading his team down the field for the game-winning touchdown in overtime.

Per PFF’s breakdown, the team's only glaring weakness is on the offensive line, where the 49ers struggled to protect Purdy in passing situations. Other NFL teams undoubtedly will be looking at the tape from the Super Bowl and how the Chiefs' pass rush was able to consistently pressure Purdy and incorporate such schemes into their playbooks this season.

So, it will be paramount that San Francisco’s offensive line improves. PFF pointed out that rookie lineman Dominick Puni could be an impact player in his first year, given his stellar pass-blocking grades.

With Purdy on his cheap rookie contract for one more year, this upcoming NFL season could be the last one with this core group of 49ers. While San Francisco has signaled its intent to sign Aiyuk to a long-term deal and reward Purdy for his MVP-caliber play, there is simply not enough cap space to retain everyone on long-term deals.

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