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2020 QB class showing all-time potential in Year 3; San Francisco 49ers have frightening upside

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McCaffrey is poised to run the anchor leg for the squad as a versatile runner-receiver with explosive speed, quickness and shake-and-bake. Despite missing parts of the prior two seasons due to an assortment of injuries, the 26-year-old veteran is still one of the most dynamic offensive players in the game. McCaffrey — who, in 2019, became just the third player in NFL history to log 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season — changes the way opponents are forced to defend the 49ers. If an opposing defensive coordinator were to stuff the box utilizing a variety of “plus-one” fronts, the 49ers could take advantage of the one-on-one coverage on the perimeter, which would undoubtedly result in Samuel, Aiyuk or Kittle breaking free across the field.

If a defense were to fail to place enough bodies near the line of scrimmage, McCaffrey would find plenty of room to run between the tackles as the centerpiece of a creative ground game designed to attack that spot on the field. Elijah Mitchell is set to miss significant time with an MCL sprain, but when healthy, the second-year back is also capable of grinding it out on inside runs. The 49ers have a combination of speed and power that creates problems for defenses attempting to hide shoddy tacklers in space.

Studying the game tape, it is apparent that the collective work of the wideouts, tight ends and running backs leads to the late-game knockouts delivered by the team. The group simply overwhelms opponents; few defenses are capable of matching their physicality and toughness for sixty minutes.

Yes, as impressive as their collection of skill-position players is, the Niners are really built to knock out foes with a collection of haymakers delivered by Trent Williams and Co. The nine-time Pro Bowl tackle spearheads an offensive line that mashes and mauls at every turn. The 49ers routinely move defenders off of the ball like they’re rearranging furniture in a new house. The unit wins with the kind of extreme physicality that leaves a lasting impression on foes, and few opponents want to deal with that in a one-and-done scenario in the playoffs.

Defensively, the 49ers impose their will on their opponents by relying on an energetic frontline that bullies overmatched opponents in the trenches. Nick Bosa is the ringleader, demonstrating a relentless motor and non-stop pursuit from the edges. With 11.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss, the veteran sets the table for Charles Omenihu, Samson Ebukam and Drake Jackson to contribute as complementary rushers. Although there is not an established standout in that trio, the unit has provided enough pass-rush production to complement a linebacker corps and secondary that is flourishing under coordinator DeMeco Ryans’ direction.

Fred Warner and Talanoa Hufanga in particular have solidified the middle of the field as one of the best linebacker-safety tandems in the game. Elite defenses routinely rely on a five-star Mike linebacker and safety (strong or free) to control the middle of the field. The 49ers have the capacity to shut down the field between the hashes and force opponents to work outside the numbers against a defense that features enough speedy athletes to chase down the ball in a hurry.

Given San Francisco’s excellence at tackling in space, the sideline-to-sideline tactics frequently result in negative plays and minimal points for opponents. Considering how the 49ers are beginning to play complementary football behind an ultra-physical offense assisting a stingy defensive unit (which is also set to get defensive lineman Arik Armstead healthy and back in action for the first time since Week 4), the Bay Area bullies are rounding into form as the kind of title contender that no one wants to face down the stretch.

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