Dante Pettis And Other San Francisco 49ers Players Set For Breakout 2019 Season

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The San Francisco 49ers are going to be relying on a number of different young players to step up this season if they want to reach their ultimate goal of playing meaningful January football.

That could lead to a number of different scenarios. If these players live up to their expectations, the 49ers are going to be in good hands. If not, the same struggles we saw during the first two seasons of the Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch era will rear its ugly head again.

Though, there’s certainly reason for optimism on this front. San Francisco boasts its most-talented team since the Jim Harbaugh days. Youngsters are ready to make an impact. It’s in this that we look at six 49ers players set for breakout 2019 campaigns.

Tarvarius Moore

Moore has been transitioning to his original safety position after playing cornerback as a rookie last season. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, the former third-round pick definitely has the frame to make it work. He was also getting first-team reps in training camp and saw substantially more action than Adrian Colbert in the 49ers’ preseason opener.

While those on hand in Santa Clara have been somewhat bullish on Moore, the coaching staff is taking a relaxed approach. Specifically, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh notes that Moore simply needs more time at safety.

The Southern Mississippi product will get this action as the preseason continues. San Francisco didn’t play him at the clip we saw in Week 1 only to hold Moore back throughout the remainder of the exhibition slate.

Moore has the natural coverage ability to play single-high safety. He has the large cover radius and instincts to be a starter once September comes calling. Moore’s ability to play corner in a pinch could also create more flexibility in the secondary, meaning the possible release of injured defensive back Jimmie Ward. Sure it would create a $3 million dead cap hit for the 49ers, but it would also be a case of addition by subtraction.

Dante Pettis

Pettis had his ups and downs during camp. That’s expected for a second-year receiver that the 49ers are relying on big time. One of his primary issues during the summer has been drops. But the route-running skills and short-area quickness continue to stand out in a big way. In fact, Pettis might already run one of the crispest routes in the NFL.

Drops were not an issue for the 6-foot-1 pass catcher during his record-breaking career at Washington or as a rookie last season. In fact, 49ers signal callers posted a 125.7 quarterback rating when targeting Pettis in 2018.

Despite the 49ers opening up his position to competition, we’re expecting Pettis to be an unquestioned Week 1 starter and draw more targets with Jimmy Garoppolo back under center. Remember, he was targeted just 45 times in seven games last season, averaging 7.9 yards after the catch and hauling in 60 percent of those targets. Simple progression into his sophomore season seems to suggest that Pettis will be targeted 100-plus times. That could lead to a 70-plus catch performance with north of 1,000 yards.

Fred Warner

Warner is an interesting case study in that an argument could be made that he already had a breakout season as a rookie. The former third-round pick started every game and recorded 124 tackles. He ranked fourth among linebackers in solo tackles, third in stops and led the 49ers with six pass breakups. He also ranked in the top 10 among linebackers in coverage.

Despite this awe-inspiring performance, Warner did not earn a Pro Bowl nod as a rookie. That should change during his sophomore campaign. The youngster has two new running partners in that of former Pro Bowler Kwon Alexander and impressive rookie Dre Greenlaw.

This means that the 49ers won’t be relying on Warner to do everything at linebacker. He played more snaps than the rest of San Francisco’s linebacker group combined last season. Now that the 49ers can niche down Warner’s role, it’s going to lead to an even more impressive season. Expect him to take on a larger role in pass coverage and blitz the quarterback more often, primarily due to the speed this BYU product displayed as a rookie. The sky really is the limit here.

Mike McGlinchey

Much like Warner, an argument can be made that McGlinchey broke out big time as a rookie. The former Notre Dame standout graded out as the best rookie offensive lineman, via Pro Football Focus metrics. He also graded out eighth among all right tackles in overall play and second in the running game.

At issue here was pass protection. The very same PFF metrics had McGlinchey as the 31st-best right tackle in that category. It was barely starter-caliber stuff in pass protection from the youngster last season.

The expectation here is that McGlinchey will be vastly improved blocking for Garoppolo in 2019. Remember, the offensive tackle had to work backup quarterbacks in 13-plus games last season. It’s no small thing given Garoppolo’s ability to get rid of the ball in a swift manner.

Outside of that, San Francisco worked with McGlinchey a lot during the offseason to improve his pass-protection technique. This showed in a big way during camp. And with improvements in this area, McGlinchey could be looking at a Pro Bowl performance as a sophomore.

Nick Bosa

Despite an ankle injury that has put into question his Week 1 status, this rookie No. 2 overall pick has an opportunity to be a star out of the gate. Bosa blends athleticism, technique and and a bull-rush mentality to dominate opposing offensive linemen. It’s something we saw first-hand during his limited training camp action.

Making matters easier for Bosa is the fact that he has two Pro Bowl pass rushers to work with in that of defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and fellow edge rusher Dee Ford. This means opposing teams won’t be able to focus solely on protecting their quarterbacks from the wrath of Mr. Bosa.

In a vacuum, this is going to create major problems for opposing offenses. Even the best tackles in the NFL are going to have a hard time fending Bosa off in one-on-one situations. Expect this to lead to 10-plus sacks with a good two-dozen quarterback hits should Bosa remain healthy throughout his rookie season.

Jimmy Garoppolo

A breakout season for Garoppolo has to be in the cards if San Francisco wants to earn a playoff spot. The pressure is squarely on this now-veteran quarterback to remain healthy and play at a high level with a mere 10 starts under his belt in five NFL seasons.

The good news here is that Garoppolo is not showing any signs of struggling with the ACL injury he suffered last season. He appears to be at 100 percent.

With an improved group of skill-position players to work with and one of the best offensive tackle tandems in the NFL, there’s no excuses. Shanahan will continue to put Garoppolo in the best situation to succeed. It showed during training camp and should continue into the regular season.

The 49ers take on two bad defenses in that of the Buccaneers and Bengals to start the regular season. This will give Garoppolo a chance to hit the ground running and build rhythm. It should also lead to a breakout performance from the high-priced quarterback. Look for north of 4,000 passing yards with touchdowns in the 25-to-30 range from Garoppolo in 2019.

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The San Francisco 49ers are going to be relying on a number of different young players to step up this season if they want to reach their ultimate goal of playing meaningful January football.

That could lead to a number of different scenarios. If these players live up to their expectations, the 49ers are going to be in good hands. If not, the same struggles we saw during the first two seasons of the Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch era will rear its ugly head again.

Though, there’s certainly reason for optimism on this front. San Francisco boasts its most-talented team since the Jim Harbaugh days. Youngsters are ready to make an impact. It’s in this that we look at six 49ers players set for breakout 2019 campaigns.

Tarvarius Moore

Moore has been transitioning to his original safety position after playing cornerback as a rookie last season. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, the former third-round pick definitely has the frame to make it work. He was also getting first-team reps in training camp and saw substantially more action than Adrian Colbert in the 49ers’ preseason opener.

While those on hand in Santa Clara have been somewhat bullish on Moore, the coaching staff is taking a relaxed approach. Specifically, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh notes that Moore simply needs more time at safety.

The Southern Mississippi product will get this action as the preseason continues. San Francisco didn’t play him at the clip we saw in Week 1 only to hold Moore back throughout the remainder of the exhibition slate.

Moore has the natural coverage ability to play single-high safety. He has the large cover radius and instincts to be a starter once September comes calling. Moore’s ability to play corner in a pinch could also create more flexibility in the secondary, meaning the possible release of injured defensive back Jimmie Ward. Sure it would create a $3 million dead cap hit for the 49ers, but it would also be a case of addition by subtraction.

Dante Pettis

Pettis had his ups and downs during camp. That’s expected for a second-year receiver that the 49ers are relying on big time. One of his primary issues during the summer has been drops. But the route-running skills and short-area quickness continue to stand out in a big way. In fact, Pettis might already run one of the crispest routes in the NFL.

Drops were not an issue for the 6-foot-1 pass catcher during his record-breaking career at Washington or as a rookie last season. In fact, 49ers signal callers posted a 125.7 quarterback rating when targeting Pettis in 2018.

Despite the 49ers opening up his position to competition, we’re expecting Pettis to be an unquestioned Week 1 starter and draw more targets with Jimmy Garoppolo back under center. Remember, he was targeted just 45 times in seven games last season, averaging 7.9 yards after the catch and hauling in 60 percent of those targets. Simple progression into his sophomore season seems to suggest that Pettis will be targeted 100-plus times. That could lead to a 70-plus catch performance with north of 1,000 yards.

Fred Warner

Warner is an interesting case study in that an argument could be made that he already had a breakout season as a rookie. The former third-round pick started every game and recorded 124 tackles. He ranked fourth among linebackers in solo tackles, third in stops and led the 49ers with six pass breakups. He also ranked in the top 10 among linebackers in coverage.

Despite this awe-inspiring performance, Warner did not earn a Pro Bowl nod as a rookie. That should change during his sophomore campaign. The youngster has two new running partners in that of former Pro Bowler Kwon Alexander and impressive rookie Dre Greenlaw.

This means that the 49ers won’t be relying on Warner to do everything at linebacker. He played more snaps than the rest of San Francisco’s linebacker group combined last season. Now that the 49ers can niche down Warner’s role, it’s going to lead to an even more impressive season. Expect him to take on a larger role in pass coverage and blitz the quarterback more often, primarily due to the speed this BYU product displayed as a rookie. The sky really is the limit here.

Mike McGlinchey

Much like Warner, an argument can be made that McGlinchey broke out big time as a rookie. The former Notre Dame standout graded out as the best rookie offensive lineman, via Pro Football Focus metrics. He also graded out eighth among all right tackles in overall play and second in the running game.

At issue here was pass protection. The very same PFF metrics had McGlinchey as the 31st-best right tackle in that category. It was barely starter-caliber stuff in pass protection from the youngster last season.

The expectation here is that McGlinchey will be vastly improved blocking for Garoppolo in 2019. Remember, the offensive tackle had to work backup quarterbacks in 13-plus games last season. It’s no small thing given Garoppolo’s ability to get rid of the ball in a swift manner.

Outside of that, San Francisco worked with McGlinchey a lot during the offseason to improve his pass-protection technique. This showed in a big way during camp. And with improvements in this area, McGlinchey could be looking at a Pro Bowl performance as a sophomore.

Nick Bosa

Despite an ankle injury that has put into question his Week 1 status, this rookie No. 2 overall pick has an opportunity to be a star out of the gate. Bosa blends athleticism, technique and and a bull-rush mentality to dominate opposing offensive linemen. It’s something we saw first-hand during his limited training camp action.

Making matters easier for Bosa is the fact that he has two Pro Bowl pass rushers to work with in that of defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and fellow edge rusher Dee Ford. This means opposing teams won’t be able to focus solely on protecting their quarterbacks from the wrath of Mr. Bosa.

In a vacuum, this is going to create major problems for opposing offenses. Even the best tackles in the NFL are going to have a hard time fending Bosa off in one-on-one situations. Expect this to lead to 10-plus sacks with a good two-dozen quarterback hits should Bosa remain healthy throughout his rookie season.

Jimmy Garoppolo

A breakout season for Garoppolo has to be in the cards if San Francisco wants to earn a playoff spot. The pressure is squarely on this now-veteran quarterback to remain healthy and play at a high level with a mere 10 starts under his belt in five NFL seasons.

The good news here is that Garoppolo is not showing any signs of struggling with the ACL injury he suffered last season. He appears to be at 100 percent.

With an improved group of skill-position players to work with and one of the best offensive tackle tandems in the NFL, there’s no excuses. Shanahan will continue to put Garoppolo in the best situation to succeed. It showed during training camp and should continue into the regular season.

The 49ers take on two bad defenses in that of the Buccaneers and Bengals to start the regular season. This will give Garoppolo a chance to hit the ground running and build rhythm. It should also lead to a breakout performance from the high-priced quarterback. Look for north of 4,000 passing yards with touchdowns in the 25-to-30 range from Garoppolo in 2019.

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Editor at Large of Sportsnaut, contributor here at Forbes. Seen on Fox Sports and MSN. Heard on Fox Sports Radio and ESPN Radio. Previous bylines include: Bleacher Repo

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