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The 15 most valuable players on the 49ers roster


There’s no need to keep harping on the mess the 2016 season has been for the San Francisco 49ers, at least not on a Friday. It kind of is what it is at this point.

Ian Rapoport and a host of other national reporters have said GM Trent Baalke’s job is not safe for 2017.

So we thought we’d help a possible incoming talent evaluator by listing off the top 15 most valuable players currently on the 49ers roster.

  1. NaVorro Bowman

Age: 28

Signed through: 2022

Blurb: San Francisco’s defense went from an average unit to the absolute worst in the league without Bowman patrolling the middle. The question becomes, will a second major injury slow down his production at all? Adding another linebacker next to Bowman has to be one of this team’s biggest priorities.

2. Joe Staley

Age: 32

Signed through: 2019

Blurb: The offensive line has been the most consistent unit on the football team. Staley’s been as solid as ever, but the old adage of having one of the best left tackles in the league means virtually nothing if you don’t have upper echelon talent on offense. The 49ers should be happy they didn’t trade him at the deadline.

3. Carlos Hyde

Age: 25

Signed through: 2017

Blurb: Hyde needs to average 78.5 yards in the final four games to eclipse 1,000 yards on the season. Is he Frank Gore? No. But is he a productive running back to have while you build out the rest of your roster? One hundred percent. It’ll be interesting to see his contract demands after next season.

4. Phil Dawson

Age: 41

Signed through: 2016

Blurb: It’s sad that a kicker is this high on the list, but Dawson has a legitimate argument to make the Pro Bowl in 2016 (17/18 FG, 25/25 XP). If you’re going strictly by how many field goals he’s made, Dawson’s a top 10 kicker of all-time.

5. Eric Reid

Age: 24

Signed through: 2017

Blurb: The coaching staff routinely called him the best player on the defense after Bowman went down, but we didn’t see the playmaking abilities — forcing turnovers, smacking receivers across the middle — before he tore his biceps and was placed on IR. Reid still has potential to become one of the better safeties in the NFL and he’s already a locker room leader at 24.

6. Ahmad Brooks

Age: 32

Signed through: 2017

Blurb: You can’t pin the front seven’s failures all on Brooks, but he’s no longer a dominant force that can take over a game. His five sacks do lead the team, although the 49ers are 30th in the NFL with just 20 sacks in 12 games. Brooks is scheduled to make $8.6 million in 2017. Paired with a No. 2 overall pick like Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett could increase everyone’s production on the front seven, though.

7. Zane Beadles

Age: 30

Signed through: 2018

Blurb: Arguably Baalke’s best addition to the roster in the last two seasons, Beadles has stabilized the left side of the offensive line. A year ago the position was a major need, now it’s really not.

8. Colin Kaepernick 

Age: 28

Signed through: 2017 (player option to opt out)

Blurb: After three offseason surgeries and a disaster season with Jim Tomsula, many around the NFL thought Kaepernick was officially washed up. But paired with Chip Kelly, Kap’s been able to tap into his old bag of tricks, especially rushing the football. Is he the longterm answer at quarterback? Certainly not. And the 49ers may very well be headed for another drama-filled offseason with the quarterback. But right now — lowest completion percentage in the NFL, or not — he’s one of the better players on this roster.

9. Jeremy Kerley

Age: 28

Signed through: 2016

Blurb: Can you imagine if Baalke hadn’t traded for Kerley a week before the season started? Although he’s tailed off some in the second half of the season, Kerley’s somehow managed 43 receptions, 466 yards and three touchdowns in this anemic offense, while often being marked by the opposing team’s top cornerback. Props, Jeremy. Whoever is GM next season might not have a choice but to re-sign him considering the lack of depth at the position.

10. Jimmie Ward

Age: 25

Signed through: 2017

Blurb: He hasn’t played poorly in 2016, but the leap many expected him to make in Jim O’Neil’s man-coverage defense did not happen. The 49ers have played Ward both on the outside and at nickel cornerback, honestly two totally different positions in today’s NFL. San Francisco might be better off having him focus on just one role in 2017.

11. DeForest Buckner

Age: 22

Signed through: 2019

Blurb: NFL Films guru Greg Cosell constantly reminds KNBR listeners that Buckner is very inconsistent with his pad level, which has been a reason why the run defense has suffered. But the fact that the first round pick is leading all interior defensive linemen in snaps this season shows that Buckner is an athletic, three-down player. It’s way too early to label him one way or the other.

12. Arik Armstead

Age: 23

Signed through: 2018

Blurb: The massive defensive end battled a nagging shoulder injury all year before deciding to have season-ending surgery. He’s done little to inspire hope that he’s a building block in two seasons with the 49ers, and appears to be more of a complimentary piece on defense.

13. Antoine Bethea

Age: 32

Contract: 2017

Blurb: Earlier in the season, Bethea was forcing turnovers and flying all over the field. But the veteran will be the first to tell you he’s taken a few too many wrong angles in both the run and the pass game. Depending on how well Jaquiski Tartt plays the rest of the season, Bethea’s $7 million cap hit next season will be debated in the offseason.

14. Torrey Smith

Age: 27

Signed through: 2019

Blurb: Smith made the choice to take care of his family by signing a five-year deal in San Francisco — something all NFL players should do. Little did he realize, an eroding franchise would’t be able to utilize his skill set as a home-run hitting deep threat. If Smith can be paired with an actual No. 1 wide receiver (Alshon Jeffery or drafting Clemson’s Mike Williams) he might have a chance to make waves for the 49ers in 2017.

15. Rashard Robinson 

Age: 21

Signed through: 2019

Blurb: The 49ers took a chance on a troubled cornerback from LSU in the fourth round, and so far, the gamble has paid off. Earlier in the year, Robinson looked like a bonafide starter for next season, but has battled some inevitable rookie struggles. If the 49ers could choose one player to break out in the final four games of the season, they’d love for it to be Robinson. Penciling him in as a starter for next season seems a little risky.

Next five: Trent Brown, Vance McDonald, Quinton Dial, Bradley Pinion, Jaquiski Tartt


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