Trending Up: Three 49ers Who Impressed Heading Into Week Two

September 15, 2022
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Coming off a disappointing loss on Sunday, the 49ers look to bounce back against the Seattle Seahawks. It wasn’t all bad as these three players stood out from the pack.

49ers Guard, Spencer Burford

Spencer Burford is the second offensive lineman to start as a rookie in Kyle Shanahan’s six-year regime with the franchise. The former UTSA guard/tackle started at right guard in Week One, where he lined up during training camp and never wavered in the game. Burford played immaculate football in pass protection allowing zero sacks, zero pressures, and no quarterback hits. He was the only offensive lineman to not allow a single pressure all game. 

Burford also had a pass block win rate of 96.2% ranking 15th among all NFL guards. What made him successful this week? Burford’s technique allowed him to play through Chicago’s lousy field and protect his quarterback. His hands and feet work together to stifle defensive lineman in their tracks. 

In 2021, Burford helped USTA to all-time offensive numbers. The Roadrunners finished 12-2, a school record, and led with an offense that set school records as well. USTA set records for total yards (6,146), total yards per game (439.0), passing yards (3,577), passing yards per game (255.5), points scored (516) and points per game (36.9). 

The 49ers’ offense will have to rely on the rookie throughout the season as their backup guard/center, Daniel Brunskill, is out with a hamstring injury. Thus far, the fourth-round draft pick seems like a diamond in the rough and a potential anchor for the future. 

While having a clean sheet in pass protection, Burford committed one false start penalty which is something he will need to correct. The 49er’s offense cannot afford to make mental errors and put second-year quarterback, Trey Lance in a bind. Kyle Shanahan and offensive line coach Chris Forester must emphasize discipline along the line to help ensure a victory Sunday. 

49ers Wide Receiver, Jauan Jennings

Jauan Jennings is now in his third year as a Niner and is already making an impact in 2022. Jennings spent all of 2020 on the practice squad and was a seventh-round pick. Before the draft, Assistant General Manager Adam Peters proclaimed Jennings had, “the best Youtube highlight video he’s ever seen”.

In 2021, Jennings became a staple of the 49ers offense. He reeled in 24 passes for 282 yards and five touchdowns. Although his numbers weren’t gaudy, he was the go-to target on third-down and helped San Francisco reach the playoffs. Jennings isn’t the fastest receiver, but he uses his size and aggressiveness at catch points to beat defenders. Now in 2022, he’s added another element to his game.

In Week 1 against Chicago, Jennings hauled in 4 catches for 62 yards including a 44-yard bomb from Trey Lance. Because Lance is the quarterback, Jennings can now run vertically. Jauan stands at 6’3, giving Lance an option downfield to exploit one-on-one coverage. 

The Seattle Seahawks feature two rookie corners, Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant. Expect Kyle Shanahan to take advantage of Seattle’s youth and use Jennings in the red zone. Even though Danny Gray is a faster receiver, Jennings is proven and will get more snaps than Gray on Sunday.

49ers Defensive End, Nick Bosa

Nick Bosa flashed early in Week One against Chicago. Bosa was third on the 49ers’ defense with five total tackles, one sack, one tackle-for-loss, and two quarterback hits. In 2022, Bosa is a potential defensive player of the year candidate coming off a career year in 2021. Looking to sign a contract extension, we can expect Bosa to play his best football this year.

The former Buckeye destroyed offenses compiling 52 total tackles, 15.5 sacks, 21 tackles-for-loss and 32 quarterback hits in 2021. Bosa dominated all season despite receiving the highest double-team rate out of any defensive lineman. How did the NFL reward him? They didn’t. Bosa wasn’t awarded a First-Team All-Pro honor or the Comeback Player of the Year honors after missing 2020 with a torn ACL.

Even though Bosa didn’t win any individual honors, the 49ers voted him a team captain for 2022. Now in his fourth year, the young star leads a top ten defense into Week Two. Seattle has youth all over the field. Not only do they have rookie corners as stated earlier, but they also have two rookie tackles. 

The Seahawks drafted Charles Cross from Mississippi State with the ninth overall pick. Cross is a terrific pass blocker coming from a pass-heavy scheme led by Mike Leach. Two rounds later, Seattle selected Abraham Lucas out of Washington State. Lucas played four years for WSU and is a well-rounded offensive lineman.

Bosa should exhibit a masterclass rushing the passer against two young tackles. Expect Bosa to have a statement game in San Francisco’s home opener against their division rivals