Best grand entrance: We start off our annual awards with a wunderkind named Brandon Aiyuk, who sure knows how to announce he has arrived on the scene ahead of his time. In his first game at Levi’s Stadium, Aiyuk took a backward lateral and worked magic, breaking a tackle to find the right sideline, steaming gracefully toward the end zone, and completing a jaw-dropping 38-yard touchdown play by vaulting high and long over a Philadelphia defender to complete the longest scoring run by a San Francisco wideout in 18 seasons. This also served as San Francisco’s Best Indication of Things to Come as Aiyuk had plenty more highlight plays in-store before his rookie season was over.
Most astounding number: The injury-ravaged 49ers had a remarkable 85 individuals play snaps this year in the NFL’s season of COVID19, smashing the previous team record and becoming a new standard that we feel pretty comfortable saying will never be broken.
Best mix-and-match: San Francisco’s defensive secondary saw 14 different starting combinations this season, and yet the 49ers still managed to finish fourth in the NFL in passing defense. That’s a whole lot of guys doing a whole lot of something right together.
Swiss Army Knife Award: Kyle Juszczyk is the template of what the perfect modern-day fullback looks like. The dynamic veteran does everything like no other player at his position in the NFL — blocking, diverting, protecting, rushing and catching the football, finding the end zone and generally doing everything for San Francisco’s offense besides taking out the trash. Juszczyk scored a career-high six touchdowns on just 36 touches this season while more than doubling his previous career-high for rushing yardage. In the process, Juszczyk earned his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl berth since joining the 49ers, who never get tired of finding more ways to highlight his unique skills.
Worst injury: 1. Nick Bosa. When the Pro Bowler/Reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year went down with a torn ACL in Week 2, San Francisco’s season was changed forever for the worse. 2. Take your pick from the bodily damage that ruined the seasons of key starters Richard Sherman, Jimmy Garoppolo, Deebo Samuel, Dee Ford, Raheem Mostert, Solomon Thomas, Ben Garland, Jaquiski Tartt, K’Waun Williams and George Kittle (sort of), each of whom missed at least eight games — or half the season — due to their injuries.
Best assistant coach: Well, of course, it’s defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who somehow kept the 49ers a top-5 defense despite playing at various times without 10 regular starters — some of them out most of the season — and then had five NFL head-coaching interviews waiting for him with other teams once the season concluded.
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SHOULD THEY STAY OR GO?
49ers have long list of decisions to make with their own FAs
TOP 10 Most illustrious assistants
When Robert Saleh signed a five-year contract with the New York Jets, Jan. 14, he became the 35th former San Francisco assistant to use his time on the 49ers’ staff as a springboard to a future position as an NFL head coach. Several of those men made a big enough impact during their time with the team — and then later leading other teams, with 10 taking their new teams to the Super Bowl — to be included on this list of the Most Illustrious Assistant Coaches in 49ers history.
As if the 49ers didn’t already lose enough during their tortured 2020 season.
It was a season to remember. It was a season to forget. Either way, you look at it, it was the strangest of seasons for San Francisco that you will ever see. Looking back at the year that was to illustrate that point, The Niner Report has assembled the best, worst and most unconventional of the 49ers’ 2020 season.
TO BE DETERMINED…
49ers enter offseason with options at QB
FOR TELEVISION, NFL DEAL IS LIKELY A MATTER OF SURVIVAL
The $113 billion deal to telecast NFL games through 2033 is head-swimmingly large — until you consider that the very survival of broadcast networks as we know them may depend upon it.
JC Deep Dive: The new coaching staff
Bringing Shanahan magic to Florham Park
The Long Game: Covid Changed The Way We Play, Watch, Cheer
It’s the predictable rhythm of sports that draws us in.
Aaron & Shailene: WEDDING & A BABY!
The couple are on the fast track when it comes to their future.
THE RIGHT STUFF?
Keeping two important starters is a priority as the right side of the O-line hits free agency
GUARDS/CENTERS: TOP AVAILABLE FREE AGENTS
Brandon Scherff, Washington 6-5 • 315 pounds • 29 years old The fifth pick of the 2015 draft, Scherff certainly lived up to the hype. He’s got everything teams want in a guard — size, grit, great technique, power and the mobility to get to the second level. His massive hands (11 inches) are a huge asset for a guard to grab and clutch. He made the Pro Bowl four of his first five NFL seasons. $$$$$
GUARDS/CENTERS TOP AVAILABLE FREE AGENTS
GUARDS/CENTERS TOP AVAILABLE FREE AGENTS
2021 NFL draft sneak preview
The Dolphins again will be prominent players in the 2021 NFL draft, thanks to the final returns from the major Laremy Tunsil trade with the Houston Texans.
NFL Honors, D-line coach, 2020 draft story
It was a disappointing, albeit not entirely surprising, night for the Dolphins when the NFL Honors awards presentation took place.
Analyzing the Sanders extension
Jason Sanders had the best season ever for a Miami Dolphins kicker in 2020, and he was rewarded for it when he was named a first-team All-Pro.