Top 10 Rookie Defenders
Niner Report|March/April 2020
Nick Bosa had one of those rare seasons in 2019 when he was considered by just about everybody in the universe as the best rookie player in the NFL — on either side of the football.
Craig Massei

Not only did Bosa win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors from the Associated Press, but he also was named the league’s best overall rookie while garnering Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year honors and the Pro Football Writers of America NFL Rookie of the Year Award. The No. 2 overall selection of the 2019 draft, Bosa earned those accolades with his dominant play in the defensive trenches that earned him a place high on this list of the Greatest Rookie Defenders in 49ers history.

1 Ronnie Lott: San Francisco’s first-round draft pick in 1981 was a dominating defensive force from the moment he stepped on the field, setting the early tone for the team’s two-decade dynasty while earning first-team AllPro honors and leading the 49ers to their first Super Bowl title. Returning three of his seven interceptions for touchdowns, Lott would have been NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, too, if he hadn’t entered the league the same year as a guy named Lawrence Taylor — the only player in history to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors in his rookie season.

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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.

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TOP 8 Worst encore seasons

There have been plenty of tough acts to follow in the history of the 49ers franchise with a team that has five Super Bowl championships, seven Super Bowl visits, 16 trips to the NFC Championship game, and 27 playoff appearances. That kind of success has seen the 49ers enter many seasons over the years looking to take the next step to greatness or simply maintain it. That makes them fall and crash even worse when San Francisco failed to achieve those goals coming off triumphant seasons. The 2020 49ers know all about it, which lands them a place on this list of the worst encore seasons in franchise history.

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SEASON IN REVIEW

Did somebody say Super Bowl hangover?

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ROOKIE REVIEW

After building the 49ers into NFC champions with young talent during their first three years together — when San Francisco had a total of 40 rookies see action from 2017-2019 — the team’s leadership tandem of general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan found themselves with considerably less draft capital at their disposal in the fourth year of their partnership.

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GOOD MOVE OR BAD MOVE?

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STOCK UP STOCK DOWN

STOCK UP STOCK DOWN

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SHOPPING FOR A NEW DC

With the imminent departure of Robert Saleh during the offseason to a head coaching position elsewhere in the NFL, the 49ers will find themselves searching for a new defensive coordinator for the first time since 2017. With the defensive talent the 49ers have on hand, and San Francisco possessing a playoff-ready roster and one of the NFL’s most respected coaching staffs, the position will be attractive to a wide variety of candidates, including several veteran coaches who have had previous success in the league. Here’s a look at some top candidates who could be in the running to become San Francisco’s new DC in 2021.

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TOP 10 Team executives

Achieving the highest level of success at every stop of his football lifetime, John Lynch climbed the ladder from collegiate star to nine-time NFL ProBowler to respected television analyst before he joined the 49ers as a first-time general manager in 2017. Since then, he’s become one of the men most responsible for building the franchise back into a champion with his shrewd moves and organizational acumen. Named the NFL’s 2019 Executive of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America, Lynch has quickly earned his place on this list of the greatest team executives in 49ers history.

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