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Grades for the 49ers offense in the 2023 regular season


Now that the regular season is in the books, let's take a big-picture look at what we saw on the offensive side of the ball.


(As ever, I'm nowhere near qualified to evaluate offensive line play, so I won't try and do so here. TLDR: Trent Williams was good, everyone else not as much)


Brock Purdy: A+

I don't know how you could give Brock any other grade to this point. Yes, there was a three game losing streak, but that doesn't take away from what we witnessed this season.


An almost unprecedented injury in the NFC Championship game. A surgery younger than Venmo. No throwing in the offseason. Eight career starts coming into the year.


Irrelevant.


Let's break that down step by step. Purdy was available to start every game for the 49ers in 2023. That in-and-of itself should be celebrated, because it's only happened for this team one other time in the last decade. Side note: the last two times Kyle Shanahan's quarterback has been available to start every game, he's gone to the Super Bowl (Matt Ryan in 2017 and Jimmy Garoppolo in 2019).


Purdy's contributions went far beyond simple participation, however. Brock set the franchise's single-season passing yardage record, and threw for more touchdowns than any Niners quarterback in almost a quarter-century (Jeff Garcia in 2001). He sat out the final game of the regular season and still ended up fifth in the NFL in passing yards and third in passing touchdowns.


He led the 49ers to their second most productive season in franchise history, and he did it all at 23 years old (mostly). Were there growing pains? Sure. Costly turnovers against Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Baltimore proved Purdy is human, but on the whole 49ers fans have to be absolutely thrilled with what they've gotten under center this season.


Christian McCaffrey: A

Christian McCaffrey had one of the single greatest seasons in 49ers history. This is not exaggeration or hyperbole, it is a fact.


He scored 21 total touchdowns - more than anyone else in team history not named Jerry Rice. Only three other players have ever run for more yards in a 49ers season, and no one has run for more touchdowns.


McCaffrey truly was a cut above this season. He ran for more yards than anyone in the NFL. He racked up 161 more yards from scrimmage than anyone in the NFL. He tallied more first downs (114) than anyone in the NFL. That's the third-highest total in the last 14 years. Only 10 players have gained more first downs in a single season since the turn of the century.


There is no question who should be the Offensive Player of the Year - it's CMC.


Wide Receivers: A-

Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel are doing most of the work here, and that should be just fine with everyone.


Aiyuk was insanely productive this season. I'll let Aaron Schatz of FTN Fantasy explain:



If you're not a DVOA fan, consider this: 81.3% of Aiyuk's catches this season have gone for either a first down or a touchdown. Not surprisingly, that led all wide receivers. He averaged 17.9 yards per catch on the year, good for second in the NFL. He also had 28 plays of 20+ yards this year, one behind Tyreek Hill and CeeDee Lamb for the league lead.


This was the Brandon Aiyuk we all thought was there but never got the chance to see before Brock Purdy.


Deebo Samuel didn't quite live up to his historic 2021 form, but he came pretty damn close. Samuel racked up 1,117 yards from scrimmage this year and scored 12 touchdowns in 15 games. He also set a career-high with 7 receiving touchdowns.


More than the season totals, however, Samuel once again showed the ability to completely take over a football game. Against the Eagles, he exploded for 138 total yards and three touchdowns on just seven touches. Against the Seahawks a week later, he went off for 150 yards and two touchdowns on eight touches. This season was about Samuel reestablishing himself as one of the most dangerous weapons in the game, and he absolutely did that.


The rest of the receivers contributed here and there, but there was nothing that stood out to me. I should give a tip of the hat to Jauan Jennings for his effort as a blocker, but other than that the 49ers got replaceable production from the rest of their receiving corps.


George Kittle: A-

Speaking of players returning to form, George Kittle once again sits on the throne of the NFL's best tight end.


Kittle led all TEs in yards (1,020) and yards per catch (15.7), and his six TDs were second only to Sam LaPorta's 10 with the Lions. He did all of this despite being the fourth option in a run-first offense. Nine other tight ends caught more passes than Kittle this season, yet none were more productive.


I've said it for years, but George's incredible blocking is the cherry on top of the sundae. Receiving is still the best thing George Kittle does, and thanks to Brock Purdy we're getting a chance to see it. Keep in mind, since Purdy became the starter in Week 14 of 2022, George Kittle has caught 35% of his career touchdowns.


Kyle Shanahan: A

Shanahan's detractors like to point out there he has more to work with than arguably anyone else in the NFL. To whom much is given, the saying goes, much is expected. Unfortunately for those detractors, Shanahan is surpassing even those lofty expectations.


The Niners scored 491 points this year which is the second highest total in team history, behind only the 1994 team that scored 505 in their championship season 30 years ago. The offensive coordinator of that team, by the way? Mike Shanahan.


Their 6,773 yards gained is second only to the 49ers of 1998, who gained 6,800 yards.


We know Kyle will ultimately be judged on his ability to win a Super Bowl, anyone still using the term "genius" sarcastically at this point deserves a swift kick in the ass.



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