49ers Midseason Awards: MVP goes to….

The 49ers return to the practice field after taking most of last week off for their bye. Before the second half gets rolling later this week, let’s hand out the midseason awards for the offense and defense.

Offensive MVP: Brandon Aiyuk

San Francisco 49ers’ Brandon Aiyuk (11) runs against Indianapolis Colts’ Ashton Dulin during an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

San Francisco’s offense struggled with penalties and dropped passes throughout the first half. Those issues are a bit reason why the Niners offense ranks only 19th in points scored.

Brandon Aiyuk was the most consistent performer on the 49ers offense over the first eight games.

Whether he was hauling in on of his team high four touchdown receptions or knocking a linebacker to the ground on a run block, Aiyuk has elevated his game.

Kyle Shanahan’s tough love approach with Aiyuk is paying off. The third year wideout is on pace to set a career high in receiving yards and touchdowns.

Defensive MVP: Nick Bosa

Despite missing a game and a half due to injury, Bosa is second in the NFL with 8.5 sacks.

Even if he doesn’t record a sack, you constantly see Bosa around the quarterback. The two-time Pro Bowler recorded 20 quarterback hits through the first six and a half games.

Most Improved Offensive Player: Aaron Banks

Banks was one of the reasons the interior of San Francisco’s offense line was one of the most questioned during the offseason.

Selected in the second round of the 2021 draft, many were unimpressed when Banks was unable to crack the starting lineup. Never mind he injured his shoulder in the preseason opener last season and was being asked to switch from the left to right side.

Fully healed and back at left guard, Banks has looked every bit as dominant as he did during his time at Notre Dame.

Most Improved Defensive Player: Talanoa Hufanga

San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga (29) lines up during the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons won 28-14. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

Talanoa Hufanga has made the 49ers front office look smart for moving on from Jaquiski Tartt.

The second-year pro has made the transition from role player to starter appear seamless. His three interceptions over the first eight weeks are more than any 49ers safety since Antoine Bethea recorded four in 2014.

Hufanga flies around the field with abandon. In addition to the interceptions he is third among 49ers defenders in tackles and leads non-defensive linemen with five tackles for loss.

Most Disappointing Offensive Player: Deebo Samuel

No 49ers offensive player has seen their production drop off to the extent of Deebo Samuel this season.

Samuel spent the offseason in a contract dispute, missed the beginning of training camp, and has not consistently looked like the weapon he was a season ago.

The 49ers are near the top of the league in dropped passes, and Samuel is the primary culprit. His seven dropped passes are the most in the NFL.

There has also been a significant drop in Samuel’s yard per reception this season. After averaging 18.2 yards per catch last year, Samuel has averaged 12.1 in 2022.

Most Disappointing Defensive Player(s): Javon Kinlaw and Arik Armstead

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams. (AP Photo/John Hefti)

The disappointment around Javon Kinlaw and Arik Armstead has nothing to do with their performance. Both were solid in the middle of San Francisco’s defensive line.

Kinlaw and Armstead land as the most disappointing defensive players due to their inability to stay healthy.

After undergoing reconstructive surgery on his knee during the offseason, hopes were high that Kinlaw’s injury concerns were behind him. He played 102 defensive snaps over the first three weeks before needing to go in injured reserve.

The earliest Kinlaw would be able to return to action is after this week’s game against the Chargers.

Armstead suffered a foot injury against Seattle which forced him to miss the week three matchup in Denver. He returned to action the following week against Los Angeles only to suffer an ankle injury.

San Francisco hopes Armstead will return after the bye week; however he was not on the field with the team during Monday’s brief workout.

This article has 12 Comments

  1. I’ve harped about this before, but trading Buckner was a mistake. He said that he was willing to meet the team half way which IIRC meant that he would be making on average only $1.5 million more per year than Armstead. The biggest reason that it was a mistake , imo, is because of availability. Buckner has hardly missed a game his entire career. Buckner has played in 104 games out of a total of 106 regular season games (9 games in 2022). Armstead on the other hand, who was drafted a year earlier, has played in only 98 games out of a total of 121 regular season games (8 games in 2022). AVAILABILITY IS A BIG DEAL.

    Before Buckner was traded to Indy, Armstead had already missed 18 out of 80 games, whereas Buckner had only missed 1 game out of 64 regular season games. So, prior to the trade Buckner established himself as a relatively injury-free player whereas the same cannot be said of Armstead. Having said that, I like Armstead but not at the amount of money he is making (given his injury history) and at the expense of losing Buckner.

    Yes, getting the high pick for Buckner was nice, if he had to go, but in the end we haven’t seen the supposed benefits. I guess a counter argument is that Armstead in no way would have fetched the high draft pick that Buckner did. Further, I guess my main gripe is that I wish the team would factor in “Availability” more in there decision making on players.

  2. I like the MVP selections. Not a fan of the negativity with Deebo but I can’t say you’re wrong. I thought it was very predictable that Deebo would have a decline in his production as every defense is keying on him. I was very disappointed in his offseason antics. I don’t mind a guy holding out or even making his gripes public but I really disliked how Deebo handled the transition to Trey Lance. Refusing to work out with Trey and his other teammates in the offseason is a big red flag to me. DIdn’t like that at all.

  3. Relax people. Deebo didn’t accelerate his games last year until about this time, when the wide-back role was invented. Defense might have come up with countermeasures for him this season, but the addition of McCaffrey seems screwing that up. We will see.

  4. Good list, Jack.
    Deebo is getting an undeserved bad rap by some here. If people want to be fair in calling out players, Kittle should also receive some critique as well, imho. His numbers have dropped off as well.

    My real concern going forward is for Javon Kinlaw. Can he be the player that the FO envisioned or will he become a marginal player because of recurring knee issues. If Kinlaw becomes an average DT will the 49ers stretch him out over time like Solomon?
    Many questions in the TBD category over the 2nd half of the season.

  5. Most improved and valuable beat writer: Jack Hammer
    After playing for years in the minor (blog) leagues, he jumped at the chance to take over from his friend and predecessor GC and revive the sagging site.
    His earlier stilting style has steadily developed into a smooth highly awaited read. His knowledge and understanding of the game is evident in his objective reporting and willingness to change his opinion about a player (eg Garopollo) without any drama/ego attached to it.
    He steers away from trying to write just to provoke and presents a clear headed inside analysis. Just the facts, man.
    It wont be long before he’s snapped up by a local or national outfit. ( watch out Matt M)

  6. Jack
    Good job Jack, I enjoyed reading your analysis and player breakdown.
    * I agree that Kinlaw IMO, is the most Disappointing Defensive Player because of his history of injuries. I also
    believe DT will be the 9ers number one 2023 draft need.
    * Since the 9ers won’t draft until the 3Rd round, your opinion of Michigan DT Mazi Smith, who is projecting as a
    3Rd round draft pick, is an athletic freak and a steal in the 3Rd round.
    His scouting report: https://www.nfldraftbuzz.com/Player/Mazi-Smith-DL-Michigan

    1. Geep,
      If D. Ryans gets a HC job and Jimmy G. signs as a FA for enough money, the 9ers could have 4 total 3rd round picks. If they do they can trade 3 of them (using the NFL draft chart) for approx the 10th pick in the 2nd round while keeping one 3rd round pick. They could trade two of their 3rd rounders to get Approx. the 25th pick in the 2nd round while keeping 2 3rd rounders. We could possibly be drafting in the top 10 of the 2nd round.

  7. Due to his history of injuries, I concur that Kinlaw is the most disappointing defensive player. DT, in my opinion, will be the 9ers’ top draft need in 2023.

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