The 49ers magical 12-game win streak came to a crunching conclusion against Philadelphia in the NFC championship game. With the season behind us it is time to hand out ten awards for the 2022 season.
1.) Most Valuable Player Award: Nick Bosa
Nick Bosa finished with a league leading 18.5 sacks. He didn’t get much help as the rest of the defense was unable to record more than five sacks.
When Bosa wasn’t sacking quarterbacks, he was busy hitting them, leading the NFL with 48 quarterback hits. The fourth-year defensive end also finished with the second most tackles for loss.
2.) Rookie of the Year Award: Brock Purdy
Purdy’s journey from final pick of the draft to rookie of the year was a story nobody saw coming.
Starting the season third on the depth chart, an injury to Trey Lance in week two elevated Purdy to the backup role. He would then take over the reins of the 49ers offense when Jimmy Garoppolo was lost for the season against Miami.
Purdy led the 49ers to victory over the Dolphins and followed it up by winning his first six starts.
The strong play continued in the playoffs as Purdy became the first 49ers quarterback since at least 1980 to not throw an interception in his first start.
From the time he took over for Garoppolo, Purdy completed 151 of 224 pass attempts for 1,877 yards, 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
3.) Turning lemons into lemonade Award: Tashaun Gipson
When Jimmie Ward went down with a hamstring injury during training camp the 49ers found themselves looking for a safety.
They found one in Tashaun Gipson. Gipson became a 49er on August 22, just weeks before the start of the regular season.
The veteran not only filled in for Ward, but he also took his job through stellar play. Gipson recorded a team high five interceptions.
In addition to his own strong play, Gipson was able to impart his wisdom on first year starter Talanoa Hufanga. The duo combined for nine interceptions, the most for a safety duo in San Francisco since 2014.
4.) Making an Impact Award: Talanoa Hufanga
This award goes to the 49ers player who made the greatest impact as a first-year starter.
Hufanga recorded four interceptions, two sacks, forced two fumbles, and finished third on the team with 97 tackles. The strong season landed the 2021 fifth round pick an AP First Team All Pro nomination along with a trip to the Pro Bowl. Both career firsts for Hufanga.
5.) Bang for your buck Award: Deommodore Lenoir
Stepping into the starting lineup after Emmanuel Moseley was lost for the season in week five against Carolina, Lenoir helped the 49ers defense not miss a beat.
Lenoir far outplayed his $896K salary cap hit. The second-year cornerback allowed a passer rating of just 71.47 as a starter on the outside. During playoff wins over Seattle and Dallas, Lenoir picked off a pair of passes to help San Francisco advance.
6.) Unsung Hero Award: Jake Brendel
Entering the 2022 season Brendel had made just three NFL starts in a career that started in 2016.
Anchoring an offensive line which featured two other first year starters, Aaron Banks and Spencer Burford, Brendel played well enough to be named as a Pro Bowl alternate.
With Brendel calling the shots, the 49ers offensive line gave up fewer sacks and quarterback hits than the prior year while also seeing an increase in productivity on the ground.
7.) Let’s Make a Deal Award: Christian McCaffrey
The addition of McCaffrey through a midseason trade with Carolina transformed the 49ers offense. With McCaffrey in the starting lineup, San Francisco saw an increase of nearly ten points per game.
McCaffrey averaged 114.8 total yards and one touchdown per game.
In addition to his own numbers, McCaffrey’s presence on the field created opportunities for his teammates to make big plays as well.
8.) Best Assistant Coach – Kris Kocurek
Kocurek has proven himself to be one to the top defensive line coaches in the NFL. Under his guidance the 49ers defensive line continued to get big plays out of each member.
Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam each hit career high sack totals in 2022. While he didn’t record a sack during the regular season, Arik Armstead made his presence felt in several key moments after returning from injuries which derailed the early portion of his season.
9.) Biggest Disappointment Award: The broken ankle
With Trey Lance taking over at quarterback the excitement was palpable. However, the excitement lasted a total of five quarters.
Losing Lance for the season in week two meant the loss of valuable time in his development as a quarterback. As the team gets ready for Lance to enter his third season, they find themselves needing to figure out in a hurry what the next steps will be.
Lance will be the only healthy quarterback when San Francisco opens offseason workouts unless they bring in a veteran or two. These reps will prove invaluable as the team tries to assess whether or not to exercise the quarterback’s fifth year option.
10.) Play of the year: Brock Purdy vs. Seattle in the NFC Wildcard round