Lance, Kinlaw at nine 49ers ready for breakthrough seasons originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
The 49ers have several returning players that will jump into production in 2022. In the latest episode of “49ers Talk” we took a look at the top nine.
Some players on this list have stayed under the radar and others simply have more to prove as veterans at the club. Whatever the reason, every player on this list has the potential to have a breakthrough or comeback season this fall.
9. DL Nick Bosa
Nick Bosa is already one of the top producers on the defensive line with 19.5 sacks in 2021, and the 49ers would be happy if the Ohio state product would have the same production for the second consecutive season. A year away from his ACL injury, however, the pass rusher will be even better prepared.
Bosa may not be under the radar below 49ers fans and the NFC Westbut he is constantly being left out of lists of best defensive players, including PFF’s latest Top 5 with Joey Bosa but not Nick.
Charles Omenihu could prove a valuable trade for the 49ers in 2022. The pass rusher, who was bought for a 6th round in 2023, will turn 25 in August and could have his best football yet.
In his nine games with the club in 2021, Omenihu did not score a single bag. But with continued work with defense coach Kris Kocurek and playing in one of the deepest defenses in the league, Omenihu is poised for a breakthrough season. At 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, the former Longhorn could be fishing for more playtime.
7. DL Samson Ebukam
Another pass rusher who will benefit from a second season under Kocurek is Samson Ebukam. The sixth-year lineman took 4.5 sacks for the 49ers for the third season in a row and, like Omenihu, will benefit from playing along a very talented line.
With the constant focus on Bosa, Ebukam could be having his best season yet even if only used on a rotational basis.
6. RT Mike McGlinchey
Prior to a season-ending knee injury in 2021, Mike McGlinchey played his best football. Using a sports psychologist to help him be as strong mentally as he was physically paid off.
Correct tackle had platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections into his knee during multiple offseasons, but ended up having to have surgery after an injury midway through last season. Now, in a contract year, McGlinchey is ready to prove he has what it takes for a sizable contract when he becomes a free agent in 2023.
5. WR Jauan Jennings
The physical wideout appeared in 16 games and registered 24 receptions for 284 yards and five touchdowns in his first season on the field for the 49ers. A 2020 “red-shirt” injury appears to have helped Jennings make an immediate contribution and will continue into 2022.
The Tennessee product will likely be a third target for Trey Lance in the red zone, as he was in 2021. Jennings will compete with Ray-Ray McCloud and rookie Danny Gray for the WR3 role, but the young receiver has already caught the eye of Charvarius Ward, who was taken aback by the receiver’s physicality and aggressive playing style.
4. TE George Kittle
George Kittle hasn’t broken the 1,000-yard mark since his 2019 All-Pro season, and his sophomore breakthrough came in 1,377 yards and five touchdowns. While the tight end’s 910 yards and six touchdowns in 2021 are nothing to scoff at, the Iowa product could see a revival in its sixth season.
Kittle’s former coach John Embry helped him develop his aggressive character on the field. Now, with Brian Fleury as his position coach, Kittle could get the best of both worlds and a new perspective on the minute details that will lead to even more success on race day.
3. CB Emmanuel Moseley
Emmanuel Moseley enters his fifth season with the 49ers who will battle for the corner back seat against Charvarius Ward. Healthy and armed with experience, the Tennessee product will have to take the place of Ambry Thomas and Jason Verrett.
Moseley, who has played 28 games in four seasons, is the favorite for the game and will face the challenge of being targeted more often than not. With that in mind, the veteran defensive back will have the opportunity to set a personal best in takeaway, which the defense is targeting in 2022. Moseley has recorded one interception in each of his last three seasons.
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2. DT Javon Kinlaw
The hulking defensive lineman has only appeared in 18 games since the club drafted him as the 14th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. Now, after Kinlaw had a successful second procedure on his knee, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan report that he is happier and healthier than ever.
Armed with an incredible group of position mates, Kinlaw only needs to stay healthy to have a breakout season after staying in Santa Clara and dedicating his life to his football future. There’s no reason the South Carolina product bag total won’t be well above its 1.5 career high.
1. QB Trey Lance
The sophomore quarterback is poised for success with one of the league’s most experienced and talented skill players at his disposal. After playing in six games during his rookie campaign, Lance probably has ups and downs in his first real season as QB1 — but expect a lot more good than bad.
Training sessions with his wide-outs away from the facility, taking all first team reps during OTAs and another season on Shanahan’s offense will prove invaluable to the production of Lance, who was already remarkable in 2021 .
In three games in which the young play-caller made at least 15 passes, Lance had a pass score of at least 115.0 in two of them.
Compared to other rookies, Mac Jones started under the middle of the New England Patriots in all 17 games and only had a passer rating of 115.0 or higher on four occasions. In 12 games, Houston Texans QB Davis Mills scored three times. Trevor Lawrence of Jacksonville Jaguars, Justin Fields of Chicago Bears and Zach Wilson of New York Jets did not reach the benchmark once.