San Francisco 49ers: 3 players who must exceed expectations in 2020

The San Francisco 49ers defense (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The San Francisco 49ers defense (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Daniel Brunskill, 49ers
Daniel Brunskill #60 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

These three 49ers role players have to exceed expectations if San Francisco wants to return to the Super Bowl once 2020 is complete.

In 2019, the San Francisco 49ers managed a 13-3 record en route to their first Super Bowl appearance since 2013.

And a prime reason why was not just because of their star players providing star-like efforts, rather a number of other role players and less-known contributors having career-best campaigns.

A perfect example was the play of defensive tackle Arik Armstead last year. While playing in the shadow of fellow edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, Armstead enjoyed a career-high 10 sacks and actually ended up leading the team in this too-important category.

Needless to say, San Francisco’s defense was notably better with Armstead providing such a thump.

Likewise, defensive backs Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt had career-defining efforts last season, too. Same with running back Raheem Mostert, who provided a much-needed spark late in the regular season and into the playoffs on the offensive side of the ball. His ascent seemingly came out of nowhere.

Perhaps all those players perform at similar levels again in 2020. But in order to stay atop the NFL ranks and to make that last push to a Super Bowl win, the Niners will have to get even more second- and third-tier contributors to perform at levels well enough those initially expected of them.

Well-rounded rosters are the best means to reach the playoffs and get deep into the postseason. Those unexpected performances from role players are important, too, and Niner Noise breaks down three such players who’ll have to perform well above what many of the pundits and analysts are expecting out of them in 2020.