As you probably know, All-Star voting ends on Thursday.
Womens Alexander Edler Jersey With that in mind, the goal for this column was to identify 10 or 11 rising stars who deserve their first trip to the All-Star Game. That first trip is special, any player will tell you. There’s just something about being honored, about standing out there on the field with the supertstars of the sport.
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Turns out, that’s not such an easy task this year. Sooooo many players who have yet to participate in the Midsummer Classic are having great seasons, and just mentioning 10 or 11 isn’t really fair. Think about this: There are 39 position players with a WAR of at least 2.0 (FanGraphs formula) and 19 of those guys have never been to an All-Star Game. Yeah.
So what we’re going to do instead is sort the honorable mention guys into groups, and then we’ll get around to the 11 rising stars who most richly deserve to be first-time All-Stars.
If nothing else, the offense should be better. Garcon gives the team a legitimate No. 1 receiver it didn’t have last year. A contract worth $9.75 million in guaranteed money is a lot to give a fullback, but Juszczyk is one of the best in the NFL and gives Shanahan some play-calling versatility. Fourth-round running back Joe Williams is already making waves in OTAs and could end up pushing Carlos Hyde.
Another new free agency addition is Marquise Goodwin, a wide receiver with blazing speed who is also an Olympic long jumper. Goodwin didn’t put it all together with the Buffalo Bills, but NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport recently raved about his potential with the 49ers:
I don’t know what he’s going to become, but if there’s anyone who can utilize speed, it’s Kyle Shanahan and what he does on offense.
The defense is also looking more promising than it did last year. Lynch pulled a fast one at the 2017 NFL draft, getting two third-rounders and one fourth-round pick from the Chicago Bears just to move down one spot from No. 2 to No. 3 overall. He even got the player he wanted all along — Solomon Thomas, who should immediately slot into a starting role on the defensive line. Lynch also traded back into the first round to get linebacker Reuben Foster, giving the defense two Week 1 starters right off the bat. Not bad at all.