The great thing about the NFL is that there are so many positions that every year, there is almost always at least one player who has a breakout year on every team, no matter how good or bad the team is. This is one part in a 32 part segment detailing one potential breakout player for the 2012 NFL season on each NFL team. For the San Francisco 49ers, that player is guard Mike Iupati.
It was tough to find a breakout player for the 49ers because basically their entire starting defense broke out last season, which basically eliminated a whole side of the ball for me to choose from. However, they do have one budding Pro Bowler on their offensive line, left guard Mike Iupati. Iupati was the 17th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the highest drafted interior offensive lineman since the Seahawks took Steve Hutchinson in the same spot in 2010.
Iupati played very well in his 2nd season in the league, ranking 11th on ProFootballFocus with a 9.6 rating, playing every snap except 4. He was equally good as a run blocker and pass protector and allowed just 3 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, and 11 quarterback pressures, while committing just 4 penalties. However, he was even better in his final 11 games, as his rating was 13.6 over those 11 games. If you include the 49ers’ two playoff games, his rating was 14.4 over 13 games, which would have ranked 7th at his position last year.
Heading into his 3rd season in the league, he has the upside to become a top-5 guard and make his 1st Pro Bowl, which was obviously the hope when the 49ers used such a high pick on him and his massive upside in 2010. He was a bit raw coming from small school Idaho, but he seems to be finally coming into his own and ready to take his place among the best interior offensive linemen in the league.
If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2