Bay Area Sports Blog

Archive for January, 2010

2009 NFL All-Bay Area Team (Offense)

by vrabbit on Jan.15, 2010, under Football, NFL, Oakland Raiders, San Franciso 49ers

QB – Alex Smith (SF): I wouldn’t really brag about this honor if I was Alex. Picking the 49ers starting QB was almost a no-brainer considering his competition:

Shaun Hill: was benched after 5 games (3-2) as the 49ers offensive struggles became more apparent as the weeks passed.

Jamarcus Russell: if some people consider Smith a bust, what does that mean for Russell?

Charlie Frye: Pro – he was an upgrade over Russell. Con – that doesn’t really say much.

Bruce Gradkowski: Surprised many around the NFL with his fiery play for the Raiders. His mobility was a perfect match for Oakland’s struggling line, and his decision making was on point for the most part. These two aspects alone separated him from Jamarcus and gave the Raiders and their fan base hope, but knee injuries kept his starting gig at four games (2-2, 6 TD’s, 1 interception).

So Smith gets the nod here almost by default. He can take pride in the fact he improved over his last full season as a starter, but it’s fair to say he left lots of doubts about his potential as a franchise quarterback for the 49ers. He was good enough to get the coaching staff’s support to anoint him as the starter going into 2010, but also inconsistent enough that he still doesn’t have the full support of the fan base.

RB – Frank Gore (SF): he became the first running back in 49ers history to run for over 1,000 yard in four consecutive years. His rushing yards (1,120), and rushing average (4.9 yards/carry) were his best since his career year in 2006. He had career highs in rushing touchdowns (10), receiving touchdowns (3) and total touchdowns (13), and his hands continue to make him a dual threat for the 49ers offense, catching 52 balls for 406 yards.

Oh, and he did all of this while missing three full games.

WR – Michael Crabtree (SF): his holdout is now a blur in our memories after 11 strong games. If you were watching the 49ers for the first time on October 25th, you could not tell #15 was playing his first game with the team after just a couple of weeks of practice. He easily has the best hands on the team, and has been a team player ever since donning the red and gold. We’re still patiently waiting for an MC Hammer dance-celebration after a touchdown.

WR – Louis Murphy (OAK): many Raiders’ fans were looking forward to a solid season from their rookie wideout, they just weren’t expecting this rookie to be the one to breakout. Murphy had at least one catch in all but three games this past season while playing in all 16 contests. His route-running, solid hands, and commitment to blocking in the running game made it hard for Raiders’ coaches to keep him off the field. He carries a certain swagger as a result of his days at the University of Florida, but isn’t much of a diva considering the position he plays. If that other wideout the Raiders drafted last season can start to play at Murphy’s level, Oakland could have a nice future at this position.

TE – Vernon Davis (SF): finally had a breakout season after three frustrating years, and his reward will be a starting gig for the NFC squad in the Pro Bowl later this month. He shattered the 49ers record for touchdown catches by a tight end in a single season, previously held by Brent Jones and Ted Kwalik (9), while tying the NFL record of 13 touchdown catches set by the Chargers’ Antonio Gates in 2004. He had more touchdowns this season than in his previous three combined, and was the only 49er to have over 100 yards receiving this season, doing so in three different games (vs Titans, at Packers, at Seahawks). While he had no fumbles this season, he led the league in drops with 11, and is not yet considered an elite player at his position in the league.

TE – Zach Miller (OAK): was the only constant in the Oakland passing game this season, leading all Raiders’ receivers in receptions (66) and receiving yards (805) while scoring three times. His numbers have improved in each of his three seasons, and so has his blocking. He was named as an AFC Alternate for this year’s Pro Bowl.

T – Joe Staley (SF): even though he was hurt for a good portion of the season, he was playing at a very high level before his injury in week eight at Indianapolis. He was not credited with any penalties this season, and gave up three sacks.

T – Barry Sims (SF): was a pleasant surprise for the 49ers filling-in for Staley. His pass-protection was superb, even against some of the elite pass-rushers in today’s NFL. Was credited with just two penalties (both false starts) for seven yards, and two and a half sacks for seven yards. He put himself in a good position to be part of the 49ers roster next season.

G – Robert Gallery (OAK): the former first-round pick has found his niche inside the offensive line. Gallery was a bright spot for the Raiders during all six games he was able to play this season, and while he clearly will not be Oakland’s LT of the future, he at least has been able to shrug off the bust label.

G – David Baas (SF): while he wasn’t as consistent as you would like a starting offensive linemen to be, Baas was the recipient of the Bobb McKittrick Award, given anually by the 49ers to the offensive linemen who best represents the courage, intensity, and sacrifice displayed by McKittrick, the team’s longtime offensive line coach. Much like Alex Smith, Baas gets the nod here not so much for his level of play, but for the lack of production from other Guards in the Bay Area.

CEric Heitmann (SF): Heitmann has become a positive constant in the 49ers offensive line, and is a valuable asset to the team not only as a blocker but also as the quarterback of the line.

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Coming soon: Defense & Special Teams. Stay tuned!

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