Bay Area Sports Blog

Archive for February, 2010

2009 NFL All-Bay Area Team (Defense and Special Teams)

by vrabbit on Feb.11, 2010, under Football, NFL, Oakland Raiders, San Franciso 49ers

DE – Richard Seymour (OAK): the anti-Moss (definition: that who can deliver the same type of outstanding production on the field regardless of what jersey he’s wearing, or what the scoreboard looks like). Seymour had yet another consistent season, not as good as the season he had in 2008, but right along the kind of production he’s been having for the last few years. It’s worth remembering he was obtained in exchange for a first round pick in next year’s draft, so it’ll be interesting to see if Al Davis and company (Ok, just Al) will be aggressive in resigning him or will simply let him go away.

DT – Aubrajo Franklin (SF): file this one under “did he play that way because of a breakthrough, or because he was in a contract year?” But I will stand somewhere in-between. While there’s no doubt in my mind lots of players in all major sports play with extra incentives in the final year of their contracts, what I saw out of Franklin each week was more than just dollar signs in his eyes. I saw a player that was used correctly by his coaches and was placed in positions where he could succeed, and the result was a career year. Stats mean little for nose tackles in a 3-4 defense, it was his constant closing of the gaps on running of plays and his relentless push on passing plays that made him worth noticing. Should the 49ers resign him? Hm, does Elmer Fudd have trouble with the letter R?

DE – Justin Smith (SF): whenever you want to teach a young football player the meaning of “playing until the whistle blows” you might wanna pull out the Justin Smith highlight reel. Much like the previous two players in the defensive line, it’s not the stats that say what a valuable player he is, it’s his performance on each and every play. Not only does he go full-motor every time the ball is snapped, but in a position where for the most part players rotate in and out of the game, Smith plays the vast majority of the snaps, rarely going to the sidelines when the 49ers defense is on the field. Oh, he also sneaked into the Pro Bowl as a 1st alternate this year after Kevin Williams (Vikings) had to step down with an injury.

OLB – Manny Lawson (SF): the injury-prone former 1st round pick from North Carolina State was  able to stay healthy for all 16 games for the first time since his rookie year, resulting in his best season yet. Already an excellent player in coverage, the 49ers coaching staff was determined to get him involved in the team’s pass-rush plans. Although he’s yet to put up the type of numbers most fans are expecting from him, he was able to lead the team in sacks in ‘09 with 6.5 and had career highs in tackles for a season (68), forced fumbles (3), and tackles in a game (11, week 3 at Minnesota).

MLB – Kirk Morrison (OAK): say what you want about the Raiders defense being on the field for what seems to be two-thirds of the game, Morrison is a tackling machine. He ended the season tied for seventh in the NFL in total tackles (133) and was third in solo tackles (109) only five behind the leader. In his five-year career he is averaging 126.4 tackles per season while having played in all 80 games (79 starts). In 2009 he recorded career highs in forced fumbles (3) sacks (2.0), total tackles in a game (16, week 5 at New York Giants) and solo tackles in a game (13, twice – week 2 vs Kansas City and week 5 at New York Giants).

MLB – Patrick Willis (SF) : arguably the best Middle Linebacker in the game, Willis produced his third straight Pro-Bowl season in his third year in the league. He had double digit tackles in eight games this season. His 2.5 sacks vs the Rams on week 3 set a career high in a game, and help him tie his career high for sacks in a season with 4.0. He also set career highs in forced fumbles (3) and interceptions (4), while leading the league in total tackles (152) and solo tackles (114). He is also the unquestionable leader of a very good 49ers defensive unit that has the makings to be a top-10 (dare I say top-5) defense next season.

OLB – Ahmad Brooks (SF): I have to be honest, no other Outside Linebacker in the Bay was really impressive this season, so I had to resort to giving a shout-out to Mr. Brooks. He went undrafted in 2006  out of Virginia after having several off-field issues and was selected in the supplemental draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, where he played sparingly his first season. His second season ended during his second game due to injury, and he was released after that season. The 49ers signed him in the summer of 2008 but he didn’t play at all that season, even briefly being waived when the team needed room for a backup wide receiver. He didn’t see much action in the first half of last season as Mike Singletary waited patiently for the moment when he thought Brooks would be ready to consistently play again at the NFL level. He had a strong second half of the season, finishing with 6.0 sacks and five forced fumbles, and figures to be an integral part of the 49ers pass-rush next season.

CB – Nnamdi Asomugha (OAK): his stats in ‘09 were so bad, every defensive lineman listed in this entry had better stats than him. Yet he is still the best cornerback in the Bay, so good in fact, quarterbacks don’t throw it his way. The seven-year veteran was named to the Pro Bowl for the third time in his career.

CB – Shawntae Spencer (SF): He wasn’t even mentioned that much during last offseason, a far thought from Nate Clements and the competition going on for the #2 CB job between Tarell Brown and Dre’ Bly. He now stands as arguably the best Cornerback in the 49ers roster. He was announced as the winner of the #2 CB job before the season over Brown and Bly to the surprise of many, but the news weren’t too much of a shock considering his production during his first few seasons in the NFL. He finished the season with the most tackles by a 49er CB (53) and two interceptions, while also doing a good job in run support. His vast knowledge of former college teammate Larry Fitzgerald makes him a great asset in divisional games vs the Arizona Cardinals, and if Clements is able to go back to his old ways the 49ers might just have a nice one-two punch to match up against opposing starting wideouts.

FS – Dashon Goldson (SF): The former 4th-round pick was finally able to crack the starting lineup in his third season out of Washington, and he all but assured himself a spot as the 49ers starting Free Safety of the future. Known for being a takeaway machine in practice, Goldson carried that onto the field leading the team with seven takeaways: four interceptions (team-leading) and three forced fumbles, to go with his 94 tackles and 2.0 sacks. He has a tendency to go for the big hit as opposed to making a play on the ball which kept his numbers from being even better, but regardless he’s a nice commodity for the 49ers defense next season.

SS – Tyvon Branch (OAK): The second-year player out of Connecticut may soon be a name well known around the NFL. He had an impressive 124 tackles this past season to go with two forced fumbles and 1.0 sack while being a strong presence in the backfield vs opposing running games. Raiders fans would like to see more interceptions out of him instead of such high number of tackles, so it’ll be interesting to see his progress going into his third season.

K – Sebastion Janikowski (OAK): The 10-year veteran arguably had his best season thus far, converting a career-high 89.7 % of his field goals (26 of 29) while hitting a career-long 61-yard FG at Cleveland on week 15. His six field goals made of 50 or more yards also tied a career high initially set in  2007. He made all 17 of his extra point attempts.

P – Shane Lechler: led the league in gross punting yards (4909), gross punting average (51.1), and net punting average (43.9) to go with 12 touchbacks. The 7.3 average return yards on his punts was 7th best in the NFL, and with the help of his coverage he landed 30 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line (tied for 5th best in the league with the other Bay Area punter, the 49ers Andy Lee).

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