The San Francisco 49ers are a remarkable 9-1 this season. I know all of us Niners fans could not be more thrilled with this season. For years I have been waiting for a season like the one we are having. I always thought the team had the potential to be good, but I did not expect them to be this great this quickly. In my opinion, the team’s MVP is without a doubt Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. What a difference a head coach makes! Let’s remember that coach Harbaugh did not clean house when he got the head coaching job. Coach Harbaugh has turned around the Niners franchise with basically the same roster from last year. Even though coach Harbaugh has done a magnificent job, let’s recognize the players who have helped the team get off to this terrific start. Here are my top ten Niners of the season.
10. Punter Andy Lee
Coming off a pro bowl year, Andy Lee is still showing the league why he is one of the top punters in the NFL. He leads the NFL in the net yardage and his leg gives the Niner defense great field position virtually every time he punts the ball. I may be wrong but I cannot recall Lee ever having a bad punt this season. He has been a great weapon for the Niners throughout the season.
9. Defensive End Justin Smith
It is safe to say that Justin is the heart and soul of the Niner defensive line. Justin is the kind of player who is going to give you maximum effort. Let’s not forget about the force fumble he caused against the Philadelphia Eagles to perserve the victory. He also batted down QB Eli Manning’s pass on a fourth down to give the Niners the win versus the New York Giants. Looks like Justin is on his way to his first playoff appearance. This could not have happen to a more deserving player.
8. Linebacker Aldon Smith
The Niners have had many rookies step up this season, but Aldon is making his presence known as one of the top pass rushers in the league. When the Niners drafted Aldon I had no idea who he was. I was keeping my fingers crossed for CB Patrick Peterson, but now I cannot complain. Aldon, through 10 games, has 7.5 sacks to lead the team and was named NFL rookie of the month for the month of October. The sky is the limit with Aldon; he will only get better as his career goes on.
7. Tight End Vernon Davis & Delanie Walker
I know I’m cheating by putting two players as my #7. But whatever. Coach Harbaugh loves to use his multiple tight end sets in his offense and Davis/Walker have been perfect. Davis has always had great receiving skills and has been in full display thus far this season. Walker on the other hand is Mr. versatile. Ask him to catch touchdowns, he does it. Ask him to block and open up holes, he does it. Ask him to make plays on special teams, he does it. Between the two they have 8 touchdown receptions and have been instrumental to the offense
6. Left Tackle Joe Staley & Left Guard Mike Iupati
I did it again. I’m putting two players as my #6. Promise it will be the last time on this post. First of all, the offensive line as a whole has been fantastic this season. The two standouts on the O-line have been Joe Staley and Mike Iupati. Joe has done an absolutely a great job protecting the blind side of QB Alex Smith. Thank you former head coach Mike Singletary for drafting Mike Iupati. The man is enormous; we are talking 6’ 5” tall and 330lbs. He has been opening up holes all season long for all of the Niner running backs and could be on his way to the pro bowl in just his second year in the NFL.
5. Cornerback Carlos Rogers
By far the best free agent pick up for the Niners during the offseason. Rogers had some subpar seasons for the Washington Redskins but has resurrected his career with the Niners. He has 5 interceptions with 1 touchdown so far this season. Rogers is a key component in a vastly improved Niner secondary.
4. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman
It is truly a blessing to have a great player like LB Patrick Willis on our team, but it is just unfair to the league that we have his clone playing for us as well. Of course I am talking about NaVorro Bowman. In just his second year he is one of the league leaders in tackles and a force on the Niners defense. Some around the league believe that Bowman and Willis are the best line backing duo in the NFL.
3. Running back Frank Gore
After a very slow start to the season, Frank Gore has been on absolute fire. He had a string of 100 yard rushing performances in 5 consecutive games. Through that streak Frank was the focus of the offense, making Alex Smith’s job much easier. Frank is on his way to becoming the 49ers all time rushing leading. Just a remarkable career for Frank and it is great that he will finally be in the postseason this year.
2. Quarterback Alex Smith
If Niner fans would have told other NFL followers that the Niners would start the season 9-1 with Alex Smith as our starting quarterback, they would have been called crazy! But it is reality. After years of turmoil and being benched numerous of times, Alex has shown great composure and attitude which had lead to him having a terrific year. He is one of the league leaders and passer rating. Most importantly he is winning games instead of losing them for the Niners like in years past.
1. Linebacker Patrick Willis
It is no surprise that Patrick Willis is my third linebacker on this list. The line backing core is the strength of the Niners top rated defense. And of course Patrick Willis is the leader of this great line backing core and defense. I mean what hasn’t been said about Patrick Willis? The man is a BEAST! He is on his way to making his fifth pro bowl in five years. In my opinion, he should be on his way to a Defensive Player of the Year Award.
FS Dashon Goldson, SS Donte Whitner, RB Kendall Hunter, WR Michael Crabtree.