No surprise here, the San Francisco 49ers are sending an NFL-high nine players to the Pro Bowl. Of the players earning Pro Bowl honors this season, seven will be starters. The seven players selected as starters equals the franchise record achieved last season. The 49ers set a franchise-record with five defensive starters headed to Hawaii.
On defense, the Niners have two tandem’s occupying positions. Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson will be starting at safety, while Patrick Wills and Aldon Smith will fill in two of the starting positions at linebacker. This is the first time since 2005 there are two safeties from the same team to be named Pro Bowl starters. The Eagles had safeties Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis start in the Pro Bowl after the 2005 season. Also starting on defense is defensive tackle Justin Smith. Left guard Mike Iupati and left tackle Joe Staley will be the only starters on offense.
Also on the Pro Bowl roster as backups is linebacker NaVorro Bowman and running back Frank Gore. Bowman, Whitner, Iupati and Aldon Smith were awarded their first Pro Bowl selections. Gore and Justin Smith are both four-time Pro Bowlers.
Most impressive is Willis being named to his sixth straight Pro Bowl in his first six seasons in the NFL. He is now one of 17 players in NFL history to earn Pro Bowl honors in his first six seasons. They include Hall of Fame linebackers Dick Butkus (Bears), Lawrence Taylor (Giants) and Les Richter (Rams). Something tells me Willis will join them in the Hall of Fame after he retires.
Patrick Willis on being named to the Pro Bowl,
From day one that I stepped into the NFL, my biggest goal was to be the best football player that I could be. And each day, after each season, I can look in the mirror and ask myself: ‘Did you give it your all?’ And as far as the accolades go, those are voted on by other players, and coaches and fans.
For me, I just got out there and try to control the things that I can control and that’s going out there and just playing. Giving it everything I’ve got every time I have the opportunity to go out there. Playing for my teammates and playing just for the love of the game, the passion of the game. That’s something when I’m done playing, I’ll sit back and think about. But right now, we have a task at hand. That’s being focused on winning games and getting to a Super Bowl and winning that. That’s my main focus.