We all hear about the San Francisco 49ers big name stars such as, QB Colin Kaepernick, TE Vernon Davis and LB Patrick Willis, and the great games they play week in and week out. However, this is a team sport, and without the “other players” they would not be in the position they sometimes find themselves in. I am not trying to take away anything from the stars, as they clearly deserve the praise, however it is the “other players” that often make their big play possible. I have identified three players who I feel deserve some love, despite their unpopularity in the celebrity circle. These players often make plays that do not go unnoticed by the coaching staff but rather the fans and media. So without further ado, here is my list of the top three players that have made a significant impact thus far.
1. Brian Jennings- The 14-year veteran has quietly become the 49ers best long snapper of All-Time. And although that may not be saying much, he is by far the best long snapper in the game ever since he stepped foot in the NFL 14 years ago. He is darn near perfect on every single snap, including practice snaps. I should know, I watch him during every game, standing 8 feet away from him. The long snapper position is greatly undervalued and the Forever Faithful should consider themselves very fortunate to have Jennings services.
2. Jonathan Goodwin- Ever since he became a 49er, Goodwin has been a rock. He is responsible for making line calls and sometimes audibles. If Goodwin sees something he will quickly point it out. He is the man responsible for calling out blocking assignments which helps open holes for Kaep, RB Frank Gore, RB Kendall Hunter, and RB LaMichael James. A former Pro Bowler, Goodwin is smart, reliable, and durable.
3. Ray McDonald- The “other” defensive end opposite of DE Justin Smith, McDonald has been extremely productive. Mostly known to stop the run, McDonald does an exceptional job filling his gaps “gap integrity” while allowing OLB Ahmad Brooks to make plays. He is not the best pass rusher, but does not need to be with OLB Aldon Smith and Brooks coming off the edge. A defensive end that earns his paycheck on every down, McDonald’s non-stop motor wears lineman down.