San Francisco 49ers: The All-Decade Team from 2010 through 2016
By Peter Panacy
Defensive Ends: Justin Smith and Ray McDonald
Defensive Tackle: Ian Williams
Let’s get defensive end Ray McDonald out of the way first. OK, so his off-the-field issues are troubling, and there shouldn’t be any excuse for that.
But on the field, McDonald was one of the numerous unsung heroes who comprised the dominant Niner defensive line between 2011 and 2013. Never posting more than 30 tackles or six sacks a season over that stretch, McDonald’s efforts were among the reasons why other front-seven defenders were able to create so much pressure on opposing offensive lines.
And who can leave off retired defensive end Justin Smith?
Five of the seven seasons — dating back to 2008 — Smith spent in San Francisco resulted in Pro Bowl selections. And Smith’s production may have been the primary reason linebacker Aldon Smith was able to enjoy so much success early in his career.
The nose tackle position was a little tougher to describe, but Ian Williams gets the nod based on his stellar 2015 effort — a season in which he posted a plus-24.4 overall grade, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Next: Offensive Line