One-quarter of the NFL season is officially behind us. With the San Francisco 49ers coming into Week 5 fresh off of a bye, it;s time to look at the team MVP up to this point. While several players have had good to great weeks, Kwon Alexander stands out as the first-quarter MVP.
It is not always difficult to determine who owns the title of “Most Valuable Player.” It does become increasingly difficult as the sample size shrinks, however.
MVP does not always mean the best or most talented. Sure, the person who wins the that award is typically both of those things. But more goes into being valuable than just talent or superiority. Alexander provides talent, leadership and character. All of these things have helped him bring value to the 49ers.
Kwon Alexander has been a top performer on Robert Saleh’s defense.
Statistically, Alexander has played well. He has the second most tackles behind only fellow linebacker Fred Warner. Alexander has also recorded an interception while allowing just 5.8 yards per reception in coverage.
The numbers are pretty strong, considering Alexander has played 53 less snaps than Warner. The discrepancy between the two is largely due to the ejection that Alexander faced in Week 1.
Can a player who has been ejected once in the first three games really win the first quarter MVP award? Absolutely. Here is how the ejection displays Alexanders “All gas. No Brake” mentality.
Facing his former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Alexander was poised for a great game. Before being ejected towards the end of the first quarter, Alexander raked in three tackles and one pass break-up that could have easily landed him in the end zone.
A high hit on a sliding quarterback, Jameis Winston, sent Alexander back to the locker room prematurely.
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As he was headed to the locker room, Alexander was promised by his teammates that they would win the game. He received support from his teammates and was encouraged quickly.
As the game clock expired and the rest of the team ran excitedly back to their lockers, Alexander was there to congratulate his team and to celebrate with his brothers. A few short moments later, head coach Kyle Shanahan handed Alexander the game ball: a nod of approval and respect for the man ejected from his homecoming game.
Alexander plays defense fast and violently. He can often be seen pounding his chest after a big play, tempting the referees to throw a flag for taunting.
But that is the attitude that the 49ers have long lacked.
Every play, run or pass, Alexander is all gas and no brake. He sets the tone and he sets the pace. On a team that has severely lacked personality, Alexander provides an abundance.
Talent, leadership, skill, and character are all pieces needed to create value for a team. Alexander has demonstrated all of the above through four weeks for the 49ers. While he may not win the league MVP award, keep an eye out for Alexander to receive the 49ers Bill Walsh award: an honor given to the player who best represents professional excellence.
Catch Alexander and the San Francisco 49ers Monday, Oct. 7 against the Cleveland Browns at 8:15 p.m. ET.