The NFC fell 41-34 to the AFC in South Florida in a highly entertaining Pro Bowl. Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub won the game’s MVP award after completing 13 of 17 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns. Several of the 49ers players shined as well.
Vernon Davis made an impact early in the game, hauling in a pass from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for 36 yards. He finished with three catches for 67 yards. Justin Smith also saw some significant playing time, finishing with three tackles and a sack.
I caught up with our players after the game. Watch below or visit our YouTube page.
For all of our coverage of the Pro Bowl, visit our Pro Bowl Central page.
Tags: Frank Gore, Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis
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Whew, I made it! Getting into the stadium wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but I’m all set up in the press box now to give you updates on how Vernon Davis, Andy Lee, Frank Gore and Justin Smith perform in today’s all-star game.
Earlier today, I posted a photo gallery of our Pro Bowl cheerleader, Amy. I would also like to thank Brandon Vaccaro of Brandon Vaccaro Photography and Nick Scurfield and Jeremy Stewart of HoustonTexans.com for their help this week. All of our photo galleries from Pro Bowl week were a combined effort by all of us. I posted galleries from Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday practices so make sure to check out all of the content from this week on our Pro Bowl Central page. If you know anyone who may be a Texans fan, make sure to check out Nick Scurfield’s blog as well.
Right when I got in, I headed out to the Tailgate party where Amy and the rest of the cheerleaders perrformed. Doug Flutie also made an appearance and took some photos with fans.
Stay tuned to this blog throughout the game. I’ll be keeping tabs on our players and how often they’re playing tonight.
The temperature at kickoff is 67 degrees with a light rain. It’s been gorgeous all week long and then right when the game is about to start, it rains.
The AFC got the ball to start the game and Josh Cribbs had a nice return of 21 yards out to the 35. No 49ers players are in to start the game for the NFC defense. Patrick Willis was named a starter, but will not play because of a minor injury. Matt Schaub hit Chris Johnson on a swing pass for a 1st down on the first play of the drive. Johnson was involved on the next two plays as the AFC marched down to the NFC 36-yard line. 2nd and 6, Shaub hit Antonio Gates for a gain of 3. 3rd and 3, Shaub hit Andre Johnson for a 33-yard touchdown. Asante Samuel didn’t exactly have tight coverage on the play as Johnson didn’t have a defender within 10 yards. Justin Smith was in the game on the play. Smith bull rushed Faneca and threw him on his backside. The two looked to be joking with one another after the play. Faneca had to give Smith some credit on the play.
AFC 7 – NFC 0
No 49ers are in on the kickoff return team. You can tell these players aren’t used to being in on special teams, Johnny Knox took the ball out to the 32. Aaron Rodgers hit Miles Austin, but was hit immediately for a loss of 1. 2nd and 11, Rodgers hit Vernon Davis who was all alone on a deep crossing route for a gain of 46. 1st and 10, Rodgers looked for Davis again on a go route. The pass was long and incomplete. 2nd and 10, Adrian Peterson plunged ahead for a gain of 4. 3rd and 6, Rodgers pass for Jackson was incomplete as Jackson couldn’t get his feet in. Andy Lee came on to hold for David Akers’ 46-yard field goal attempt. Lee must have done his job just fine as Akers connected on the kick. Davis was in on all 5 plays on the drive.
AFC 7 – NFC 3
No 49ers players were in on the kickoff as Cribbs took the kick out to the 35. 1st and 10, Schaub rolled out and his pass felt incomplete intended for Chris Johnson. 2nd and 10, Johnson plunged up the middle for a gain of 6. 3rd and 4, Shaub hit Andre Johnson down the left sideline. The NFC might want to start covering him. It was a gain of 30. 1st and 10 from the 28, Cribbs took the handoff and pitched to Johnson. The trickery netted 5 yards. 2nd and 5, Schaub hit Brandon Marshall on the slant for the score. Justin Smith was in on the final play of that drive.
AFC 14 – NFC 3
Vernon Davis is making his special teams debut on the NFC kickoff return team. I didn’t get to see how he did blocking on the return as the ball was downed for a touchback. 1st and 10, Rodgers dumped it off to Peterson for a gain of 5. 2nd and 5, Rodgers rolled to his left and hit Jason Witten for a gain of 8. Davis was the deep option on the play and looked to have pretty good separation. 1st and 10, Rodgers bought some time and tried to hit Peterson but the Viking running back couldn’t haul it in. 2nd and 10, Rodgers hit DeSean Jackson on the WR screen. Davis and others had nice blocks on that side to assist in the 7-yard gain. 3rd and 3, Rodgers hit Miles Austin for 7 yards and a first down. 1st and 10, Rodgers hit Austin for a short gain. Davis was lined up as a receiver on the play. 2nd and 5, Rodgers hit Steve Smith of the Giants for a 45-yard touchdown. Smith beat the coverage of Champ Bailey for the score. Davis was in for 5 plays on that drive.
AFC 14 – NFC 10
Cribbs showed some toughness, breaking several tackles and gaining extra yardage out to the 29. Justin Smith is in to start the drive and starting joking with former Bengals teammate Chad Ochocinco before the play. 1st and 10, Young hit Rice on a screen that went backwards for a loss of 8. 2nd and 18, Samuel had good coverage on Ochocinco, deflecting Young’s pass before it arrived. 3rd and 18, Young hit Rice short fora gain of 11. That’s right, we have a punt! A defensive stop in the Pro Bowl? Vernon Davis was in on the punt return team as Jackson gained only a few yards on the return.
1st and 10 for the NFC from their own 22, Davis was in as a blocker and Rodgers hit Witten down the right sideline down to the AFC 45. 1st and 10, Rodgers hit Roddy White quick to the left side for a gain of 6. 2nd and 44, Jackson took the end around and his pass was well behind Mile Austin. It was not a pretty looking pass. 3rd and 4, Mario Williams hit Rodgers for the sack and a loss of 3. That’s the end of the first quarter.
In the first quarter, Vernon Davis was in on 13 plays (11 offense, 2 special teams), Justin Smith was in on five plays by my count and Andy Lee was on to hold twice.
4th and 7 from the AFC 42, Rodgers hit DeSean Jackson who got just beyond the first down marker. 1st and 10, Rodgers tried to find Williams on a short cross, but the Panthers running back could make the grab. 2nd and 10, Rodgers hit White quick to the left for a gain of 3. he was pushed out by Champ Bailey. 3rd and 3, Davis lined up in the slot on Rogers hit him on an out route for a gain of 9. 1st and 10 from the AFC 14, Rodger hit Witten on out route for a gain of 8. 2nd and 2, Williams tried to find some room inside, but went backward for a loss of 1. 3rd and 3, Rodgers hit Jackson to the left side on a screen pass for a 7-yard score. Give an assist though to Davis who came out quickly to seal off Champ Baily and open that side for Jackson.
NFC 17 – AFC 14
Cribbs took the kick out to the 29. 1st and 10, Ray Rice got the inside carry and picked up 9. 2nd and 1, Rice got the ball again and ran hard for a gain of 23. 1st and 10 from the NFC 39, Young hit Ochocinco on a comeback for a gain of 10. 1st and 10, McClain picked up 3 on the carry. 2nd and 7, Rice gained 4, dancing around as he searched for a hole. 3rd and 3, Young scrambled and was brought down by Dockett short of the marker. Why not go for it on 4th and short? The AFC does and Rice gains 3 to ove the chains. 1st an 10, the NFC defense swarmed to bring down Rice for a loss of 4. 2nd and 14, Young hits Gates crossing and he got down to the 12. 3rd and 5, Young’s pass was too short for Vincent Jackson. A good throw would have resulted in a score as Jackson had created space. Dan Carpenter tied the game up with a 30-yard field goal. The crowd was pleased to see their hometown kicker connect.
NFC 17 – AFC 17
Knox got around the right side, down to the 27. 1st and 10, McNabb hit Williams out of the backfield for a nice gain of 15 yards. Ngata nearly deflected the pass at the line. 1st and 10, McNabb threw the ball right to Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell who couldn’t pick it off. 2nd and 10, Davis was wide open down the middle of the field and a bad pass by McNabb fell way short. 3rd and 10, McNabb called his own number and got just enough for the first down. 1st and 10, McNabb threw the ball right to LaMarr Woodley who returned it all the way, but flags were all over the field. The AFC had 12 men on the field so that may have helped. Davis was called for a facemask so that crazy play will simply be played again. 1st and 10, Frank Gore got his first touch and took the handoff around the left side for a gain of 2. 2nd and 8, McNabb threw too high for Knox. It has not been a good series for the Eagles quarterback so far. 3rd and 8, McNabb scrambled for a gain of 5.
The two-minute warning provided some entertainment as the mascots played a game of musical chair. With just one chair, it quickly became a dog pile.
4th and 3, Gore got the carry from the shotgun formation and looks to be just shy of the first down. Turnover on downs. Garrard hit Kassim Osgood on a crossing route for 18 yards. 1st and 10, Garrard looked for Vincent Jackson in the end zone. Mike Jenkins had good coverage to break up the pass. 2nd and 10, Garrard’s pass is again incomplete for Jackson. 3rd and 10, Garrard scrambled and was brought down from behind by Peppers. With the AFC looking to go for it, the NFC calls timeout. 4th and 8, Garrard threw too high for Gates. Smith made a nice spin move to apply pressure right as Garrard threw. That’s a turnover on downs and the NFC will have 54 seconds to work with before the end of the half.
1st and 10, McNabb’s pass is too long for Jason Witten. 2nd and 10, McNabb avoided the low tackle of Vanden Bosch and got out of bounds after a gain of 4. 3rd and 6, McNabb’s pass was well behind Gore. Wow! Lee is on for his first ever Pro Bowl punt. Cribbs fielded it on the goal line and brought it all the way back to the NFC 35.
1st and 10, Garrard hit Ochocinco on a cross down to the 18-yard line. Carpenter game on for the field goal, but the kick is no good. The score stay all ties up at 17-17 as we head to halftime.
I’ve been doing my best to chart our players’ snaps. Through two quarters, Davis has been in on 24 plays (21 offense, 3 special teams), Gore has been in on 7 offensive plays, Smith has had 13 snaps and Lee has had one punt and 3 holds for field goals and extra points.
I hadn’t even returned to my seat at the press box after running down to the field to get photos. I did see McNabb hit Jackson though for a 58-yard touchdown. I was still in the elevator at the time.
NFC 24 – AFC 17
The AFC will start their drive at the 43 after a nice return by Cribbs. 1st and 10, Garrard hit Jackson for a gain of 9. 2nd and 1, Garrad hit Jackson again. Jackson found a hole in the defense and then took off and outran everyone, diving for the end zone and getting the touchdown. Looked like he may have stepped out of bounds early, but no review.
NFC 24 – AFC 24
Knox took the kick back 21 yards out to the 25. 1st and 10, McNabb’s pass wasn’t close to TE Jason Witten. It was easily picked off by Dawkins. He lateraled the ball to Bailey who lateraled it to Revis who fumbled the ball which was then recovered by the man who originally picked it off, Dawkins. Great work by the press box PA announcer just to get all of that straight.
1st and 10 for the AFC from the NFC 43, Garrard hit Jackson along the left sideline for a gain of 20. 1st and 10, Garrard’s screen pass attempt was too high for Jones-Drew. 2nd and 10, nice coverage by Rolle to break up the pass intended for Gates in the end zone. Unsportsmanlike conduct on the NFC though for illegal defense and the AFC will get the first down plus half the distance to the goal. 1st and 10 from the 11, Jones-Drew gets the carry up the middle for a gain of 7. 2nd and 3, Jones-Drew got a great push from his offensive line and walked in for the touchdown.
AFC 31 – NFC 24
The NFC drive starts at the 25. Peterson got the handoff on first down and got around the left side for a gain of 12. 1st and 10, Peterson rumbled to the right side and picked up just 1. 2nd and 9, McNabb’s pass was too high for Witten and the boos start to rain down for the Eagles quarterback. 3rd and 9, McNabb scrambled, but will be short of the first down. McNabb is just 3 of 10 for 78 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Lee’s second ever Pro Bowl punmt was downed at the 21.
1st and 10, Garrard scrambled, but was chased by Dockett and had to throw it away. 2nd and 10, Garrard hit Ochocinco on a deep cross for a gain of 40. 1st and 10, Garrard connected with Jackson for an 18-yard gain and then hit Ochocinco again for a gain of 13. 1st and 10, Rice got the carry and was tackled by Smith for a short gain. 2nd and 8, Ochocinco nearly made a spectacular touchdown grab, but was hit hard and couldn’t hang on. 3rd and 8, Garrard scrambled and was eventually brought down by Justin Smith for a sack and a loss of 1. Carpenter is good this time from 26 yards.
AFC 34 – NFC 24
Carpenter’s kick goes into the end zone for a touchback. 1st and 10, Jackson got the quick pass and again followed a block by Vernon Davis for a gain of 11. That’s several times now that they’ve run that play. 1st and 10, Romo hit White over the middle for a gain of 16. 1st and 10, they go with the quick screen with Davis as the blocker yet again. This time the pass was to White and gained 5. 2nd and 5, Romo hit Davis on a deep cross for a gain. 1st and 10, Romo hit Jackson short for a gain of 6. 2nd and 4, Romo hit White down the right sideline to the 7-yard line. 1st and goal, Williams took the carry up the middle for the touchdown.
AFC 34 – NFC 31
Cribbs returned the kickoff 37 yards out to the 40. 1st and 10, Rice picked up 7 yard on the inside run. 2nd and 3, Young’s pass skips short of Ochocinco. 3rd and 3, Young checks down to Rice who made a quick move for the first down. That’s it for the third quarter.
1st and 10, Young floated it for Ochocinco. Samuel had good position, but Ochocinco leaped over him and nearly came down with a great grab. 2nd and 10, Young hit Miller over the middle for a gain of 13. 1st and 10, Young’s pass intended for Ochocinco was knocked down by Samuel. 2nd and 10, Young’s pass was well off the mark and picked off by Samuel who returned it from the 4 out to the 39.
1st and 10, Romo hit White who outran the secondary down to the 26. An illegal defense penalty will move the ball half the distance to the goal. 1st and 10 from the 13, Romo looked for Witten, but the pass was incomplete. 2nd and 10, Romo hit White quick to the left side for a loss of 3. 3rd and 13, Romo was hauled down by Mario Williams – his 2nd sack. Lee on to hold for the 39-yard field goal attempt which is good.
NFC 34 – AFC 34
The kickoff bounced in the end zone and Cribbs still took it out to the 24. 1st and 10, Schaub hit Jackson over the middle for a gain of 17. 1st and 10, Schaub was chased by Allen and he had to get rid of it. I have to start getting packed up and ready to go down to the field. We’ll have photo galleries and more coverage though after the game so stay tuned!!
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The NFC and AFC squads wrapped up their week of practice on Saturday. The practices were held at Lockhart stadium in Ft. Lauderdale and were open to the public.
Take a look at our photo gallery from Saturday’s practice. It was a lighter, abbreviated session that featured the NFL cheerleaders. NFC coach Wade Phillips was also miked up during practice and that sound was played over the stadium’s speakers so that all the fans could hear the interaction between Philips and the players.
Patrick Willis was replaced on the NFC roster by Panthers linebackers Jon Beason after he decided not to play because of a minor injury.
With the week of practice concluding, players will get the rest of the day off and resume preparation on Sunday for the 7:20 ET kickoff of the NFL’s all-star game.
There hasn’t been much adjustment for players like Jason Witten. The Cowboys tight end didn’t have to learn anything new this week since the Cowboys coaching staff is heading the NFC squad.
“I think there are going to be some good plays,” Witten said. “I know this offense pretty well so I’m excited about it and I look forward to playing tomorrow.”
49ers punter Andy Lee looks around at the rest of teammates and can only feel optimistic about his team in tomorrow’s game.
“The only thing I can say is I like our chances,” Lee said. “We’ve been practicing well so we’ll see how it all goes tomorrow.”
This will be Lee’s second Pro Bowl. He was selected to the team in 2007, but the only time he was on the field in that game was to hold on field goal kicks.
“I didn’t punt the last time, so I don’t know if I really learned anything from that game that will help me tomorrow,” Lee joked. “I just have to go out there, do my job and show why I was chosen.”
Lee ranked 1st in the NFC in 2009 with a 47.6 gross punt average so he’ll definitely be an asset for his team if called upon on Sunday. However, Lee laughed and said that he wants to be even more involved.
“I don’t think we have a fake in, who knows,” Lee said. “We could throw something in, but we’ll see if I’ll have to actually punt this time around.”
It’s been an enjoyable week for Lee who was able to bring his wife Rachel as well as some of his family out to South Florida along with him.
“Yesterday was great,” said Lee. “I went out to eat with the family and hung out by the pool. The place we went to eat was called Truluck’s. I got this big Alaskan crab from Dutch Harbor. That what they have on the show Deadliest Catch. It was great.”
For all of our coverage of the Pro Bowl, visit our Pro Bowl Central page.
Tags: Andy Lee, Pro Bowl
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Friday started off early at the team hotel as the AFC and NFC teams suited up for their team photos. It’s a great opportunity for the teams to get photos of all their players together as a group for a quick photo.
Once again, Donovan McNabb provided all the needed comic relief during the NFC photo. One of the photographers was wearing a full Florida State warmup suit. His clothes, combined with his gray hair made him look exactly like former FSU coach Bobby Bowden…minus his famous hat of course.
“Hey Bobby!” McNabb yelled. “You’ve had a great career Bobby, sorry to see you go.”
Some of the players were then asked to come over as a team and speak with members of the armed forces on a live teleconference. The Vikings and the 49ers both spoke for the NFC. One of the members of the military asked Adrian Peterson why they fumbled six times in the conference championship game against the New Orleans Saints.
“Man, tough crowd,” Jared Allen responded.
Allen was then asked how it was to play with the oldest quarterback in the NFL, Brett Farve.
“It’s great,” Allen said. “We get discounts at the movie theaters.”
Take a look at our photo gallery from picture day. It was truly quite a show, highlighted by McNabb sporting a police officer’s uniform and riding around on the officer’s scooter.
One sentimental sight at this week’s practices was Patrick Willis’ former high school coaches Rod Sturdivant and Jack McGee. The two surprised Willis, making the trip from Bruceton, Tennesse to Miami.
“Coach Sing said, ‘I’m going to ask two other people to come.’ And he didn’t tell me who he was going to ask,” Willis said. “When I saw them I was really excited because those are the guys who really helped me get to where I am today.”
As much as Sturdivant and McGee impacted Willis’ career, Willis also left quite an impression on his coaches while he was in high school.
“He was a man amongst boys,” Sturdivant said. “As you can see now with where he’s gone, in our league he was head and shoulders above everyone else. He was a leader by example. He’s a quiet individual, but we really saw his great work ethic in everything he did, his schoolwork and also on the field.”
Playing in a small town like Bruceton, the competition level may not have been as high as some of the larger football divisions. That didn’t hinder Willis, it made him work that much harder.
“I had ambitions, I had dreams,” Willis said. “I wanted to get to where I am now. This is my third Pro Bowl and I’m grateful. I thank God every day.”
For Sturdivant and McGee, seeing their former pupil in the NFL’s all-star game for the third time in three years is rewarding.
“It’s unbelievable and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving young man,” Sturdivant said.
The turning point for Willis occured in his first year with Sturdivant and McGee. Willis was only a Freshman, playing on the kickoff return team when a short kick headed straight for him. Willis bobbled the kick and it was recovered by the opposing team.
“I felt so bad, but coach McGee said, ‘You know what, forget about this. I want you to get in there and play defense,”’ Willis recalled. “From that point I went out and played defense lights out. To this day, that’s why I love to play defense as much as I do. That was the start of it.”
Though Willis’ team when on to lose that quarterfinal game, the advice certainly benefited him and the rest of the defense Willis will be playing with during Sunday’s Pro Bowl. The NFC boasts an imposing linebacker corps with the likes of Brian Orakpo of the Redskins, DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys and Clay Matthews of the Packers.
“I got to know Patrick before the draft a little bit and he’s a great guy,” Orakpo said. “He’s a playmaker and that’s what I like – guys who make plays, but who are still very humble in their football careers. Hopefully there’s still plenty more Pro Bowls to come for him.”
Here’s my entire interview with Willis after Friday’s practice.
Tags: Patrick Willis, Pro Bowl
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The NFC and AFC flopped practice times on Thursday with the NFC hitting the field first at 9:00 a.m.
The funniest moment of the morning came when Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb tried to hit Falcons receiver Roddy White on a deep post. The ball went right through White’s hands and hit Eagles corner Asante Samuel right in the helmet. Onlooking players behind the line of scrimmage erupted with laughter. Samuel embraced the moment, grabbing his helmet and wobbling his head.
“I think I got a concussion,” Samuel joked.
The newest face on the practice field was that of Justin Smith, who got word on Tuesday that he would replace the Vikings’ Kevin Williams in the all-star game. (Click here to view a 49ers.com photo gallery of Thursday’s practice).
“It was a a six-hour flight away and they called me up and said, ‘When can you be here?'” recalled Smith. “Maybe a day and a half. It’s been a long haul, but it’s cool and I’m glad I’m here.”
It’s definitely an honor that’s long past due for Smith, who has played at a high level throughout his nine-year career.
“I’m glad he’s here,” said Patrick Willis, who’s always given a lot of credit for his success to the defensive linemen in front of him. “I saw him last night and I was so excited because he works so hard and comes to practice every day.”
Smith though didn’t have much time to relish his selection, instead, the 49ers defensive end is focused simply on learning a new position.
“I learned I was going to be playing defensive tackle so I’ll get a few more double teams. There’s not that much difference though.”
While Smith plays more on the edges for the 49ers, shifting inside does present an interesting combination with the Vikings Jared Allen outside of Smith.
“I know a lot of people talk about Jared Allen, but I think when you put him and Justin Smith on the same field at the same time, it’s going to be incredible to watch,” Willis said. “Having them on the field at the same time is definite all-star status.”
As it the case with many of the all-stars though, Smith will be asked to play special teams. The NFC ran through kickoff drills a Smith lined up on the coverage unit. Smith said the last time he played special teams was probably in high school.
“I got a little kickoff coverage in,” Smith said. “That’s a first, I’ve never done that before in my career.”
Both Smith and Willis said though that while they’re happy to look around and see five gold 49ers helmets on the field, they wish there was a sixth, Aubrayo Franklin.
Willis was also asked by the media whether he would prefer the Pro Bowl being played before or after the Super Bowl. Since none of the players in the Super Bowl can play in the Pro Bowl, Willis confidently said that he would like to have the Pro Bowl after the Super Bowl so he could play in both games.
Here’s my video report with Smith and Willis following the NFC practice.
Tags: Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Pro Bowl
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The AFC and NFC squads hit the field at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in South Florida on Wednesday for their first practices of the 2010 Pro Bowl. The Cowboys and Chargers coaching staffs ran the drills for their respective conferences.
The NFC’s practice was a little longer than what I expected for a Pro Bowl session. Players don’t go full speed during the drills, focusing more on mental reps and learning the offensive and defensive schemes. The schemes are usually pretty basic so all of the players can pick things up during the week. (Click here to view a 49ers.com photo gallery of Wednesday’s practice).
Donovan McNabb was easily the most vocal player on the field, laughing and joking with teammates. Every time McNabb would throw a pass to Cowboys receiver Miles Austin, Austin would bat it down, refusing to catch anything from McNabb. The two kept laughing at each other for most of the morning.
He also joked with Vernon Davis. McNabb seemed shocked to see Davis’ short hair.
“He told me he was glad I shaved of my six dreads,” Davis told reporters after practice.
Justin Smith was the only 49ers Pro Bowler not present at practice. He learned that he would replace the Vikings’ Kevin Williams yesterday so he should be arriving by tomorrow.
It’s an especially meaningful week for running back Frank Gore, who hasn’t played in his hometown of Miami since his days at “The U.”
“It’s a great opportunity to play in front of my family,” Gore said. “That’s the best part about this. My family hasn’t been able to see me play since I’ve been in the NFL so that makes this week really special. I wasn’t able to play last year when we came out to play the Dolphins so this is great!”
One of the family members Gore is most excited to play in front of is his son, Frank Jr., who is becoming quite a good football player himself.
“He’s really excited to see me play,” Gore said. “He’s taking after his dad so far. I’m proud of him because he’s continued working really hard.”
Gore grew up in Coral Gables and attended Coral Gables High School so it seemed weird to him to be practicing on the field of his former rival school, St. Thomas Aquinas.
Some of the high school students were allowed to take some time away from class to come out and watch the practice. It also made the practices more lively the students would cheer after good plays and yell encouragement for their favorite players.
“It’s a good opportunity for them to see a lot of NFL guys, especially players who made the Pro Bowl who are supposed to be the best at their position,” Gore said.
Gore said he’s really looking forward to see how his teammate and good friend Vernon Davis plays with the best players in the business.
“I want to see how Vernon does. I think he’s going to play fast like he always does and turn some heads.”
Gore admitted he probably wasn’t playing as fast as he normally does during the first session of the practice. During special teams drills, Gore lined up on kickoff coverage and proceeded to sprint down the field and get into tackling position on the return man.
“That was crazy,” Gore said with a grin. “I had no idea what I was doing.”
I caught up with some of our guys after the NFC practice. Watch the video below:
The AFC players had some interesting things to say following their practice as well. Here’s my report following their practice:
Tags: ", Andy Lee, Frank Gore, Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Pro Bowl, Vernon Davis
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Things started off great for the 2010 Pro Bowl. My flight actually got in a half hour ahead of schedule so I dropped things off at my hotel and headed down the street to the players’ hotel.
I was also well taken care of by the rental car company!!! Ok, that’s not my car…you never know what you’re going to see at the Pro Bowl. That’s actually the car of the Bengals’ Chad Ochocinco.
With the addition of Justin Smith to the Pro Bowl roster, we now have five representatives here in South Florida. Smith should be arriving sometime tomorrow, but I did run into Patrick Willis, Andy Lee, Frank Gore and Vernon Davis. They had several meetings starting at 7:00 pm to go over how the whole week will work, where they need to be and when. Practices start tomorrow morning so it’s important to get everything off to a good start.
Here’s my interview with Willis right before he stepped into meetings:
And here’s my interview with Lee:
Posted in NinerCam, Uncategorized | 7 Comments »
February 2, 2010 Update:
Congratulations to Justin Smith who won with 40% of the vote. Ahmad Brooks finished a close second with 38% of the vote. Aubrayo Franklin (12%) and Parys Haralson (9%) rounded out the top four sacks of the season in the polls.
This week’s 49ers.com poll asks our Faithful fans to decide which sack was the best in 2009.
The 49ers totaled 44 sacks this past season, tied for third most in the NFL and tied for second most in the NFC. It was the best sack totals the team has posted since 1998 in which they racked up 51.
Picking the top four sacks was no easy task.
Manny Lawson led the team with 6.5 sacks and 13 other 49ers registered at least one sack in 2009. But without further delay, let’s take a look at your choices for best 49ers sack of 2009.
Our first nominee is matchup nightmare Justin Smith’s game-ending sack of Kurt Warner.
Smith out-worked and dominated the Arizona Cardinals offensive line in the 49ers Week 1 road victory over the division champs. The defensive tackle totaled an amazing 13 quarterback pressures and nine hits on Kurt Warner.
Smith hit Warner so many times, I’m not even sure this is the picture of the sack that closed Arizona’s chances for a comeback in the season opener. But it just might be the image of Smith sacking Warner with less than 10 seconds at midfield.
The man referred to as “Cowboy” inside the 49ers locker room, lassoed Warner and through him to the ground in a decisive manner. It was the perfect exclamation mark to a solid win.
Our next hopeful is last week’s 49ers.com poll winner, nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin.
Franklin gets the nod this week for his sack of four-time NFL MVP quarterback Peyton Manning. Franklin was one three 49ers to take down the never-sacked signal caller. Manning was only brought down 13 times during the regular season.
Franklin’s sack was impressive on a number of fronts. It showed all the tools that gave him a breakout season in 2009. First, he beat a double team of center Jeff Saturday and left guard Ryan Lilja to get to Manning which demonstrated Franklin’s non-stop motor. It also displayed his amazing hands as he swatted away Lilja’s block and broke through the two blockers to get to Manning.
Franklin picked up honors for best interception in 2009, will he get another award for best sack? It’s up to you to make the call.
Our third nominee is more of a group nominee, but really since one of the primary participants was already nominated (Smith), outside linebacker Parys Haralson will get the call as our third choice.
On the first play of the fourth quarter with the 49ers leading 20-3, Haralson made sure those numbers remained as the final score with a devastating sack on Garrard with the help of some friends.
Jaguars rookie left tackle Eugene Monroe decided it would be better to leave Haralson unblocked even though he was lined up directly across from him. Instead of disrupting Haralson’s route to his quarterback, Monroe looked outwards to kick out 5-10, 188-pound cornerback Dre’ Bly.
From there, Haralson corralled Garrard by the shoulder pads until Smith came over to finish the play off, knocking the ball out in the process. Defensive tackle Ray McDonald rallied to the ball and fell right on top, giving possession and momentum back to the 49ers.
Our final nominee is another outside linebacker, Ahmad Brooks, who also turned in another sack-forced fumble play.
Brooks’ performance added to the 49ers 27 sacks in the final eight games of the season which led the NFL.
The outside linebacker was also a matchup nightmare for all of Arizona’s tackles, especially left tackle Wayne Gandy.
The athletic edge rusher closed out the first half with a sack and forced fumble on Warner that silenced Arizona’s comeback bid. He did it in style by blowing past Gandy and knocking the ball out of Warner’s right arm at the top of the pocket. Smith again was involved in another one of our nominees, as he recovered the fumble.
The turnover enabled the 49ers to keep their 17-point lead intact as they head into the locker rooms for halftime. They went on to keep that lead and finish the season sweep of the Cardinals.
You can vote as many times as you’d like all week long by finding the poll on the bottom left corner of the 49ers.com home page. The winner will be announced next Monday, along with a new “Faithful Vote” for 49ers fans to debate on.
Tags: Ahmad Brooks, Aubrayo Franklin, Justin Smith, Parys Haralson
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Starting Tuesday, 49ers.com will bring you exclusive coverage of the 2010 Pro Bowl in South Florida. The 49ers will send four players to the NFL’s all-star game, the most since the team sent six players in 2002. Vernon Davis will be filming a video diary as will Amy, our Pro Bowl Gold Rush cheerleader.
Throughout the week, I’ll be following all of our players around as they go through practices and attend various events in the area. I’ll be posting daily updates with exclusive NinerCam videos and photos so stay tuned to this blog and visit our new Pro Bowl Central page to view all of our Pro Bowl content.
Tags: NinerCam, Pro Bowl
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NinerCam followed Josh Morgan last weekend when he performed with the Harlem Globetrotters at HP Pavillion. As expected, the athletic wide receiver showed that his ability translates well to the hardwood, dunking the ball with ease. Click here to watch the video on our brand new 49ers YouTube Channel. Subscribe to our channel and watch many of your favorite TV49 videos.
Tags: Josh Morgan, NinerCam
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