January 26 Update:Congratulations to Aubrayo Franklin who won with 33% of the vote.
With 40 percent of the vote, Frank Gore ran away with last week’s “Faithful Vote” for the 49ers Best Touchdown of 2009.
But a new week opens up a new competition and a new fan poll on 49ers.com: Best Interception of 2009.
Just like with TV49’s touchdown nomination video, you can check out the top interceptions in this TV49 clip.
The 49ers had 18 interceptions in 2009, but after careful thought, we trimmed it down to the best four. Here’s a closer look at the finalists for this year’s best interception.
Our first nominee is the biggest. Not necessarily by reputation, but by stature. At 6-foot-1, 317-pounds, nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin was easily the largest competitor in this category.
Franklin’s takeaway was crucial for a number of reasons. First, it was at an important early stage of the 49ers Thursday night primetime home matchup against the Chicago Bears on the NFL Network. The game was scoreless just under the 10-minute mark of the second quarter.
Second, the interception happened at the 49ers goal line with the Bears needing more than a yard to score on third and goal.
With Chicago lined up in a goal line formation with multiple tight ends it appeared as if the Bears were content to try and pound the ball for the game’s first points. But that wasn’t quite the case.
Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler sold a play-fake to running back Matt Forte and then tried to find tight end Kellen Davis.
But instead he threw it to Franklin.
The nose tackle was blocked initially but scraped down the line where he found himself in perfect position to disrupt Cutler. Franklin read the play and put his hands up to block the ball, but somehow he plucked ball out of the air. Even more impressive than the interception from close range, was Franklin’s 11-yard return after.
Second on the list of nominees is strong safety Michael Lewis for his interception in the same game.
Lewis’ interception put a capper on the 49ers five-interception performance against Cutler and the Bears. It also literally ended the game.
With eight seconds on the clock and the Bears in need of 12 yards to give them the win (trailing 10-6 at the time) Cutler was again trying to force a pass to a tight end, this time it was to his starter, Greg Olsen.
But his pass did not have enough air under it and Lewis stepped right in front of the line drive intended for Olsen. By the time Lewis’ knee went to the ground in his own end zone, the game was over.
Our third interception nominee comes from first-year starter, free safety Dashon Goldson.
Goldson gave us the most interceptions to choose from, as he led the 49ers with four.
As for which one we selected as a finalist, Goldson’s game-changing interception against the Arizona Cardinals on “Monday Night Football” was certainly a worthy choice.
With the Cardinals needing 20 yards on second down, Goldson showed some serious play-making ability. Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner locked on to Steve Breaston one of his four wide receivers out in the play and Goldson immediately recognized it.
Not only did Goldson out-leap Breaston for the ball down the right sideline, he stepped in front of one of his teammates too. Cornerback Tarell Brown was also in position to make a play on the ball, but Goldson came instantly in the picture and took the ball right out of the air. After the play was over, Goldson (pictured above) celebrated in style.
It was key considering that the score was 10-0 late in the second quarter and Arizona was in need of points to stay in the game. The 49ers went on to win 24-9, clinching a season sweep of their division rivals.
Goldson finished the game with two forced fumbles to go along with his interception.
Our final candidate is quite familiar, mainly because he was nominated in our last category.
Patrick Willis’ interception against the St. Louis Rams was the only interception to be returned for a touchdown.
It was Willis’ second consecutive season with a pick-6, as he silenced the St. Louis Rams with a 23-yard interception return for a touchdown.
With the Rams facing a third-and-eight from their 20, Willis ended any hope for a Rams comeback with an amazing defensive play which showcased all of his physical tools. St. Louis came out in a shotgun formation with four receivers, but ultimately Boller found a receiver from the wrong team.
Pressure from outside linebacker Manny Lawson combined with great downfield coverage caused Boller to roll to his right and then errantly throw back across his body towards the middle of the field. Boller’s pass was intended for wide receiver Keenan Burton, but it found its way in Willis’ arms, who reached to his right and plucked the ball out of the air.
Willis slightly bobbled the interception initially, but his focus allowed him to take the ball untouched for the 49ers first defensive touchdown of the season. It also put an exclamation mark on the defense’s only shutout of 2009.
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: Aubrayo Franklin, Dashon Goldson, Michael Lewis, Patrick Willis
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