Patrick Willis has been long regarded as one of the NFL’s elite defensive players. Each season of his six-year career, the San Francisco 49ers linebacker has been in the discussion for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year honors.
This year is no different, only Willis is not alone in receiving DPOY publicity. Second-year linebacker Aldon Smith, the NFL’s leader with 16.5 sacks, is also receiving praise for his elite play.
ProFootballFocus.com’s cast of writers recently listed Smith and Willis as their No. 8 and No. 9 candidates for DPOY honors.
There’s still five games to play and Smith (16.5 sacks) is chasing the NFL’s single-season sack record (22.5) held by former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan.
Jim Harbaugh believes it’s great to be mentioned with some of the game’s all-time greats, but the 49ers coach believes there’s more important accomplishments left on the table.
“I think I’ve told you what I think of team effort and records and it doesn’t need to be compared with anything that happened previous years or with previous great players,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “I mean you’re talking about great players that accomplished great things. It’s great to be mentioned with that, but I think I could speak for Aldon if I could for minute. Statistics aren’t what motivates him, it’s winning games.”
In the month of November, Smith totaled 9.0 sacks in three games, while the league’s No. 2 and 3 sack leaders, J.J. Watt and Von Miller, totaled five and eight sacks, respectively, in four November contests.
ESPN.com’s football writers ranked the 49ers as the NFL’s No. 3 team in recent power rankings.
ESPN.com’s Mike Sando writes that Colin Kaepernick is the fastest rising player in the NFC West.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee shares a report that Kendall Hunter could be out for the season.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes that injuries to Hunter and Kyle Williams could open up opportunities for 49ers rookies.
Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that Kaepernick has earned the team’s starting quarterback role, fair or not.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com checked in with former 49ers coach and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci for his thoughts on Harbaugh’s looming quarterback decision.
49ers.com detailed the rationale behind Harbaugh’s decision to wait till mid-week to announce a starter for Sunday in St. Louis.
TV49’S CLIP OF THE DAY
TWEET ABOUT IT
Tags: Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Jim Harbaugh, Kendall Hunter, Patrick Willis
Posted in Morning Tailgate | 39 Comments »