As of early Monday morning, 148,154 fan votes had been placed for Mike Iupati to start for the NFC in the 2013 Pro Bowl.
Add another to the tally.
Well, it’s not an official vote, but 49ers veteran guard Leonard Davis believes San Francisco’s starting left guard is worthy of such an honor.
“He reminds me of the things I used to do,” said the 11-year veteran with three Pro Bowl selections to his name. “Even right now, He’s got a chance to be the best guard in the league.”
Iupati’s play has steadily improved since entering the league in 2010 as the team’s No. 17 overall selection. The same can be said for the entire offensive line which has paved the way for the NFL’s second-best rushing attack entering Week 15.
Iupati, however, doesn’t want to be singled out for his play.
“I appreciate it, I appreciate the support,” the third-year guard said of his first-place standing amongst NFC guards. “I think our front line should get recognition, they’re all playing really well. Credit to them, there’s no ‘I’ in team. They’re good players.”
In regards to Iupati’s development, Davis sees the versatile guard combining the best possible traits of an offensive lineman into one package.
“The way he prepares and all the physical attributes he has, it’s hard to stop him,” said Davis, who out-weighs Iupati by 19 pounds (350 to 331). “With a guy like that with speed, quickness, strength and power, that’s the ultimate combination of physical attributes.”
Iupati’s improving play will be tested against one of the best nose tackles in professional football, New England Patriots four-time Pro Bowler Vince Wilfork.
Though the large interior lineman will line up more so opposite of San Francisco’s right guard Alex Boone, Iupati said Wilfork tends to change sides after watching the Patriots lopsided win on Monday night.
“There’s something special about Wilfork,” Iupati added. “He’s 355-plus and he can move.”
But according to Iupati, experience against another elite nose tackle, Haloti Ngata of the Baltimore Ravens, will only help the 49ers lineman in this Sunday’s high-profile matchup with New England.
Iupati also knows it’ll be key for the 49ers offense to sustain drives and score points to out-produce the NFL’s No. 1 offense.
“Their offense is good, Tom Brady’s a good player, they’re going to score some points,” Iupati reasoned. “Our offense has to go out there, execute our pays and do what we do best.”
Players expect it to be a challenging game, but not one that dictates each team’s postseason fate.
“It’s going to be a good game,” Iupati said. “In the end, a great team wins, you know?”
And with one week left in Pro Bowl voting, perhaps Iupati finds himself winning his first ever Pro Bowl bid.
If Davis had his way, it would become a perennial honor.
“I see him as that guy who goes every year, but on top of that, I see him getting better each year,” Davis said. “To me, he’s not even close to how good he can be.”
Tags: Leonard Davis, Mike Iupati
Posted in Announcements | 3 Comments »