It was just a matter of time before the word got out. Mike Iupati is really good.
The third-year player was selected to his first Pro Bowl on Wednesday, as he was recognized for his season-long punishment of opposing defenses in the trenches.
“I’m very grateful and very blessed,” Iupati said. “Credit to my teammates and everybody, especially the front line – they sacrificed, too. Also a credit to our coaching staff, (Mike) Solari, coach (Paul) Wulff and coach (Tim) Drevno for preparing us every week, every day, to go out there and execute our plays.”
Another key element to Iupati’s rise in the NFL ranks has been tackle Joe Staley, who was named to his second straight Pro Bowl. The two big fellows have solidified the left side of the 49ers offensive line this season, helping turn the unit into one of the team’s biggest strengths.
“It’s paid off pretty good,” Iupati said of playing alongside Staley. “He’s just a great player and teammate to play next to. He helped me out a lot my rookie year, last year as well and especially this year, too. We work well together.”
The 49ers racked up a league-high nine Pro Bowlers this season, but unfortunately Iupati’s teammate and good friend Anthony Davis didn’t get the nod at right tackle. Davis, who was named an alternate for the NFL’s annual all-star game, has grown close to Iupati since both players were selected in the first round of the 2010 draft.
“He should have made it, in my eyes,” Iupati said, while later adding he has family in Hawaii and California who could make the trip to Honolulu for the game. “All of our starting five should have made it, but it’s tough.”
Iupati makes his first trip to the Pro Bowl as a starter. He is part of an offensive line that helped the team rush for 2,362 yards this season, ranking fourth in the NFL. The 2,362 rushing yards rank seventh in franchise history and are the most by San Francisco since 1998 (2,544). Iupati and the offensive line were awarded the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award in Weeks 5, 7 and 12.
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