We need your help in selecting the top plays from the 2012 season. We’re asking our Faithful fans to choose the top takeaway, touchdown, sack, big play and biggest hit of the season. Next, the winning five plays (one from each category), will move on to the championship round to determine 49ers.com’s “Top Play of 2012.”
Watch our “Top 5” video highlights on the best plays for each category, then vote in the poll section of the corresponding blog post to see which top play will reach the championship round.
Help us crown the top play of 2012 by choosing your favorite big hit from this past season. You can vote for your favorite big hit up until Wednesday at noon. Let’s take a look at the five nominees.
1. NaVorro Bowman’s perfect form-tackle vs. the New York Giants
San Francisco’s defense included six Pro Bowl performers, including two-time All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman. The former third-round pick, who signed a five-year extension through 2018, made his first Pro Bowl in 2012 thanks to another season filled with big-time tackles in the open-field.
Just ask recently released Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw about them. When San Francisco and New York met in a marquee Week 6 matchup, Bowman, the ultra-athletic linebacker, displayed his speed, technique and tenacity all in one play.
With the Giants facing a 2nd and 8 on the first play of the second quarter, the third-year linebacker recognized an inside run designed for Bradshaw and immediately darted his way through the line of scrimmage. Upon reaching Bradshaw in the backfield, Bowman applied a textbook form-tackle that would make all of his Penn State colleagues proud.
The representative of “Linebacker U” not only showed the instincts to recognize an inside run; he ran right through the Giants offensive line to plant Bradshaw in the backfield for a 1-yard loss.
2. Dashon Goldson’s open-field hit vs. the Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco’s two-time Pro Bowl safety could warrant consideration five times over in this category. Dashon Goldson’s hits in 2012 were just that good.
But when pushed to choose one of Goldson’s best tackles in 2012, the open-field, jarring hit delivered on Cardinals wideout Early Doucet stood above the rest. It also took place in front of a national viewing audience on “Monday Night Football.”
With the 49ers maintaining a 24-3 lead in the fourth quarter, Goldson put the exclamation mark on a dominant defensive outing. Arizona quarterback John Skelton looked to dump off a quick slant pass to Doucet, but it wasn’t such a good idea.
Goldson saw the route developing and patiently waited his turn to strike. The 49ers safety timed up a perfect open-field hit that would leave Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott thoroughly impressed.
Doucet wasn’t able to hold on to the football. Not many play-makers this past season could maintain possession once the 49ers safety known as “The Hawk” applied an open-field hit.
3. Aldon Smith’s quarterback hit vs. the Arizona Cardinals
Minutes after Goldson’s smashing tackle, second-year linebacker Aldon Smith got in on the act with a solid takedown of his own.
With the offense enjoying an efficient performance on the national stage, the 49ers held on to their 24-3 lead with constant second-half pressure on Skelton who was sacked four times on the night, twice by Smith.
With 13:40 left to play in the fourth quarter, San Francisco’s first-time Pro Bowl linebacker beat Cardinals right tackle D’Anthony Batiste with a quick inside move and found his way to Skelton for his first sack of the game.
Perhaps even better than the quick-striking sack from the man who recorded 19.5 sacks on the season was Smith’s baseball-inspired home-run celebration to accentuate the play.
4. Donte Whitner’s body slam vs. the Miami Dolphins
When your safety tandem earns the moniker, “The Lumber Co.” hard hits are expected on a weekly basis. That was exactly the case in San Francisco’s Week 14 home victory over the Miami Dolphins.
San Francisco claimed a 13-3 lead in the third-quarter and continued to display dominant play when Donte Whitner, a first-time Pro Bowl selection, absolutely corralled Dolphins running back Reggie Bush in the open field.
Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill dumped off a short pass to Bush in the right flat that went for an 11-yard gain, but on the 11th yard, Whitner met Bush in front of the Dolphins sideline and brought the do-it-all running back down to the ground with one swift body slam.
Whitner’s tackle somewhat rivaled a wrestling maneuver, but it was effective in bringing down the game-breaking runner in a quick instant.
5. Delanie Walker’s special teams tackle vs. the Baltimore Ravens
The 49ers comeback bid in Super Bowl XLVII was fueled by several standout plays, including a devastating tackle on a third-quarter kick-off return.
The “Ooooooh” receiving hit came from jack-of-all-trades Delanie Walker – the 49ers tight end known for being an effective tackler on special teams.
With the Ravens hanging on to a 28-23 with 3:14 left in the third, Walker got through Baltimore’s blockers to deliver a jarring tackle. Walker scooped up return man Jacoby Jones at the 28-yard line and slammed into the Superdome turf in an instant.
The 25 yard return was a drastic improvement from Jones’ 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at the start of the third quarter.
UPDATE: Congratulations to Dashon Goldson for winning with nearly 70% of the vote!
Tags: Aldon Smith, Dashon Goldson, Delanie Walker, Donte Whitner, Navorro Bowman
Posted in Announcements | 5 Comments »