Posts Tagged ‘patrick willis’

It is no secret that I am a huge San Francisco 49ers fan.  I have been watching Niner football since I was 5 and in that time I have seen the franchise bring out some incredibly good linebackers.  Now, we have not always had the best defense in the NFL, but over the last 5 years the Niner defense has been one of the toughest to score on and its mostly in part because of how good our linebackers are.  If I was to build my perfect 49er defense; these are some of the linebackers I would love to have on my team while they were in their prime.

 

Patrick Willis – Coming out of Ole Miss the Niners wasted no time in drafting Willis in the 2007 Draft.  The Niners drafted Willis with the 11th overall pick and Willis quickly went to work  by winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2007.  Since Willis started in San Fran he has been the leader of the defense and he makes everyone around him better and he normally leads the team in tackles and he always is one of the best linebackers in the NFL.  In his short career so far he has already racked up 854 tackles, 17.5 sacks, 7 interceptions, and 16 forced fumbles.  He has also made 6 Pro Bowls and been named to 6 All-Pro NFL Teams. 

Ken Norton Jr. – Between 1994 and 2000 Norton was the heart and soul of the San Fran defense.  After being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys Norton set a good name for himself.  Once the Cowboys released him the Niners were quick to scoop him up.  Norton helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 1994 and helped the Niners dominate and he became the first player to win 3 consecutive Super Bowls.  By the time his career ended he had 1,130 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 6 interceptions, and 2 defensive TDs.  He was also known for being a big hitter who had no problem plugging up holes and putting helmet to helmet and make you hurt.

NaVorro Bowman – Bowman is the other half of Patrick Willis.  Willis and Bowman have become one of the greatest linebacker duos of all-time.  Bowman was drafted out of Penn State in the 3rd round of the 2010 Draft; which was a steal for the Niners.  Bowman not only is a great run stopper; but he is excellent at defending the pass.  So far in his short career he has already had 406 tackles, 6 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 18 passes deflected.  Between him and Willis it is almost impossible to run the ball on the current San Fran defense.  Even without Willis; Bowman is a fantastic LB who will be in the league for a long time.  He earned his first Pro Bowl in 2012 and was a huge help in getting the Niners to the Super Bowl.

Bill Romanowski – One of the most controversial defensive players of all-time; but you cannot argue with how good of a player he was.  Romanowski was a brutal hitter who had great speed and excellent vision for an LB.  Between the years of 1988 and 1993 Romanowski did great work for the San Fran defense.  The Niners drafted Romanowski out of Boston College in the 3rd round of the 1988 draft.  He helped lead the Niners to 2 NFC Championships and was a 4 time Super Bowl Champion.  By the end of his career he had 1,116 tackles, 39.5 sacks, and 18 interceptions.  Despite his on field issues I would still take Bill any day of the week.

Gary Plummer – Most people may not remember him, but between 1994 and 1997 Plummer was an absolute beast on the field.  The reason I would pick him is because he had great vision and was very good at stopping the run.  He was also a quite guy who never had bad publicity; he just went out and played the game.  Plummer was drafted out of California by the Chargers, but eventually landed in San Fran.  When his career ended he had 1,029 tackles, 6 interceptions, and 4.5 sacks.  I view Plummer as a silent killer who would punish you if you came in the middle.

Aldon Smith – He has recently had some off-field issues, but regardless, Smith is going to be one of the NFL greats by the time his career is over.  In 2011 the Niners used their first round draft pick to get Smith out of Missouri.  In his rookie year he won Defensive Rookie of the Year and the NFC Defensive Player of the Year.  He also holds a franchise record for 19.5 sacks in a season; and he holds an NFL record for being the fastest player in NFL history to get to 30 sacks.  In just 2 seasons he has 121 tackles, 38 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles.  He may be young, but he will be a legend soon.

 

 

Whenever I see a ranking of NFL players I normally get skeptical because it is normally based purely off stats or it is made up by a few people instead of a large group.  I prefer it to either be a fan vote; or a large panel of experts that decides a ranking.  In this ranking this is purely based off the fans.  NFL.com did a large poll on who the most popular players in the NFL are for 2013.  Now in this day and age it is very important to be a popular player because it helps your image as a player, helps to get fans to the stadium to watch you play, and of course; merchandise.  Now NFL.com did the top 100; I am going to show you the top 20 players that were voted on by the fans.

20. Clay Matthews LB Packers
19. Rob Gronkowski TE Patriots
18. Julio Jones WR Falcons
17. Russell Wilson QB Seahawks
16. Von Miller LB Broncos

Just in the first five I was kind of shocked.  I would have thought that Clay Matthews would have been higher.  He has been in commercials. I see his jersey everywhere, and everyone flexes when they see him.  I also noticed a lot of young players too like Wilson and Julio.  That is a good sign for their career that they are young and popular; as long as they keep the bad publicity away from them then this can only help their careers.  I also thought that Gronkowski would have been placed higher now that Welker and Hernandez is out of New England; maybe after he plays a few seasons with no injuries he will be bumped up.

15. Ray Rice RB Ravens
14. Andre Johnson WR Texans
13. AJ Green WR Bengals
12. Larry Fitzgerald WR Cardinals
11. Robert Griffin III QB Redskins

Once again a few young players on here and that is impressive.  What’s interesting here is that RGIII sells the most jerseys; but he is not the most popular player….interesting.  Seeing players like Fitzgerald, Johnson, and Ray Rice should be a nice reminder that there are classy players in the NFL that can play for a long time.  Most of the players we have listed on this list so far have had no publicity and they handle themselves with class.  There has not been one real troublemaker on this list and that should go to show that being classy and dependable will get you a long ways in the NFL.  Now it is time for the top 10!

10. Patrick Willis LB 49ers
9. Marshawn Lynch RB Seahawks
8. Arian Foster RB Texans
7. Drew Brees QB Saints
6. JJ Watt DE Texans

Once again; classy players and young players.  I am also noticing numerous Texans on the list too.  Another thing that all of these players have in common is that they put up good numbers every game they play.  They may have off games; but for the most part you can rely on these guys to come through when you need them.  I think that is another reason why people voted these guys to be the most popular.  Now for the Top 5!

5. Aaron Rodgers QB Packers
4. Tom Brady QB Patriots
3. Peyton Manning QB Broncos
2. Calvin Johnson WR Lions
1. Adrian Peterson RB Vikings

All 5 of these top 5 players have something in common too.  They all are on their way to the Hall of Fame.  Rodgers is one of the best passers in the NFL right now; he is so good he is making people forget about Favre.  Brady has won numerous championships with the Patriots and has turned the club into a dynasty.  Peyton has been one of the most outstanding passers in the NFL for awhile and has achieved everything a player could ever want to have.  Calvin is going to be around for awhile and has already been breaking records.  Adrian Peterson is a freak…that’s alli can say about him.