As the season comes to a close, the NFL will announce the 2013 Pro Bowl selections on Friday, December 27th. Here is a prediction of the 49ers who will most likely earn a spot.
Frank Gore: At the age of 30, Gore has bucked the trend on running backs hitting a wall and seeing their production decline. The 49ers work horse has been consistently good all year and currently ranks seventh in the NFL in rushing with 1114 yards. His 9 rushing touchdowns are the second most he has had in his career and puts him fourth in the league in that category this season. Gore is only 47 yards away from joining the 10,000 yard club for his career, which is a feat only 28 other running backs have accomplished in NFL history.
Joe Staley/Alex Boone: The 49ers boast one of the best offensive lines in football and Staley and Boone have been the two lynch pins this season. Staley has been as solid as ever at left tackle, neutralizing some of the best pass rushers in the game. He has played through some injuries this season and still maintained a high level of performance. Perhaps most impressive is that fact that he has only committed two penalties all season. Boone is a key player in a running game that ranks third in the NFL with 2118 yards. With Mike Iupati missing four games due to injury, Boone as stepped up and carried the load at guard. He also played admirably when he was forced to move to left tackle during a Week 13 victory against the St. Louis Rams when Staley was forced to leave the game with an injured knee.
Vernon Davis: Simply put, Davis has been one of the most dominate players at his position all season. Davis is tied for second in the NFL with 12 receiving touchdowns and ranks second in the NFC amongst tight ends with 805 yards. Davis has made the most of his 49 receptions, averaging 16.4 yards per catch which is the highest average for a tight end and puts him eight overall in the NFL for all receivers.
Justin Smith: Statistics don’t always tell the story when it comes the San Francisco’s defensive stalwart. Smith has 6.5 sacks on the season but it’s his constant pressure and willingness/ability to take on multiple blockers that makes his teammates better. He continues to be one of most disruptive forces in the NFL at age 34.
Ahmad Brooks: The outside linebacker has quietly had his best season as a pro, setting career highs in sacks (8.5) and tackles (57). He was one of the players that kept the unit functioning at a high level when it’s two stars (Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith) were out of the lineup. Brooks was a dominant a player as their was in the league in Weeks 10-12, recording 5.0 sacks and an interception during that span.
Patrick Willis: Even though injuries have limited him some this season, Willis is still elite at his position. He seems to be playing his best football late in season as he is coming off an 18 tackle performance against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16. Always one of best inside linebackers in the game, Willis gets to ball carriers anywhere on the field, showcasing his elite sideline to sideline speed.
Navorro Bowman: The 49ers’ “other” inside linebacker doesn’t only deserve a Pro Bowl spot, he may deserve serious consideration for Defensive Player of the Year. Bowman has been dominant in 2013, racking up 135 tackles to go along with 4.0 sacks. He has forced three fumbles this season and his 89 yard interception return for a touchdown in Week 16 may have been the biggest play for the 49ers all season.
Andy Lee: The veteran punter leads the NFC with a 48.6 yards per punt average. Ten of his 73 kicks have gone inside the 10 yard line and another 23 have gone inside the 20.
Anquan Boldin: Has had his best season since 2009 but the stats (76/1030/6) will be overshadowed.
Tramaine Brock: His 5 interceptions are tied for fourth in the NFC despite limited playing time early in the year. Being a part time player for much of the season could hurt him.
Eric Reid: The Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate has looked like a veteran from Week 1 and has 4 interceptions on the year. He projects to be a future Pro Bowler, just may not be this year.