The NFL officially closed the polls on Pro Bowl fan balloting today. Players and coaches will be voting today and tomorrow and the teams will be announced next Tuesday December 29 on the NFL Network. The Pro Bowl itself will air on ESPN on Sunday January 31, 2010 in Miami. This is the first season the Pro Bowl will air from the site of the Super Bowl, and a week before the Super Bowl, instead of afterwards.
After approximately 90 million votes, our very own Patrick Willis leads among NFC inside linebackers. We don't know yet if he'll be starting because the fan vote only counts for 1/3 of the final tally, with the players and coaches each counting for 1/3. I'd imagine Willis will get the nod, but we'll have to wait and see on December 29.
Although no other 49er finished in first in the fan vote, I'd imagine there are some players with a decent chance of making the roster. TE Vernon Davis is one of those players. He finished third in fan voting among NFC tight ends, behind Tony Gonzalez and Jeremy Shockey, but ahead of Jason Witten and Visanthe Shiancoe. It will be interesting to see how the player and coach voting goes. Davis has a slim lead among NFC tight ends in receiving yards, leads in TDs by 2, and is third in receptions. Last year the NFC selected two tight ends, while the AFC selected three. I'd imagine Gonzalez and Witten end up on the roster, but let's hope Vernon gets a little love.
The other position is punter, where Cardinals punter Ben Graham finished first among the fans. Andy Lee has a slim lead in gross and net average, but Graham has a good deal more punts inside the 20 (37 to 25 on fewer punts). I think Andy Lee deserves the spot, but if Graham received the roster spot, it wouldn't exactly be highway robbery.
Aubrayo Franklin has received a lot of talk for the Pro Bowl, but at this point Pat Williams of the famed VIkings Williams Wall is leading among interior defensive linemen. Franklin was on fire early on this season, but seemed to quiet down a bit later in the season. Not to say he's been performing poorly, but he hasn't been quite as high profile. He currently has 30 tackles, 5 for a loss, with 2 sacks, 3 pass deflections and of course that interception against the Bears. Just as important, he's been essential in clearing holes for Patrick Willis to continue blowing up plays left and right. The 49ers are 5th in rushing defense, and a good deal of that can be attributed to Aubrayo Franklin. I'm very curious to see how the player and coach voting considers him.