The NFL Network is about to begin announcing the 2011 Pro Bowl rosters, but the 49ers have sent out news that inside linebacker Patrick Willis and defensive end Justin Smith have both been selected to play in the 2011 Pro Bowl. Additionally, tight end Vernon Davis was named a first alternate at tight end and running back Frank Gore was named a fifth alternate at running back. Gore won't be playing given his hip injury, but this shows how much his peers and NFL coaches think of him. Congrats to all four for the honor. I've posted some details about their season sent along by the 49ers. I realize the picture is from last year, but I thought it was appropriate.
Willis becomes the first 49ers player to make it to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons since Ronnie Lott kicked off his career with four straight appearances starting in 1981. He currently leads the team with 153 tackles to go along with a career-high and team-leading six sacks, one forced fumble and seven passes defensed. Willis has led the team in tackles each of his four seasons with the 49ers, starting all 63 games played since being drafted in the first round (11th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Mississippi.
Smith earns his second career Pro Bowl appearance after making his first trip in 2010. He ranks fourth on the team with 96 tackles, second with 5.5 sacks, leads the team with 12 tackles for loss and two passes defensed. He also leads the team with 66 quarterback pressures and 42 quarterback hits. A free agent acquisition by the 49ers in 2008, Smith has a current streak of 154 consecutive starts, which is by far the most of any defensive lineman (MIN Kevin Williams ranks second with 81). He has played in 158 games (154 starts) since being drafted in the first round (4th overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals out of Missouri.
Davis leads the team in receptions (53), receiving yards (818) and is tied for the team lead in touchdowns (6). He is one of only three tight ends to lead their team in all three categories. Among tight ends, Davis ranks second in the NFL with 818 receiving yards, 15.4 yards per reception and 54.5 yards per game. He also leads all tight ends with 12 receptions over 25 yards.
Despite being placed on the injured reserve list on November 30, Gore rushed for 853 yards and three touchdowns on 203 carries while adding 46 receptions for 452 yards and two touchdowns in the air this season. Sadly, Gore suffered a broken hip on November 29 at Arizona. At the time of his injury, Gore ranked fifth in the NFC in rushing yards (853) and second in yards from scrimmage (1,305).