Ninjames' Note: I'm settling into things on these posts. Every time I do research on a player I find that there's not nearly enough as I'd like. Of course I'm liable to miss some things but I just wanted to point out that this is as much as a profile as I can make it, including college stats, as much personal information as I can, and NFL stats and injuries. I already looked at Ahmad Brooks and Eric Heitmann, and I've got about 77 more players to go. Today I'm taking a look at Michael Lewis.
Michael Lewis is the 49ers starting strong safety. Across from him they have Dashon Goldson, and behind him on the depth chart they have Taylor Mays, the rookie. I'll definitely profile the both of them eventually, but as it stands right now Lewis, while on the field, has been a very productive member of the team since being picked up in free agency. Make the jump to see all I have to say on him.
Lewis retreats to the sideline to empty
his helmet of excess swag, of which
he has an abundance.
I'll say it to start, I think Michael Lewis is severely underrated. But before then I'll get to his past before I get to what he's done for the 49ers. Lewis played college ball at Colorado and was one of the teams' best players on defense, twice winning their Dave Jones award for most outstanding defensive player, as well as the Hale Irwin award twice for most outstanding defensive back.
Defensive "back" when referring to Michael Lewis is kind of a misnomer--he spends far more time up front than he does in the back of the secondary with most safeties, but he's made a fine career out of where he's positioned so misnomer or not, that's still his title.
As a junior, he made All-Big 12 Conference, and as a senior he was unanimously picked as an All-Big 12 Conference first teamer, earned third team All-America honors, and was a semi-finalist for the Jim Thorpe award, which is given to the nations top defensive back.
336 tackles, 10 forces fumbles, 9 interceptions and 6.5 sacks in his college career was enough to make him the 58th pick of the 2002 NFL Draft, going to the Philadelphia Eagles. He became the full-time starter opposite Brian Dawkins in his second season, and made the pro bowl in 2004. He slowed down considerably though, not just in his stats but he literally slowed down. He began giving up big plays and was eventually benched and picked up by the 49ers, who had no answers at the position at the time. Lewis brought back his career.
Lewis hasn't been a huge playmaker for the 49ers, but he's been very consistent at the SS position. Some think Taylor Mays will supplant him rather quickly, but that's a discussion for a roster projection and position battles. As it stands, Lewis is the starting SS and he does a very good job of it, in my mind.
How about something personal? In his second year of college ball, Lewis was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, which is a type of heart disorder. It's one of the most common forms, but heart disease is heart disease. It involves the two upper chambers of the heart not beating correctly--rather than beat, they "quiver", and blood is inefficiently pumped and distributed from its chambers. It is not an immediately life threatening condition, but it gave Lewis a new perspective on being active in heart disease awareness.
In 2005, Lewis was an honorary chairman of the American Heart Association's Philadelphia Heart Walk, and was ideal for the position. He helped raise awareness, especially due to his exposure of having won pro bowl honors recently. Despite the fact that Lewis (and many doctor's supporting Lewis) talked about his condition and how it wouldn't affect him on the field, some still maintain that it's the reason he wasn't a first round draft choice.
He also joined Steve Young in San Jose to promote another American Heart Association campaign, and continues to be a regular source of donations to this day.
Lewis' nephews Jacquizz and James Rodgers both play for the Oregon State Beavers, though I don't know anything about them. Maybe Drew K is familiar and can comment on them?
So there's a bit about Michael Lewis. His future with the 49ers is a bit unclear, but I'm a firm believer in the guy. His biggest concern with the team is his tendency to get injured. Many have described him as being "one hit away from retirement" which I suppose is true, he's had more than a couple concussions in his career. Still, he has a nose for the ball, is great against the run, and whenever Patrick Willis or Manny Lawson don't make a tackle, Lewis seems to be there. So Mays was a great pickup considering his tendency to be injured, but Lewis is a guy the team can count on for an immediate playoff run.