SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 09: LeGarrette Blount #27 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tackled by Patrick Willis #52 of the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on October 9, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
It appears as though the 49ers are slowly starting to accumulate some awards for their strong play to start the season. @49ersPR announced that Patrick Willis was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the dominant performance he put together against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. ESPN lists him as having twelve tackles, a pass deflection and a fumble recovery. The 49ers list him as having 18 tackles. They usually go back and double-check the numbers, often crediting players with more tackles than ESPN lists.
It has actually become incredibly easy for us to overlook Patrick Willis' continued strong play with the emergence of fellow inside linebacker NaVorrow Bowman. I've actually seen some people comment that they think Bowman might eventually be better than Willis. Bowman is off to a fantastic start, but I don't think his emergence needs to come at the expense of the all-world play of Patrick Willis. Maybe Bamm Bamm decided he needed to remind people just how spectacular he can be.
With his big performance, the 49ers indicate Willis is back on top of the team in terms of total tackles. Tackles are a bit of a funky stat given how they can be credited throughout games. Either way, he and Bowman together are kicking butt. When Coach Harbaugh discussed Willis' performance on Sunday he went into how key the tackles were. While anybody can pile up tackle numbers (see Derek Smith), Willis put together smart tackles, including taking an extra step to wrap up LeGarrette Blount on one particular occasion. You can't beat that.
The 49ers have received some other awards and nominations. Alex Smith was named by ESPN as the Samsung Next Level Player of the Week. I don't actually know what that award is, but the top four included Smith, Victor Cruz, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Landry Jones. Ummm, ok? Well, a win is a win so congrats to Smith. Maybe he gets something from Samsung.
Fooch's Note: The 49ers offensive line was also named as John Madden's Week 5 Top Protectors.