Who's Your Favorite 49ers Rookie in 2011?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 09: Kendall Hunter #32 of the San Francisco 49ers carries the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third quarter during an NFL football game at Candlestick Park on October 9, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won the game 48-3. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The 49ers stock is rising as Jim Harbaugh's rookies are occupying the Bay Area. A big reason for their success so far is due to the contributions coming from everyone, including the young blood from this past years draft. Four 49er rookies have made impacts for this team already and look good enough to be potential starters some day.

Kendall Hunter, Aldon Smith, Bruce Miller and Chris Culliver have all have seen significant playing time in their first NFL season. They've played roles that have allowed others players to break out, and they've also capitalized on opportunities for themselves.

The balance the offense has struck between Hunter and Frank Gore has been productive and inspiring. Gore seems as threatening now as he has in his entire professional career -- his problem has always been staying healthy. Hunter is the perfect change of pace back to take reps behind Gore, while Anthony Dixon has taken a backseat to both of them. The rushing attack is fresh, methodical and imposing; I love what I've seen the past three games.

For the second consecutive week, the 49ers 1st round selection from Missouri Aldon Smith has taken home the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week honors. In the past two weeks, Smith has gotten 2 sacks in each of his last two games. And in the game against the Detroit Lions, Smith recorded his first safety, along with a forced fumble. He is doing better than most analysts predicted he would; even Jon Gruden said he was just a "puppy" when the Niners took him in the first round. Well if thats the case, I can't wait till this puppy turns into a full grown dog.

Bruce Miller has been a fan favorite, similarly to why John Kuhn is popular in Green Bay and why John Conner is loved in New York -- the guy is a beast. Miller still has that defensive mentality to go knock someone out on every play, but he's versatile enough to provide another dimension to the newly installed west coast offense. He is a real team player that will do anything that's asked of him and could develop into one of the leagues better full backs.

I think Chris Culliver has been winnning over a lot of Niner Faithful out there over the past two games. Culliver recorded his first career interception, and hopefully the first of many, against Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Culliver followed that performance up at Ford Field where he was part of the secondary that held Calvin Johnson scoreless in a huge road win before the bye week. He is another rookie that has shown a lot of potential to be a solid starter in this league someday.

It's pretty clear that Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke can run a war room, and they have earned my complete trust going forward. Most great franchises build through the draft so it's good to know that the 49ers front office has competent men in place to build a championship caliber team.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @DeSimone80

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