Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Justin Smith Honored For Their Fundamentals

Over the past few days, there has been a lot of discussion about James Harrison and the issues with some of his tackles. I generally do not think it is quite so black and white as "he is a dirty player" or "he is totally misunderstood and the NFL is screwing him." As with anything in life, it falls somewhere in the middle because very few things are black and white.

Nonetheless, that won't stop me from poking the bear that is our newfound Steelers friends. Congratulations are in order for three members of the San Francisco 49ers who were recognized by USA Football for their All-Fundamentals team. Justin Smith, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman were all included on a team decided by Charles Davis, Herm Edwards, Merril Hoge, Jim Mora Jr. and Carl Peterson. Now, some of the people on this list are clowns (I'll leave it up to you to decide who), but it is still a very cool honor.

Smith was honored for his fundamentals in defeating a block and the bull rush. Willis was honored for his fundamentals in defeating a block and tackling. Bowman was honored for his fundamentals in "gaining ground downhill" and tackling. Here is what the press release said about all three:

Smith possesses a combination of strength and exceptional technique. On the snap, he bursts off the line of scrimmage. He keeps his feet moving and extends his arms to drive blockers back far enough to reach the quarterback.

Willis, the target of many blockers, has the uncommon ability to defeat those blocks and continue toward the ball-carrier. With his technique, he is among the best at using arm extension to gain separation and disengage from would-be blockers.

Bowman consistently puts himself in great position to make plays for the 49ers. Bowman is able to avoid would-be blockers by using his hands and keeping his feet moving. With these fundamentals he is able to gain separation from offensive players and focus in on the ball-carrier to make the tackle.

Check out the entire All-Fundamentals team after the jump.

2011 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team - Offense:

NAME

POS.

TEAM

FUNDAMENTAL SKILL

Aaron Rodgers

QB

Green Bay Packers

Throwing mechanics

Arian Foster

RB

Houston Texans

Following blocks/ball security

Michael Robinson

FB

Seattle Seahawks

Run blocking

Eric Decker

WR

Denver Broncos

Catching with hands

Donald Driver

WR

Green Bay Packers

Catching with hands

Heath Miller

TE

Pittsburgh Steelers

Run blocking/catching

Nick Mangold

C

New York Jets

Run blocking/combo block

David Diehl

G

New York Giants

Run blocking

Carl Nicks

G

New Orleans Saints

Run blocking/drive block

Jordan Gross

T

Carolina Panthers

Run blocking/combo block

Joe Thomas

T

Cleveland Browns

Pass blocking footwork

2011 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team - Defense:

NAME

POS.

TEAM

FUNDAMENTAL SKILL

Tamba Hali

DE

Kansas City Chiefs

Pass rush

Julius Peppers

DE

Chicago Bears

Defeating a block

Haloti Ngata

DT

Baltimore Ravens

Defeating a block/arm over rush

Justin Smith

DT

San Francisco 49ers

Defeating a block/bull rush

Sean Lee

LB

Dallas Cowboys

Tackling

Patrick Willis

LB

San Francisco 49ers

Defeating a block/tackling

NaVorro Bowman

LB

San Francisco 49ers

Gaining ground downhill/tackling

Brent Grimes

CB

Atlanta Falcons

Pass coverage

Charles Woodson

CB

Green Bay Packers

Playing the ball

Malcolm Jenkins

S

New Orleans Saints

Breaking up the pass

Eric Weddle

S

San Diego Chargers

Footwork in coverage

2011 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team - Special Teams:

NAME

POS.

TEAM

FUNDAMENTAL SKILL

Devin Hester

KR-PR

Chicago Bears

Kick catching/returning

Cullen Loeffler

LS

Minnesota Vikings

Long snapping mechanics

Josh Scobee

K

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kicking mechanics

Shane Lechler

P

Oakland Raiders

Punting mechanics


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