SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19: Justin Smith #94 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after recovering a fumble against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won the game 20-3. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
For eleven days beginning on December 18, Qualcomm Stadium, football home of the San Diego Chargers and San Diego State Aztecs, will carry a temporary new moniker: Snapdragon Stadium. Snapdragon processors by Qualcomm are the digital brains inside mobile devices made by top manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Nokia, and HTC. Snapdragon Stadium will host the Chargers-Ravens game on December 18, the Poinsettia Bowl on December 21, and the Holiday Bowl on December 28.
First off, make sure and read the end of this as there is a contest you are eligible for if you post a comment in this post.
Every week the 49ers figure out a way to win we see a whole host of players making monstrous contributions. While football as a whole is a team game, the 2011 San Francisco 49ers seem to exemplify a little bit more than many teams. The team effort in every aspect of the game has really made so many players a core for the team.
Justin Smith has gotten most of the MVP plaudits on defense, with Coach Harbaugh even specifically declaring him the team's MVP. He doesn't get the crazy sack numbers of Aldon Smith, the huge tackle numbers of NaVorro Bowman, or the turnover totals of Carlos Rogers and Dashon Goldson. Instead, Justin Smith just does everything. It is hard to declare one player as the core of the unit, but if it is somebody, Justin Smith would probably be that guy.
On the offensive side of the ball, it becomes all the more difficult. From a stats standpoint I would suppose a guy like Frank Gore could be that "core player." He hasn't been perfect this season but he has made big strides in helping keep the offense on track.
On the other hand, from a more cerebral viewpoint, I think an argument can be made that Alex Smith is that kind of "core player." I am not saying that he is the best quarterback in the NFL or that he belongs in the Pro Bowl. What I am saying is that his command of the offense and development of the offensive unit is often under-appreciated from a more cerebral perspective.
Smith does what is asked of him and seems to know his strengths and weaknesses. You could make arguments about bringing other people in and doing this or that, but for this offense with this set of players in this specific context of football, I would argue he actually is a core player.
As for special teams? Well, Andy Lee has been pivotal in dramatically changing the field position battle with his accurate, booming punts. David Akers set the franchise single season scoring record, which can be explained by his own accuracy and strength, but also problems in the red zone. The coverage units have been key as well, but for the purposes of picking a single player, I would have to go with Andy Lee. The coverage units are important to his numbers, but his ability to generally avoid out-kicking the coverage and place balls on a dime inside the 15 and 10 is huge.
Who would you look to as core players for each unit of the team? Or is it really just a matter of it being such a dominant team effort, there really is no single core player?
Want a chance to win a Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket powered by Qualcomm's revolutionary Snapdragon multiprocessor? Just leave a comment on this post with who you think the team's core player is and why he's so important to their success. Vox Media will select one winner from among the participating SB Nation blogs. All entries subject to the official rules found here.