The close of the NFL regular season means a variety of regular season awards and honors are handed out. The big ones are handed out Super Bowl week, but in the meantime, the Associated press announced their 2011 NFL All-Pro team. The 49ers strong season was appropriately honored as the team led the league with five All Pro Selections. The team included Justin Smith (as a DT, like in the Pro Bowl), ILBs Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, punter Andy Lee and kicker David Akers.
Many were mystified when NaVorro Bowman was not selected to the NFC's Pro Bowl roster, but he is now getting a higher honor. The All-Pro team makes no differentiation for conference and seems to have fewer "reputation" picks. The vote is done by 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. While some may not know the entire league as well as they should for voting on this, they also would seem to be able to at least modestly get past biases for past performance from players.
Whatever the case, this is a fantastic honor for the 49ers. They put together a great "team" effort this season, but these sorts of honors show just how valuable specific individuals were to the effort. The team as a whole is important, but without enough sufficiently talented players, going 13-3 is not nearly as easy. The 49ers may have won with a team effort, but that not should allow opposing fans to overlook the volume of talent on this team.