In our midseason awards post yesterday, chicagobullies had a great idea, listing out a bunch of questions for second half predictions. I thought I'd grab those for several posts today, tomorrow and Monday as we make our way through the "slow time" of the 49ers bye week. We'll have plenty of football on Sunday, but no 49ers. That makes for quiet times, sort of.
The first two second half questions chicagobullies put together were most improved player and most improved rookie.
Through the first half of the season, I would argue the most improved player is probably Donte Whitner. He has been extremely solid, which I think comes from being the leader in the secondary, and not giving way to Dashon Goldson anymore. There appears to be better communication, which has been key thus far. It certainly helps he is in his contract year, but either way he has improved from last season.
As we look ahead to the second half of the season, my vote for most improved player is Mike Iupati. While the offensive line has done strong work in run blocking, Iupati has struggled. He has lacked consistency, and appears to have regressed to some extent from last season. He was dealing with a shoulder injury that picked up during the Week 3 injury report. He was not on last week's report, so it is probably not the primary issue. However, I do wonder if it impacted him to some extent. I'll be keeping an eye on him as we head into the second half of the season.
The second question is most improved rookie. Eric Reid has been lights out the best rookie on the team, and while he has room for improvement, he is already exceeding most expectations. My pick for most improved second half rookie is Vance McDonald. The 49ers have had to focus their passing game on Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin, and McDonald has been a bit of a disappointment thus far. To some extent, it's hard to consider him a breakout candidate with more offensive weapons returning. Consider this as much of a hopeful pick as anything else.