We're officially into January, which means awards are out for the month of December. San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman has been awarded NFC Defensive Player of the Month for December. This is his first DPOM award. And based on some of his stats from December it was well-deserved:
49ers Bowman is only @NFL player in past 20 years w/ 45+ tackles, 3+ sacks, 2+ INTs, INT-TD, 2+ FFs & FR in a calendar month— Randall Liu (@RLiuNFL) January 2, 2014
Bowman has worked himself into the running for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, with the best season of his career. He completed the season with 145 combined tackles, 5.0 sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumbles recovered, two interceptions and a touchdown. He was three tackles short of his career high, but otherwise all his numbers were career highs.
If PFF grades are your pleasure, Bowman was graded out as tops among all inside linebackers at 20.0. No. 2 was Patrick Willis at 15.5, so the 49ers inside linebackers were not too shabby.
Bowman is in a tough competition for defensive player of the year. Guys like Richard Sherman, Luke Kuechly, Lavonte David, and even rookie Kiko Alonso all can make interesting cases for defensive player of the year. And while Bowman seemingly had the clearly better season than Patrick Willis this year, I wonder if that hurts Bowman's case. We could either see Willis get some votes, or voters might decide Bowman benefited from being next to Willis.
One thing in Bowman's favor for DPOY is that he had the huge highlight play to close the year. In Week 16, he had the huge pick-six on national television to secure the 49ers win over the Falcons. Much like voters look for a "Heisman moment", that's the kind of moment that could push Bowman over the top.
Could a strong December and that highlight play in Week 16 propel Bowman to DPOY?