NFL Network is in the midst of their annual Top 100 series, and while it grows less interesting by the year, I do still see people talking about it. I was not paying much attention to it, but figured I would get something together when all the San Francisco 49ers were introduced. Although there are still 20 players left to be introduced, the odds are pretty good at this point that the 49ers have all been introduced.
49ers.com put together a full list of the team's representatives on the Top 100, and included the NFL.com video detailing their inclusion. The 49ers listed included (2013 ranking in parenthesis):
No. 27 - Patrick Willis (8)
No. 33 - Aldon Smith (64)
No. 46 - Frank Gore (65)
No. 47 - NaVorro Bowman (12)
No. 51 - Vernon Davis (17)
No. 69 - Justin Smith (78)
No. 75 - Joe Staley (Unranked)
No. 81 - Colin Kaepernick (71)
It's always nice to see recognition for players, but the Top 100 is a pretty random "accomplishment", if you want to call it that. It is supposedly a ranking by the players, but player tweets over the years have made it clear that not everybody had the chance to vote. Additionally, we never hear what exactly players are voting for with their ballots. Are they voting for who was the best the previous season? Or maybe who is the best at this exact moment in time (presumably, during the middle of the offseason)? Or who will be the best in the upcoming season? My guess is it's just, "rank the best players" and we'll go from there. Whatever the case, NFL Network has done a good job generating some discussing in the middle of the NFL's slowest period.
I don't really have much of an opinion about the rankings. I suppose some will be annoyed some of the players have dropped. I'm assuming Bowman dropped because the NFC title game injury was still on people's minds. Willis probably slipped because a lot of people have started to underestimate him amidst the development of Bowman. I actually think this year we'll see more comments along the lines of "How about Patrick Willis's resurgence this year?" Willis will compensate for Bowman, and show us what a lot of us already knew. He's one of the best in the business. It's easy to start to overlook a guy when he has a teammate emerge as well, but the rest of the world will get a chance to remember just how good Willis really is.
I'm a little surprised Anquan Boldin did not make the list. He did not have monster numbers, but he seems to be a very well-respected player, and he was such a huge part of the 49ers offense in 2013. His numbers will take a bit of a hit in 2014, but I suspect we still see a strong contribution from him. I don't think he (or many of these guys) is overly concerned about his Top 100 status.