Consider this your daily reminder to vote for your San Francisco 49ers on the 2010 Pro Bowl ballot. Remember that you can vote for as few or as many positions on the ballot as you want. So if you just want to vote for Vernon Davis, Aubrayo Franklin, Patrick Willis, and Andy Lee among others, it's quite simple to do. Most days it will be a simple FanShot, but for today I thought I'd put together the cases for a few of our favorite 49ers. I realize most people aren't all that interested in the Pro Bowl game itself, but national recognition is always welcome, especially when the players truly deserve it.
Vernon Davis: Davis continued his breakout season with 6 catches for 69 yards and a touchdown against Jacksonville. On the season, Davis has 57 receptions, 670 yards and 9 touchdowns. Those numbers in the NFC for respectively third, first and first. Davis also has 10 catches for over twenty yards, which is also good for first in the league. There are bigger national names (Gonzalez and Witten), but I really think Davis is having the best year of any NFC tight end.
Patrick Willis: What else needs to be said about Mr. Consistently Great? Even as the defense around him improves, Bamm Bamm continues to put up obscene tackle totals, while make big plays across the field, all game long. Among linebackers, Willis is second in the NFC with 107 total tackles, tied for eleventh with 3 sacks (tied for most among NFC ILBs), tied for first with 8 pass deflections, second in interceptions, is one of two NFC ILBs with a touchdown, and also has forced a pair of fumbles. The man remains an absolute playmaking beast.
Andy Lee: Andy Lee for MVP indeed. Lee's leg is a freakish weapon for the 49ers. We'd all like more offense, but if the offense stalls out, we know Lee will more likely than not pin a team back. Jacksonville even elected to take a 5 yard penalty at the end of a return rather than let Lee have a second chance to pin them deep. Among NFC punters, Lee is first in gross and net average, and this comes on a league-leading 66 punts. Not a great stat for the offense, but it shows an amazing level of consistency from Lee. He's second with 10 downed punts, and fourth with 20 punts inside the 20. On returns, opposing teams are only getting 5 or so yards per, showing an ability to not out-kick his coverage.
Aubrayo Franklin: Franklin has quietly (outside of the Bay Area it's quiet) put together an immensely entertaining season. A nose tackle in the 3-4 is expected to do a lot of the dirty work, but Franklin has stepped up to become a playmaker for this defense. It's hard to truly assess his work because a lot of time his play involves opening holes for the inside linebackers to make plays. Individually, Franklin has 28 tackles (5 for a loss), 2 sacks and a huge redzone interception against Chicago. However, on top of that is the fact that one could argue he's been a key in the 49ers ability to stuff the inside run. The 49ers have given up 3.6 yards per carry (tied for 2nd in the NFL), and most rushing damage has come outside the tackles. Franklin has either plugged up the middle, or provided space for Willis and Spikes to shut down the middle. Some argue it's a walk-year performance, but he really began building this early last season.
One guy I didn't include, but probably deserves more recognition than he gets is Justin Smith. Smith has 40 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles on the season but doesn't get much publicity for the Pro Bowl. The problem for him, like a guy like Aubrayo Franklin, is that a 3-4 defensive end isn't exactly a glamor position. However, every game Justin Smith does something that stands out as a huge play. I think he's a guy worth including on your Pro Bowl ballot. So, when you get a chance, head over and submit your Pro Bowl ballot, multiple times if you'd like. Remember that you don't need to fill out every single position.