I just saw this on a couple other blogs to pass the time during the offseason, so I figured I could take a crack at it. The idea just to give my own thoughts on who I think are the ten best 49ers overall. I don't know that it's exactly who contributes the most or if it's just how well they play their position, I'm just going to start naming players and that will be that.
Go ahead and post your own thoughts in the comments, should provide for some interesting discussion. I'm going to put up a poll as well, but I figured I wouldn't do it for "Best 49er" because I think we're all pretty much in agreement that it's Patrick Willis. But who is the second best 49er? I can think of at least three players who could get that 'title'.
Either way, make the jump to see what I have to say for my top ten. I'll also probably go through the comments and average it out to see what the collective top ten would be, so when you do make a list, please do a full ten, otherwise it might not be counted. Enjoy.
1. Patrick Willis, ILB Is there seriously any doubt to this one? Patrick Willis is arguably the best at his position in the NFL (most would say it's not even arguably at this point) and is still very young. He's still getting better. How scary of a thought is that? I think this spot isn't even arguable, you know?
2. Frank Gore, HB You know, it's hard to really gauge where exactly Frank Gore sits in comparison to the league's other running backs. It seems that he's either top five or top six, depending where one places Maurice Jones-Drew and DeAngelo Williams. I'd take Frank Gore over both of those guys any day. There's a reason Jimmy Raye said that it's all about #21 last year, and I bet he'll say it again this year.
3. Vernon Davis, TE The second player to vie for that second spot. Vernon Davis is the very definition of a complete tight end. What's important though, is the question of whether or not this past season was just a fluke. He tied the record for receiving touchdowns for tight ends, and I think with how he played you have to put him in the top five tight ends in the NFL.
4. Justin Smith, DE The third and final player whom I believe could be considered the second best player on the team, but he's barely nudged out by the other two. Smith is exactly what you want in a 3-4 end. The guy never stops playing. He's running after quarterbacks in his dreams. I bet Smith's foreplay consists of him executing some crazy spin moves from a three-point stance. Did you need that image? Yes. Yes you did.
5. Andy Lee, P Fooch didn't do this article because numbers 1-9 would be Andy Lee, with Patrick Willis at number 10. Still, Lee is arguably a top-two or three punter in the NFL and with good reason. He's got a leg that could put a ball through ten tree trunks, while still downing it inside the twenty after that.
6. Aubrayo Franklin, NT Let's hope we can still be saying this next year, yeah? I don't think it's terribly difficult to replace a nose tackle, but why give yourself the burden of trying to replace someone as good as Franklin? Once Singletary took over, Aubrayo seemed to "get it." He started playing great football and I personally feel he was snubbed from the pro bowl.
7. Michael Crabtree, WR I think I may be overrating him a little bit, but can you seriously argue against him? You probably could, but I'd wager it would be a losing argument. Crabtree has no training camp, no real definitive learning of the playbook, missed five weeks and still came in and contributed basically immediately. He caught a lot of passes and looked good doing it. Most people agree that Crabtree is on his way to a pro bowl.
8. Takeo Spikes, ILB He's an old vet, but he's a darn good one. Takeo does basically everything we ask of him, and does it well. People insist that he's not very fast, but I've never seen him get to the ball slowly, or get burned in coverage. He'll rush the passer, he'll stop the run, he'll cover a tight end. You could hand him the ball and I bet he'd do his best to try and run it for you. He gets excused from practices not just because he could use the rest in order to preserve his longevity, but because he has absolutely nothing left to learn. He is, in all essences, the perfect TED linebacker.
9. Dashon Goldson, FS I feel like this one will get criticized the most. I also feel like it be the most surprising to all of you because I'm such a supporter of Michael Lewis. I just think Goldson came on strong and can only improve. He's young, he's good - and he needs a contract asap.
10. Eric Heitmann, C I've preached this up and down and can only continue to do so. He's the team's most consistent offensive lineman, isn't really beaten often, is very smart and is basically mistake free. A great player, and has a solid three years left in him.
Michael Robinson (one of the league's top special teamers), Michael Lewis (good soldier, does many things well), Shawntae Spencer (a bright spot on a disappointing CB position)