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49ers Game Ball Halfway Through The Season

Normally I'd use this game ball post to address the 49ers most recent game. However, given that that the 49ers have played their first eight games, now seems as good a time as any to consider the 49ers first half MVP. I know some folks would quickly vote for Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff, but let's look at the players on the field for this.

Frank Gore is the one who jumps to the top of my mind. After a tough start through the first three games, he has been the engine of this offense in the ensuing five games. He is currently fifth in the NFL in rushing yards and tied for eighth in rushing touchdowns.

And yet that might not really do justice as to how important he is. The passing attack is inconsistent at times and that has often led to Gore facing a large number of defenders in the box. Prior to Sunday's game against the Redskins, Gore led the NFL in percentage of yardage that has come against eight men in the box. He is facing a lot of defenders but still finding his yards. The offensive line deserves a lot of credit, but Gore has made a lot of this happen as he squeezes through some of the tiniest holes imaginable.

I have included Alex Smith in the poll, but not because of some kind of offensive dominance by the 49ers QB. Rather, some would argue the value of him filling his role is worth considering. I personally wouldn't make that call, but I could see arguments for it given his low interception rate. If you think he is worthy of a vote, I'd love to hear your reasons for it in the comments.

On the defensive side of the ball, there are a variety of candidates for MVP, but much of that comes due to the overall team effort of the defense. You could include guys like Justin Smith, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman in the discussion. Bowman gets included in part because his strong play in replacing Takeo Spikes has allowed Patrick Willis to roam a bit more freely and pick up more coverage. I don't know if that makes Bowman more valuable, but it is important.

Carlos Rogers might also deserve a bit of a nod. He has been a strong presence and while he doesn't quite lock down half the field, he has done a great job taking opposing receivers out of the picture. Containment of the passing game in that manner can be incredibly valuable to creating more opportunities for coverage sacks.

At this point, my MVP vote would go to Frank Gore. That is due in part to his dominance on offense and in part because some of the MVP candidates on defense could be considered co-MVPs. My vote would be split between Justin Smith and Patrick Willis. They are a sort of 2a and 2b behind Frank Gore for my vote.

If you feel "Other" deserves a vote, please post the player's name and why you think that. Andy Lee is not included in this poll since this is really MVP after Andy Lee!