Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah recently joined NFL.com to provide a variety of news and analysis. While things remain slow in the offseason, he is putting together a rundown of "Podium Awards" in which he ranks the gold, silver and bronze top three for various positions.
In his Thursday post (h/t Kidd2Petrovic), he took a look at the defensive line and ranked Justin Smith at the top. He references interior linemen, but given the use of 4-3 defensive ends in the pass rush, it sounds like they'll be listed in a separate rundown of pass rushers. Although Smith operates as a defensive end much of the time, he gets a lot of time at defensive tackle when the 49ers switch to their nickel defense.
Smith joins a variety of 49ers ranked in the top three or as honorable mention at their position. The highlight was seeing Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman listed as the top two linebackers. Vernon Davis was given the bronze at tight end, Andy Lee received bronze among special teamers (with Akers getting honorable mention), Dashon Goldson was listed in the honorable mention for secondary players, and Frank Gore got honorable mention at running back.
Later today, Jeremiah will list out his quarterbacks and pass rushers. I would suspect Aldon Smith gets an honorable mention among pass rushers, although there are a lot of quality pass rushers in the league.