The San Francisco 49ers had two players named to the Pro Bowl, as the left side of the offensive line got some recognition. Left tackle Joe Staley and left guard Mike Iupati were voted in by the fans, players and coaches. They will be eligible to be selected by the two honorary team captains in the second year of the NFL's continued attempts to keep the game relevant.
In addition to Staley and Iupati, the 49ers had five alternates selected. This group included strong safety Antoine Bethea, guard Alex Boone, inside linebacker Chris Borland, running back Frank Gore and defensive tackle Justin Smith.
Staley and Iupati had significant rough patches this season, but from a run blocking perspective, Pro Football Focus loved them. They rated Staley the top run blocking offensive tackle, and Iupati as the top run blocking left guard. Staley ranked fourth overall due to a solid but not spectacular +7.7 pass blocking grade (No. 18 of 83). However, Iupati dropped to 14th overall because of a -7.8 pass blocking grade (No. 58 of 79).
It will be interesting to see what exactly happens with Iupati when free agency hits. There seems to be this general consensus that he will get a sizable contract offer in free agency. The 49ers generally have not overpaid for interior offensive linemen, and maybe Iupati gets an offer the 49ers will not be willing to match. This vote would seem to indicate a particular perception about Iupati that will help him net a big offer.
More power to him to get that big money, but I just don't see it happening with the 49ers. The team has done a solid job developing interior linemen, and Brandon Thomas is likely the next man up in that group when the coming offseason arrives. It will be interesting to see if the 49ers even make Iupati an offer, but I think we end up seeing him just walk.