The San Francisco 49ers have had an inconsistent season, but amidst the turmoil, Chris Borland has emerged as a serious presence. The 49ers rookie earned a significant honor today, as the NFL named him Defensive Rookie of the Month for November. This followed back-to-back Rookie of the Week awards in Weeks 10 and 11. It is worth noting the weekly awards are voted on by fans, while the monthly award is not. Borland joins Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis as the only 49ers linebackers to win the award.
Borland's November was kind of ridiculous. According to the NFL, he is the only player in the past 20 years to accrue 70+ tackles and 2+ interceptions in a calendar month. He led the NFL with 70 tackles in November, although every source seems to end up with different tackle total. However you look at it, he has been a force.
Borland moved into the starting lineup in the second half of the 49ers December 13 win over the St. Louis Rams. He had a strong second half, but then struggled the following week against the Denver Broncos. After the bye, he put together a ridiculous three week stretch against the Rams, Saints and Giants. The last two weeks he has come back to earth a bit. His numbers are down a bit, including his grading at Pro Football Focus. However, among linebackers with at least 25 percent of snaps, he is tops in run stopping percentage. His pass coverage is going to need continued development, but he has gotten his NFL career off to a strong start.
Now the question is, does he have enough time to potentially claim Defensive Rookie of the Year? The 49ers have some big games in December, and some strong performances could be enough to notch the honor. It won't be easy, but the opportunity is potentially there with a strong finish.