The San Francisco 49ers have the two best middle linebackers in the NFL. Once again, I'm not just saying they have the best overall group of middle linebackers, I'm saying they have, individually, the best and second-best middle linebackers in the league in Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.
Frankly, it's not even close.
Last season, Bowman got a ton of recognition on the national scale. It's as though someone important finally started watching 49ers games, or somebody finally started to pay attention to the beat writers. The message was clear: you know that vaguely red blur that just made a huge tackle on that running back? Yeah, well, it wasn't Willis.
If you happened to miss it, on Monday EA Sports released the ratings for the top five middle linebackers in the upcoming Madden NFL 15 and while I'm still shaking my head that he's calling himself a "Ratings Czar," I think Donny Moore nailed the position down pretty well. Of course, that means Willis and Bowman earned top honors.
Both Willis and Bowman carry 96 overall ratings, with Luke Kuechly in third place at 94 overall. Some more interesting notes for the ratings: Willis is second in speed (90), first in strength (88), first in awareness (94), third in tackling (95), first in hit power (97), second in block shedding (89) and fourth in pursuit (97) as far as ratings for middle linebackers go. Oh and he's first in man coverage among the position.
Bowman has 98 pursuit and 95 block shedding, better than Willis and first among all middle linebackers. He's also got 83 power moves (one of many pass-rushing stats) and 99 tackling, which is tied with Kuechly for best in the NFL.
I don't always like the Madden games, but I always engage in the pre-release ratings bonanza. If I can't find something to be angry about with the ratings, then I'm just not happy. Fortunately, there's nothing to be angry about here. That will come once the regular season gets underway, when Kuechly gets a bump and they drop Bowman a couple points due to him being injured -- for absolutely no reason.