How many players do the San Francisco 49ers have that could have legitimate claim to "best player in the league at this position?" I think there's a few, and several others who have legitimate claims to top 10 to top five status on top of that, but then again, maybe I'm just a homer. Whatever the case, the 49ers are among the best teams in the league, though last season they didn't have any players earn significant NFL Honors, as far as individual awards are concerned.
They had their Pro Bowlers and All-Pros, but there were no representatives among offensive/defensive players of the year, rookies of the year, etc. Last year, I talked a bit about Colin Kaepernick being San Francisco's best hope for an MVP rep, given the position he plays and all of that. Of course, he didn't come even close, not even taking into account how ridiculous Peyton Manning happened to play.
I also mentioned Vernon Davis as a potential offensive player of the year candidate, and as far as rookies go, Eric Reid was my top pick. I do actually feel as though Reid was somewhat overlooked in the running for defensive rookie of the year, though I don't think Sheldon Richardson was a bad choice. Eddie Lacy was also a good choice for offensive rookie of the year (unlike the previous year, which was horrible).
So what players stand a chance of earning awards this time out?
As far as MVP is concerned, I think I'm going to go with Kaepernick again. The 49ers will have Michael Crabtree back alongside Anquan Boldin, and I personally think Stevie Johnson will elevate this group to another level. I can't see any offensive players other than Kaepernick earning the offensive player of the year awards, either.
When it comes to defensive player, NaVorro Bowman is obviously out of the discussion. I think it's fair to suggest that Aldon Smith will miss at least a couple games next season as well, so I think the discussion is even narrower. Patrick Willis and Eric Reid stand the best chance of earning those honors, in my opinion.
As far as rookies are concerned, we have Bruce Ellington and Carlos Hyde on the offensive side of the ball, and possibly Jimmie Ward on the defensive side. I doubt Ward is in that discussion unless he earns his way into being an every-down guy with a few flashy interceptions early on in the season.
What say you?