Marshall Faulk (@marshallfaulk) September 4, 2014
Apparently Marshall Faulk has a thing or two to say to SB Nation's NFL blogs! Every week Faulk will be tweeting out three questions. Two will be to a pair of teams facing off that week, and one will be to the rest of the SB Nation sites. We'll see if he gets a little snarky when it comes time to tweet out a 49ers-specific question.
If a national media person was answering this question, I'm fairly certain they would say Frank Gore. While Gore surpassed 1,000 yards for the seventh time in his career last year, his yards per carry took a hit, dropping to a career low 4.1. The 49ers brought in Carlos Hyde to help spell Gore, and eventually supplant him in the lineup.
As the 49ers get ready for the 2014 season, I'd say there are some fairly simple picks for who will be consistent throughout the season. On the offensive side of the ball, Joe Staley is a guy the 49ers can plug in, and they generally know what they will get every week. Staley was solid early in his career, but there was some inconsistency. Over the last three seasons, Staley has really come into his own as one of the best offensive tackles in the league. While every player can have an off-day here or there, 49ers fans go into every game figuring Kap's blind side is fairly well protected.
On the defensive side of the ball, Patrick Willis is probably the easiest pick. I had considered Justin Smith, but age is going to eat away at Smith's consistency. I think we can expect a very solid year from Smith, but nothing like what we've seen in the past.
On the other hand, even though Willis hits 30 at the end of this season, he remains a consistent force. And this year, I think that consistent will be at a level that draws more praise than we have seen the last couple seasons. As NaVorro Bowman has improved each year, some folks have started to talk about him being the better linebacker. People have not been ignoring Willis, but it does at times seem like he has been overlooked.
The loss of Bowman is brutal, but it will also give the national media a chance to remember just what Patrick Willis can do. I have had this hunch all offseason that later this year we are going to be hearing and reading media discussing how Patrick Willis is having a resurgence and really looking good after some relatively quiet years. It was easy to overlook Willis given how good Bowman was, but this year, the national media gets a reminder of just how good Patrick Willis still is.
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