On Wednesday, I complained about how San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead was snubbed from the Pro Bowl. Whether you use traditional stats, advanced stats, common sense, or your eyeballs, Armstead should have made it. Armstead told reporters he’s not mad, but he also tweeted twice about it.
The man responsible for keeping Armstead around was praised recently. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network puts together an annual in-season award list. Here are his criteria:
My annual early awards survey this year was completed by high-ranking executives in personnel from 24 NFL teams, including 13 general managers. All 24 individuals participated on the condition of anonymity for competitive reasons and to provide an honest assessment.
Pelissero has everything from the MVP to Coach of the Year. Speaking of, Kyle Shanahan came in third with five votes. He lost to Buffalo’s Sean McDermott, who received seven, and Baltimore’s John Harbaugh, who received 5.5 votes. One of the executive’s reasons for voting for McDermott was that “he’s doing it with a young quarterback.
San Francisco’s first-round pick is your hypothetical Defensive Rookie of the Year in this exercise:
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers
The No. 2 overall pick has nine sacks -- including seven in his first seven NFL games -- and was the clear winner with 18 votes. “It’s him or (Jaguars DE Josh) Allen,” one GM said. “I look at team success, too. If [the 49ers] don’t have that D-line, I don’t think they’re doing the things they’re doing.” Allen, who has 10 sacks, and Steelers LB Devin Bush got three votes each.
Allen has quietly been tremendous this season. Bosa having seven sacks in seven games, wasn’t going to be sustainable. While his numbers have cooled down statistically, Bosa’s play hasn’t. The early sacks, the “flag plant” against Cleveland, and the interception against Carolina are all signatures to one of the better rookie seasons from a pass rusher that we’ve seen in some time. Even as Bosa’s snaps rise due to injuries along the defensive line, he continues to play at a ridiculously high level. It shouldn’t take long before he’s being discussed as the Defensive Player of the Year.
Executive of the year
This time last year, many of you probably wanted everyone fired. From John Lynch to Robert Saleh. Things weren’t working for one reason or another, and it was time for a change. Fast forward a year later, and the 49ers have a chance to lock down the top seed in the NFC. Lynch has taken risks during his tenure as a general manager for San Francisco. Like anyone else in charge of personnel for an NFL team, there is plenty of reason to be critical. As we’ve seen with the Browns this season, it’s not just about lumping a bunch of talent on your roster, rolling the ball out, and expecting to win. So much more goes into being a general manager. In this case, Lynch was voted the executive of the year:
Executive of the Year: John Lynch, San Francisco 49ers
Fitting that the two teams tied atop the NFC West would run neck-and-neck for this award, with Lynch (eight votes) edging out Seahawks GM John Schneider (seven). Lynch, the longtime NFL safety hired out of the FOX broadcast booth in January 2017, is seeing the dividends of a three-year rebuild in concert with Shanahan. “They built the right way -- D-line, O-line,” another NFC executive said. “I know they inherited (Arik) Armstead and (DeForest) Buckner, [but they hit] on Bosa. Had some sneaky UFA signings with the corner from Seattle (Richard Sherman last year). They traded for (WR) Emmanuel Sanders, it helped. They’ve done a nice job collectively, him and Shanahan, getting players that fit Shanahan’s scheme and then getting players that fit what they want to do on defense.”
Schneider has a Super Bowl championship under his belt and remains as aggressive as any NFL decision-maker, with recent trades for DE Jadeveon Clowney(in exchange for two fungible players and a third-round pick, with Houston paying part of Clowney’s salary) and S Quandre Diggs (for a flip of late-round picks) buoying another title push. “He does a great job every year,” an NFC executive said of Schneider, who’s in his 10th season, “but they retooled that entire defense, picked up Clowney for a song, cobbled together a professional offensive line -- still not great, but it’s good for what they do. He got the quarterback re-signed. And the fact that they took zero draft capital and turned it into a lot of draft capital last [April], too.”
Bills GM Brandon Beane came in third with four votes. Baltimore’s Eric DeCosta got two, while Pittsburgh’s Kevin Colbert, Minnesota’s Rick Spielman and Green Bay’s Brian Gutekunst received one each.
You do forget that it wasn’t long ago Lynch was in the broadcast booth. Lynch’s most underrated move may have been acquiring Laken Tomlinson for a fifth-round pick. One thing that you have to have in this league to win is a quarterback. Lynch tried to trade for Tom Brady, that didn’t work, so he traded for his backup. We don’t have to get into whether Jimmy Garoppolo is a franchise quarterback or not. He wins, and knowing the NFL is a bottom-line business, that’s all that matters. Jimmy G is 11-3 this year and 19-5 during his career as a starter. Aside from that, Lynch has been aggressive. Signing Kwon Alexander, trading for Dee Ford, moving up and down the draft. He hasn’t been shy at all, and it’s paid off. Kudos to you, John. Hopefully, this isn’t the last time the 49ers beat the Seahawks this year.