(To see the list, scroll down and keep that page and just keep opening new windows)
I like PFF because they keep it real, the top 100 NFL players on NFL network just doesnt make sense with kuhn and tebow on there, and a couple other guys who are very overrated. But anyway heres the notable niners on the list:
• It was based solely on 2011.
• It was based on an ethos of all positions created equal. This isn't about the most valuable players, otherwise there would be a lot more quarterbacks. This is about looking what is expected from a position and who most exceeded that.
78. Carlos Rogers, CB, San Francisco 49ers
After the first seven weeks of the season Rogers seemed a lock to be much higher on this list, but a far more inconsistent second half of the year (three games in the red) saw him plummet down the rankings. That shouldn't detract from a great rebound year, though, where Rogers handled base duties at the LCB spot before moving over to the slot in the 49ers' nickel defense. Being one of a handful of players capable of doing that without his play dropping off significantly earned him brownie points from a PFF staff who appreciate versatility.
Best Performance: Week 2 versus Dallas (+3.0)
Key Stat: For a cornerback to play 394 snaps in the slot and walk away only allowing quarterbacks to complete 52.8% of passes into his coverage is ridiculously good.
64. Aldon Smith, OLB, San Francisco 49ers
If you include the playoffs, Smith had the highest grade of all defensive players for pass rushing, registering an incredible 17 sacks, 17 quarterback hits, and 43 hurries. The only reason Smith is so low is that he was a purely situational pass rusher, who didn't see the field in the 49ers' base package, giving him somewhat of an advantage with his pass rushing. Still, for the rookie to come in and make that kind of impact can't be understated, and his position on this list should highlight that.
Best Performance: Week 13 versus St Louis (+7.9)
Key Stat: Was the most productive pass rusher in the entire league. You can read all about it here.
45. Ray McDonald, DE, San Francisco 49ers
When McDonald was limited to life as a situational/ backup defensive linemen before 2011, there wasn't much to suggest he'd become an overly productive player for San Francisco. Well, the 49ers' DE showed what he was capable of with a quite brilliant 2011 where he wore down offensive linemen, and made all sorts of plays in a team that likes to share them out. Finished with our third-highest regular season grade, before destroying the right side of the Giants' line in the Conference Championship game. A huge and underrated part of the league's best defense.
Best Performance: Week 3 at Cincinnati (+5.7)
Key Stat: Only graded negatively once all season.
20. Patrick Willis, LB, San Francisco 49ers
If not for missing three games (and being limited to five plays in another) Willis likely would have been higher. One of a handful (if that) of inside linebackers who can match up with athletic tight ends while still being able to shed blocks and make plays in the run game. If you were building the perfect franchise, you wouldn't wait long before saying his name. Doesn't miss tackles, breaks up passes like it's going out of fashion (his eight deflections tied Rolando McClain for the most for all linebackers), and turns his blitzing into pressure. 2011 was simply Patrick Willis being Patrick Willis.
Best Performance: Conference Championship versus New York Giants (+6.0)
Key Stat: Missed one tackles in every 43.5 attempts. The best of all inside linebackers.
14. NaVorro Bowman, LB, San Francisco 49ers
If you finish higher on this list than your teammate Patrick Willis, then you've done alright. Bowman isn't the athlete Willis is (but then who is?) Instead, he's a downhill force who shows a tremendous ability to close on receivers when they're catching the ball, thus preventing any significant yards after the catch. He finished as our top-ranked inside linebacker and added two fine performances in the playoffs where he demonstrated what a weapon he is in run D. In 2011, 13 of his 18 games ended with grades in the green.
Best Performance: Week 17 at St Louis (+5.6)
Key Stat: Made more defensive stops (70) than any other player in the league.
No. 2: Justin Smith, DE, San Francisco 49ers
May 3rd, 2012 | Author: Sam Monson
The Cincinnati Bengals once allowed Justin Smith to seek his fortune elsewhere in free agency. Maybe he was miscast in their 4-3 defense, or maybe he never realized his potential for the Bengals. Since that point in time he has been one of the best players in football for the 49ers.
He's not playing a glamour position, and doesn't get the massive sack numbers of edge rushers. One of the truths in the NFL right now is that there is no more disruptive force to an offense than Justin Smith. When game planning every offensive coordinator knows full well that they have to try and contain him before they play the 49ers.
Possessing a devastating combination of brute force and technique, and enough versatility to be a factor on every down and in multiple spots, Smith challenges an opponent like few others. Over the course of the game he will make himself known to the entire left side of an offensive line as well as any tight ends and running backs expected to help out in pass protection. He has the ability to bull-rush any of these blockers or beat them to the inside or outside with his quickness and technique.
Smith is the best interior pass-rushing force in football and he does it without selling out to get to the quarterback. He also maintains an extremely high level of play against the run. The 49ers play him as 3-4 DE in their base formations, but he will kick inside to DT as part of a four-man front (albeit often with a stand up rush linebacker) in their nickel package. In either instance, a team is going to have to get Smith blocked before they do anything else, and that level of attention was a big reason behind the success Aldon Smith enjoyed as a rookie. The pair of Smiths were able to run the same simple stunt over and over with teams struggling badly to deal with it because of the impact getting Justin Smith blocked had on the pass protection. Smith is one of those players who not only dominates, but is so good he makes those around him better as well.
Justin Smith has never won the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award, and that should have changed this season. While he will again have to settle for the recognition of his peers, he can now see his name at No. 2 in the PFF Top 101, as the top defensive player on the list.
Not one offensive player, but hey, 3 LB's and 2 DE and a corner..thats not bad right?