As this is the Bye week (or Improvement Week), I thought I would take some time and look at our roster. I came up with a completely arbitrary category system to evaluate the players after six weeks. Feel free to post your own:
The evaluation system consists of 5 categories - Core Guys, Solid Players, Up-and-Comers, Unknowns, and Expendables. Here we go:
- Justin Smith - The guy just keeps going. He has that insanely high motor and really controls the line of scrimmage for us
- Ray McDonald - I was originally going to designate him as a solid player, but given the improvement our run defense has made as well as the pass rush since he was inserted, he jumps up here. Others have posted the insane stat that we rush four or less guys 77% of the time. That is tremendous and he is a big reason why.
- Patrick Willis - Do I even have to say anything. All-Pro, All-World. He doesn't seem to have any weaknesses and is even becoming a better leader.
- Navorro Bowman - After seeing what we have seen this year, this tandem must not be broken up. They play off each other exceptionally well. Bowman would be the star on almost any other defense.
- Donte Whitner - Donte is almost in the solid category. I'd like to see him make more plays on the ball, but he has been exactly what we have needed from the safety position. Consistent.
- Vernon Davis - This man is a monster. His presence alone scares other teams and you can tell on quite a few of our completions this year the team was keying in which opened up someone else.
- Delanie Walker - Remember when this league became a "two-back" league? You couldn't be a contender unless you had at least two quality running backs. I think we are seeing the same thing happen with Tight Ends. Walker has been exactly what harbaugh needed. His blocking has improved, his route running is better, and even his hands have improved. Yes, he had a terrible drop against Detroit, but he made up for it and then some.
- Frank Gore - How much more obvious can you get? But, do you remember all the people that announced his demise after week three? Where are those people now? Gore may have lost a step but his football IQ puts him in a position to be successful and his ability to block, catch the ball, and be elusive in the open field are still too good to signal his end.
- Joe Staley - Is he a top five tackle in this league? No, he still gives up too many sacks as evidenced by the first play against Detroit. But Joe is a good leader on the line, has the athleticism needed in the running game, and always seems to come up in the clutch. Sure, the sacks he gives up can hurt, but watch him on game deciding or momentum shifting drives. He always plays his best in those situations.
- Mike Iupati - People are starting to notice his potential to be one of the best in the game. How many times did we hear Corey Williams' name on Sunday? Iupati is singularly unique in his strength and ability to get out and pull for his running backs.
- Anthony Davis - I read the tweets. They were pretty immature. I also saw all the scuffles he got into on the field. They were the reactions of a 22 year old. The truth is, he still needs to grow (figuratively) as a player, but we are seeing that he has that nastiness that you need in the trenches. He isn't going to take crap from anyone which bodes well for the players he is tasked to protect. Silently, he is also getting better in almost every aspect of the game.
-Adam Snyder - How long has this guy been bounced from position to position? The ironic thing is that he isn't a core guy because of his play at RG. He's a croe guy because when he is on the field, the team plays better. Period. Whether he is in the backfield as a blocker, lined up as a TE, or inside the line, we always seem to get the yards we need.
- Michael Crabtree - Love him or hate him, the truth is we are a better team when he is playing well. The only thing that will keep him off the field for this team will be injuries.
- Joshua Morgan - It's funny to look back and realize that his place on this team was being debated all offseason. He has proven to be the exact type of wide out this offense needs. He blocks well in the run game, he has sure hands, a big frame to break tackles, and the quickness to move up field on short passes. I know he is a priority to bring back next year.
- Brian Jennings - The longest tenured Niner. Who would kill to have this guys job? He has been the best at his position in this league for years and no one knows him. Such is the life of a Long Snapper.
- David Akers - Was there a better Free Agent score than Akers? He is hitting from every where. Without him we might not win in Philadelphia or Detroit.
- Andy Lee - Stud. He and Ginn have combined to give our team a HUGE field position advantage.
- Isaac Sopoaga - He might be a core player as well. He simply eats up blockers, stands his ground and pushes the pile. Nothing spectacular but this guy has steadily improved every year.
- Ricky Jean-Francois - RJF answered the call against the Bucs when Sopoaga was out and performed well enough that none of us noticed the difference. He is a great character, a hard worker, and athletic enough to make plays when he is in there.
- Parys Haralson - He has not been a popular player around here. I think that is because we want him to be something he is not. He is not a sack guy. He is a stout run stopper, a smart player that always has his assignment, and an occasional pressure guy. He's been solid, but not spectacular. Aldon Smith will be taking his job pretty soon, but I have enjoyed his work ethic. Is there anyone on this team that embodies the blue collar mentality more?
- Ahmad Brooks - He has been very solid this year. I am tempted to call him a core player, but he still has some consistency issues that won't be out of my head after just six weeks. Still, he seems to finally be comfortable in this position so time will tell.
- Aldon Smith - Many of you will want him to be considered a core guy right now and I admit that he is the future of this team as a pass rusher, but right now he is here because he is situational. He has been spectacular, but let's make sure he can make the transition to OLB.
Blake Costanzo - I'm pretty sure that if he and Anthony Dixon get too close to each other it would set off an explosion. This guy is intense and relentless on ST. I see a lot of Ulbrich in this guy and I wouldn't be suprised to see him become a ST coach one day.
- Larry Grant - He has been in on quite a few ST plays and gives you the impression that he could step in for a guy in the middle and not miss much.
- Carlos Rogers - He doesn't have good hands? What? He has done just fine when the ball has been thrown his way this year and I really hope the team locks him down long term after this year. He is smooth and steady back there and has been especially good at keeping the big plays from happening.
- Tramaine Brock - What a great find as an UDFA. He is quick and seems to have a nose for the ball. I think this guy could end up being a very solid #3 for the team for some time.
- Reggie Smith - He has taken a great leap forward this year. He has made some tremendous plays, like his INT against Cincinnati, and he seems to always be in the right position when he has seen the field. If the team brings back Goldson he might want to leave, which would be a shame.
- Dashon Goldson - Speaking of Goldson, he has done nothing but improve each game this year. He is still capable of making game changing plays every time he is around the ball. I truly hope the lock him up this year. He might be the Alex Smith of the defense. He just keeps coming back until he suddenly starts getting it!
- C.J. Spillman - This team is loaded at the safety position. WHile Spillman would probably only be average at best on defense, he is a ST stud.
- Alex Smith - Holy Christmas. He might not be Aaron Rodgers, but he is definitely playing well. He is making quick decisions, throwing accurately, relatively, and coming up clutch in games. He might end up being around for a few more years and I would love it.
- Anthony Dixon - Is there a more lovable guy on this team? He is a wild man on ST! He hasn't done much as a runner, but he may get more goal line opportunities soon. The most impressive thing is that he will take on any role as long as it helps the team. You MUST have guys like this on a good team.
- Jonathan Goodwin - I think he is still improving week to week, but as he goes, so does the O-Line. When they are playing well it means he is getting a good push, seeing the blitzes, and communicating well. He and Alex Smith seem to work fine together. Most importantly, he has provided a veteran presence. He isn't making rookie mistakes.
- Ted Ginn - He has been amazing in the return game and has come up with a few catches. Still, he has not become the game changing WR he was thought to be when he came out of college and you have to wonder if another return man wouldn't be doing as well with Seely's Unit. Still, he has done what we need and puts teams on their heals with his speed. I will just be happy when he is back to being a 3rd or 4th WR and strictly a return man.
- Kendall Hunter - He is an up and comer, but he has also made plays that normally only a vet makes. It's not just his big plays that impress me. He has a knack for squeezing every last yard out of a run.
- Will Tukuafu - His season was cut too short by injury, but he was starting to play really well in the preseason and you could feel him start to turn a corner. Have you also noticed that the team seems to love the guy? Everytime he makes a play the other linemen go nuts!
- DeMarcus Dobbs - Many people on this board have fallen in love with him based on his Preseason numbers (See Clayton, Thomas), but he definitely showed strength and a knack for getting pressure. Throw in Tomsula and he might be the guy to watch next year in this rotation.
- Chris Culliver - So many question this pick because of his lack of experience, but he has transitioned well. He is physically capable of stardom at the position and seems to put the work in. I am very excited about this kids future.
- Bruce Miller - What a wasted pick. Who wants a late round project? Man, has he proved us wrong and I get the feeling it is only the tip of the iceberg. This kid blocks well, catches the ball well and is just now starting to get some carries. I can't wait to watch him grow into this position.
- Alex Boone - I love that they are using him in the run game. It makes him more invested in the game if he has to go in. He might just be a starter if one of the other two falters.
- Kyle Williams - One catch has us salivating over this kid. That TD in Dallas was beautiful. He seems to have the skills to be a great WCO receiver. Can he get more time in the offense?
- Ian Williams - The one issue with our Defensive Line right now is depth. Williams is a big body with an impressive college resume. Hopefully he is listening to everything Tomsula is teaching him and preparing for his shot.
- Curtis Holcomb - THis was such a suprisingly good draft that we almost forget about Holcomb. He injured himself on the first day of practice, but given the team's recent success with late round DBs, I am interested to see what he can do next year. The thing I remember about him is that he was a four-year captain in college. That is truly impressive.
- Colin Kaepernick - Is he the future? He certainly has the arm strength and he looked decently accurate in the preseason when he had time to throw. Still, it would probably benefit him to sit multiple years. We'll see if he gets that chance.
- Scott Tolzien - I was SCREAMING for the team to draft this guy late. He is accurate and poised. He also isn't that mobile and might not have the best arm strength. Still, you love having a guy like him around, especially to push Kaep.
- Nate Byham - I know that he played last year and showed himself to be a good blocker, but we haven't seen him in this system yet. With his strength and improving receiving skills, he could be a real weapon as the third TE.
- Daniel Kilgore - Love the name and love the tencaity he showed in preseason. I would love for him to make Rachal expendable.
- Mike Person - Don't know much about him other than his reputation for being a smart, versatile player. We'll see.
- Braylon Edwards - The small glimpses we got of him were tantalizing. Now that our offense is clicking, can he fit in?
- Tavares Gooden - I know the team was high on him when they went out and grabbed him from the Ravens, but that was before Bowman's explosion. I have more faith in Grant as the back-up here and Costanzo is a much better ST player. What can Gooden do?
- Madieu Williams - I live in Cincinnati and I used to hear interviews with him all the time when he was a Bengal. He is a thoughtful, intelligent, wonderful guy. The problem is, we have an abundance of guys at his position and he is an average at best player.
- Colin Jones - The emphasis on Special Teams this year has been one of the biggest untold stories of the team's turnaround. Colin has a bright future as a ST guy, but I don't see a need for him on a roster that alread boasts ST aces Costanzo, Spillman, Dixon, and even Delanie Walker.
- Tarell Brown - He has been a decent CB on some bad teams. Now that we are gaining some momentum, it is time to move on and let some of the younger guys see if they can out play him.
- Shawntae Spencer - I really like this guy but he is part of the old team. If he recovers from an injury plagued season and might be a servicable vet for another year or two, but it might be better to go with youth back there.
- Moran Norris - Miller's play seems to make him irrelevant. Wouldn't you love to see his spot taken by a young RB with ST capabilities?
- Justin Peele - These third TEs seem to be a dime a dozen. Byham seemed to have more athleticism.
- Brett Swain - It is too early to tell, but Swain seems to be a guy that can fill in on the STs units and maybe catch a ball or two every other game. He might be more, but if he isn't we can find a million more guys out there capable of the same thing.