Originally posted by 49erRider:
You can base it on the stats if you want. I'm basing it on Bowman being in on the plays the same way Willis is, only slightly more often in 2011.
I know the 100-yard streak ended without Willis, but you can't just blame that on Bowman. There were 10 others that could have made stops and the defense is obviously better with Willis than without him. I wouldn't say Bowman is better than Willis, but he performed as well or better in 2011. I wouldn't keep Bowman over Willis, though. Willis is the best MLB in the game on a consistent basis.
Yes Bowman was in on more plays, but that is because he was left to roam the middle of the field while Patrick Willis was in man coverage on a high percentage of passing downs. When a player is in man coverage, it is actually better that he is NOT in on the play, because he actually did his job and took his man OUT of the play.
There are plenty of examples teams tackle leaders not being their best defenders on the field. If you notice, as soon Willis was removed from the starting lineup our defense gave up more average points, allowed there first 100 yard rusher AND there first rushing touchdown. This was not a coincidence.
Bowman is a good linebacker but he is not in the same league as Patrick Willis.