Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Taking votes for all-NFC West defense
By Mike Sando
The 2009 all-NFC West offense is taking shape.
Let's tackle the defense, where quite a few positions could be open to debate.
I'll take your thoughts into account when putting together all-division teams after the season.
We might need to adopt a 3-4 structure to best accommodate worthy players in the division.
Some of my initial thoughts ...
NT: Aubrayo Franklin, 49ers. Probably deserved Pro Bowl recognition this season.
DE: Darnell Dockett, Cardinals. Pro Bowl starter has 7.0 sacks. Listed at defensive tackle, but plays end in the 3-4.
ILB: Patrick Willis, 49ers. Three-time Pro Bowl choice is easily the best linebacker in the division.
SS: Adrian Wilson, Cardinals. Five interceptions show he can be more than just an in-the-box safety.
CB: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cardinals. Earned Pro Bowl berth in first full season as starter.
CB: Shawntae Spencer, 49ers. Played well consistently in his first season back from knee surgery.
Up for discussion
FS: Antrel Rolle, Cardinals, or Dashon Goldson, 49ers? Rolle probably gets the edge overall, but both have four interceptions and Goldson is just getting started.
DE: Justin Smith, 49ers, or Calais Campbell, Cardinals? Both play right end in the 3-4. Campbell has 7.0 sacks. Smith was more disruptive early in the season.
OLB: Parys Haralson, 49ers, or Chike Okeafor, Cardinals? Both have 4.5 sacks playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. I lean toward Haralson. Okeafor has been banged up.
OLB: Ahmad Brooks, 49ers. I almost put him in the "pencil them in" section. Brooks is more of a situational player to this point, however.
ILB: Quite a few players might qualify here. Arizona missed Karlos Dansby at Tennessee when a shoulder injury sidelined the franchise player late in the game. The Cardinals' run defense suffered when inside linebacker Gerald Hayes suffered an injury. The Rams liked what they saw from rookie middle linebacker James Laurinaitis. Seattle's David Hawthorne made an impact when the team lost Lofa Tatupu. The 49ers' Takeo Spikes quietly had 4.0 sacks even though stopping the run was his specialty.
Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane has been pretty good again, but I couldn't find a spot for him among defensive linemen.
Who is missing?