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Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Resolved: 2008 All-NFC West team

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

PositionAll-NFC West Player
Team
LTWalter Jones
Seahawks
LGReggie WellsCardinals
CEric Heitmann
49ers
RGFloyd Womack
Seahawks
RTLevi Brown
Cardinals
QBKurt Warner
Cardinals
RBSteven Jackson
Rams
FB
Leonard Weaver
Seahawks
WRLarry Fitzgerald
Cardinals
WRAnquan Boldin
Cardinals
TEJohn Carlson Seahawks


LDELeonard Little
Rams
RDEJustin Smith
49ers
DTBrandon Mebane
Seahawks
DTDarnell DockettCardinals
LBPatrick Willis49ers
LBKarlos Dansby
Cardinals
LBTakeo Spikes
49ers
SSAdrian WilsonCardinals
FSOshiomogho Atogwe Rams
CBRon Bartell
Rams
CBD. Rodgers-Cromartie Cardinals


P
Donnie Jones
Rams
KOlindo Mare
Seahawks
ST
Sean Morey
Cardinals
ST
Manny Lawson
49ers

Despite putting brettbrett1213 to sl
eep, our recent discussion about the all-NFC West team produced spirited debate.

I went through the roughly 170 comments and picked out a few that resonated.

Steven Jackson gets the call at running back over Frank Gore in an upset. I feel OK going with Jackson because he finished the season stronger and wound up with slightly more yards rushing and receiving. Smallstan has my back: "Gore has a better line than him and they put up identical numbers."

Walter Jones is the choice at left tackle even though he finished the season on injured reserve. The choice doesn't really need much defending. He's just better than other guys.

I went with the Rams' Leonard Little at left defensive end. He played hurt and still managed to get pressure situationally. There weren't many suitable choices at this position. MiamiOmar said Little "still brings that heat off the edge and gives OTs fits. Might not put up huge sack totals, but gets constant pressure. Underrated player at this point of his career." I can buy that.

Takeo Spikes' surprising production for the 49ers, complete with three interceptions, gave him the edge for the third linebacker spot. The fact that unflinching Seahawks fan RhynoEsea12 gave Spikes some credit put me over the top. RhynoEsea12: "I think [Leroy] Hill was more valuble to his team only in the fact that he was a bright spot amid an otherwise flat defense. Spikes played well too, but not as solid I think."

John Carlson gets the call over Vernon Davis at tight end based on his superior receiving skills and despite Davis' superior blocking. Shamyslamy: "I'm a Niner fan and Davis is not the right pick. I've seen him short arm and give up on too many passes. Have you ever seen him lay himself out to make a catch? That would be no. That being said, I'm not ready to give up on him yet though."

Marcus Trufant, Nate Clements and Ron Bartell drew consideration for the second cornerback spot. Trufant was effective in single coverage against Randy Moss, but Larry Fitzgerald gave him lots of trouble (even when covered). Clements' physical play at Arizona seemed to bother Fitzgerald, but Terrell Owens had his way against the 49ers.

"You can't give Trufant the 2nd Corner Spot, Sando, you just can't," joblo876 wrote. "After watching him give up highlight catch after highlight catch to Fitzgerald in Week 17, I'm inclined to think there's got to be another corner in the NFC West who is better than him."

I went with Bartell in an upset. He had 20 passes defensed, with three interceptions and two forced fumbles. Trufant had 13 passes defensed and one interception. Clements had nine and two. Those stats can be a function of opportunities, but I just don't remember Bartell giving up many big plays this season (even though the Rams gave up plenty).

Olindo Mare was the choice at kicker even though others also seemed worthy. Josh Brown's accuracy from beyond 50 yards stood out, but Mare was also effective from that distance, and Mare led the division with 22 touchbacks, including 13 outdoors. Mare also overcame the pressure of having a rookie kicker on the roster all season, just in case he misfired.