NFC West: Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
We have a problem at running back in putting together our all-NFC West team for 2008.
I'm inclined to give Gore the edge given that his team won more games, but regular contributors to this blog know it's not that simple. Let's open the subject for discussion, not just at running back but for the other positions.
I've penciled in players who seemed to qualify as easy choices, either through their own efforts or by default. The offensive linemen played the specific listed positions this season, although Floyd Womack moved to left guard later in the season.
Walter Jones would be my choice at left tackle, but I know we have some Joe Staley fans out there. Orlando Pace looked good in a couple of late-season games, at least from what I saw. John Carlson and Vernon Davis would be the candidates at tight end.
Parys Haralson, Leroy Hill, Pisa Tinoisamoa and Takeo Spikes might qualify as candidates for that third linebacker spot. Marcus Trufant and Nate Clements could be in contention for that second cornerback spot. Ron Bartell played well late in the season.
All four kickers in the division showed good accuracy. Olindo Mare had 22 touchbacks, easily the most in the division.
Josh Brown made 6 of 8 field-goal tries from 50 yards or longer, best in the division. He also averaged better than 68 yards per kickoff, another division best.here are the players we considered earlier in the season. I'll weigh the arguments and put together a team that most of us can hopefully live with.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The chart shows our midseason all-NFC West team, as determined after a fairly spirited conversation.
It's time to consider changes for the mythical NFC West end-of-season all-star team. Most of the potential changes I anticipate making would be on the defensive side:
- Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney hasn't played enough to hold that spot on the left side. We can consider the Rams' Leonard Little. I might consider plugging Cardinals outside linebacker Chike Okeafor into that spot.
- Seattle's Leroy Hill has also struggled to stay healthy. The Rams' Pisa Tinoisamoa has come on strong later in the season. We need to consider the 49ers' Parys Haralson in some capacity.
- In the secondary, Cardinals rookie cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie deserves a look. I could argue for putting him on the list at Nate Clements' expense.
- On special teams, Seattle's Josh Wilson has about 50 percent more kick returns than the 49ers' Allen Rossum. Rossum has the higher average. Does Wilson deserve consideration?
We could always tweak the position names to help recognize deserving players.
Creating two generic spots for offensive tackles might help Joe Staley join the all-division team.
Creating a tight end position could help Vernon Davis (49ers) or John Carlson (Seahawks) move onto the list.
We'll put together the final team in the next couple weeks. I don't like naming all-star teams while seasons are in progress. The final two games could influence our thinking.