- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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I thought NaVorro Bowman deserved to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.
But I didn’t think he’d win. I didn’t think Luke Kuechly would win, either, though. Saturday’s announcement that Kuechly -- Carolina’s star inside linebacker -- won the award over Bowman surprised me.
I thought Indianapolis pass-rusher Robert Mathis, who had 19.5 sacks, was going to win the award. It’s tough for a player like Bowman, an inside linebacker for the 49ers, to win the award. But to see Kuechly get the award over Bowman is strange.
Kuechly is a wonderful player. But Bowman had a better season. In my opinion, the voters gave the award to the wrong inside linebacker.
And the fact that the Associated Press reported that Bowman wasn’t one of the six players to get a vote is stunning and, in my opinion, ridiculous.
Bowman dominated every game he played in; including the NFC title game in which he suffered a major knee injury on a play he stripped the ball away at the goal line.
Kuechly had 156 tackles. But Bowman had 143 tackles and he had 118 solo tackles, which was more than Kuechly. Plus, Bowman had five sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions, one he returned 89 yards for a touchdown to seal the 49ers' playoff-clinching win.
Again, I have no problem with Kuechly. But if an inside linebacker was going to win this year, it needed to be Bowman.
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