Wednesday, November 7, 2012
All-NFC West midseason team
By Mike Sando
» NFC Midseason Teams: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South
A few NFC West thoughts as we roll out all-division teams across the ESPN.com divisional blogs:
Tough call: Alex Smith edges Russell Wilson at quarterback based on a stronger start to the season and his nearly perfect game against Arizona in Week 8. Wilson is gaining ground and looks like he could become the best quarterback in the NFC West quickly. He already has a better feel for the pocket. I'll be surprised, at this rate, if Wilson isn't the choice for the season-ending all-division team. There is still time for Sam Bradford to factor in as well.
Laying it on the line: The defensive lines were difficult to classify by specific position. Players with bodies suited to play 4-3 defensive tackle are playing defensive end for Arizona, San Francisco and Seattle. I went with the four best defensive linemen with less regard for position. That left only three spots at linebacker. Aldon Smith deserves consideration. I favored three top inside linebackers, including the Cardinals' Daryl Washington.
Free over strong: Two free safeties made the list. The 49ers' Dashon Goldson hits almost like a linebacker. Earl Thomas was the other choice, even though the Cardinals' Kerry Rhodes made a strong push early in the season. Rhodes' sack and forced fumble helped put away Philadelphia. Arizona has faltered and Rhodes missed a game. Thomas is the defensive player Seattle's opponents single out most frequently for his instincts and range.
Coverage ace: The 49ers' C.J. Spillman is usually a good choice as top special-teams coverage player. Seattle's Heath Farwell gets the call this time. The Seahawks have credited him with five tackles and five assisted tackles on special teams.
Two halfbacks here: Seattle's Michael Robinson and San Francisco's Bruce Miller would be good choices at fullback. I went with two halfbacks. Marshawn Lynch would be the choice over Frank Gore. I kept both for the value they provide their teams, with or without a fullback leading the way.