49ers land nine players in Pro Bowl

AP File PhotoHawaii-bound: The physical play of the 49ers’ Aldon Smith

AP File PhotoHawaii-bound: The physical play of the 49ers’ Aldon Smith

The defense of the 49ers has been the backbone of the team’s success for the past two seasons, and Wednesday, it was handsomely rewarded.

San Francisco led all NFL teams with nine players selected to the Pro Bowl team, including six from the league’s second-ranked defense.

Outside linebacker Aldon Smith, defensive end Justin Smith, middle linebacker Patrick Willis, free safety Dashon Goldson and strong safety Donte Whitner were all selected as starters, and middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman was chosen as a backup to Willis.

“It says a lot about the team, and how many guys are really playing at a high caliber and how many guys [we have] that just play at an elite level,” said Aldon Smith, who is currently second in the NFL with 19½ sacks.

Willis has become a regular in Hawaii, becoming the first 49ers player to make it to the Pro Bowl in each of his first six seasons in franchise history.

The six players have played major roles in helping the 49ers allow the third-fewest points per game in the NFL (17.3 points) and second-fewest yards per game (296.5).

On the offensive side of the ball, offensive lineman Joe Staley and Mike Iupati were pegged as starters, while running back Frank Gore, in the midst of his sixth 1,000-yard rushing season, will be a reserve for his fourth trip to the Pro Bowl.

Among the 49ers’ nine players honored, Bowman, Iupati, Aldon Smith and Whitner will be making their first appearance.
For Whitner, it was extra sweet after coming close a couple of times previously in his seven-year career.

“It’s a long time coming,” Whitner said. “I was alternate once in Buffalo and I was an alternate last year here. So that’s not really a good feeling. But actually making it, actually being recognized by your peers, coaches and teammates as a player that deserves to be in the game, it actually, feels great.”

After the 49ers’ nine picks, the next closest teams were the Houston Texans with eight selections and the New England Patriots with seven.

The Pro Bowl will be played ?Jan. 27 in ?Honolulu.

49ersNFLSan Francisco 49erssports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Construction in the Better Market Street Project between Fifth and Eighth streets is expected to break ground in mid-2021.<ins></ins>
SFMTA board to vote on Better Market Street changes

Agency seeks to make up for slimmed-down plan with traffic safety improvements

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

From left, Natasha Dennerstein, Gar McVey-Russell, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Jan Steckel and Miah Jeffra appear in Perfectly Queer’s fifth anniversary reading on Jan. 20.<ins> (Courtesy photo)</ins>
Perfectly Queer reading series celebrates fifth anniversary

Online event features five writers, games, prizes

(Robert Greene/Tribune News Service)
As tensions grow over vaccinations and politics, California lawmakers face threats from public

Anti-vaccine speakers hint at gun violence during routine budget hearing at state Capitol

Most Read