Patrick Willis is a 49ers team captain, but the man playing next to him may be the 49ers’ MVP this season. Observers who go on the road to cover the team were asked to pick the player they think is most deserving of the honor and to supply a short argument as to why that is so.
Four picked inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who is currently fourth in the NFL with 120 tackles. Will the 49ers’ players agree? They’ll vote for the winner of the Bill Walsh Award – given to the team’s MVP – in the coming weeks.
Smith is the gritty ambassador of a defense-driven team, representing the ability to power past opponents and help teammates in need. We all saw how valuable Smith was a year ago, when his arm injury handicapped the defense. He looks like he’s at full strength again. Smith is the defense’s true captain, letting his actions speak for him, though apparently he had a gem of a rallying cry against the Seahawks. If stats are your thing, consider that Smith overwhelmingly leads the defense with 73 quarterback pressures and 49 quarterback hits. A distant second behind those marks is Ray McDonald (42 pressures, 28 hits).