SANTA CLARA -- OK, it may not be NaVorro Bowman's *favorite* holiday gift this season, but the 49ers inside linebacker can add "recognition from local media" to his Christmas haul. Bowman received most -- but not all -- of the votes for team MVP this season. Here's how the voting went:
Eric Branch, The San Francisco Chronicle
Without left tackle Joe Staley, the 49ers’ 32nd-ranked offense would rank 63rd (we know) and the 49ers’ injured-QB list would include Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert, Dylan Thompson, McLeod Bethel-Thompson and That Street Free Agent They Signed in Late November thanks to endless blindside sacks. Can you imagine that offensive line without a dependable left tackle? Staley said the Pro Bowl is a popularity contest after he earned his fifth straight nod, but he earned it by preventing a horrible situation from becoming historically hazardous.
Mindi Bach, CSN Bay Area
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To quote my son, "I'm confuzzled". I can't choose an MVP. Most Valuable Player is someone who cannot be, or is difficult, to replace. Many of the starters have already been replaced. Others are developing into key players, but the consistency is not yet there. That's an issue throughout the team. Nope. No MVP this season. This season MVP stands for "Missing a Valuable Player."
Chris Biderman, Niners Digest
NaVorro Bowman is the 49ers' unquestioned leader, helping a much younger roster absorb an entirely new defense. While he hasn't played up to his first-team All-Pro standards since his injury, he's still one of the hardest working and smartest players they have. After losing Patrick Willis, Justin Smith and a slew of others in the offseason, Bowman's return has been the biggest positive to come out of this miserable 49ers season.
Grant Cohn, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Aaron Lynch recorded six sacks in six home games, and is one of the few 49ers who could start on most teams. San Francisco can build its future around this guy.
Paul Gutierrez, ESPN
4-and-10ers MVP? The sideline worker who was brained by Colin Kaepernick by a wayward Kaepernick pass in the right ear: Look, Kaepernick's accuracy had been a question all season long...until he drilled that poor trainer/ballboy on the bench. Question answered, time to move on, even if it meant quashing #7tormsComing and jumpstarting #Gabber2Time. Wait, what? You were serious? OK, then NaVorro Bowman. Tied for leading the league in tackles in his first year back since suffering that horrific knee injury. Imagine how bad things would be without Bowman.
Cam Inman, The San Jose Mercury News
LB NaVorro Bowman: Making every start, playing almost every snap, sharing the NFL lead in tackles and valiantly attempting to fill the leadership void makes Bowman the no-doubt MVP (and a Pro Bowler). No, he doesn't have the same range or play-making prowess as he did prior to his January 2014 knee injury, but his inspiring presence and requisite production highlight the 49ers' otherwise appalling season. Also receiving consideration: K Phil Dawson, LT Joe Staley, NT Ian Williams, WR Anquan Boldin
Tim Kawakami, The San Jose Mercury News
NaVorro Bowman. Even if you don't always trust the accuracy of tackling stats (and I don't), Bowman is listed with 135 tackles--50 more than the next 49er defender--and that seems too conservative, actually. He isn't what he used to be, but the 49ers really, really, really, really aren't what they used to be.
Matt Maiocco, CSN Bay Area
It’s NaVorro Bowman, and it’s not even close. Major props to Bowman for returning from that grisly knee injury and fighting his way through a lot of physical discomfort, as well as the anguish being on a team that was not competitive for many games this season. Has Bowman returned to his pre-injury form? Of course not. But he still is around the top of the leaderboard in the NFL in tackles. And he might be the only true leader on this team.
Matt Barrows, The Sacramento Bee
NaVorro Bowman could get this honor based solely on the grit he showed in coming back from his knee injury, which went far beyond a run-of-the-mill ligament tear. But Bowman also has been a good inside linebacker this season, leading the team -- by a wide margin -- in tackles. What's more: He's one of the 49ers' few true leaders, both in voice and by example. For years the 49ers tried to paint Patrick Willis as the second coming of Ray Lewis. In many ways, Bowman is the better fit.