San Francisco 49ers

Does German-born 49ers special teamer deserve a Pro Bowl nod? ‘Yeah, sure. Why not?’

49ers outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha (53) is crowded by Detroit Lions players during a game Sept. 16 at Levi’s Stadium. Nzeocha leads all NFC special teams players in Pro Bowl votes as of Wednesday’s count.
49ers outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha (53) is crowded by Detroit Lions players during a game Sept. 16 at Levi’s Stadium. Nzeocha leads all NFC special teams players in Pro Bowl votes as of Wednesday’s count. AP

It’s expected that Kyle Juszczyk, who went to the last two Pro Bowls, would receive the most votes from fans among NFC fullbacks as the NFL released voting results this week.

What wasn’t expected was another member of the 49ers being atop the list at their respective positions. And no, it’s not a notable player like Richard Sherman, Joe Staley, DeForest Buckner or George Kittle.

It’s backup linebacker Mark Nzeocha.

“It was really cool to see,” a beaming Nzeocha said at his locker on Thursday.

Nzeocha received 73,391 votes as of Wednesday to lead all NFC special teams players (non kickers, punters or return specialists).

The bulk of his votes have come from his native Germany. The NFL’s official Twitter account in Germany, with some 42,600 followers, has been pushing support of Nzeocha.

He is second on the 49ers with five special teams tackles, behind only Raheem Mostert, who hasn’t played since fracturing his arm Nov. 1 against the Raiders.

Nzeocha is a native of Neusitz, Germany. His parents and two brothers still live there. He tries to visit once each offseason.

He was asked if he thinks he deserves to go to Orlando, Fla., for the game in February.

“Yeah, sure. Why not? I’ve been playing fairly well this year, so yeah,” he said.

Nzeocha is one a small group of NFL players born in Germany, along with brother Eric, who’s currently on Tampa Bay’s practice squad, and cornerback Ryan Smith, who’s also with the Buccaneers. Defensive end Kasim Edebali is with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I know a majority of those votes come from back home in Germany,” Nzeocha said. “And that’s just really cool to see the support I have from back home, and everyone (is voting for me), which I appreciate a lot.”

Goodwin back at the facility – Receiver Marquise Goodwin, who left the team in Tampa Bay over the weekend to head to the Bay Area to address a personal matter, returned to the team facility Thursday to speak with club officials about his excused absence.

Goodwin didn’t practice, however, and there doesn’t appear to be a set timeline for his return to the team. It’s unlikely he plays on Sunday in Seattle without practicing this week.

Armstead shows up on injury report – Defensive lineman Arik Armstead was a limited participant in practice Thursday after suffering an apparent back injury. Nose tackle Earl Mitchell was given the day off. Rookie defensive back D.J. Reed, who’s been ruled out for Sunday’s game, was the only other player who didn’t practice.

Also limited: RB Matt Breida (ankle), WR Pierre Garcon (knee), G Joshua Garnett (thumb), CB Greg Mabin (thigh), LB Mark Nzeocha (thigh), C Weston Richburg (knee), LB Malcolm Smith (achilles), S Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder).

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