Halfway through their season, the 49ers have enjoyed several standout performance on their way to a 6-2 start. With this in mind, 49ers.com picked the best of the best in terms of players, highlights and coaching decisions to date.
The choice here is Frank Gore. At age 30, Gore continues to produce at a high level and has been the team’s consistent bell cow during a recent five-game winning streak. The 49ers currently have the NFL’s No. 1 rushing attack, averaging 153 yards per game. San Francisco also leads the league with 15 rushing touchdowns – seven of those scores have come from Gore. The nine-year veteran has also been one of the team’s best blockers. Whether it’s blitz-pickups or springing perimeter blocks for his quarterback, Gore has been a valuable player in both the run and pass game. Most recently, Gore recorded back-to-back, two-rushing-touchdown games before the bye week. He currently has 146 carries for 618 rushing yards (4.2 yards per carry).
READ: Gore Goes Off in St. Louis
READ: Bowman, 49ers Defense Limit Rams
San Francisco’s much improved special teams units are led by C.J. Spillman, who also leads the 49ers with 11 special teams tackles, including seven solo stops. Spillman recorded 10 special teams tackles a season ago. The fifth-year pro is one of the best gunners in the NFL and is a difficult blocking assignment whenever the 49ers kick or punt the football. Spillman’s consistent play has allowed San Francisco’s coverage units to cut down the large kick returns that plagued the unit in 2012.
The 49ers entered 2013 with two new starters on defense.
Patrick Willis didn’t remember which hand he used to force Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis’ fumble in Week 8 – it was his right – but he did remember trying to block for Dan Skuta. The latter linebacker picked up the loose ball and ran it 47 yards into the end zone for the first touchdown of his five-year career. The sequence was also impactful because it put the Jaguars to bed for good. With so many moments to contend with – emerging cornerback
San Francisco’s longest play from scrimmage resulted in a 64-yard touchdown reception by
A perfect storm of events put rookie cornerback Darryl Morris in the right position to tackle Tennessee Titans punt returner Darius Reynaud at his own 11-yard line in Week 7. Reynaud would fumble the ball into the end zone, where Morris’ peer at the gunner position, veteran Kassim Osgood, fell on it for a touchdown. Consider that Morris, an undrafted free agent signee promoted from the practice squad on Sept. 24, had manned the gunner position just twice before all year long. His timing and tackle was so good that Jim Harbaugh said he looked like “an arrow going through snow.”
READ: Colin Kaepernick Returns to Running Ways
Kassim Osgood has stabilized the 49ers coverage units since he re-signed with the team on Sept. 11. The 11-year pro spent training camp with San Francisco but narrowly missed out on breaking as a member of the Opening Day 53-man roster. An injury to linebacker
I'm good. And I scream like no dude should ever scream lol my bad.— Joe Staley (@jstaley74) September 27, 2013
The 49ers head coach has been known to drop a quotable phrase or two during his time in San Francisco. Jim Harbaugh offered the most memorable quote of the year so far in an Oct. 7 press conference in Santa Clara. When discussing the ball-hawking ways of San Francisco’s ascending pass defense, Harbaugh compared it to what else, an olive jar. The quote foreshadowed the team’s defensive success during a five-game winning streak – 13 takeaways have led to nine touchdowns and five field goals.
“We’ve been kind of down on getting turnovers and sometimes things just kind of start breaking right for you. Kind of like the olive jar. Everybody’s familiar with the olive jar… You open it up and a brand new can of olives and turn it over and no olives come out. They’re packed in there so darn tight, but if you just get one to come out, just pluck one out of there and then they want to come out, they’re just flying out of the jar. So, hopefully that’s the case for us defensively. You just wonder, are you ever going to get a turnover, or interception or fumble and how can we get one. Then you get one and then you get, then they start flying your way. So hopefully that’s where we’re at.”
READ: 49ers Pass Defense Ranked No. 2 in NFL
You read our picks, now it’s your turn. Share your mid-season award selections in the comments section.