The awards keep piling up at 49ers headquarters.
On Friday, the Associated Press named five 49ers to its All-Pro first team, the most of any organization in the NFL.
“We’re always happy for the guys’ success,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “I think what it says is that a rising tide lifts all ships. We’re happy for them.”
Though he wasn’t voted to the NFC Pro Bowl team as a starter or reserve, Bowman’s stellar season didn’t go unnoticed by the AP voting panel, which is comprised of 50 sportswriters nationwide. The second-year player made quite the impact in his first season as a starter, leading the 49ers and ranking seventh in the NFL with 143 tackles.
Bowman was grateful toward the 49ers front office, who gave him an opportunity to start despite being a young talent. As of Friday afternoon, Bowman said the news hadn’t sunk in yet, but that he was proud to see his hard work get recognized.
“For me to accomplishment means a lot,” Bowman said. “But I’m definitely going to keep working harder and be the best linebacker I can be.”
For Bowman, Akers, Lee and Smith, it marks the first time they have been named to the All-Pro first team. But for Willis, it marked the fourth time in five years that he has been named to the first team.
This year’s selection was even more special for the 49ers defensive captain, as he and Bowman proved to be the top sideline-to-sideline linebacker duo in the league.
“I’ve been Bo’s biggest fan since day one,” Willis said. “We were both roommates during training camp and I’ve got to know him a whole lot. … He’s like a brother to me. To see him get that only makes me excited.”
After their record-setting seasons, perhaps it’s no surprise that Akers and Lee were voted to the first team. Lee set the NFL single-season record for net punt average (43.99 yards per attempt), while Akers accounted for 166 points and 44 field goals, setting new single-season marks in NFL history.
True to form, Akers didn’t want to spend much time talking about himself.
“In my position you can’t do it without the line, the snap and the hold,” Akers said. “Literally, I’m just the last piece of that puzzle. Though you get the credit a lot of the times, it’s completely team-oriented.”
Smith was the lone player to be voted to both the Associated Press All-Pro first and second teams, something that was well-received by the 49ers.
“It’s unique,” Harbaugh said. “The fellows got a chuckle out of that when I announced it to them.”
“I’m good,” Walker said. “I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to get back healthy again.”
Walker was evaluated on Wednesday and has been cleared to do conditioning and light work. The versatile veteran, who is also a key special teams player, was on a liquid diet for two weeks but can eat soft foods now.
Walker still has wires in his mouth as a precautionary measure and said he didn’t suffer a concussion during the play when his helmet was knocked off and he was kneed in the head.
“It was just a freak accident,” Walker said.