The 49ers are halfway through their season. Today, I’ll give midseason awards for the best offensive and defensive players.
Best defensive player: Honorable mention – DT Justin Smith.
Justin Smith was the best defensive player in the NFL last season. This season, he’s more like the fourth or fifth best defensive tackle in the league.
He has zero sacks and 14 pressures. At the midpoint last season, he had five sacks and 37 pressures.
However, he regularly frees up Aldon Smith to get to the quarterback on the inside stunt, so Justin Smith creates more pressure than he’s credited for.
On top of that, he’s still one of the best run-stoppers in football. He’s made 20 “stops,” which Pro Football Focus defines as a tackle that results in an offensive failure. Smith’s “stop percentage” is 12 percent, which is one of the best percentages in the NFL.