49ers MVP standings: Part II

Here’s the second installment of the 49ers team MVP standings. To read the first installment, click here.

  1. Vernon Davis: The best player on the team, but he isn’t even the leading receiver. That’s Michael Crabtree, who has been targeted 31 times by Alex Smith. Still, Davis has caught 4 touchdowns in just 22 targets, and he’s an elite blocker.
  2. NaVorro Bowman: The best linebacker in the NFL. He’s giving up a 43.3 QB rating on passes thrown his way – the best rating of all inside linebackers according to Pro Football Focus. And he’s tied for second in tackles with 34.
  3. Aldon Smith: 5 QB hits, 9 hurries and 4.5 sacks through 4 games. The only outside linebackers with more sacks are Clay Matthews (8) and DeMarcus Ware (5).
  4. Justin Smith: He’s still a brick wall against the run, but he hasn’t produced much pressure against quarterbacks so far this season – 6 QB hurries and zero sacks.
  5. Ahmad Brooks: Producing plenty of pressure: 2 sacks, 4 hurries and 7 QB hits. Brooks is establishing himself as one of the best outside linebackers in the NFL.
  6. Ray McDonald: Has played 97 percent of the defensive snaps this season. He’s not quite the run-stuffer Justin Smith is, but Ray McDonald has been a better pass rusher – 9 QB hurries and 1 sack.
  7. Patrick Willis: Has played 87 percent of the defensive snaps this season – the lowest percentage of Willis’ career. He almost never came off the field in seasons past. But Bowman, not Willis, has earned the right to be the one linebacker on the field for the 49ers’ dime defense. Willis is still a premier inside linebacker, though. He’s one of the best run-stoppers in the league. He almost never misses a tackle.
  8. Dashon Goldson: He gave up a touchdown against the Packers in the first game of the season, but since that game Goldson has given up a 41.5 QB rating when he’s been thrown at, according to Pro Football Focus. Also, Goldson has intercepted a pass and forced a fumble.
  9. Chris Culliver: Currently the best cornerback on the team. Quarterbacks have rarely thrown his way this season. Culliver’s been targeted just 12 times, and he’s given up 4 completions for 30 yards and no touchdowns.
  10. Alex Smith: Started the season with two very good games and followed them up with two not-so-good ones. He’s still struggling on third down, and he’s still taking too many sacks despite an improved offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, Smith faces pressure in the pocket just 23.9 percent of the time he drops back to pass. That’s the fourth best percentage in the NFL. But when he does face pressure, he gets sacked 37.5 percent of the time – more than any other QB in the NFL. On the positive side, Smith’s completing almost 80 percent of his passes if you factor in dropped passes and throwaways.

These ratings keep changing and I will come back to them, but I do want to point out that eight of the ten players on this list are defensive players, whatever that means.

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