Willis near-unanimous pick for AP All-Pro team

PatrickWillis.jpgUPDATE: The Eagles have hired Bobby April as special-teams coordinator. Niners coach Mike Singletary interviewed April for the team’s vacant position on Tuesday. Singletary also interviewed Larry Mac Duff last week, after Singletary informed Al Everest he would not be retained for the 2010 season.

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Niners linebacker Patrick Willis was a nearly unanimous pick for The Associated Press All-Pro team, which was announced this morning. Willis received 49 of a possible 50 votes from a nationwide panel of sportswriters, which is a pretty incredible accomplishment.

 

Tennessee running back Chris Johnson was the only unanimous selection. Heck, even cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Darrell Revis, who finished one-two in the AP Defensive Player of the Year vote, received 48 votes apiece.

 

Willis was a first-team All-Pro pick as a rookie in 2007. Last year, he was a second-team selection. This season, he was also selected as a starter on the NFC Pro Bowl team.

(I was on the voting panel this season. And, yes, Willis most certainly received my vote.)

 

Niners tight end Vernon Davis also got my All-Pro vote. But he did not make the first or second team. Indianapolis‘ Dallas Clark was a first-team selection, while Antonio Gates was named to the second team.

 

Clark: 100 receptions (1st among tight ends) for 1,106 yards (2nd) and 10 TDs (2nd)

Gates: 79 receptions (4th) for 1,157 yards (1st) and eight TDs (tied for 3rd)

Davis: 78 receptions (5th) for 965 yards (5th) and 13 TDs (1st)

 

So, as you can see, reasonable and rational arguments can be made for each of those players. But what pushed it over the top for me in Davis‘ favor was his blocking. In my opinion, he was the best all-around tight end in the NFL in 2009. He was named as the starter for the NFC Pro Bowl team. Both Clark and Gates play in the AFC.

 

Punter Andy Lee, a Pro Bowl selection, was named second-team All-Pro, along with the Rams’ Donnie Jones. The Raiders’ Shane Lechler was a pretty clear-cut selection for the first team. He led the NFL in gross punting average 51.1 yards, as well as net 43.9.

 

Lee was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2007.

 

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The Associated Press All-Pro Team

 

FIRST TEAM
Offense
Quarterback: Peyton Manning, Indianapolis.
Running Backs: Chris Johnson, Tennessee; Adrian Peterson, Minnesota.
Fullback: Leonard Weaver, Philadelphia.
Tight End: Dallas Clark, Indianapolis.
Wide Receivers: Andre Johnson, Houston; Wes Welker, New England.
Tackles: Ryan Clady, Denver; Joe Thomas, Cleveland.
Guards: Steve Hutchinson, Minnesota; Jahri Evans, New Orleans.
Center: Nick Mangold, New York Jets.
Placekicker: Nate Kaeding, San Diego.
Kick Returner: Joshua Cribbs, Cleveland.


Defense
Ends: Jared Allen, Minnesota; Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis.
Tackles: Jay Ratliff, Dallas; Kevin Williams, Minnesota.
Outside Linebackers: Elvis Dumervil, Denver; DeMarcus Ware, Dallas.
Inside Linebacker: Patrick Willis, 49ers; Ray Lewis, Baltimore.
Cornerbacks: Charles Woodson, Green Bay; Darrelle Revis, New York Jets.
Safeties: Darren Sharper, New Orleans; Adrian Wilson, Arizona.
Punter: Shane Lechler, Oakland.

 

SECOND TEAM
Offense
Quarterback: Drew Brees, New Orleans.
Running Backs: Ray Rice, Baltimore; Steven Jackson, St. Louis.
Fullback: Le’Ron McClain, Baltimore.
Tight End: Antonio Gates, San Diego.
Wide Receivers: Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis; Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona.
Tackles: Michael Roos, Tennessee; Jake Long, Miami.
Guards: Logan Mankins, New England; Kris Dielman, San Diego.
Center: Andre Gurode, Dallas.
Placekicker: David Akers, Philadelphia.
Kick Returner: DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia.


Defense
Ends: Trent Cole, Philadelphia; Julius Peppers, Carolina.
Tackles: Darnell Dockett, Arizona; Haloti Ngata, Baltimore.
Outside Linebackers: Brian Cushing, Houston; LaMarr Woodley, Pittsburgh.
Inside Linebackers: David Harris, New York Jets; Jon Beason, Carolina.
Cornerbacks: Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland; Asante Samuel, Philadelphia, and Leon Hall, Cincinnati (tie).
Safeties: Brian Dawkins, Denver; Ed Reed, Baltimore, and Nick Collins, Green Bay (tie).
Punter: Andy Lee, 49ers, and Donnie Jones, St. Louis (tie).

 

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