Every year Pro Football Weekly hands out their midseason awards at the half way point, and they've been doing so for as long as I can remember. Last year's list was dominated by San Francisco defenders, yet this year you will have a hard time finding one 49er defender—no Patrick Willis, no NaVorro Bowman and no Dashon Goldson.
However, there are plenty of other defensive members from the NFC West to offset the snubbing of the 49ers. In all, three defensive players from the West made the cut—inside linebacker Daryl Washington, cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas.
The NFC West also had three offensive players grace PFW's list. Marshawn Lynch was one of the starting running backs, Mike Iupati was the starting left guard and Anthony Davis was the starting right tackle.
Andy Lee was the lone special teamer that made it from the West. Here are all the blurbs explaining why PFW made the choices they did. To see PFW's complete midseason team, click here.
RB Marshawn Lynch / Seahawks — Lynch’s “Beast Mode” style has set the tone for Pete Carroll’s physical Seahawks, who have held their own in a bruising NFC West. Always falling forward and rarely losing yards, Lynch is on pace to crack 1,500 rushing yards for the first time in his career, gaining a personal-best 97.9 yards per game.
ORT Anthony Davis / 49ers — Our choice as the first half’s top right tackle, Davis was selected six picks before OLG Mike Iupati in the first round of the 2010 draft and is a key cog in what might be the best run-blocking line in football. Davis could stand to improve as a pass protector but plays with a mean streak and epitomizes the 49ers’ violent style.
OLG Mike Iupati / 49ers — Iupati has become a stud inside during his second and third seasons, leading a 49ers run game that has had little trouble moving the chains against anyone. He’s not exactly fiery in his demeanor, but lets his play do the talking, mauling defenders and finishing his blocks. Though the Niners’ line hasn’t been great in pass protection, there’s little to knock on Iupati’s play.
ILB Daryl Washington / Cardinals — This third-year player has an incredible eight sacks on the season, a number that’s unheard of for inside linebackers. He has been no slouch in coverage either, with incredible speed and range. The Cardinals’ decision to sign him to a relatively cheap six-year extension ($32.5 million) in September looks like a great move.
CB Richard Sherman / Seahawks — A very tall, very physical press corner, Sherman declared himself “Optimus Prime” in challenging Calvin “Megatron” Johnson in Week Eight, and effectively limited the Lions’ top threat to 3-46-0 receiving. Sherman occasionally can have penalty problems, but this converted wide receiver plays with a swagger and is very tough to beat.
S Earl Thomas / Seahawks — Another huge part of the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” secondary, Thomas is a punishing hitter who also shows great range, rarely getting beaten over the top. He’s incredibly fast but also very strong for his size, and while his numbers haven’t been incredible, he has the tools to pile up interceptions in a hurry.
P Andy Lee / 49ers — A co-recipient of PFW’s 2011 Golden Toe award, Lee has continued to flip field position effectively despite dealing with a thumb issue this season. He kicks very well directionally, and has come through in pressure situations, as he did with a 66-yarder late in a Week Seven Thursday-night win over Seattle.
With that, let's take a look at other news links from around the NFC West.
Timothy Holland of RantSports.com asks what has happened to the Arizona Cardinals after starting 4-0?
Andrew Nordmeier of Bleacher Report debates whether Ken Whisenhunt should stay or go in 2013.
San Francisco 49ers
Cam Inman of the MercuryNews.com says the 49ers' defense is getting little respect from the media.
Joseph Akeley of Bleacher Report breaks down San Francisco's road to the playoffs.
Rich Cimini of ESPN.com takes an early look at the Seattle Seahawks as they prepare to take on the New York Jets.
Curtis Crabtree of ProFootballTalk.com reports on the Seahawks releasing wide receiver Charly Martin.
St. Louis Rams
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Chris Givens extra work with Sam Bradford has helped him make his mark.
Dan Gruchala of Bleacher Report breaks down Sam Bradford and the areas where Bradford must improve.
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