San Francisco 49ers: 4 Underrated Players You Should Get to Know

Matt SmithContributor IIIOctober 20, 2011

San Francisco 49ers: 4 Underrated Players You Should Get to Know

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    If I had told you after last year's final regular season game that the San Francisco 49ers would be leading the division, you probably would have believed me.

    After all, the division was supposed to produce a leader with less than nine wins, correct? 

    Wrong.

    The 49ers have been one of the best teams in all of football and, providing they keep on pace, could lock up a first round bye come playoff time.

    So who should we credit for this turn around? Well, you could point to Jim Harbaugh, a Coach of the Year front-runner, or you could point to Alex Smith, a Comeback Player of the Year candidate.

    But there are more people than those who deserve credit for this brilliant turn around.

    These four underrated players all share a big role in making sure the 49ers stay on track for that playoff spot they long for. 

Aldon Smith, LB

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    Aldon Smith is first in the NFL in sacks for a rookie with 5.5. Von Miller is second with five.

    However, Smith has not played the amount of snaps that Miller has.

    In fact, the first-round pick out of Missouri has only played 200 snaps at linebacker this season, good for fourth on his team. The linebacker with the third most snaps has played double his amount, 400.

    Smith is leading his team in sacks while still not owning a starting role.

    That should change soon.

NaVorro Bowman, LB

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    It's quite obvious that Patrick Willis is the 49ers' best linebacker. In fact, he's likely the best MLB in the league.

    But who has the most tackles on his team? NaVorro Bowman.

    Bowman has been a tackle machine, recording 56 tackles—five of which are for a loss—in addition to a fumble recovery and three passes defensed.

    Between Willis, Bowman and Smith, the 49ers seem to have a great, young linebacker corps. 

Delanie Walker, TE

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    In reality, this is a shout-out to both Walker and Vernon Davis.

    Though the 49ers have struggled mightily with injuries to key receivers, the tight ends have helped pick up the slack.

    Of Alex Smith's eight TD passes, six have gone to Davis and Walker (three apiece).

    When trailing or tied, Walker and Davis have combined for 25 catches for 276 yards and four TDs. That's compared to 10 catches for 109 yards and two TDs when winning.

    Walker is the lesser known of the two, and for good reason. I understand that Walker did have a pretty bad dropped TD pass.

    But these two tight ends have helped pick up the slack left by injuries.

Carlos Rogers, CB

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    At 30 years old, Carlos Rogers is getting on the older side of the NFL playing age.

    However, he's shown no signs of slowing down.

    If you remember, the 49ers were in hot pursuit of Nnamdi Asomugha, but started dropping out of the sweepstakes along with other teams. Their consolation prize? Carlos Rogers.

    Rogers has fit in well with a much improved San Francisco defense and has been great for the 49ers.

    Through six games, the former Redskin has 15 solo tackles, two tackles for a loss, three interceptions (one for a TD) and eight passes defensed.

    From a general NFL perspective, not many are talking about Carlos Rogers, but he deserves to be.

    Rogers will have a road game against his former team on Nov. 6.