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Justin Smith Is Finally On The Radar

by Eric Tellez ***31 Jan 2010*** nflpressbox@gmail.com

Defensive lineman Justin Smith was added to the NFC PRO-BOWL Roster as a late replacement for Kevin Williams of the Minnesota Vikings. Smith had 6 sacks, 90 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries for the 'Niners this season.

Smith has been with the 49ers since 2008 when he signed a 6-year contract after playing with the Cincinnati Bengals since 2001. Last season, Smith contributed 7 sacks, 73 tackles, and one interception. He has also started every game since 2002.

OK, those are the numbers. But here's what has me excited about the selection.

It's a well-known fact that when the awards and accolades are given it is the teams that are winning that get the lions share. There will always be players that go unnoticed and unrewarded because their team doesn't attract the same attention. I was afraid that Justin Smith was going to be one of those guys.

Ever since Smith arrived in San Francisco he has been a dominate anchor on the defensive line making the key tackle, tying-up multiple blockers, and tracking down running plays from behind. The television commentator says "Justin Smith on the tackle" and then continues to praise Patrick Willis or compare the play to something Dana Stubblefield would have done in the past. Meanwhile, where's Justin Smith? Knocking down a pass and forcing a punt on 3rd-and-long.

Having Justin Smith named to the Pro Bowl is showing that the league is paying attention even if you couldn't tell by reading the news releases. I don't even know if a Justin Smith football card even exists at the moment! (Note to TOPPS, I expect 2 next year; 1 regular, 1 All-Star.)

Having 5 'Niners in the Pro Bowl is outstanding for an 8 win team. But look at the names; Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Justin Smith, Andy Lee. All young players, all the future of this team. The 49er's are getting respect nationally and it's only going to get better.

***Sorry for the delay, had to sit-out a week after surgery. I'll be back with regular updates as I get back to normal. Email me at nflpressbpx@gmail.com to talk sports anytime! Et


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