The end of the season is disappointing for every team but one in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean the San Francisco 49ers did not have a great season. A lot of teams would take a 12-4 record and a loss in the conference championship which is what the team accomplished in 2013. Along the way, a number of players stood out as top performers. Below, these individuals are recognized.
Offensive Player of the Year: Anquan Boldin
When Michael Crabtree was lost for most of the season with an injury, the newest edition to the San Francisco receiving corps was forced to step up. Boldin, who was once a dominant threat with the Arizona Cardinals, had seen his production slip in three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. He failed to break 1,000 yards receiving in 2010-2012, after achieving that mark in five of seven seasons in Arizona. Boldin not only proved he could still perform at a high level, but showed he can still be a number-one option.
Boldin led the 49ers in targets (129), receptions (85) and receiving yards (1,179). He accounted for 37 percent of Colin Kaepernick‘s passing yards and was vital to the team’s third down success. He led the NFL in 3rd down receptions (33), receiving yards (529), and first downs (27). He also caught 75 percent of his third down targets, which was tied for the best catch percentage in the NFL for any receiver with a minimum of 20 targets.
Defensive Player of the Year: Navorro Bowman
Bowman was not only the best player on the 49ers’ defense, he may have been the best defensive performer in the entire NFL. Bowman was dominant in 2013, racking up 145 tackles to go along with 5.0 sacks. He forced six turnovers (four fumbles and two interceptions) and his 89-yard interception return for a touchdown in Week 16 may have been the biggest play for the 49ers all season. He was named Defensive Player of the Month for his performance in December. During that time he was the only player in the last 20 years to record at least 45 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, an interception return for a touchdown, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in one calendar month.
Rookie of the Year: Eric Reid
A lot was expected of Reid, who the 49ers traded up to get in the 2013 NFL draft. He was set to replace two-time Pro Bowler Dashon Goldson after the free safety left San Francisco in free agency to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite the lack of experience and pressure to perform, Reid looked like a seasoned veteran from Week 1. He finished second on the team with four interceptions and defended 11 passes. He also finished third with 77 tackles which was third behind only Bowman and Patrick Willis.
Team MVP: Frank Gore
While a case can be made for Boldin or Bowman for team MVP, no one else meant as much to the 49ers as Gore. After back-to-back losses in Weeks 2 and 3, the Niners looked as if they had lost their way on offense. They only managed 10 points over the two games and appeared to have abandoned the power running game that carried them in previous seasons under Jim Harbaugh.
Like any good coach, Harbaugh made an adjustment and put the ball back in the hands of his most important player. Gore, who only had 20 total carries during the mini losing streak, became to focal point of the offense yet again and helped carry the team to five straight wins. During the streak, he averaged 21 carries for 95 yards and scored six touchdowns. For the season, he finished ninth in the NFL with 1,128 yards rushing and was irreplaceable in pass blocking situations. Gore was in pass protection 160 times this season and only allowed one quarterback hit and just three pressures. He did not allow any sacks.
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