The 2014 NFL season is over for the San Francisco 49ers, and most involved will probably want to forget the injury-riddled, drama-filled campaign.
While, unfortunately, many of the lows overshadowed the good that occurred, there were still some players who deserve accolades for their performances.
In the interest of staying positive, here are the 2014 team award winners.
Offensive MVP: Frank Gore
There weren’t many options on this side of the ball, but Gore slightly beats out Anquan Boldin for this honor.
In his 10th season in the league, Gore bucked the trend of running backs over 30 declining with another strong effort. His 1,106 yards rushing was good for ninth best in the NFL, and his five total touchdowns tied him for the team lead with Boldin.
Perhaps the most telling stat about how valuable Gore can be is that in the eight games he carried the ball 16 times or more, the 49ers were 7-1. On the flip side, San Francisco only won one game in which Gore carried the ball less than 16 times.
Now a free agent, Gore has said he’d like to come back in 2015, and it’s believed the 49ers are interested in having him return on a short-term deal.
Defensive MVP: Antoine Bethea
Bethea (who signed as a free agent this offseason) won the Bill Walsh Award which is given to the team’s MVP, so he’s an easy choice for most valuable on the defensive side.
In a season where only two defensive starters (Bethea and Justin Smith) suited up all 16 games, Bethea was the linchpin in a beat-up secondary that limited opposing quarterbacks to the fourth lowest passer rating in the league (79.5) and led the NFL in interceptions with 23.
As far as production, Bethea finished second on the 49ers in total tackles (85) and interceptions (four).
As he enters his second season in red and gold in 2015, Bethea will once again be depended on as being a mainstay on the back end of the defense.
Rookie of the year: Chris Borland
When Patrick Willis went down for the season with a toe injury, the 49ers suddenly found themselves very thin (and inexperienced) at inside linebacker. No one could have expected the impact Borland would make, showing a natural instinct for the position few possess.
Borland was a tackling machine for the 49ers, and finished with a team high 107 for the season. He also added a sack and two interceptions. He was rewarded for his play in November, by earning NFL defensive rookie of the month.
It will be interesting to see how the 49ers incorporate Borland next season if both Willis and NaVorro Bowman are back and healthy, but at worst he’ll provide much needed depth at the position.
Biggest Overachiever: Perrish Cox
Coming into 2014, Cox had one career interception and hadn’t started a game since 2010 with the Denver Broncos. Injuries hit the 49er secondary hard, however, and Cox was thrust into a prominent role as one of the team’s starting corners.
Cox would go on to start 14 games and play at a high level for most of the season, leading San Francisco with five interceptions.
Cox will be a free agent this offseason, and while he’d be a nice piece to have back, it’s doubtful the 49ers would break the bank for him.
Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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