Ten most valuable players in the NFC West

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  • This is just my opinion, feel free to list your own.

    Here are some guidelines for how I made this: I considered how much losing a player to injury would hurt his team, or how much pure value he brings through his level of play. I also forced myself to name at least one player from each franchise, kind of like the all-star game in baseball.

    #1: Russell Wilson - Easy call. Wilson is a present and future MVP candidate.
    #2: Colin Kaepernick - With Alex Smith traded, Kaepernick is now the player SF can least afford to lose.
    #3: Justin Smith - SF's defense kind of embarrassed itself after Smith got hurt last year. I knew he was good. I didn't know he was that good.
    #4: Chris Clemons - We've known for years that without Clemons, we're screwed. Then the got confirmation during the Atlanta game.
    #5: Earl Thomas - Without Thomas we are probably in big trouble, but until he misses a game, we won't know exactly how much.
    #6: Richard Sherman - Someone smart figured out that Sherman's 2012 performance was worth $16 million. That much value from a corner is ridiculous.
    #7: Chris Long - He's even better than Chris Clemons, but the Rams (tied for league lead in sacks) depend on him less.
    #8: Patrick Willis - He's on a HoF trajectory, though the 49ers could probably survive his absence.
    #9: Aldon Smith - He probably isn't as bad as he was after Justin Smith went down last year. He's not elite, but he's still a big time asset for SF.
    #10: Dave Zastudil - Arizona's present and future team MVP candidate. His name also kind of sounds like "Disasterville", which is pretty cool.
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  • Not one offensive lineman, interesting.
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  • Nor Running Back. The Niners without Gore would be hosed.

    And then there is Marshawn. The guy was only second in the entire league in rushing yards last year and much of Wilson's success came via play action and the dual threat read-option.
    Last edited by bestfightstory on Sat Jul 13, 2013 6:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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  • An MVP list without Rockhawks name on it?

    :roll:
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  • Wilson. has to be one, I'm a Hawks fan.
    2. Kaepernick. I may think he is a skeezer chasing douchebag wannabe hood rat religious fraud, but the guy can ball.
    3. Larry Fitzgerald. I am so curious to see how Palmer does with Larry.
    4. Jake Long. Can he be the difference for Bradford?
    5. Chris Long. I honestly should list the entire Rams D-line here. Anybody notice that the teams that beat us last year all had good d-lines in common?
    6. Earl Thomas.
    7. Sherm. I have always thought press corners get miscast as shut down corners, but I think Sherm is a shutdown corner miscast as a press corner. I think he is getting to where he could line up anywhere to take away one guy.
    8. Jim Harbaugh. I know, not a player, but without him the QB magic will end.
    9. Patrick Willis.
    10. Percy Harvin. He is going to open the offense for others.
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  • No Fitz?!?
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  • Stoned Cold wrote:Not one offensive lineman, interesting.


    That is the first thing I thought....I would have put Unger on the list.
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  • I love Russ, but without him we're still a playoff team.

    Marshawn has to be #1, and it isn't even really close IMO.
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  • Like others, my #1 and #2 are Wilson and Kaepernick. And since the Hawks and the Whiners are favorites to win the division, my top 10 MVP players in the NFCW will be top-heavy with those teams' players.

    1. Wilson - the Hawks are on the verge of something special... and MR. SPECIAL is invaluable in leading this team deep into the playoffs.
    2. Kaepernick - without Crabtree and with a stable of question marks in their WR corps for this year, Kaepernick must take the Whiners on his shoulders and carry them throughout the season. This year will tell us a LOT about Kaep and his leadership.
    3. Earl - he's the key to Sherman and Browner playing press coverage, not letting up the huge play and Pete's overall defensive scheme. The cupboard is bare behind Earl.
    4. Gore - without Gore, the Whiners will likely have no running game. He's a must to stay healthy this year for the Whiners to get to 10+ games in the win column.
    5. Miller - with no established back-up TE, the Hawks can ill afford to lose Zach Miller. The run game, the passing game and red zone offense would suffer.
    6. Marshawn - he's the team's identity. he'd be a huge loss from that perspective alone.
    7. Unger - the loss of the anchor of the Oline would be huge in both the running and passing game.
    8. Fitzgerald - who is Palmer to throw to if Fitz is lost for the season? They need Fitz to win at least 6 games this year
    9. Bradford - as Bradford goes this year, so go the Lambs. Their D is solid but they may struggle scoring points unless Bradford steps up his game.
    10. Justin Smith - with Crabtree gone, the Whners season will hinge of the stoutness of their D and Smith, when healthy, wins the Guinness Stout Man of the Year, hands down
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  • bestfightstory wrote:Nor Running Back. The Niners without Gore would be hosed.

    And then there is Marshawn. The guy was only second in the entire league in rushing yards last year and much of Wilson's success came via play action and the dual threat read-option.


    Lynch was third in the league in rushing last year.

    #1 - AP - 2,097 yds
    #2 - Alfred Morris, 1,613 yds
    #3 - Lynch, 1,590 yds

    But, Lynch could have been second in the league if it wasn't for the couple blowout wins we had at the end of the year were he only played in the first half of those games.
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  • Johnny wrote:
    bestfightstory wrote:Nor Running Back. The Niners without Gore would be hosed.

    And then there is Marshawn. The guy was only second in the entire league in rushing yards last year and much of Wilson's success came via play action and the dual threat read-option.


    Lynch was third in the league in rushing last year.

    #1 - AP - 2,097 yds
    #2 - Alfred Morris, 1,613 yds
    #3 - Lynch, 1,590 yds

    But, Lynch could have been second in the league if it wasn't for the couple blowout wins we had at the end of the year were he only played in the first half of those games.


    I stand corrected.
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  • Really Kaepernick #2?

    I think Gore is just as important to the 49ers offense as Lynch is to our offense... The only other team in the league last year that ran the ball as much as the Hawks did last year were the 49ers..

    My top ten list of NFC West players would have to look like this:

    1. Marshawn Lynch - He is the tone setter on our offense, He is what make our offense tough.
    2. Frank Gore - Same goes here about Lynch
    3. Russell Wilson - Without Wilson we are NOT a Super Bowl contender.
    4. Justin Smith - As the OP stated, Smith is the biggest key to success for the 49ers defense.
    5. Larry Fitz. - The guy is a stud and he has done it for years without a good QB, he is the Cards offense.
    6. Earl - He is a big part of the reason we can do some of the stuff that we do on defense.
    7. NaVorro Bowman - The guy is a great LB, and is better than PW right now. IMO.
    8. Clem - If we had Clem vs. the Falcons, We would've been playing the 49ers in the NFC Champ Game.
    9. Chris Long - Just because he is a relentless/high-motored player and I like those kinda guys.
    10. Max Unger - He was a big part of Russell's development last year, ever good QB needs a great Center.


    This was tougher than I expected, There were guys I left off the list like Richard Sherman, Patrick Willis, Russell Okung, Joe Staley, Daryl Washington, and many more, but I feel the top ten I picked are the most important players for their teams.

    I left Kaep off the list based on the fact that the 49ers went to the NFC Champ Game with Alex Smith the year before and then the Super Bowl the next, and Kaep only started 7 games last year.
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  • Yeah I don't see how Kaep is that valuable when Alex freakin Smith led the Niners to the NFC Championship game the year before.
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  • You know what, re-thinking this, I just might put Kaep at #1. Colt McCoy is that bad.
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  • 1. Russ
    2. Kap
    3. Justin Smith
    4. Brandon Mebane
    5. Calais Campbell
    6. Justin Long
    7. James Laurinaitis
    8. Okung
    9. Staley
    10. Earl Thomas

    The NFC West teams are built through their lines and front seven, and my list reflected that. As important as Lynch and Gore are, I don't think they're the same without the pro-bowlers up front.
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  • Lots of great mentions, Kip. I think Clem is underrated, but for me, Earl is the most important player on the defense. I'd put him top 5 in the division.
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  • Tical21 wrote:I love Russ, but without him we're still a playoff team.

    Marshawn has to be #1, and it isn't even really close IMO.


    Were you here year before last, when we had pretty much the same players as now but without Wilson? You remember T-Jack, right? No playoffs. Therefore, your premise is false and all conclusions based on it are also false.
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  • A couple follow up thoughts.

    Why no linemen? Hutch proved just how much of an impact losing a great lineman can have back in 2006, but I don't feel there is a single lineman in the division that is close to that level. Unger, Okung, and Staley are very good, but none of them are a can of whup'ass like Hutch and Walt were. Further, those older Seahawks teams had terrible O-line depth, whereas the 49ers and Seahawks have strong offensive lines with enviable depth. Lemuel Jeanpierre may not be an all-pro, but he's starter caliber. Paul McQuistan could handle left tackle if needed. The 49ers have depth too. Both teams have mobile QBs, which helps. In the case of Seattle, they have a QB who is almost better when forced to scramble.

    No running backs? Lynch almost made it, but I didn't include him because I think starting Michael could end up a blessing in disguise. Lynch is more rounded and tougher to bring down, and is a better athlete than a lot of people know. But Michael is one of the most explosive backs I've ever scouted and his upside is 2000 yard season territory. I think Turbin could probably start as well and do a solid job. Losing Lynch would make me nervous, but I'm not even sure it would be a bad thing. Frank Gore is 30 and was just okay in 2012. His backups aren't terrible, though they did disappoint last season. SF's running game is very good for a variety of reasons, but it's not particularly because of Frank Gore.

    No Fitz? Fitz had a terrible season in 2012. He was near the bottom of the NFL in yards per target after being near the top in yards per target catching passes from nearly the same QB group the year before. Maybe it was a fluke, and maybe if Palmer can somehow stay healthy we'll see a bounce back from Fitz. Fitz is 32 years old though (edit: turns 30 in August), and his body language last year might be summarized as "I'm tired." Maybe he's physically wearing down, or maybe what he's tired of is all the stupid shit he's had to deal with at QB. Arizona is pretty bad at WR beyond Fitz, but really, I expect Arizona to have a below average passing offense with Fitz or without him. Palmer doesn't have the arm to do the kind of vertical offense Arians insisted on at Pittsburgh and Indy. It could get ugly down there.

    I wanted to include Harvin; maybe I should have. A lot of smart people think he could be a catalyst. I left him off because we were FO's #1 offense last year without him.
    Last edited by kearly on Sun Jul 14, 2013 1:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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  • 1. Russell Wilson
    2. Justin Smith
    2a. Patrick Willis
    3. Colin Kaepernick
    4. Sam Bradford
    5. Darnell Dockett
    6. Earl Thomas
    7. Richard Sherman
    8. Mike Iupati
    9. James Laurinatis
    10. Frank Gore
    10a. Larry Fitzgerald
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  • GeekHawk wrote:
    Tical21 wrote:I love Russ, but without him we're still a playoff team.

    Marshawn has to be #1, and it isn't even really close IMO.


    Were you here year before last, when we had pretty much the same players as now but without Wilson? You remember T-Jack, right? No playoffs. Therefore, your premise is false and all conclusions based on it are also false.

    I know, 'cause none of our players have improved at all since 2011, besides:

    Chancellor
    Thomas
    Sherman
    Browner
    Wright
    Wagner
    our DE position
    our TE position
    Golden Tate
    addition of Harvin and Rice
    Lynch
    Turbin
    Michael

    But besides that it is pretty much the same thing.
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  • Fitz is 29 and will be 30 on Aug 31st. I think Fitzgerald may be the best wide receiver in the game and will continue to be one for the next 7 years . But Kolb , Hoyer , Skelton .. Jerry Rice would falter in that situation.
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  • 1. Wilson
    2. Kaepernick
    3. J. Smith
    4 Sherman
    5 Fitzgerald
    6 earl
    7 long
    8 okung
    9 bowan
    10 willis
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  • Very interesting list Kearly. I would throw Bouldin in there for SF. Because if they lost him on top of Crabtree they would be in trouble.
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  • I think a case could be made for Red Bryant. After he was put on IR in 2010, our defense completely fell off a massive cliff, it was putrid. Then of course he came back strong in 2011 and our defense followed. the 2012 season, the defense was obviously strong, but it did take a noticeable decline after Red was hit with his foot injury, and while it didn't keep him out, it kept him from giving his 100%

    I feel like so far Red has proven he can do everything asked of him at a high level...other than rush the passer.... But he makes up for it by making everybody around him much better
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  • The Radish wrote:An MVP list without Rockhawks name on it?

    :roll:


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  • GeekHawk wrote:
    Tical21 wrote:I love Russ, but without him we're still a playoff team.

    Marshawn has to be #1, and it isn't even really close IMO.


    Were you here year before last, when we had pretty much the same players as now but without Wilson? You remember T-Jack, right? No playoffs. Therefore, your premise is false and all conclusions based on it are also false.


    We also had no Wagner, no Irvin, lost Okung, Trufant, Moffit, Carpenter and Rice to IR among others - all players that played a significant amount of time this season - not to mention Jackson's pectoral injury which forced Charlie Whitehurst in for a game - that's basically a guaranteed loss right there (3 points against the Browns, I mean really?).

    Even still, we finished 7-9 and were still (long shot) playoff contenders until we lost against SF despite the lockout reduced offseason.

    We are a playoff team without Wilson, but we're a Superbowl contender with him.
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  • Tical21 wrote:I love Russ, but without him we're still a playoff team.

    Marshawn has to be #1, and it isn't even really close IMO.


    That was true last year. Not so anymore. If Russ goes down for more than a couple games the Hawks aren't going to the playoffs.
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  • The Radish wrote:An MVP list without Rockhawks name on it?

    :roll:


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  • I don't think Clemmons is as important as he was last season. Free agency changed that. I think the depth behind Lynch keeps him off the list too (or at least moves him down).
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  • EastCoastHawksFan wrote:Fitz is 29 and will be 30 on Aug 31st. I think Fitzgerald may be the best wide receiver in the game and will continue to be one for the next 7 years . But Kolb , Hoyer , Skelton .. Jerry Rice would falter in that situation.


    Thanks, serves me right for going by memory.
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  • If Lynch is so important, Why were the Hawks a .500 team halfway through last year, when Wilson hit his stride so did the Hawks? I love the attitude Lynch brings, but saying he is more important than the point guard is just being contrarian.

    Besides, If Lynch goes down, the Hawks are still a SB contender. If Wilson does, they are not.
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  • I would have the 4 starting Qbs in the top 4 spots.There is no other position that carries the responsibility of that position.Even the strongest teams are usually going to struggle with a backup
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  • Well, 3 starting qbs. Arizona kinda sucked regardless last year. We'll see if Palmer makes a difference.
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  • I'll give it a go, in no particular order

    • Russell Wilson
    • Colin Kaepernick
    • Sam Bradford
    • Justin Smith
    • Earl Thomas
    • Larry Fitzgerald
    • Marshawn Lynch
    • Chris Long
    • Aldon Smith
    • Richard Sherman

    Scottemojo wrote:If Lynch is so important, Why were the Hawks a .500 team halfway through last year, when Wilson hit his stride so did the Hawks? I love the attitude Lynch brings, but saying he is more important than the point guard is just being contrarian.

    Besides, If Lynch goes down, the Hawks are still a SB contender. If Wilson does, they are not.


    It's hard to make that distinction. Because Lynch came before Wilson. Would we have even been a .500 team without Lynch and only Wilson to begin with?

    Ultimately I opted to include Lynch for one particular reason. He is and has been, the embodiment of the philosophy of this team. Mora wanted more dirtbags. Carroll wanted to be more physical. But it took adding Lynch to bring that plan to life. More than any other player on the club, our identity and how we go about winning games is tied indelibly to Lynch's qualities.

    In that regard, I can't think of any other player in the division who has had that kind of impact on the organization. Outside of Bill Walsh, I can't think of one guy who meant more to the alignment of the franchise in the entire history of the division. Even today, Jerry Rice's qualities haven't left any lingering effect on the niners.

    I do think that this team is in a position to carry on that style without him. But it's taken a distinct effort to do so. As we stand here today, Lynch doesn't make the difference in wins and losses like Wilson does. But this team was floundering in the 4 to 5 win per season range before Lynch got here. A team completely adrift with no idea what kind of team it was going to be. And more than Wilson, Lynch has been responsible from breaking a 2+ decade reputation of being a soft/finesse organization and turning it 180 degrees into a fearsome/physical team literally the moment he walked in the door.

    Wilson is going to win more games. That's the nature of the impact of the QB position, as well as the quality he brings to it. But Lynch will have had a more lasting impact on the culture and identity of the team -- which should survive his playing days and beyond.
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  • Attyla the Hawk wrote:I'll give it a go, in no particular order

    • Russell Wilson
    • Colin Kaepernick
    • Sam Bradford
    • Justin Smith
    • Earl Thomas
    • Larry Fitzgerald
    • Marshawn Lynch
    • Chris Long
    • Aldon Smith
    • Richard Sherman

    Scottemojo wrote:If Lynch is so important, Why were the Hawks a .500 team halfway through last year, when Wilson hit his stride so did the Hawks? I love the attitude Lynch brings, but saying he is more important than the point guard is just being contrarian.

    Besides, If Lynch goes down, the Hawks are still a SB contender. If Wilson does, they are not.


    It's hard to make that distinction. Because Lynch came before Wilson. Would we have even been a .500 team without Lynch and only Wilson to begin with?

    Ultimately I opted to include Lynch for one particular reason. He is and has been, the embodiment of the philosophy of this team. Mora wanted more dirtbags. Carroll wanted to be more physical. But it took adding Lynch to bring that plan to life. More than any other player on the club, our identity and how we go about winning games is tied indelibly to Lynch's qualities.

    In that regard, I can't think of any other player in the division who has had that kind of impact on the organization. Outside of Bill Walsh, I can't think of one guy who meant more to the alignment of the franchise in the entire history of the division. Even today, Jerry Rice's qualities haven't left any lingering effect on the niners.

    I do think that this team is in a position to carry on that style without him. But it's taken a distinct effort to do so. As we stand here today, Lynch doesn't make the difference in wins and losses like Wilson does. But this team was floundering in the 4 to 5 win per season range before Lynch got here. A team completely adrift with no idea what kind of team it was going to be. And more than Wilson, Lynch has been responsible from breaking a 2+ decade reputation of being a soft/finesse organization and turning it 180 degrees into a fearsome/physical team literally the moment he walked in the door.

    Wilson is going to win more games. That's the nature of the impact of the QB position, as well as the quality he brings to it. But Lynch will have had a more lasting impact on the culture and identity of the team -- which should survive his playing days and beyond.

    Agreed. But the criteria of the OP was specifically about if a player was lost to injury, how would his loss affect the team's chances. That is not a historical issue, that is a 2013 issue. What Lynch did to establish the tenor of this team up to now is immaterial to how his loss would affect us in 2013. I think the addition of 2 running backs in this draft would insulate us far more than trotting out TJ or any other backup.
    I think this is a top 5 offense with Wilson, but a bottom 15 offense without. I can't say that about Lynch. Which is fine and good, think how a Vikings fan would have to unfortunately answer this question.
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  • Percy Harvin was arguably the best player in football when he was on the field last year and he can't even make a top 10 NFC West list??
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