49ers, Raiders well-represented at Pro Bowl


49ers, Raiders well-represented at Pro Bowl

The 49ers and Raiders will be well-represented at the 2012 Pro Bowl. Players were announced Tuesday for the 43-man rosters for the AFC and NFC squads.

San Francisco placed eight players on the roster: Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Joe Staley, Andy Lee, David Akers and Carlos Rogers as starters, with Frank Gore and Dashon Goldson as reserves.

Willis is the first 49ers player to make it to the Pro Bowl in each of his first five seasons. He ranks second on the team with 115 tackles, with two sacks, one interception, a career-high four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 12 passes defensed.

RELATED: 49ers to send eight to Pro Bowl Three Raiders honored as Pro Bowlers

Oakland will send a three players to the game, led by kicker Sebastian Janikowski. Also selected for the Raiders were Richard Seymour and Shane Lechler.

Janikowski is the Raiders' all-time leading scorer with 1,257 points. Last season he was named a Pro Bowl alternate. He tied an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal just before the halftime in the 2011 season opener at Denver. Janikowski connected on a team-record six field goals on Nov. 27.

Safety Tyvon Branch, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, running back Darren McFadden and fullback Marcel Reece have been named Pro Bowl alternates for the Raiders.

The game is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 29 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

Tom Brady, New England
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh
Philip Rivers, San Diego
Ray Rice, Baltimore
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville
Arian Foster, Houston
Vonta Leach, Baltimore
Wes Welker, New England
Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh
A.J. Green, Cincinnati
Brandon Marshall, Miami
Rob Gronkowski, New England
Antonio Gates, San Diego
Joe Thomas, Cleveland
Jake Long, Miami
D'Brickashaw Ferguson, N.Y. Jets
Logan Mankins, New England
Brian Waters, New England
Marshal Yanda, Baltimore
Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh
Nick Mangold, N.Y. Jets

Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis
Andre Carter, New England
Elvis Dumervil, Denver
Haloti Ngata, Baltimore
Vince Wilfork, New England
Richard Seymour, Oakland
Terrell Suggs, Baltimore
Von Miller, Denver
Tamba Hali, Kansas City
Ray Lewis, Baltimore
Derrick Johnson, Kansas City
Darrelle Revis, N.Y. Jets
Champ Bailey, Denver
Johnathan Joseph, Houston
Ed Reed, Baltimore
Eric Weddle, San Diego
Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh

Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
Matthew Slater, New England

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Drew Brees, New Orleans
Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia
Matt Forte, Chicago
Frank Gore, 49ersFULLBACK
John Kuhn, Green Bay
Calvin Johnson, Detroit
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
Steve Smith, Carolina
Greg Jennings, Green Bay
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta
Jason Peters, Philadelphia
Joe Staley, 49ers
Jermon Bushrod, New Orleans
Jahri Evans, New Orleans
Carl Nicks, New Orleans
Davin Joseph, Tampa Bay
Ryan Kalil, Carolina
Scott Wells, Green Bay

Jared Allen, Minnesota
Jason Babin, Philadelphia
Jason Pierre-Paul, N.Y. Giants

INTERIOR LINEMAN Justin Smith, 49ers
Jay Ratliff, Dallas
B.J. Raji, Green Bay
DeMarcus Ware, Dallas
Clay Matthews, Green Bay
Lance Briggs, Chicago
Brian Urlacher, Chicago
Charles Woodson, Green Bay
Carlos Rogers, 49ers
Charles Tillman, Chicago
Earl Thomas, Seattle
Dashon Goldson, 49ers
Adrian Wilson, Arizona

Patrick Peterson, Arizona
Corey Graham, Chicago

Denotes starter

Melifonwu back at Raiders practice, designated to return off IR


Melifonwu back at Raiders practice, designated to return off IR

ALAMEDA – Obi Melifonwu participated in a Raiders practice Tuesday afternoon, his first session in months.

The second-round safety has been on injured reserve all season and hasn’t done football activities of any kind since suffering a knee injury in a preseason game in Dallas.

He had arthroscopic knee surgery and was put on the shelf for the season’s first half. Melifonwu's professional career barely started and then quickly stopped. That's why Wednesday's practice was such a big deal. 

“It was awesome to get back out there, finally,” Melfonwu said. “It’s been a while. It was beyond fun to just be out there and practice with the team."

He nearing a return to game action. That’s why the Raiders designated him to return off injured reserve. Wednesday marks the start of a three-week practice window where the Raiders can decide whether to put him on the 53-roster.

He’s expected to do so when eligible. Melifonwu was first able to practice this week, and can join the 53-man roster after Week 8. His NFL debut could come in Week 9 at Miami.

He can't wait, especially because he's physically ready now. 

"I feel 100 percent," Meilfonwu said. I feel fine."

The Raiders still struggle covering the aforementioned skill players, using young linebackers or an undersized safety against those guys. The Raiders have given up the most yards to tight ends and running backs in the NFL this season. Melifonwu was drafted to help cover tight ends and running backs right away in sub packages, with a long-term eye on a full-time starting spot.

"I bring versatility, and I think I’m a guy who can fit into a lot of different spots," Melifonwu said. "Wherever the coaches need me to fit and help the team win, I’m all for it."

He has missed significant development time while out. He also missed most of training camp with an apparent ankle injury. The team hopes he can be ready to contribute when eligible despite missing so much time. The downtime was difficult, but Melifonwu now hopes to hit the ground running.

"It was definitely tough," he said. "As a competitor, you always want to be out there helping your team win. As a guy who hasn’t been hurt, it was pretty tough. It comes with playing football. I’m just glad to be out there now."

Bowman out to prove something with Raiders: 'I have a lot of juice left'

Bowman out to prove something with Raiders: 'I have a lot of juice left'

NaVorro Bowman hasn’t been a Raider long. The inside linebacker visited the team’s training complex Monday morning, signed a one-year, $3 million contract that afternoon and was on the practice field a few hours later.

Bowman’s in something of a rush. His new team plays the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night. Bowman plans to face them.

That’ll take a crash course in Raiders defense. There’s new terminology to learn and roles to master, even if he hones on a specific package.

It won’t be easy. Even a perfect week might come up short with but one real practice in an incredibly quick turnaround.

It’s rational to think he won’t be ready, fair to give him two weeks practice before a Raiders debut.

That’s not the tack he’ll take.

“Hey,” Bowman said, with a wry smile. “I’m going to show you something.”

He understands the situation. The Raiders are 2-4, in desperate need of an AFC West win. A loss might put the Raiders too far down to rebound. The four-time All-Pro knows he’s needed, and believes he can help if he can get some scheme down.

“It’ll take a lot of hours, a lot of studying, a lot of repeating the same words and things like that,” Bowman said after Monday’s walk-through. “It’s part of being a good football player. You have to put the time in. It doesn’t come easy.

“I’m the guy to do it. I won’t let them down. I’ll put the work in that’s needed to be done.”

Immersing in brand new can be a cleansing process. Bowman left the only NFL team he’s ever known Friday when the 49ers cut him loose. He wanted to spend his career with one team. After seven-plus seasons, a switch was required. He didn’t like losing snaps. The 49ers wanted to go younger at the position. A trade was attempted. He didn’t like the suitor, and the 49ers respectfully pulled back. An outright cut was the decisive action.

It gave Bowman an opportunity to choose his next step. He didn’t go far. Bowman’s new job sits 35 miles north in Alameda, which offered plenty of advantages for a family man.

“My twin girls are five and my son is eight and they’re in school,” Bowman said. “They’re doing really well so you always want to keep that going as a parent. You don’t want to keep switching them in and out. That played a big part in what I was going to do. For the Raiders to show as much enthusiasm in wanting me to come here made my decision a lot easier.”

Enthusiasm was evident in two ways. The bottom line comes first. The Raiders offered $3 million to make this deal quick, adding a solid sum to the $6.75 million base salary guaranteed by the 49ers under his previous contract.

The second was clear in a Monday morning conversation with Jack Del Rio. The Raiders head coach spoke plainly, saying Bowman could make a major impact as a player and veteran leader of a shockingly young position group.

“It was really upfront, letting me know their position and how bad they want me,” Bowman said. “He let me know exactly what he wanted to get out of me coming here and being a presence for this defense. Being more vocal, getting guys to understand the urgency to be really good at the NFL level.”

His lessons start Tuesday morning. Starting weakside linebacker Cory James introduced himself in the locker room Monday and asked Bowman when he’ll start watching film. The answer: bright and early.

Bowman has a game to play Thursday. That’s possible because he didn’t have to relocate. He can just hit the ground running. He’s been constantly learning new systems during the 49ers coaching carousel, so he’d a quick learning. He also sees similar concepts between schemes.

“It’s not too different,” Bowman said. “The terminology is really the hard part. I’m a fast learner. I went out there today and I think I did pretty well. I’ll get in here early tomorrow and learn from my mistakes and try to keep getting better.”

That’s Bowman’s first goal. He also wants to show knee and Achilles’ tendon injuries haven’t sapped his effectiveness as many believe.

“I’m only 29 years old,” Bowman said. “I still have a lot of juice left in me.”