49ers

49ers' DeForest Buckner snubbed from Pro Bowl, and that's ridiculous

bucknerap.jpg
AP

49ers' DeForest Buckner snubbed from Pro Bowl, and that's ridiculous

The 2019 Pro Bowl rosters were announced on Tuesday, and two 49ers made the NFC team. That's probably a fair number for a team that has won its last two games to double its win total on the season, with two weeks left to play.

The problem is: DeForest Buckner wasn't one of them.

Don't get it twisted, George Kittle and Kyle Juszcyzk are very deserving in their own right. Kittle burst on the scene this year and firmly established himself as a top-five tight end in the league moving forward. Juszczyk caught 29 balls for 309 receiving yards, and his impact on the 49ers' 10th-ranked rushing attack cannot be overlooked. That said, how many other fullbacks can you name off the top of your head?

This isn't about Kittle or Juszcyzk. This is about Buckner, the 49ers best player, who just happens to be having a phenomenal season of his own. You don't have to look further than San Francisco's win over the Seahawks on Sunday to see how drastically he can affect a game.

[RELATED: Buckner had a career day in 49ers' overtime win vs. Seahawks]

Only 13 players have sacked the quarterback more often than the 11 times Buckner has this season, which is a career-high. Only one of those 13 plays the same position (in terms of Pro Bowl rosters), and that's the Rams' Aaron Donald (16.5), who will almost certainly be named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in a matter of months.

There were three interior defensive linemen named to the NFC Pro Bowl roster. Donald was one of them. The other two -- Philadelphia's Fletcher Cox and Chicago's Akiem Hicks – have combined for 12.5 sacks between them.

Sacks aren't everything for interior defensive linemen, you say? Damn right.

Through 14 games, Buckner has recorded 60 tackles; only Minnesota's Danielle Hunter (66), Jacksonville's Calais Campbell (62) and Indianapolis' Darius Leonard (NFL-leading 146) have recorded more tackles among players with at least 6.5 sacks this season.

Of Buckner's 60 tackles, 16 have been for a loss. Again, that's nearly as many as Cox (nine) and Hicks (11) combined.

So, to summarize: Buckner has more sacks, tackles and tackles for a loss than two of the three players named to the Pro Bowl roster ahead of him. When it comes to interior defensive linemen, shouldn't those be the stats that matter?

Then again, the stats clearly don't matter, and Buckner isn't alone in being snubbed. NFL stars such as Saints running back Alvin Kamara, Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck were all left off their respective conference rosters, as were Leonard and fellow standout rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch of Dallas.

In most, if not all, of those cases, it's simply a matter of too many deserving candidates for too few spots. But the process is clearly flawed if the most deserving of the candidates -- on a statistically objective basis -- are passed over for others. It's the 2019 Pro Bowl, not the 2016-2020 Pro Bowl, after all.

As for the "team performance should matter" argument -- it's a flawed one. If that were the case, the Chargers wouldn't be the only NFL team with more Pro Bowlers than the 8-7-1 Steelers, who will be sending six players to Orlando.

With that being said, Buckner's exclusion is likely temporary. He's the first alternate at his position, a league source told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco.

Should any of the Rams, Eagles or Bears make a deep run in the playoffs, it's likely that Buckner would assume the place of Donald, Cox or Hicks. Given that Los Angeles and Chicago have already locked up postseason berths and Philadelphia is knocking on the door, the chances are decent that Buckner will not only make his first Pro Bowl, but could perhaps even start in it.

Buckner's Pro Bowl recognition is far less important to the 49ers than his evolution into one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL is. It's a shame he wasn't rewarded for putting together one of the top defensive seasons in the NFC, but there's time for that mistake to be fixed, even if it will be slightly tainted.

And, really, the All-Pro teams are always a better indicator of who the best players were in any given season than the Pro Bowl rosters are. Here's venturing a guess Buckner won't be passed over a second time when those are announced.

Terrell Owens offers to run routes for 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo in rehab

jimmygto.jpg
USATSI

Terrell Owens offers to run routes for 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo in rehab

Jimmy Garoppolo got a blast from the 49ers' past on Wednesday.

The quarterback posted a photo of him practicing to his Instagram page, writing a "Patiently Waiting" caption. Garoppolo tore his ACL in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs and missed the remainder of the season, as 49ers fans are well aware of. 

View this post on Instagram

Patiently Waiting

A post shared by Jimmy Garoppolo (@jimmypolo10) on

So, too, was Hall-of-Fame receiver Terrell Owens. The former 49ers star commented on Garoppolo's post, offering to run routes for the rehabbing signal-caller.

Owens reportedly expored a return to professional football last summer in the CFL He told ESPN days later he wasn't "actively seeking to get into the NFL," but he still had the itch to play football.

"I know that I do have the ability to play," Owens said at the time. "I know everybody sees the shape that I'm in. There's a lot of athletes that play their prospective sports, but there are few guys that defy the odds. I think I'm one of those guys."

The 49ers do need a receiver next season, after all. 

49ers female assistant coach Katie Sowers sees progression in sports

katiesowers.jpg
NBC Sports Bay Area

49ers female assistant coach Katie Sowers sees progression in sports

The 49ers have an offensive assistant coach who works hard and brings personality no matter what.

Her name is Katie Sowers, and she's the second woman to hold a full-time NFL coaching position. She's also the first openly gay coach in the NFL.

She's aware of the grind of her job, the long hours dedicated to her job. She attends the meetings, she watches the film, and she stays up late studying the 49ers opponents. 

Her aspirations are big as well, and by the looks of it, attainable.

"I see myself as a head coach someday," she said to NBC Sports.

Sowers also said people may think that sounds crazy, but it's been a progression.

"If we look back at the way that we've built society, we have so many gender norms." 

After all, she said, people would have been shocked to know women and men could play with the same rules in basketball.

But here they are ...

"Me being a woman I don't think makes that big of a difference," she adds. "Not all male coaches are the same, not all male coaches are going to be the same."

It appears Sowers has the respect of the team as well -- you can see they don't look at her any differently than they would any other of their coaches, teachers, or teammates.

The future certainly looks bright for her, and hopefully full of progress.