49ers

Carlos Hyde, two Cardinals ejected for kerfuffle at end of Week 9 game

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Carlos Hyde, two Cardinals ejected for kerfuffle at end of Week 9 game

Things got a little chippy at the end of the 49ers-Cardinals game on Sunday.

With roughly 3:30 left in the fourth quarter, 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard scrambled. As he went into his slide, he was hit hard by Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea.

Beathard's teammates came to his defense. Pushing and shoving ensued. At the tale end, Arizona defensive lineman Frostee Rucker shoved 49ers running back Carlos Hyde to the ground.

After the refs sorted everything out, four penalties were called. Hyde, Rucker and Cardinals defensive lineman Haason Reddick were ejected. Beathard stayed in the game despite the hard hit. Bethea was assesed a personal foul penalty for the hit.

After the game, head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked how expected his players to handle the balance between protecting their quarterback and stepping over the line.

"There's a very fine line. I want our guys to be smart. I know Carlos was the one that ended up getting ejected. I didn't see Carlos throw a punch. I don't know exactly what he did. I did see punches get thrown at him. I did see him get knocked over a couple times. I really love how he went and got our quarterback's back. I think our quarterback had a couple helmet's to the head when he was in the pocket a few plays before and then he scrambled and sliding and got one again. I think our players had had enough," Shanahan said.

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

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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.

Pro Bowl: George Kittle, Kyle Juszczyk to represent 49ers in Orlando

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AP

Pro Bowl: George Kittle, Kyle Juszczyk to represent 49ers in Orlando

Tight end George Kittle’s breakout season landed him a spot in the Pro Bowl.

Kittle and fullback Kyle Juszczyk were the only 49ers named to the Pro Bowl team. Juszczyk is a starter, while Kittle is a reserve.

Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, kicker Robbie Gould and special teams player Mark Nzeocha were selected as Pro Bowl alternates.

Kittle, a fifth-round 2017 draft pick from Iowa, earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl after being the 49ers’ top offensive player through 14 games. With 72 receptions for 1,154 yards and four touchdowns, Kittle has already set the 49ers’ club record for receiving yards from a tight end.

Juszczyk, a sixth-year pro, made the Pro Bowl for the third time. He made the all-star team in his final season with the Baltimore Ravens and his first two with the 49ers. He has caught 29 passes for 309 yards, while carrying six times for 21 yards.

Buckner is putting together his best season, but it was not good enough to be selected to the Pro Bowl when the team was announced on Tuesday. His 11 sacks are a career-high, and the most for a 49ers player since Aldon Smith recorded 19.5 sacks in 2012.

[RELATED: Buckner's 11 sacks puts him in elite 49ers company]

Gould, 36, has made the Pro Bowl once in his career. Earlier this season, he set the 49ers’ record for most consecutive made field goals with 33. He has risen to No. 2 all-time in NFL history field goal accuracy at 87.62 percent. Baltimore's Justin Tucker leads at 90.55 percent.

Nzeocha was the top vote-getter among fans, as his native Germany turned out in high numbers to support him. Fan voting counts one-third toward selection into the Pro Bowl, with players and coaches consisting of the remaining two-thirds.

Left tackle Joe Staley -- who made the Pro Bowl six of the past seven seasons -- and four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman were not selected.

The Pro Bowl will be held Jan. 27, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.