Patrick Willis

49ers' Nick Bosa named NFL Rookie of the Year by writers association

49ers' Nick Bosa named NFL Rookie of the Year by writers association

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa was recognized as the NFL Rookie of the Year, the Pro Football Writers of America announced on Tuesday morning.

Bosa was not just NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He won that, too. But the writers selected him as the best rookie in the league, period.

Raiders running back Josh Jacobs was named as the PFWA's NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who moved into the starting lineup after Kwon Alexander's injury, was named to the first-team all-rookie defense. He joined Devin Bush (Pittsburgh) and Devin White (Tampa Bay) as the linebackers.

Greenlaw made the 49ers' defensive play of the year when he stopped Seattle's Jacob Hollister just inches short of the goal line in Week 17 to preserve the win and enable the 49ers to win the NFC West and clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

Bosa won the award based on his regular-season production, and he carried it over into the playoffs with two sacks against the Minnesota Vikings in a 27-10 victory on Saturday in the divisional round of the playoffs.

“It’s kind of expected now,” 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said of Bosa. “At first, it was kind of shocking about how quickly he adapted to the NFL and was able to make a lot of talented tackles look silly, myself included.

“But, now, it’s just what he is, and it’s expected. It’s who he’s been his whole life. I don’t think it’s turned up for a playoff game, it’s just what he does. He goes out there and dominates, so I expect him to do the same next week.”

The 49ers will play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium.

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Bosa is the first defensive player to win the PFWA award since an overall rookie of the year was re-implemented in 2013. He is the fifth 49ers player to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, joining cornerback Bruce Taylor (1970), defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield (1993), linebacker Patrick Willis (2007) and edge rusher Aldon Smith (2011).

Bosa’s brother, Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers, won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2016.

Nick Bosa, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, started 14 of the 16 games in which he appeared this season. He registered 47 tackles and nine sacks with an interception, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

He left an imprint on games even when he was not compiling statistics. Bosa ranked sixth in the NFL among edge defenders with a 49ers-best 80 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday)

Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 5:30 p.m.

49ers' Patrick Willis not among 15 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists

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AP

49ers' Patrick Willis not among 15 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists

The announcement of the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Thursday comes with mixed emotions for the 49ers.

Former 49ers defensive tackle Bryant Young and team general manager John Lynch were voted as finalists, while the omission of legendary linebacker Patrick Willis was a shocking development.

Two linebackers made the final 15, but Willis was not among them.

Sam Mills and Zach Thomas advanced as first-time finalists. Mills, who died in 2005, is in his 18th year of eligibility, while Thomas is in his seventh year of eligibility.

Willis was eligible this year for the first time after retiring following the 2014 season.

Safety Troy Polamalu and wide receiver Reggie Wayne are the only first-time eligible candidates named as finalists on Thursday.

Willis played seven full NFL seasons, during which time he was named to seven Pro Bowl teams and was a five-time first-team All-Pro. He was the 2007 Defensive Rookie of the Year and twice led the NFL in tackles.

He appeared in just six games before going on injured reserve due to a foot injury during the 2014 season. The next March, he announced his retirement from the NFL at the age of 30. He entered the NFL in 2007 as a first-round draft pick from Ole Miss.

Willis has not second-guessed his decision to retire due to chronic foot pain, calling it "the right time."

The 48-member Hall of Fame board of selectors will meet on the eve of Super Bowl 54 in Miami to elect the five modern-era inductees who will join 15 additional individuals chosen by a blue-ribbon panel as part of the NFL’s centennial enshrinement class.

The panel will meet this month to determine the 10 seniors, three contributors and two coaches that will become part of the Hall of Fame’s one-time expanded class.

Former 49ers running back Roger Craig is one of 20 finalists for 10 spots to be made available for players whose playing careers ended at least 25 years ago.

Young, in his eighth year of eligibility, joins a group of modern-era finalists that includes Lynch, a seven-time Hall of Fame finalist in his eight years of eligibility. Lynch was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection at the safety position in his 15 NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos.

Lynch is one of four safeties to advance to the finalist stage, joining first-time eligible Troy Polamalu, as well as Steve Atwater and LeRoy Butler.

The Stanford alum has served as 49ers general manager for the past three seasons. He is a strong candidate for NFL Executive of the Year, as he built the team's roster into NFC West champions this season with a 13-3 record.

Young and Richard Seymour, formerly of the New England Patriots and Raiders, are the only defensive tackles.

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Wide receiver Isaac Bruce is a finalist for the fourth time in his six years of eligibility. He played his final two NFL seasons with the 49ers in 2008 and ’09.

The group of modern-era players along with contributors and coaches will be formally enshrined on Saturday, Aug. 8, in Canton, Ohio. The 10 seniors will be inducted during Centennial Celebration in Canton on Sept. 16-19.

Here are the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020:

Steve Atwater, Safety – 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets
Tony Boselli, Tackle – 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars
Isaac Bruce, Wide Receiver – 1994-2007 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers
LeRoy Butler, Safety – 1990-2001 Green Bay Packers
Alan Faneca, Guard – 1998-2007 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008-09 New York Jets, 2010 Arizona Cardinals
Torry Holt, Wide Receiver – 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars
Steve Hutchinson, Guard – 2001-05 Seattle Seahawks, 2006-2011 Minnesota Vikings, 2012 Tennessee Titans
Edgerrin James, Running Back – 1999-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006-08 Arizona Cardinals, 2009 Seattle Seahawks
John Lynch, Free Safety – 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos
Sam Mills, Linebacker – 1986-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers
Troy Polamalu, Safety – 2003-2014 Pittsburgh Steelers
Richard Seymour, Defensive End/Defensive Tackle – 2001-08 New England Patriots, 2009-2012 Oakland Raiders
Zach Thomas, Linebacker – 1996-2007 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Dallas Cowboys
Reggie Wayne, Wide Receiver – 2001-2014 Indianapolis Colts
Bryant Young, Defensive Tackle – 1994-2007 San Francisco 49ers

Editor’s note: Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors.

Ex-49ers Patrick Willis, Bryant Young Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalists

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AP

Ex-49ers Patrick Willis, Bryant Young Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalists

Popular former 49ers defensive stars Patrick Willis and Bryant Young advanced to be included among the 25 semifinalists of modern-era players for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020.

Willis and Young are among seven first-time semifinalists the Hall of Fame announced Tuesday, as the selection committee narrowed the list of candidates from 122 nominees after the first round of voting. Willis and Young played their entire careers with the 49ers after being first-round draft picks.

Former 49ers running back Ricky Watters was also chosen as a first-time semifinalist, along with two other previously eligible players, linebacker Carl Banks and running back Fred Taylor.

Willis, safety Troy Polamalu and wide receiver Reggie Wayne are the first-time eligible players who were voted into the top 25.

San Francisco general manager John Lynch, who was voted to nine Pro Bowls in 15 seasons as a safety with Tampa Bay and Denver, was named as a semifinalist for the eighth consecutive year.

The modern-era players list will be reduced to 15 finalists to be announced on Jan. 2, 2020. The finalists will then be discussed in front of the full 48-member selection committee during its annual meeting on Feb. 1, 2020, the day before Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

The selection committee will elect up to five modern-era players for the Class of 2020. In addition, a special Centennial Class that will be comprised of 10 seniors (a player who has been retired for more than 25 seasons), three contributors (an individual other than a player or coach) and two coaches.

The seniors, contributors and coaches will be selected by a special 25-person Centennial “Blue-Ribbon” Panel.

Willis played seven full seasons after entering the NFL as a first-round draft pick of the 49ers in 2007. He was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and was named first-team All-Pro five times.

Willis led the NFL in tackles twice in his career before appearing in just six games in 2014 due to a foot injury. He retired the following offseason at the age of 30.

Young had an outstanding 14-year career that included four Pro Bowl appearances and one first-team All-Pro selection. He was on a Super Bowl champion as a rookie in 1994, and won Comeback Player of the Year in 1999 after a broken leg ended his previous season after 12 games.

Young is the all-time 49ers leader with 89.5 sacks. This is his eighth year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame.

Watters played his first three NFL seasons with the 49ers and was a key member of the team’s Super Bowl champion for the 1994 season as a dual-threat back. A five-time Pro Bowl performer, Watters ranks 24th all-time with 10,643 rushing yards.

2020 MODERN-ERA PLAYER SEMIFINALISTS
The following is the alphabetical list of 2020 Modern-Era Player Semifinalists, including their positions, years and teams. Also listed are the number of times and years the candidate has been named a semifinalist since this reduction vote was added to the Selection Committee Bylaws in 2004.

--Steve Atwater , S – 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets | (Times as a Semifinalist: 9 – 2012-2020)
--Carl Banks , LB – 1984-1992 New York Giants, 1993 Washington Redskins, 1994-95 Cleveland Browns | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2020)
--Ronde Barber , CB/S – 1997-2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2018-2020)
--Tony Boselli , T – 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2002 Houston Texans (injured reserve) | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2016-2020)
--Isaac Bruce , WR – 1994-2007 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 6 – 2015-2020)
--LeRoy Butler , S – 1990-2001 Green Bay Packers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2018-2020)
--Alan Faneca , G – 1998-2007 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008-09 New York Jets, 2010 Arizona Cardinals | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2016-2020)
--Torry Holt , WR – 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars | (Times as a Semifinalist: 6 – 2015-2020)
--Steve Hutchinson , G – 2001-05 Seattle Seahawks, 2006-2011 Minnesota Vikings, 2012 Tennessee Titans | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2018-2020)
--Edgerrin James , RB – 1999-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006-08 Arizona Cardinals, 2009 Seattle Seahawks | (Times as a Semifinalist: 6 – 2015-2020)
--John Lynch , FS – 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 8 – 2013-2020)
--Clay Matthews , LB – 1978-1993 Cleveland Browns, 1994-96 Atlanta Falcons | (Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2012, 2017, 2019-2020)
--Sam Mills , LB – 1986-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2016, 2019-2020)
--Troy Polamalu , S – 2003-2014 Pittsburgh Steelers (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2020)
--Simeon Rice , DE – 1996-2000 Arizona Cardinals, 2001-06 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2007 Denver Broncos, 2007 Indianapolis Colts | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2018, 2020)
--Richard Seymour , DE/DT – 2001-08 New England Patriots, 2009-2012 Oakland Raiders | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2018-2020)
--Steve Tasker , ST/WR – 1985-86 Houston Oilers, 1986-1997 Buffalo Bills | (Times as a Semifinalist: 7 – 2004, 2008-2010, 2012-13, 2020)
--Fred Taylor , RB – 1998-2008 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2009-2010 New England Patriots | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2020)
--Zach Thomas , LB – 1996-2007 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Dallas Cowboys | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2019-2020)
--Hines Ward , WR – 1998-2011 Pittsburgh Steelers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2017-2020)
--Ricky Watters , RB – 1992-94 San Francisco 49ers, 1995-97 Philadelphia Eagles, 1998-2001 Seattle Seahawks | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2020)
--Reggie Wayne , WR – 2001-2014 Indianapolis Colts | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2020)
--Patrick Willis , LB – 2007-2014 San Francisco 49ers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2020)
--Darren Woodson , S – 1992-2003 Dallas Cowboys | (Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2015, 2017, 2019-2020)
--Bryant Young , DT – 1994-2007 San Francisco 49ers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2020)

Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.