San Francisco 49ers DL Justin Smith cracked the Top NFL players list presented by the NFL Network. Smith was voted No.69 by the players. Smith’s position on the list is forty spots lower than it was in the previous season, but it is still great to see him garner respect from his peers.
Smith has been the unsung hero of the 49ers defense since signing with the team in 2008. Due to the role he plays on the 49ers his stats will never be mind blowing. In some cases stats can tell lies, and at times it does not show the total impact of that particular player.
To the casual football fan Smith’s numbers may look modest, but his impact is what is felt week in and week out from his opponents. To some Smith is tailing off from his All-Pro form, but he is still the engine of the 49ers defense. Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman receive all of the headlines; no disrespect to them, but their success hinges on the play of No.94.
Smith’s position on the list may have fallen down forty spots, but his impact on the field is still the same. Opposing offenses dread every Sunday when they see Smith creating havoc. Whether it’s plugging running holes or making a timely pass rush, Smith is a playmaker in all facets of the game.
It’s good see the players in the NFL continue to respect Smith as one of the premier players in the NFL. The 49ers faithful know what impact Smith brings to the team, and it’s a thing of beauty to see Smith receive some national notoriety.