Aldon Smith a nominee for NFL Rookie of the Year

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Aldon Smith a nominee for NFL Rookie of the Year

The NFL announced the nominees for the 2011 Pepsi Rookie of the Year award today. The list includes 49ers stand-out linebacker Aldon Smith, Cincinnati's Andy Dalton, Von Miller from the Broncos, Cam Newton of the Panthers and Arizona's Patrick Peterson.Voting begins today, and runs through January 31st. The winner will be presented with the honor in a nationally televised primetime awards special, airing on NBC on February 4th.And now, a closer look at the finalists. We have a pretty good idea of the answer, but have to ask - who will get your vote?ALDON SMITH (San Francisco 49ers) Smith, the seventh overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft out of Missouri, played in all 16 games for the 49ers. Smith tallied 14 sacks on the season, placing him in a tie for fifth among all NFL defenders. He finished the season just a half sack short of the single season rookie record. On the year, he also added 37 stops, including 31 solo tackles, four passes defensed, two fumbles forced, one fumble recovered and a safety. Smith was nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week three times, winning the award twice.
ANDY DALTON (Cincinnati Bengals) Dalton started all 16 games for the Bengals and led Cincinnati to a 9-7 record and a Wild Card berth in the AFC playoffs. Dalton completed 58.1 percent of his passes for 3,398 yards and 20 touchdowns. Dalton is one of only five rookie quarterbacks to throw for 20 touchdowns in a season, and is also one of only five rookie quarterbacks to throw for 3,000 yards or more in a season. Dalton, who attended Texas Christian University, was nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week six times, winning twice.VON MILLER (Denver Broncos) Miller, a Texas A&M product, started all 15 games he played and tied Denvers single-season rookie sack record with a team-high 11.5 sacks, placing him second among all rookies in 2011 and tied for third overall in the AFC. He was one of six NFL players to record a half sack in at least 10 games. He totaled 64 tackles (50 solo) and led the team with 19 tackles for a loss in addition to ranking second on the club with two forced fumbles. He was selected as a starting outside linebacker for the AFC squad for the 2012 Pro Bowl. The second overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Miller was nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week three times.CAM NEWTON (Carolina Panthers) Newton set the record for most passing yards by a rookie in a season (4,051), surpassing PEYTON MANNINGs previous record of 3,739 in 1998. He set the single-season quarterback rushing touchdown record with 14. He is the first rookie to throw and rush for 10 touchdowns in the same season, and only the second player to pass for more than 20 touchdowns and rush for more than 10 touchdowns in a season. He is the first player in NFL history with more than 4,000 passing yards, 500 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in the same year. Newton, who started all 16 games, finished his first season with a 60.0 completion percentage and 21 touchdowns. He amassed an additional 706 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. The Auburn product was the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and was nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week 11 times, winning three times.PATRICK PETERSON (Arizona Cardinals) Peterson started all 16 games for the Cardinals in 2011. He finished first in the NFL in punt return yards and second in punt return average. His four punt return touchdowns are tied for the most in a single season in NFL history. As a cornerback, Peterson recorded 64 tackles, including 59 solo stops. He tallied 13 passes defensed, two interceptions and one sack. Peterson was named to the NFCs Pro Bowl squad as the teams kick returner. Peterson, who played collegiately at Louisiana State University, was nominated three times for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week.

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman/defensive end Clay Matthews Sr. passed away on Thursday, March 23rd at the age of 88. 

Matthews originally entered the NFL as a 25th round (247th overall) draft choice by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1949 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons with San Francisco (1950, 1953-55), appearing in 45 games and registering one interception. After spending his rookie season of 1950 with the 49ers, he went on to spend two years (1951-52) in the United States Army where he served in the Korean War.

A native of Charleston, SC, Matthews attended Georgia Tech where he played guard, tackle and end while earning All-Southeastern Conference honors in 1948. In 1949, Matthews was the All-Southeastern Conference heavyweight wrestling and boxing champion at Georgia Tech.

Matthews was the first of three generations to play in the National Football League. His two oldest sons, Bruce and Clay Jr., each spent 19 seasons in the NFL. Originally selected by the Houston Oilers in the first round (9th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft, Bruce was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 after 14 Pro Bowl and seven First-Team All-Pro selections. Clay Jr. was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1st round (12th overall) in the 1978 draft and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Three of Bruce’s sons, Jake, Kevin and Mike, and two of Clay Jr.’s sons, Clay III and Casey, either have spent time or currently play in the NFL. Clay III is currently a member of the Green Bay Packers and a six-time Pro Bowl selection at linebacker while Jake is currently an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons after being selected in the first round (6th overall) by the team in 2014. 

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After signing with Giants, Draughn pens long thank you to 49ers

After signing with Giants, Draughn pens long thank you to 49ers

Shaun Draughn is now a member of the New York Giants, but he won't ever forget his brief stint with the 49ers. The running back posted a long thank you to the organization and its fans on Thursday:

"I want to say thank you to the @49ers for giving my family and I a place to call home, a chance to be apart of an organization with rich history, class and a passion for family and community," Draughn posted on Instagram. "You guys gave me my first EVER NFL start on November 8,2015 and I will cherish that moment and milestone forever.

"Thank you to all the support staff, cooks(man Ima miss those crispies in the morning lol Travis and the fellas) , custodians (my man Joe keep planting those spiritual seeds my brotha), equipment (Doc, Steve, Gilby, and the crew) trainers( Ferg, ryan, Laura) pastor Earl thank you so much for your time and pouring into us spiritually. Coaches(coach Tom Rathman thank you for having a high standard for your players and forcing me to get better at my craft) and to the Niner Faithful you guys are great and very passionate about your team you made this a great experience as well!! To my teammates I love y'all like brothas and thank you for welcoming me in with open arms and making it a pleasure to go to war with y'all no matter the record!!"

Draughn, 29, averaged 3.1 yards per carry over two seasons with the 49ers, totaling 459 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. 

I want to say thank you to the @49ers for giving my family and I a place to call home, a chance to be apart of an organization with rich history, class and a passion for family and community. You guys gave me my first EVER NFL start on November 8,2015 and I will cherish that moment and milestone forever. Thank you to all the support staff, cooks(man Ima miss those crispies in the morning lol Travis and the fellas) , custodians (my man Joe keep planting those spiritual seeds my brotha), equipment (Doc, Steve, Gilby, and the crew) trainers( Ferg, ryan, Laura) pastor Earl thank you so much for your time and pouring into us spiritually. Coaches(coach Tom Rathman thank you for having a high standard for your players and forcing me to get better at my craft) and to the Niner Faithful you guys are great and very passionate about your team you made this a great experience as well!! To my teammates I love y'all like brothas and thank you for welcoming me in with open arms and making it a pleasure to go to war with y'all no matter the record!! To the @nygiants I want to say thank you for allowing me to be apart of such a first class organization!! I am excited to go to work in the quest for #5 and to the Fans I can assure you, you will get my ABSOLUTE best and nothing less, put a stamp on it‼️‼️ thank you God for ALWAYS making a way!! #Proverbs3:5-6 #BigBlue #GMen

A post shared by Shaun Draughn (@shaun_draughn) on