Maiocco: 2011 Super Bowl, MVP predictions

56983.jpg

Maiocco: 2011 Super Bowl, MVP predictions

Sep. 5, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEO
Follow@MaioccoCSN
Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com

AFC

East
1) New England Patriots
2) New York Jets (Wild card)
3) Buffalo Bills
4) Miami Dolphins

North
1) Pittsburgh Steelers
2) Baltimore Ravens (Wild card)
3) Cleveland Browns
4) Cincinnati Bengals
South
1) Houston Texans
2) Jacksonville Jaguars
3) Tennessee Titans
4) Indianapolis Colts

West
1) San Diego Chargers
2) Oakland Raiders
3) Kansas City Chiefs
4) Denver Broncos

Wildcard round
Steelers over Jets, Chargers over Ravens

Divisional round
Texans over Chargers, Patriots over Steelers

AFC Championship Game
Texans over Patriots

NFC

East
1) Dallas Cowboys
2) Philadelphia Eagles (Wild card)
3) New York Giants
4) Washington Redskins

North
1) Green Bay Packers
2) Detroit Lions
3) Chicago Bears
4) Minnesota Vikings

South
1) Atlanta Falcons
2) New Orleans Saints (Wild card)
3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4) Carolina Panthers

West
1) St. Louis Rams
2) Arizona Cardinals
3) San Francisco 49ers
4) Seattle Seahawks

Wildcard round
Saints over Cowboys, Eagles over Rams

Divisional round
Saints over Packeers, Falcons over Eagles
NFC Championship Game
Saints over Falcons

Super Bowl XLII
Saints over Texans

Regular Season Awards

MVP: Houston Quarterback Matt Schaub
The Texans are set up to experience success for the first time in their history, and the quarterback will lead the way. Schaub threw 24 touchdowns and 12 interception last season, and his production is going way up this season. Houston is not lacking for talent around Schaub, either. Andre Johnson is one of the top two receivers in the game. Running back Arian Foster, when he gets healthy, is a dual threat out, and Owen Daniels will be one of the top pass-catching tight ends in the league.

Offensive player of the year: Green Bay Quarterback Aaron Rodgers
Generally, the MVP and the offensive player of the year are the same person. Just consider this as a chance to hedge my bet. The Chico native entered the conversation as one of the top five quarterbacks in the league last season while leading the Packers to the Super Bowl title. And he is still getting better.
Defensive player of the year: Dallas Linebacker DeMarcus Ware
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has one of the game's great players, and he's going to use him at every position in the Cowboys' front seven to generate heat on the quarterback. And that's something Ware knows how to do. He has 80 sacks in six NFL seasons, including 46.5 in the past three years. He'll single-handedly neutralize Philadelphia's Michael Vick and bring a division title to the Cowboys.

Offensive rookie of the year: New Orleans Running Back Mark Ingram
He'll begin the season sharing time with Pierre Thomas, but Ingram will gradually get more and more action as a major part of the offense. Ingram will take the heat off quarterback Drew Brees, as the Saints will feature a well-rounded offense. And he'll be money in short-yardage situations. Go ahead and ring him up for 16 touchdowns and a little more hardware to go along with his Heisman Trophy of a couple years ago.

Defensive rookie of the year: Houston Defensive End J.J. Watt
At 6-5, 290, he's a great fit for Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme. His adjustment has been remarkable smooth, as he quickly nailed down a starting job. He probably won't be a double-digit sack artist, but the push he provides will open things up for his teammates. The Texans' pass defense will improve dramatically, and Watt be a rock against the run.Comeback player of the year: Minnesota Quarterback Donovan McNabb
Yes, McNabb is still in the NFL. And while the Vikings are going to fall on some hard times, McNabb will post solid numbers and rebound from an embarrassing one-year fiasco in Washington under Mike Shanahan. McNabb's play will make it difficult for rookie quarterback Christian Ponder to get onto the field.

Coach of the year: Houston Texans' Gary Kubiak
Move over Colts, there's the makings of a new dynasty in the AFC South. Kubiak has himself an MVP candidate at quarterback (Schaub), an outstanding wide receiver (Johnson) who's not a diva, and a league rushing leader (Foster) who did not hold out for a new contract. In other words, he's done a great job of keeping this team focused on winning games and getting to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

The 49ers on Monday extended one-year qualifying offers to nose tackle Mike Purcell and linebacker Carl Bradford as exclusive-rights free agents.

Purcell appeared in 15 games last season. He started the first five games of the season at nose tackle and was a reserve for the remainder of the season. Originally signed in 2013 as an undrafted rookie from Wyoming, Purcell has appeared in 25 games over the past three seasons.

The 49ers claimed Bradford off waivers in December from the Green Bay Packers. He appeared in the final two games of the season with the 49ers and was credited with two tackles.

Bradford entered the NFL out of Arizona State as a fourth-round pick of the Packers in 2014. After being inactive for every game as a rookie, Bradford was among Green Bay’s final cuts in 2015. He spent the season on the practice squad.

He appeared in four games for the Packers last year. The 49ers claimed him after he was waived in December.

Exclusive rights free agents are player who have fewer than three years of NFL service who have no outside negotiating power if a team extends a qualifying offer.

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

The 49ers’ new regime heads to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week with the first major wave of offseason activity set to kick off.

Already, the 49ers have made roster improvements. And there figure to be plenty of activity ahead in the coming weeks.

Here are some questions submitted by readers on Facebook for this edition of 49ers Mailbag:

Do you see the 49ers cutting ties with larger contracts like Bethea, Torrey Smith and Ahmad Brooks?‬ (Blair Wilkins)
The 49ers have approximately $75 million in space under the salary cap – and that’s before any adjustment of Colin Kaepernick’s contract. So it’s not as if the organization needs to create cap room.

Any decision made to part ways with veteran players will be made solely on how that player fits into what the 49ers envision on the field.

And that’s what general manager John Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff are doing now. They are studying the video from last season to determine which players fit their ideals.

Safety Antoine Bethea is scheduled to earn $5.75 million. Bethea, 32, enters the final year of his contract. There is no question he is everything the 49ers want in a player off the field. If one of the younger guys is not better than Bethea, there is no reason to get rid of him.

Brooks is on the books to earn $5.3 million in 2017. That’s not a huge amount for a starting outside linebacker or defensive end – whichever spot he might fit best. The 49ers must look to upgrade their pass rush. Brooks turns 33 next month. He’s good for six sacks a season. Again, it’s not as if the 49ers can’t afford him. And, as of now, it’s not as if the 49ers have anyone better.

Smith is scheduled to earn $8 million. He has been vastly underutilized in his two seasons since signing with the 49ers. He’s the most interesting case of the high-priced veterans.

Kyle Shanahan’s offense is predicated on using the running game to set up the play-action shot down the field. Smith is limited. He’s not a possession receiver. He’s not going to make plays over the middle. He is an outside receiver whose contributions come in the vertical passing game. But that’s what Shanahan wants.

If Smith is paired with a strong tight end, a running back who catch the ball out of the backfield, a slot receiver with short-area quickness to get open underneath, a very good receiver on the other side and an accurate quarterback who can throw the deep ball, there should be a role for Smith in the 49ers’ offense.

Will the 49ers continue to be aggressive pursuing free agents this offseason? If so, what positions?‬ (Bradley Lodge)
The 49ers have zeroed in on two veteran free agents and they signed them both.

The organization has already spent more money than it did all of last offseason on veteran free agency with the four-year, $16 million deal to sign defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, whom the Miami Dolphins recently released.

Nickel back K’Waun Williams has a history with 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley. The 49ers did not have to make much of a financial investment to sign him.

The 49ers will definitely go after a veteran quarterback or two in free agency or via trade. Pass rusher, inside linebacker and wide receiver are other positions the 49ers can be expected to look during free agency.

The opening of the new league year – when free-agent signings and trades can occur – is March 9. The draft is seven weeks later.

The 49ers must fill as many of their needs with smart deals that fit into the long-term plan with veteran acquisitions. Then, the draft is about taking the best players on their board when it’s time to select. Teams that reach for need generally strike out.

What are the chances of drafting a QB with first pick and playing them behind a Kap / Cousins until they're ready to become starter?‬ (Hillory Broussard)
If Colin Kaepernick returns, it will not be as a no-questions-asked starter. Just read what Lynch said on KNBR this week about the team’s needs:

“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely. And we’re committed to doing that.”

That statement can easily be interpreted that Lynch does not believe the 49ers had a starting-caliber quarterback on the roster last season.

But if the 49ers were to go out and swing a trade for Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s going to take a big commitment – in terms of draft picks and a suitable new contract. Then, the 49ers would have that player.

Cousins or Garoppolo would unquestionably fill the 49ers’ need at quarterback for 2017 and beyond -- at least in the minds of the 49ers' new decision-makers. There would be no reason for the 49ers to then draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick – if the 49ers even had the No. 2 overall pick at that point.