49ers, Raiders well-represented at Pro Bowl

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49ers, Raiders well-represented at Pro Bowl

The 49ers and Raiders will be well-represented at the 2012 Pro Bowl. Players were announced Tuesday for the 43-man rosters for the AFC and NFC squads.

San Francisco placed eight players on the roster: Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Joe Staley, Andy Lee, David Akers and Carlos Rogers as starters, with Frank Gore and Dashon Goldson as reserves.

Willis is the first 49ers player to make it to the Pro Bowl in each of his first five seasons. He ranks second on the team with 115 tackles, with two sacks, one interception, a career-high four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 12 passes defensed.

RELATED: 49ers to send eight to Pro Bowl Three Raiders honored as Pro Bowlers

Oakland will send a three players to the game, led by kicker Sebastian Janikowski. Also selected for the Raiders were Richard Seymour and Shane Lechler.

Janikowski is the Raiders' all-time leading scorer with 1,257 points. Last season he was named a Pro Bowl alternate. He tied an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal just before the halftime in the 2011 season opener at Denver. Janikowski connected on a team-record six field goals on Nov. 27.

Safety Tyvon Branch, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, running back Darren McFadden and fullback Marcel Reece have been named Pro Bowl alternates for the Raiders.

The game is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 29 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

AFC OFFENSEQUARTERBACKS
Tom Brady, New England
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh
Philip Rivers, San Diego
RUNNING BACKS
Ray Rice, Baltimore
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville
Arian Foster, Houston
FULLBACK
Vonta Leach, Baltimore
WIDE RECEIVER
Wes Welker, New England
Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh
A.J. Green, Cincinnati
Brandon Marshall, Miami
TIGHT END
Rob Gronkowski, New England
Antonio Gates, San Diego
TACKLE
Joe Thomas, Cleveland
Jake Long, Miami
D'Brickashaw Ferguson, N.Y. Jets
GUARD
Logan Mankins, New England
Brian Waters, New England
Marshal Yanda, Baltimore
CENTER
Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh
Nick Mangold, N.Y. Jets

AFC DEFENSEDEFENSIVE END
Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis
Andre Carter, New England
Elvis Dumervil, Denver
INTERIOR LINEMEN
Haloti Ngata, Baltimore
Vince Wilfork, New England
Richard Seymour, Oakland
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
Terrell Suggs, Baltimore
Von Miller, Denver
Tamba Hali, Kansas City
INSIDEMIDDLE LINEBACKER
Ray Lewis, Baltimore
Derrick Johnson, Kansas City
CORNERBACK
Darrelle Revis, N.Y. Jets
Champ Bailey, Denver
Johnathan Joseph, Houston
FREE SAFETY
Ed Reed, Baltimore
Eric Weddle, San Diego
STRONG SAFETY
Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh

AFC SPECIAL TEAMSPUNTERShane Lechler, Raiders
PLACEKICKER
Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders
KICK RETURNER
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
SPECIAL TEAMER
Matthew Slater, New England

NFC OFFENSEQUARTERBACKS
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Drew Brees, New Orleans
Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants
RUNNING BACK
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia
Matt Forte, Chicago
Frank Gore, 49ersFULLBACK
John Kuhn, Green Bay
WIDE RECEIVER
Calvin Johnson, Detroit
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
Steve Smith, Carolina
Greg Jennings, Green Bay
TIGHT END
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta
TACKLE
Jason Peters, Philadelphia
Joe Staley, 49ers
Jermon Bushrod, New Orleans
GUARD
Jahri Evans, New Orleans
Carl Nicks, New Orleans
Davin Joseph, Tampa Bay
CENTER
Ryan Kalil, Carolina
Scott Wells, Green Bay

NFC DEFENSE
Jared Allen, Minnesota
Jason Babin, Philadelphia
Jason Pierre-Paul, N.Y. Giants

INTERIOR LINEMAN Justin Smith, 49ers
Jay Ratliff, Dallas
B.J. Raji, Green Bay
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
DeMarcus Ware, Dallas
Clay Matthews, Green Bay
Lance Briggs, Chicago
INSIDEMIDDLE LINEBACKER Patrick Willis, 49ers
Brian Urlacher, Chicago
CORNERBACK
Charles Woodson, Green Bay
Carlos Rogers, 49ers
Charles Tillman, Chicago
FREE SAFETY
Earl Thomas, Seattle
Dashon Goldson, 49ers
STRONG SAFETY
Adrian Wilson, Arizona

NFC SPECIAL TEAMSPUNTERAndy Lee, 49ersPLACEKICKERDavid Akers, San Francisco
KICK RETURNER
Patrick Peterson, Arizona
SPECIAL TEAMER
Corey Graham, Chicago

Denotes starter

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

It’s officially NFL draft week. Marshawn Lynch still isn’t a Raider.

A contract impasse remained as of Sunday morning, a few days before general manager Reggie McKenzie’s desire for a by-Thursday resolution.

Deadlines, even soft ones, prompt deals. But Marshawn is unique, adding a level of uncertainty to procedings. 

The Raiders would prefer Lynch agree to terms on a new contract so they can acquire his rights from Seattle -- that’s the easier part – and know where they stand heading into the NFL Draft.

McKenzie left several doors cracked during a Friday pre-draft presser, saying Lynch’s presence wouldn’t stop him from drafting a rusher, not having the Oakland native wouldn’t guarantee it, and that there’s always a chance Lynch could come later no matter what happens during amateur selection.

Those things could be true. Or, you know, not. McKenzie prefers mystery this time of year.

Bottom line: The Raiders need a bigger back to pair with smaller, yet elusive runners DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

The Raiders want Lynch to fill the void. Ditto for Raider Nation, especially the Oakland state. A few free-agent options remain, including LaGarrette Blount. Or the Raiders could draft a back, something the Raiders have done well in later rounds.

They got Latavius Murray in the sixth round four years back, and he provided quality before changing uniforms this offseason. They got Washington in the fifth last time and pulled Richard from undrafted free agency. They could mine talent again this year. Waiting seems more likely if Lynch is around. 

Quality abounds in this draft class, with several worthy of early selections and talent easily found late. Let’s inspect McKenzie’s draft options at running back, should he need one:

Good fits: It’s hard to see the Raiders looking at a rusher in the first round, considering the draft’s depth at the position and major defensive needs. A first-round talent might be considered in the second. If controversial former Oklahoma rusher Joe Mixon is available following a free fall due to off-field issues described in detail here, a running back might come early.

Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara could be another Day 2 option, an explosive talent who analysts say has wiggle and power to create coveted yards after contact. He could be a three-down back thanks to quality as a receiver.

Odds are, however, the Raiders will look deeper into the draft. Wyoming’s Brian Hill was an excellent college producer who runs strong and might fit well into the Raiders rotation. Round projections vary, but he should be available on Day 3.

Pittsburgh’s James Conner offers great power at 233 pounds. He could run through tacklers and wear down defenses for the Raiders’ shift backs. He's also well known for drive and work ethic. He is projected as a fifth or sixth round pick.

Brigham Young’s Jamaal Williams might offer value and power rushing later in the draft. Clemson’s Wayne Gallman has tackle-breaking ability, but analysts say he isn’t a strong pass protector.

 

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

The Raiders had an NFL-worst 25 sacks last season, and that’s with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin in their employ. That duo had 18 sacks (and 11 forced fumbles) between them. That left only seven for everyone else. Stacy McGee and Denico Autry had 2.5 each, and McGee isn’t here anymore.

Mario Edwards Jr. was certainly missed last season, when he missed 14 games with a preseason hip injury. The versatile defensive lineman is a solid edge run defender and internal pass rusher in the sub package.

If he’s healthy, Edwards Jr. could pose a real threat rushing the passer next to Irvin or Mack.

“Having Mario healthy will make us a better defense, and that’s not just as a pass rusher,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said in March. “He’s a solid run player. We’ve just got to have him healthy.

“But we’ll continue to add there, too.”

McKenzie subtracted one Tuesday, releasing Dan Williams to free salary cap space. He hasn’t yet added a defensive tackle in free agency, but could certainly do so in next week’s NFL draft.

There’s some quality interior pass rushers in this class. Let’s take a look at some options the Raiders could select and when:

Good fits: The Raiders select 24th overall in this draft, far lower than years past. Some quality defensive tackles might be a proper fit there, especially with depth at positions of need.

They could use some versatility, players like Edwards Jr. who can play multiple techniques. Michigan State’s Malik McDowell is an strong, athletic freak who analysts believe needs to improve his effort and technique. McDowell could develop into a top talent and be viewed as a steal at No. 24, or not realize full potential.

Michigan’s Chris Wormley is a versatile player in the Edwards Jr. mold, a player who seems to fit Raiders needs. Analysts says inconsistency is troubling but has the leadership quality and character the Raiders love. He can be a base end and move inside when required. He also has the size at 6-foot-5, 298 pounds and could develop well at the NFL level while making an immediate impact.

Florida’s Caleb Brantley is also an intriguing prospect adept at reaching the offensive backfield. Analysts say he’s a powerful player with quickness and an ability to work through blocks despite being slightly undersized. Brantley is potential to be a quality NFL pass rusher, and is confident in his ability. He didn’t play a high snap count at Florida, but the Raiders might use him in sub packages as a rookie and fill an important role right away. He’s viewed as a second round pick, and the Silver and Black might cross fingers he’s available at No. 56.

Auburn’s Montravius Adams could help if the Raiders are looking for more of a run stuffer. Clemson’s Carlos Watkins could also play multiple spots and could be available later in the middle rounds. Old Dominion’s Rashaad Coward also fits that mold and would be available in later rounds, though he hasn’t had much pass-rush production.