The playoff-bound 49ers have landed eight players on the NFC Pro Bowl roster, the NFL announced Friday night.
But if San Francisco has their way, none of them will be playing in January’s meaningless contest — they’d prefer to be in the Super Bowl in February.
Left tackle Joe Staley, guard Mike Iupati, tight end Vernon Davis, running back Frank Gore, defensive end Justin Smith along with linebackers Ahmad Brooks, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman were honored with Pro Bowl nods.
Willis commented on his seventh consecutive selection:
“… I thank God for it and I thank my teammates, the fans who voted for me, the other players who voted for me and the coaches. I just thank everybody who had a part in it.”
Gore and Smith were picked for the fifth time in their careers, and Staley his third. Iupati, Davis and Bowman all earn their second selections while for Brooks it’s his first.
Smith and the linebackers — Willis, Brooks and Bowman — are studs on one of the league’s best defensive units, while Staley and Iupati helped spur Gore to his seventh 1,000 yard season.
Meanwhile Davis has recorded 49 receptions for 805 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, becoming the first tight end in NFL history to register at least 12 touchdowns or more in two different seasons.
Regarding the honor, Davis said:
“We have to keep on going. We know what we have in front of us. So with that being said, we just have to keep this in the back of our mind because it’s only a part of what we’re trying to do.”
Six other 49ers — wide receiver Anquan Boldin, guard Alex Boone, punter Andy Lee, free safety Eric Reid, safety Dontae Whitner and special teamer C.J. Spillman — were picked as alternates for the game.
Super Bowl teams do not send players to the Pro Bowl.