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Justin Smith gets votes at defensive end and defensive tackle, again

JustinSmith AP

Well, it happened again.

Last year, 49ers defensive end Justin Smith made it onto the Associated Press All-Pro team at the position he doesn’t play — defensive tackle — with 35 of 50 votes.  Smith also was a second-teamer at his actual position of defensive end with nine votes.

It was no-harm, no-foul for Smith.  He appeared on 44 total ballots (unless someone voted for him at both positions), and he earned a spot on the All-Pro first team.  (The defensive tackle who was relegated to the second team because of the incorrect votes for Smith likely would disagree that it was no problemo.)

This year, the inability of pro football writers to understand which position a high-profile pro football player plays may have kept Smith off the first team.  Smith qualified for the second team at both the defensive end and defensive tackle positions.

If all of the defensive tackle votes had been cast the right way, Smith may have had enough votes to overcome Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake on the first team.

In all (or at least some) fairness to the voters, the Associated Press apparently isn’t providing much guidance when it comes to voting for defensive lineman in a 3-4 defense.  Smith plays defensive end, and it easily becomes confused with defensive tackle in a 4-3.

The fact that the AP acknowledges two inside linebackers adds to the confusion.  Along the defensive line, the formula looks like a 4-3; for the linebackers, it appears to be a 3-4.

Still, there was no confusion regarding Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who like Smith is more like an interior defensive lineman given the 3-4 front.  But Watt got 50 of 50 votes at the right position.

UPDATE 12:13 p.m. ET:  Justin Smith received six votes at end and 17 at tackle, for 23 total votes.  That wouldn’t have been enough to overcome Wake, who had 27.

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9 Responses to “Justin Smith gets votes at defensive end and defensive tackle, again”
  1. blacknole08 says: Jan 12, 2013 11:34 AM

    Smith plays both positions in the 3- and demands constant double teams. So he should get some recognition at both positions. He was even voted to the pro-bowl as a DT.

    The fact that Aldon Smith, Willis and Bowman made the 1st team and Ahmad Brooks the 2nd team just goes to show how valuable he is. He is the MVP of that 49ers D.

  2. allforfunnplay says: Jan 12, 2013 11:36 AM

    Justin Smith plays 3-technique defensive tackle in the Niner’s Nickel package. with all the passing teams out there, the Niners play their Nickel package almost as much as their base 3-4 personnel package.

  3. sixjak says: Jan 12, 2013 11:43 AM

    Hey when you’re that good, you’re that good. Way to go JS.

  4. montrealraider says: Jan 12, 2013 11:50 AM

    Yeah its a shame. I like Cameron Wake too but if I had to put a team together Im only taking JJ Watt for my dline before Justin Smith. I dont care about how many sacks he has. The guy is a constant force in any situation and is a difference maker on a great defense.

  5. malachiofcourse says: Jan 12, 2013 11:51 AM

    no right tackles at all either…

  6. ronaldjones says: Jan 12, 2013 11:57 AM

    Smith is a 3-4 DE in base formations, but when the 49ers play nickel (a sizable percentage of the time) he moves inside to DT in a four man front. So it’s not necessarily so clear cut.

  7. kmg1016 says: Jan 12, 2013 12:02 PM

    Also worth noting: when the networks show the lineups for 3-4 teams, the DEs are shown to be DTs (with a NT in the middle). So for any writers voting based upon reviewing GameRewind broadcasts, they’ll see Smith listed at the wrong position quite frequently.

  8. ninerswilldominatelikebefore says: Jan 12, 2013 1:35 PM

    BEAST! every team wishes they had him. GO NINERS!

  9. 22deuce says: Jan 12, 2013 9:54 PM

    the 3-4 screws up the pro bowl vote too because the positions are mislabeled.

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