The NFC's defense in the Pro Bowl will have a distinct red-and-gold look. An NFL-high nine 49ers today were named to the Pro Bowl, including six members of the defense. The 49ers will have one tandem -- safeties Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner -- on the field in February. The nine Pro Bowlers matches a franchise best set last season.
The 49ers could have had another starting tandem. But teams must play out of a 4-3 defensive alignment in the Pro Bowl, meaning there is only one inside linebacker on the field. Patrick Willis is the starter at the position while NaVorro Bowman is the only other inside linebacker on the NFC roster.
"I would love to be on the field with (Willis), but this is the way it's been set up for years, and you just have to roll with it," said Bowman, who made the All-Pro team last year but not the Pro-Bowl squad.
Whitner, Bowman, guard Mike Iupati and outside linebacker Aldon Smith will be making their first appearance. Every member of the 49ers offensive line -- including tight end Vernon Davis -- either is a starter or an alternate.
RB Frank Gore. The 49ers running back, the franchise's all-time leading rusher, has remained healthy this season, and as he noted today, is more fresh than he was at this point last season.
G Mike Iupati. The starting left guard will make his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Iupati and right guard Alex Boone (a Pro Bowl alternate; see below) have paved the way for Gore's inside running. Starter.
T Joe Staley. He'll make his second straight appearance in Hawaii. Staley is perhaps the most nimble left tackle in the league, allowing him to get out in front of running plays and make blocks downfield. Starter.
S Dashon Goldson. Hard-hitting safety makes his second straight Pro Bowl. He'll be a free-agent again in the offseason and could get his second straight franchise tag. Starter.
ILB NaVorro Bowman. The 49ers' leading tackler (he had a whopping 16 in Sunday's loss) made the All-Pro team last year but not the Pro Bowl. This will be his first trip.
OLB Aldon Smith. He leads the NFC in sacks and has a shot at Michael Strahan's single-season record against a porous Arizona offensive line. This will be Smith's first trip. Starter.
DE Justin Smith. He makes his third-straight Pro Bowl. You have to wonder, however, whether his arm/elbow injury will prevent him from playing in the game. offseason surgery is a very real possibility. Starter.
S Donte Whitner. he had perhaps the defensive play of the playoffs when he knocked out -- and knocked the ball from -- Saints running back Pierre Thomas. It will be Whitner's first trip to the Pro Bowl. Starter.
ILB Patrick Willis. The inside linebacker has made the Pro Bowl all six seasons he's been in the league. Starter.
In addition, Boone, OLB Ahmad Brooks, OT Anthony Davis, TE Vernon Davis, C Jonathan Goodwin, P Andy Lee, CB Carlos Rogers and special teamer C.J. Spillman were named Pro Bowl alternates.
-- Matt Barrows