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December 27, 2013
League-high eight 49ers make newly formatted Pro Bowl

Ahmad.jpg

For the second straight season, no team has as many Pro Bowl players as the 49ers. Eight members have been voted to play in this season's game, which will have an altered format the league hopes will attract more viewers. The Chiefs also had eight selectees to lead the league.

The only 49er making his first appearance is outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who has a career-high 8 ½ sacks on the season. The other seven players honored were tackle Joe Staley, guard Mike Iupati, tight end Vernon Davis, running back Frank Gore, defensive end Justin Smith and inside linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis. Willis has been voted to the Pro Bowl all seven years he's been in the league.

None of the 49ers appeared in the 2012 Pro Bowl because they played in the Super Bowl instead.

A year ago, a league-high nine 49ers made the NFC's team. That list included outside linebacker Aldon Smith, who spent more than a month in a substance abuse treatment facility this season following a DUI arrest, and safety Donte Whitner, who upon learning he did not make the roster Tweeted , "I must keep believing that everything happens for a reason... And I do!"

Whitner was one of six alternates named to the team. Special teams player C.J. Spillman, the only 49er to lead fan voting at his position, also did not make the first team and was named an alternate.

For the first time, the Pro Bowl teams won't be divided by conference. Instead, the teams will be picked next month by two captains, former players Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders. That means that Willis could end up having to tackle Frank Gore and Joe Staley might have to block Justin Smith.

"I hope I don't have to go against Justin," Staley said. "Actually, I hope I do, so that we can have a little handshake deal. I won't make him look bad. He won't make me look bad."

Said Willis when asked about taking on Gore: "That's a little strange. But if I have to, I have to. But I wouldn't want to go tackle Frank. That's a little strange. There's always rules. There's always something new. You've got to adapt I guess."

Pro Bowl 49ers:
OT Joe Staley
G Mike Iupati
TE Vernon Davis
RB Frank Gore
DT Justin Smith
OLB Ahmad Brooks
ILB Patrick Willis
ILB NaVorro Bowman

Pro Bowl alternates
WR Anquan Boldin
G Alex Boone
P Andy Lee
S Eric Reid
ST C.J. Spillman
S Donte Whitner

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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