NFL players and coaches have spoken.
Sporting News’ annual NFL awards provide those in the league a voice at the end of each season — a chance to recognize the best among their pro-football peers.
Over the last few weeks of the 2019 season, players submitted ballots with their choices for Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, head coaches submitted ballots with their choices for Coach of the Year, Coordinator of the Year and SN’s All-Pro Team.
For their efforts in 2019, players on 21 different teams were recognized in SN's awards. One team, the 49ers, hogged four of the six individual awards. Ironically, no San Francisco player was voted onto the All-Pro Team.
Based on voting results, here are SN’s NFL award winners and All-Pro team selections for the 2019 season. The winner of SN's NFL Executive of the Year award, voted upon by the league's general managers and other execs, will be announced at a later date.
MORE AWARDS: Sporting News 2019 NFL All-Pro team
Offensive Player of the Year: Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens
Jackson ran away with this award faster than he did toward opponents' end zones all season. The Ravens quarterback received a whopping 76 percent of his fellow players' votes, with Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey finishing second at eight percent and Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas finishing third at seven percent.
McCaffrey and Thomas, keep in mind, had record-breaking seasons.
Jackson, though, captivated the league in a way never seen before. He rushed for 1,206 yards, breaking Michael Vick's single-season record for a QB. He had five games with at least 100 rushing yards, surpassing Vick (three games in both 2004 and 2006) and Russell Wilson (three in 2014) for the most by a QB in a single season in NFL history. For good measure, he led the league in touchdown passes with 36.
There is no question Jackson was the NFL's best offensive player in 2019. The only question is whether he'll keep it up for the next decade.
Defensive Player of the Year: Stephon Gilmore, CB, Patriots
Because the Patriots as a team led the NFL in total defense (allowing 275.9 yards per game) and scoring defense (14.1 points allowed per game), the fewest in the league since the 2008 Steelers (13.9), this is a notable recognition. NFL players saw that dominance and pinned the shutdown cornerback as the most important piece.
Gilmore won this award by a relatively wide margin, securing 22 percent of the votes and finishing ahead of Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who received 13 percent.
Gilmore was rarely tested by opposing quarterbacks in 2019, which makes his numbers all the more impressive. He recorded six interceptions, placing him in a tie with the Bills' Tre'Davious White and the Vikings' Anthony Harris for the most in the NFL.
And now you know a big reason why New England led the league with a +21 turnover differential.
Comeback Player of the Year: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers
Needless to say, that trade with the Patriots is working out nicely for the 49ers. We couldn't have said that a year ago, when Garoppolo was sitting out with a torn ACL and San Francisco was sinking to the bottom of the NFC.
Thanks in part to Garoppolo's play, the 49ers went from 4-12 last year to the top seed in the NFC playoffs. Garoppolo on the way became the eighth quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win 13 of his first 15 career starts. His final tally for the regular season: 3,978 passing yards, 27 TDs, 13 INTs, a nice 69.1 completion percentage and a passer rating of 102.0.
Garoppolo was voted Comeback Player of the Year by garnering 25 percent of the votes and edging Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (21 percent).
Rookie of the Year: Nick Bosa, DE, 49ers
This is connected to the aforementioned Comeback Player of the Year Award. Had Garoppolo not gone down with his knee injury, the 49ers likely would not have been in position (No. 2 overall) to draft the most disruptive defensive rookie the NFL has seen since, well, Nick's brother Joey a few years ago.
Moral of the story: Draft a Bosa, and watch the accolades roll in.
The 49ers defensive end finished his rookie season with 9 sacks, 25 QB hits, 16 tackles for loss and 47 total tackles. In Week 8, he became the third rookie since 1982, when the individual sack became an official stat, to record at least three sacks and an interception in a single game, joining Julius Peppers (2002) and Kevin Williams (2003). In that same game, he became the second youngest player to record at least
three sacks in a single game since 1982, trailing only Vernon Maxwell (21 years, 321 days old). He had seven sacks in his first seven games, tied for the second most by a player in his first seven games since 1982 (Mark Anderson, 7.5 in 2006).
Bosa and Raiders running back Josh Jacobs dominated the 2019 NFL Rookie of the Year voting, garnering 77 percent of the tallies between the two of them. Bosa barely edged Jacobs, 45 percent to 32 percent.
Coach of the Year: Kyle Shanahan, 49ers
The 49ers awards party continues with the man running the show in Santa Clara.
Shanahan, whose breakout came in his third season as 49ers head coach after nine years in various offensive coordinator roles, is the designer of the unit that finished second in the NFL with 29.9 points per game. As a result, San Francisco went 13-3 in the regular season and won NFC West for the first time since 2012, making the 49ers one of two teams (Packers) to win their division in 2019 missing the playoffs the year prior.
This was a close vote on the part of Shanahan's fellow head coaches. The lead man of the team that edged the 49ers in points this season, the Ravens' John Harbaugh, finished second. Shanahan collected 33 percent of votes, with Harbaugh earning 27 percent.
Coordinator of the Year: Robert Saleh, DC, 49ers
Considering the amount of coordinators around the NFL who could have taken this award, it's telling that Saleh dominated head coaches' voting the way he did. The 49ers defensive coordinator hogged 47 percent of the votes, with Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman finishing second at 20 percent.
Led by Saleh and his animated sideline demeanor, San Francisco's defense dominated most of the season — hence its second-place finish behind New England with 281.8 total yards allowed per game.
The unit was historically dominant from Weeks 5-7, when the 49ers became the sixth team since 1990 and the first since the 2005 Patriots (Weeks 13-15) to allow seven or fewer points and 200 or fewer net yards of offense in three consecutive games.
NFL All-Pro Team
Fitting for a league defined by parity, 20 teams are represented on SN's All-Pro Team for 2019. Only four teams — the Steelers, Saints, Ravens and Texans — are represented by more than one player, with Pittsburgh and New Orleans having three All-Pros apiece and Baltimore and Houston having two.
Including offense, defense and special teams, below is the full Sporting News NFL All-Pro Team for 2019, as voted upon by the league's head coaches.
- Special teams