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NFL Defensive Player Of The Year: Terrell Suggs Edges Out Justin Smith, Jared Allen

The NFL announced the 2011 AP Defensive Player of the Year and Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs took home the hardware. He beat out a strong class of defensive players including Jared Allen, Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman and Charles Woodson. Suggs claimed 21 of the 50 votes, with Jared Allen finishing second with 14 votes.

The 49ers overall strong defense benefited their players, but likely led to a bit of a vote-split. Justin Smith was named quite frequently by the coaching staff as the team MVP. NaVorro Bowman made a monster leap from his rookie season to year two as he replaced Takeo Spikes. Patrick Willis was consistently strong as well, and able to mix things up a bit more in coverage with Bowman able to handle things underneath with more ease.

The 49ers defense has some holes it may need to fill in the offseason with Carlos Rogers and Dashon Goldson hitting free agency. Fortunately they are in good hands with a dominant trio like Smith, Willis and Bowman in their front seven.