Chris Borland could be the next top defensive star in the NFL. The rookie linebacker has proved as much this season as he goes about trying to fill the void at the San Francisco 49ers.
Borland has been thrown in the deep to say the least. The 49ers have been without NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis for large parts of the season, and Aldon Smith has only just returned to action.
The fact that a rookie like Borland has been a revelation for the 49ers is one of the key reasons why San Francisco haven't fallen off the face of the Earth in an incredibly difficult season so far.
Borland will be a legend
But even when the big names on defense in Willis and Bowman eventually return, Borland is being talked about as a continuing potential starter. He's forced turnovers, he's made crucial tackles and he's slowly but surely becoming an effective leader in his position. Borland is on the verge of stardom, according to defensive end Justin Smith.
"Borland came in there and done some stuff you really can't teach," 49ers defensive end Justin Smith said this week, NFL.com reported. "I think he's going to be a special player down the road."
The 49ers currently sit on a 7-5 record which has them one game back from the NFL playoff spots at the moment. But if it weren't for rookie Borland, they could have been even further back.
Borland was particularly impressive in the 49ers' win against the New Orleans Saints back in Week 10. The linebacker forced a key fumble in overtime from Drew Brees, while he also picked off Eli Manning twice a week later against the Giants.