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49ers, Patriots Lead Pro Bowl Picks

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — The 49ers and Patriots each placed eight players on the 2012 Pro Bowl rosters, followed by the Ravens and Packers, who had eight players selected.

Linebacker Patrick Willis, DE Justin Smith, cornerback Carlos Rogers and tackle Joe Staley will start for the NFC from the 49ers (12-3), who had only Smith and Willis make the Pro Bowl last year.

The Pro Bowl, played January 29 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, could feature Aaron Rodgers (Packers) against Tom Brady (Patriots), unless Super Bowl preparations interfere.

Brady was voted to his seventh Pro Bowl and this is Rodgers’ second (2010), but he’s on pace to set the NFL record for passer rating.

Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis was voted to his 12th Pro Bowl in 16 seasons and is one of four Baltimore defensive starters chosen for the game. Defensive end Haloti Ngata, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and free safety Ed Reed are the others.

The Raiders’ Sebastian Janikowski is the placekicker, Shane Lechler the punter.

Fifteen first-time Pro Bowlers made the NFC squad, including Rogers, Staley and safety Dashon Goldson of the 49ers.

NFL voting combines input from fans, players and coaches. A consensus vote of each group counts one-third toward the total. Each team submits two ballots – those of the coach and the players with no one permitted to vote for a player on his own team. This year, a record 100.64 million votes were cast by fans this year online and on web-enhanced mobile phones at NFL.com. In the event an AFC quarterback can’t be in Hawaii, due to injury to Super Bowl obligation, Tim Tebow of the Broncos is the second alternate.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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