Top 15 fallout: Steven Jackson's absence

The second in a series of items examining what Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. was thinking when he ranked the NFC West's 15 best players recently.

Six consecutive seasons with at least 1,042 yards rushing failed to place Steven Jackson among the 15 best players in the division.

You noticed.

"Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, let Matt Williamson post any more in your absence," Joe wrote via Facebook.

The list Williamson put together was solid overall, I thought. I liked how he broke with convention to include a couple players -- Seattle's Chris Clemons, notably -- who might not come to mind immediately. Jackson's absence did stand out. I would have ranked Jackson among the top 10 for sure, and possibly among the top five. But I also value a dissenting opinion from someone who has thought through his position.

Williamson initially put together a top 25 list, plus honorable mentions, when formulating his rankings. We talked through some of the decisions. I knew heading into my vacation that Jackson would not appear among the top 15, and that Williamson would hear about it.

"I'm pretty sure Steven Jackson is better than Chris Clemons!" 49ers5bowls wrote in the comments section of the most recent rankings item. "I would even put him ahead of Justin Smith and Vernon Davis. Yes, I'm a Niner fan, but you got to give respect where it is due. That guy is a machine!!!"

I suspect Williamson is roughly one year early in his assessment.

Jackson turns 28 later this month. Injuries have slowed him over the last couple of seasons. Injuries become more likely for running backs as they age, so it's reasonable to expect more of them for Jackson. The arrow is pointing down overall, but Jackson could still produce at a high level in 2011, at least.