Should the 49ers, over their last eight games, even come close to duplicating the first eight games, they will be at least in the running for a number of honors:
Defensive rookie of the year: Aldon Smith
Comeback player of the: Alex Smith
Most valuable player: Frank Gore (It's a long shot, but Gore's current pace puts him in the conversation).
The award that seems most likely is coach of the year. The Sporting News has reporters who cover all 32 teams. Recently, those reporters were asked to poll four players on a series of questions, including who they thought was coach of the year through the first half of the season.
I'm TSN's 49ers correspondent. One of the stipulations in the poll (it was anonymous) was that players couldn't vote for anyone on their own team, something that bummed out the 49ers I polled, especially when it came to the coach-of-the-year question. No matter. The players on 30 other NFL teams overwhelmingly voted for Jim Harbaugh. Here are the results:
Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers--50 votes
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers--23
Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions--20
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots--6
Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills--6
Hue Jackson, Oakland Raiders--2
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals--2
Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints--1
Click here for some quotes about Harbaugh and the 49ers from NFL players, and for the winners (and losers) of the other poll questions, such as "Who's the NFL's dirtiest player?" (Hint: rhymes with Bdamukong Puh).
-- Matt Barrows