If you're focused on the fact that Aldon Smith has gone five games without a sack, you're merely looking at the "low-hanging fruit," as Jim Harbaugh likes to say.
Smith played so well against the Falcons last Sunday that he received a game ball for his efforts. And his stellar play this season led Smith to win the team's Bill Walsh Award, which is given to the 49ers' MVP and voted on by players and coaches. "I think that speaks volumes for the kind of impact he had on our team," Harbaugh said today.
The team's highest honor, the Len Eshmont Award, went to another Smith, defensive end Justin, who is battling a partially torn triceps tendon in the playoffs. The two Smiths play next to each other, and Aldon Smith's franchise-record 19 Â½ sacks this season are partly attributed to the fact that defenses use so many resources to stop Justin Smith.
Sacks, however, only tell some of the story, Harbaugh said. Aldon Smith didn't get any against Matt Ryan and the Falcons, but he did a good job of harassing Ryan throughout the game. "(He had) a number of pressures and hurries and really played the run extremely well," Harbaugh said. "(He) recovered the fumble, and overall it was a thorough, thorough game from Aldon."
Aldon Smith said Harbaugh surprised him with the award during a team meeting. "You've got guys on this team that are all-stars, that have made the pro bowl in consecutive years," Smith said. "The Patrick Willises, the Vernon Davises, the Frank Gores. I could go on. Then I come in my second year and I get the MVP. It means a lot."
Who got Aldon Smith's vote? Randy Moss. "I was a Randy fan growing up. I had a (no. 84) jersey."
The 49ers haven't announce their full slate of team awards yet. However, Anthony Davis tweeted last month that he had won the Bobb McKittrick Award as the team's best offensive lineman. Gore won the Garry Niver Award given by the local media.
- Matt Barrows