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49ers Announce 2012 Team Awards

Posted Feb 27, 2013

The San Francisco 49ers announced 2012 team award winners.

The San Francisco 49ers broke a near two-decade Super Bowl drought in 2012, but ultimately fell short in the final game of the season. To get there, however, the team needed productive seasons and inspirational performances from members of the 53-man roster.

That was exactly the case in 2012 as the 49ers won a second-consecutive NFC West crown. Led by stellar performances across the board, San Francisco reached the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl in Jim Harbaugh’s second season as head coach.

In looking back at the efforts of those contributors, the 49ers have released the 2012 team award winners, which include the following categories: The Len Eshmont Award, The Bill Walsh Award, The Bobb McKittrick Award, The Hazeltine Iron Man Award, The Thomas Herrion Memorial Award and The Ed Block Courage Award.

In addition, a new category created by Harbaugh recognizes San Francisco’s Blue Collar Players of the Year on offense, defense and special teams.

So without further delay, let’s dive into this year’s award winners.

For a second consecutive year, four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Justin Smith has been named The Len Eshmont Award recipient. The honor, voted by the players, is given to the player who best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont, an original member of the 1946 49ers team.

Smith certainly inspired his teammates returning to the playoffs after missing the final two games of the regular season with a triceps injury that was surgically repaired this offseason. Smith totaled 130 tackles to go along with 83 quarterback pressures, 3.0 sacks and one fumble recovery in the regular season.

Smith’s defensive cohort on the right side of the line, second-year outside linebacker Aldon Smith, took home the prestigious Walsh Award in 2012. The news was first revealed by Harbaugh during Super Bowl media obligations.

The Walsh Award, established in 2004 in honor of San Francisco’s Hall of Fame Head Coach, is voted on by the coaches and is given to the 49ers team MVP, honoring his outstanding individual performance.

Aldon Smith was outstanding in 2012, posting a franchise record 19.5 sacks in his first year as an every down starter.

Another emerging contributor on San Francisco’s roster, right tackle Anthony Davis, took home the McKittrick Award, given annually to the 49ers offensive lineman who best represents the courage, intensity and sacrifice displayed by the longtime offensive line coach.

Davis, 23, is the youngest winner of the award which was established in 1999 and is voted on by members of the offensive line.

The third member of the 49ers defensive front seven to win a team award in 2012 is left defensive tackle Ray McDonald who took home the well-deserved Hazeltine Iron Man honors. The award named for former linebacker Matt Hazeltine, a 13-year performer who played more seasons at linebacker than any other 49ers player, was given the past two seasons to Justin Smith.

This time, however, defensive coaches voted the honor belonged to McDonald who finished his sixth season with 106 tackles (7.5 for loss), 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble.

Special teams contributor Michael Wilhoite was selected as the Herrion Memorial Award winner. The honor, established in 2005 by 49ers owners Denise and John York, is presented to a rookie or first-year player who best represents the dream of former 49ers offensive lineman Thomas Herrion.

The 49ers coaches chose Wilhoite with good reason. The inside linebacker was called up to the active roster late in time for a Dec. 2 road game in St. Louis and he posted seven special teams tackles in five regular season games. Wilhoite was also selected by teammates as San Francisco’s special teams captain in the NFC title game.

Another important honor was given to 49ers wide receiver Kyle Williams, the winner of the Ed Block Courage Award. Williams was selected as the player on the 49ers roster that exemplified a commitment to sportsmanship and courage.

Williams caught 13 passes for 212 yards with one touchdown before his year was cut short due to a season-ending knee injury against the New Orleans Saints. The fourth-year wideout, however, remained positive despite the injury and encouraged teammates throughout the season.

Lastly, Harbaugh’s “Blue Collar” Players of the Year were McDonald (defense), Frank Gore (offense) and C.J. Spillman (special teams).

Gore became the franchise’s all-time rushing touchdown leader in 2012, all while posting his sixth, 1,000-yard season and fourth Pro Bowl invitation. Spillman, on the other hand, finished the year with 10 special teams tackles and provided two timely fumble recoveries on punt team that led to 49ers touchdowns.

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